I was drawn to AFAA because of the way in which it started. For one woman to see a need and work on solving it--That was pure brilliance in my opinion. I adopted my son from Ethiopia in 2005. The process was long and difficult and ever changing and frustrating, especially since I knew of him in 2003. But...My son was well cared for and loved during the time he was in AFAA's orphanage. He ate, learned skills, and had lots of playmates. The workers who cared for him daily, lived with him and created a loving environment for him. I believe that made all the difference in who he is today and aided strongly in his successful transition to America and blending into our family. While the adoption process itself was ever changing, bureaucratic, and maybe even not that forthright, the thing that make it tolerable, was that my son was safe, loved, and cared for. He bonded with the workers and had a family while there. The wonderful care he received helped build a foundation for him be a loving, attached, empathetic person. Not to mention the fact that he has always been able to fit in with a wide variety of children age wise and he has excellent immunity! My son's paperwork allegedly went to the court system 3 times, only to be "missing" something each time. Is that because the judge changed what they wanted, the AFAA social worker didn't have her act together, or for some other reason? No one will ever know. What I do know is I have my son and I couldn't be happier with that outcome! Thank you AFAA for bringing my boy home!
I adopted my son from Ethiopia through AFAA starting in 2004-1/06. I had no clue what I was doing and at the time people were like?? Ethiopia? wheres that. The website had all the forms I needed and at the time there were just three agencies operating in Ethiopia. I have to say I initially went with AFAA due to Cheryls personal story and the lowest fees:) I had an extremely smooth process and Cheryl even went out of her way to assist me in country when I had been ripped off by the taxi driver. Over the years I have seen situations arise in different countries that resulted in snags in the process and I have seen the fallout it creates with people who although paying super low price meaning less staff meaning less time to contact you. A lot of the time people complain about lack of communication. If you want your hand held then go with an agency that charges 3x the price and has 3x the staff. I would absolutely go with AFAA again if I was to adopt. I believe they are the only agency that does just African adoptions
My husband and I started working with AFAA in 2007. We started in the Lesotho program and were very excited. We had heard that AFAA tended to be slow, but that was the only negative feedback we had heard. About four months into the process, Cheryl contacted us and told us that there was a hold on the Lesotho adoptions and we would be better off switching to Ethiopia. We agreed to switch. Several months later she contacted us regarding a girl available for adoption in Uganda. We jumped at the opportunity to adopt her. The months of waiting started. We heard over and over again that our court date was coming soon and that our lawyer and country rep were working on the paperwork. In the mean time we added a second Ugandan girl. During this period we received a letter from a women in Uganda claiming to be our child's birth mother. We had been told by Cheryl that both of her parents had passed. We asked Cheryl to look into it and she assured us that it was a scam and the women was just looking for money. A year and a half after the referral and following many empty promises we finally received a court date. We traveled to Uganda and received guardianship. I spent 6 weeks living with both girls while we struggled to get the paperwork done. We had to complete most of the tasks in country on our own, with advice from another family that was going through the process. AFAA did not inform us of what we needed for the embassy. The embassy stated at our interview that they suspected fraud in our case (and other AFAA cases), and they were escalating the AFAA cases to USCIS. We traveled home and waited months for an answer from USCIS. Two months later we received a "Notice of Intent to Deny" the case from USCIS, based upon their determination that AFAA knowingly committed fraud in obtaining death certificates for birth parents who were not related to the children involved in our case and the other AFAA cases. We then did our own investigation into the girls' backgrounds. We found out that both girls had fraudulent birth certificates. The women who had wrote the letter was in fact one of our girl's birth mother. The other girl had living parents. We were forced to give up the adoption of one of the girls and start the adoption for the other all over again at our own expense. We are now three years into the process and still have brought no children home. I hope my experience helps others in making their decision. It is hard to put your trust in another and I recommend looking long and hard at the processes that the agency you choose has in place. Make sure they have a strong set of checks and balances in place and have completed many successful adoptions from your chosen country.
