We do not wish to simply complain but to help Across the World Adoptions – and other agencies – improve.
We began conversations with ATWA in early April of 2017. We went to ATWA because we specifically wanted to adopt from Honduras because I am half Honduran. We emailed mostly with the family coordinator and the Honduras consultant who is based in another state. We filled out the initial paperwork and made an appointment for an interview at their offices in Pleasanton with the home study consultant who handles the home visits. All went well. We discussed why we were interested in Honduras. In an email exchange with the home study consultant we were asked if we were certain that we wanted to go ahead with Honduras because it could take a few years. We answered that we were and moved forward with the process. Next came the home visit in June which went well.
Meanwhile, we continued with the vast amounts of paperwork which is required of any adoption. We completed the home study in July. It clearly states we were interested in a child from Honduras. We finished all of the initial paperwork in early August and next came the country dossier with requirements for the country of interest which was sent to us by the Honduras consultant with the title, “Honduras Dossier.” Two weeks later I emailed Honduras consultant asking for help with the dossier. The packet came with directions but some were confusing especially if you have never done this before which, Honduras consultant didn’t seem too sympathetic about. It required notarization and apostilles of documents that were incredibly difficult to get a hold of because my wife was born in another country and we were married in a third country where our son was born.
We spent weeks and around two-thousand dollars having our paperwork notarized and apostilled, and mailed to and fro. At least 15 documents from 3 different countries, and 5 different states in the US. In November, we reached out to Honduras consultant via text and email to let her know we had completed the dossier and wanted to know what the next step was. She did not reply. We then reached out to ATWA and asked them for help in reaching Honduras consultant, and about what we should do with the paperwork. They said they would reach out to her and would get back to us.
We never heard back from Melinda at all. When we heard back from ATWA, they told us they never knew we were interested in adopting from Honduras and that they had stopped adoption services from Honduras because it was taking too long. We asked to speak with the director. It was around Thanksgiving so it wasn’t the most convenient time. The issue for us was that some of these documents are time sensitive and expire. Several of them only had two months left. It took another 4 to 5 days before we received a call from director who is the director of ATWA.
It was a little surprising but she had not yet spoken to Honduras consultant when she called us but I’m sure she had her reasons. We explained what happened. She reiterated that no one knew we were interested in Honduras. Her reasoning was that we had not paid the $500 fee to enter the program. That was true. And the reason for that was that in April, when I received and email from Honduras consultant stating the price of the home study fee and for entering the Honduras program I wrote back asking if that was all we needed to pay for the initial fees. She never replied. We paid the home study fee and that was it.
It was 20 minutes into the conversation before the director finally offered some kind of apology. She said she wasn’t sure why Melinda had given us the dossier without checking to see if we had paid the fee.
We had just spent eight months in this process for it all to fall apart because of a $500 fee and a colossal lack of communication. We were devastated. My wife and I are in our 40s, we are mid-career successful professionals who work in media/communications. We don’t have a lot of options at our age, nor time to waste.
Since that final conversation with director from ATWA, we have discovered that, in general, other adoption agencies are much more communicative and sympathetic to the situation of those who are thinking or decide to adopt. We are picking ourselves up and moving towards a domestic adoption, and excited about beginning a new stage in our lives with our son and soon-to-be adopted child.
We are using ATWA on our second adoption with Colombia. So far they have been great to work with. They translated our dossier in less than a week and our in country attorney is very responsive. We have not yet received a referall so I hope all continues as well when in country.
I would definitely recommend this agency and have done so already.
Across the World Adoptions has been through many changes over the years, they have had turnover of staff. Moved, dropped many countries (or the countries have closed) about the only viable country they have is Japan which is a non Hague independant adoption. The director Lesley has gone through many changes and face lifts, bypass operations as well. She actually now speaks to clients instead of hiding away passing judgment on people she doesn't know. Their financial business has dropped off about 70%, and her old staff has their own adoption agency about 1 mile away.
Another Japanese Adoption that went OK, I am Japanese and resent the caucausians that are buying referrals from Mommas and Papas. Yaz is great though. The work was done by 2 people who are now at another adoption agency, running a very successful Japanese Adoption program. Across The World Adoptions has moved and downgraded their customer services.
Our Japanese Adoption was a mixed review. There was non returned phone calls and missing paperwork. Throughout this disorganization my husband and I never gave up. My husband is Caucasian, we had been married barely 3 years with a strong financial portfolio. The birthmother "selected us" I am not sure why or who or whom our money was paid to in the country. Japanese adoptions are not inexpensive nor short. Cara and Shonin have left Across the World Adoptions and started an awesome Japanese program at Partners for Adoption. With barely 30 adoptions from Japan to the USA, it is best to travel ahead of time to get a feel for if this is for you. We love our child and have thought about adopting again through Partners for Adoption
If adopting from Russia beware, this adoption agency is on the list from the Russian MOE, that they have not completed post placement studies. About the only thing this agency has going for it is very pricy niche open adoptions from Japan. Where the Japanese bio mother selects her child's parents from portfolio$. Just lost 2 employees to another adoption agency. Not a good sign. Not a very transparent organization. Executive director has some issues with being up front. Unfortunately has had some "wrongful adoption lawsuits" Not too professional, agency should use LICENSED Clincial Social Workers not a bunch of college graduates working under the agency license. Should show more transparency with parents and not play games behind people's backs or with their lives. Try being honest and upfront.