Beginning an adoption process is akin to standing at the base of a mountain and deciding “Instead of climbing this mountain to get to the other side, I am going to use this garden shovel to burrow my way through.” It is always messier, harder, and riskier than expected. Since there are so many things to research and understand, potential adoption parents (we call you PAPs) find a person or two they trust as their source of information. Often an adoption agency is in this inner circle. They are the most experienced, right?
At the end of the day you, and you alone, are responsible for the legal transaction that is taking a child from their birth country and making them a citizen of your country, your state, your town, your home, and your heart. You, and you alone, will have the privilege of parenting and caring for this child. You, and you alone, are responsible for financing the endeavor. Based on my recent research and interviews, here are some helpful tips…things to look out for…things you should know about.
- What is done to verify orphan status? This varies country to country because of both international law (Hague regulations) and national law. Find out how verification was done in your child’s case. Ask your agency what they did above and beyond the required documentation (which could be true or false) to make sure your child’s story is true. If you are not comfortable with the answer, keep digging.
- Track the dollars. There is not a person in this adoption community who would even THINK of offering a bribe to their local police officer to avoid a speeding ticket. Yet we somehow time our blinks just right to avoid seeing a bribe pass from our bank account to someone in another country. While you will not see “bribe” listed as a line item in your adoption expense report, you should take the time to know exactly where each dollar is going – and why.
- Orphanage donations are a red flag. Caring for orphans is absolutely our business, but how our money is being transferred and used is also our business. Look for adoption agencies and charities who focus their efforts on meeting concrete needs. Donations through these groups go to facility improvement, staffing, or supply purchases involving traceable receipts. The money you pay an agency should be for services you receive, not for the child you receive.
Adoption may be an overflow of a heart focused on Christ. Adoption agencies may be Christian non-profits. But the adoption process is still a legal and business transaction. Just as you would be mindful if you were ordering something on Amazon or making a purchase at the mall, be mindful of every dollar involved in your adoption.