Dear Group, My name is Amy and I am adopting a little girl from Lesotho who I will be picking up in one month. The road has been long and winding... In 2007 I completed all my paperwork and it was submitted to Ethiopia through AFAA. Cheryl closed the AFAA/Ethiopian program. She then suggested I switch to Uganda. I was unsure because I didn't know anything about Uganda or its people. In February 2009, I decided to travel there to meet three girls of whom I had received referrals and to see the country, see how I liked it and see how I felt with the people. Cheryl helped with some of my arrangements. I was supposed to stay at the AFAA foster home and was going to paint the alphabet and numbers on the floor of the foster home for the children and things of that nature. Cheryl had arranged for Joseph to pick me up at the airport and he did. He was pleasant and we hit it off right away. His wife Harriet and his daughter had been at a wedding and we immediately went to pick them up somewhere on the side of the road where they were waiting for him dressed in magnificently detailed and colorful clothes. Joseph told me I could not stay at the foster home as Cheryl told me I could because the "caretakers of the children" would be uncomfortable having a foreigner stay there. Well, I don't know their culture so what could I say? He, along with Harriet and his daughter, took me to an acceptable place where I paid to stay and spent the week. Each day, Joseph picked me up and we went various places together. We always had interesting things to talk about and I felt we had a connection and I believed it was mutual. With Joseph, I met with all three girls of whom I had been sent pictures of by AFAA; who Joseph had referred to Cheryl, as referrals. One of the girls was a 4 year old whose mother worked at the rock quarry. The description I received of the mother was that she was ill. (I believe the descriptions that Cheryl received where given to her by Joseph) I met the mother at a meeting of the rock quarry woman and I can only tell you I’d be happy to be as robust as her! The story I got when I was there was that her husband, a Muslim, had died, and as she had always had difficulties with his family, a matter of different religious views, they were not giving her any help for herself or her children since her husband died. She was poor, yes, but she was healthy and had beautiful, happy children. I met the two other girls at Pastor Gerald's school. The one girl who I was most interested in turned out to be more then twice the age I was given through the information that I received from Cheryl, through Joseph. The other girl was almost twice the age as I was given through the information, again from Cheryl, through Joseph. The Pastor, Joseph and I went to the house of the first little girl. We met her aunt and one of her brothers. Of course I was at a disadvantage because I do not speak Lugandan and therefore could not understand the conversation. However, the girl was not without siblings as I was told by AFAA (see above note). She in fact has two brothers - one older and one younger. She was an orphan and she was definitely in need of help. I am no doctor but she needed psychological help. I think she was withdrawn because of shock. She had two large burns on her stomach which given to her by a "witch doctor". She was “treated” for stomach trouble by having a hot metal iron placed on her stomach where she had pain. She was then given herbs to heal her condition. I saw the burn marks on her stomach and I think that experience alone would be enough to send someone into shock… After our visit with the first girl, Joseph, the Pastor and I went to see the other girl. This girl's uncle was a bad man. I can only tell you I got a very bad feeling from him and I trust my gut. The girl was treated like a slave in her own "home". Her parents had died and her brother was sent to live with a relative in the country and she was sent to live with this uncle in the city of Kampala. The uncle wanted money for her. Joseph told me he was asking for it while I was there. Joseph said it was crazy and said he explained to him that isn't how it worked. I felt very bad for this little girl. It turned out that she was severely dehydrated and Cheryl sent her to the hospital where she received IV treatment for dehydration as well as treatment for malaria before she entered the AFAA foster home. Although I had a feeling for her, I wanted to adopt a younger child. I was just as surprised as everyone when "all hell broke loose" last year with the Uganda program. I was not affected the way others were affected. I had not accepted a referral from Uganda nor was I paying foster fees. However, I did fly there to meet three children who turned out to be different from their profiles (see above note) I, along with Joseph, took all the children, about 12, from the AFAA foster home on a day trip to the source of the Nile and some nearby waterfalls. We all had a wonderful time. Lots of food, new sites and experiences - it was beautiful. I was very happy to be able to do this for and with the children. Grace, one of the caretakers at the AFAA foster home accompanied us. I visited Joseph’s home, ate dinner at his kitchen table with all the orphans that were living there. I went with him several days to both pick up his own son at school as well as his wife Harriet at her job. We had dinner together at a lovely place one evening, my way of saying thanks for all his time. All, I can say now is, I will never know exactly what happened over there. I don't know Joseph well, and despite the fact that I had a good feeling for him and spent time with him - who knows? I can tell you I don't think anyone of us is all good or all bad! After this, Cheryl suggested I move to Lesotho and said she really thought I could get a referral there. I switched to Lesotho, I did get a referral and I am leaving within a month to pick up my daughter. I can also tell you that I run a non profit in the Peruvian Amazon and it is very difficult to work in these types of places (poor, developing countries) It is difficult to find responsible people; to find people that really get what you are doing and will follow your instructions; to find people who will not take advantage of the situation... I am not here to lay blame, but just to say, if your goal is to adopt a child, Lesotho has many orphans and it seems that the government is serious and diligent at making sure that the children up for adoption are truly orphans. Feel free to contact me if you wish. And I'm sorry to all the people who have suffered because what's happened in Uganda. Sincerely, Amy
