Friday, May 25, 2007

Visit to Mobile

Mike & I went to Mobile to see my parents and get some errands done. Mike and Ashley were playing peek-a-boo in the backyard. She loves for him to chase her!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Children of the World Adoption Agency

I often get asked what Agency we used to adopt Ashley so here it is:

I, in no way get paid to promote COTW but they really were great. I like to do adoption seminars for them to promote adoption for all their countries but mostly China, we are partial to China. They are a non-profit adoption agency. They adopt out children from several countries, including the US.

***Side story---As some know we started with one of the big agencies, GWCA, b/c we felt that a big agency would have their foot in more doors and be more organized in the paperchase trail. But they have a quota for how many dossiers they can turn in each year b/c they are so big. That is not a minimum quota, but a maximum quota, we misunderstood. GWCA has a minimum $2000 application fee and for that all you get is a book to help you start your dossier and info on the entire process. Well we started in February of 2002 and did not reach the cutoff for their quotas by July 02 so we were going to have to wait until December to turn in our dossier, which our paperwork would start expiring (everything is dated and has time limits in all adoptions). So we decided to pull out but could not get our money back, that's right they got our $2000!!! We begged, pleaded and if and when we got word back it was letter or email saying sorry no can do! Our loss. We even called the BBB but their contract covered them well that we signed. So on top of no baby, they took our money and did not feel bad about it. That company is so big that they do not have the feelings of love for us and our baby that we needed.

So we decided to take a look at COTW in Fairhope Alabama. It had a small board operation, kinda family run (several members of same family as employess or on board) and it was in the small town we were living in at the time. We were brought in and treated like family immediately. They actually talked us out of a faster adoption (more cost) from Vietnam because they were honest and told us that at the time that was an unsteady program. We worked with Terri who is very organized, that is important to me and she worked in a timely manner. Even when we found out we had to move to another state she worked with us thru that too. They were very 'hand-holding', we needed that after fertility let downs and another agency taking $2000! I could always hear back from them with in 24 hours unless the person we needed was out of country then someone would at least get back to us to tell us that and then try to help too. Adoption is a very emotional roller coaster. Mike likes to keep his thumb on every dollar until the last minute and then is reluctant to let it go. He suspects you first then gives the money with some proding. COTW was always up front about all the costs and exactly which ones were not exact, some you won't find out until after referral. They were always truthful and helped out where ever they could. They want the children to get homes and are not there to make the money even though any money they might make would go to their missionary needs. But I know how much they get from each family and how much general things cost, they ain't makin' any!
Everytime something changed with the Chinese adoption affairs, we heard it. They would call or email, no waiting on the mailman. They are up front with their info. I don't know which door they have a foot in but it must be the correct one or a really good one b/c they know what is going on in a place that is very secretive. That would be the CCAA, Chinese Adoption Affairs. The CCAA are very secretive about the process your paperwork goes thru after it reaches China and gets logged in. And if you are lucky they update your agency, not all agencies get that, COTW does. They have made friends or connections with the right people over many long years of relations. They are often noted about how nearly perfect their paperwork is sent and done. Because if your paperwork is wrong, either the family or agency missed a mistake, the only person that looses is the family when they have to hold up everything to get things correct. COTW makes very few mistakes, if any. Our paperwork was perfect. However I didn't get it to them that way, I missed a few errors but COTW found them before it went to China.
When we actually went to China to get Ashley our paperwork person (liason/dossier prep person) was the one who traveled with us to be our guide. And had she not someone we already knew would have. No strangers. As we arrived in China our translator was someone they had known for decades and only ever use her, she works for COTW in China. Our trip was wonderful and went smoothly, thanks to the years of tradition & continued success of both our translator, guide, US Consulate and CCAA working together. The translator and guide picked us up at airport and dropped us off to go home, never with strangers or a 3rd party they were not familiar with. And you could tell they had this down pat, no hiccups. However, they could have provided a little cooler air in July in South China!
When we got home they checked in on us about future paperwork needed and what to do to do our followups and final two home study reports at 6 & 12 months. And as we go to their annual Chinese New Year parade we feel like family coming home. Miss Pat (known as Grandma Pat to all the girls) and Miss Terri light up when they see our Ashley, she is one of theirs too. we look forward to seeing them everytime.
I felt the need to post this information as we have friends who are currently using another agency (highly recommended to them by other friends) and having some lag in communication. They don't seem to be stressed about it until I bring it to their attention, because they are first timers and never have had the great treatment we have had at COTW. When you are waiting on something so dear, expensive and tied to your heart you need good communications. Because they are not on the usual message and forum groups they did not always hear about CCAA changes as quick as I did and I would let them know. They were very appreciative. I am sorry it is too late for them to change to COTW, they have missed out on a family oriented great experience. Let's hope their 'big agency' experience is as great as our 'little agency' experience becasue they are good people and deserve it!

Mike built Ashley a playset

Ashley loves her playset (with 27 tons of sand), she wants to spend all day out there. She can now have playdates in our own backyard!