I have to give the agency a little bit of credit due to the fact that we have one child successfully adopted out of Ethiopia. However, the entire process was horrible and mostly because of a complete lack of communication and total disorganization. I realize that adopting from Africa can be difficult but I am know dozens of families that also adopted from Africa and NONE of them experienced the issues that Cheryl always said were "normal". I could write page after page about the problems we had getting information out of her and the ever changing information that came our way (if it ever did). Had we not already started the process of adopting two more, we would have stopped as soon as we had our first child home. Then, enter the Uganda program and it made the first nightmare pale in comparison. We were directly lied to several times and not by the country rep, but by Cheryl. Not only that, we regularly heard about what was happening from other families, not from the agency. They never bothered to send e-mails or make phone calls. More than once we sat and waited for a court date then sat by the phone waiting for information on how our court date went, only to find out from other parents that the court date never happened and Cheryl knew it wouldn't be happening but didn't bother to share the information. She may in fact love the children but she certainly doesn't love the families they are going to and she shows no respect for their feelings. Trust me, I understand the desire to adopt a child. We felt it. I know how much you want to give someone the benefit of the doubt and take the chance that your circumstances may be more like the positive reviews here than the negative ones. But, with so many other options out there, why would you take the risk? Trust me, if you end up being one of the negative experiences, your heart and your finances may never recover. I've talked to many families who had horrible experiences with the Ethiopia program as well, so don't let people tell you that it's only the Uganda program. I kept constant contact with many families through the process and most experienced the same things that my family did. Save yourself the heartache and use another agency. It isn't worth the risk. If you're considering AFAA because it's less expensive than other agencies - remember, you get what you pay for . . . if you end up getting anything at all. The risk is too great!! Move on and find a reputable company that will care about your ENTIRE family.
I adopted two children from Ethiopia through AFAA in 2006 and decided to do it again a few years later. I wanted to adopt from Ethiopia, but that program closed due to the high demand for adoption there and because AFAA is such a small agency, it was not able to meet the demands of the government to provide humanitarian work. I changed countries to Uganda and received a referral there. I knew it was a new program and understood that there may be unforseen challenges and risks because of this. Ultimately, it was discovered that the Ugandan representative was taking money and misrepresenting himself and many of the children that were referred. I was saddened and discouraged to the point that I considered not continuing my adoption plan. Cheryl and AFAA offered me another alternative. They did not charge me any extra fees to change to Lesotho and in a few weeks, I will be traveling to pick up my beautiful son. Adoption is hard and it's expensive, but I don't believe that I could have adopted these 3 kids if it weren't for AFAA. Cheryl didn't ask for any money from me until it was absolutely necessary- when I received and accepted the referral of my son. Cheryl operates out of her modest home- I have visited several times and her life is dedicated to African adoptions. My goal was to be a mom again and I get to do that. For this, I am extremely grateful.
I was one of hte families that had an adoption fail in Uganda. I was devastated. However, it was not AFAA fault, Cheryl's fault, nor coudl the agency or Cheryl have seen or prevented the situation in Uganda. It is a sad truth that there are corrupt people who do terrible things - in this case a corrupt man in Uganda and a few American families created this heartbreak, not AFAA or Cheryl. Cheryl and AFAA regularly told all of us families what was going on in Africa. It was made VERY clear from the beginning that like all international adoptions there were things beyond the control of the agency or Cheryl. MANY failed international adoptions through other agencies never offer a transfer in country either nad families have to start over. Tireless, thankless and dedicated to the children - that is my description of Cheryl and AFAA. Please do NOT read some of the negative criticisms from some families and take them as fact - to be honest some of them caused some of this heartbreak and made it clear they were not "in this" for the children. AFAA is 100% committed to the children of Africa and has been for decades.
Ok people, I am really getting tired of all the negative internet reviews for Cheryl Carter-Schotts and the organization she heads called Americans for African Adoption. I have known Cheryl for 25 years. SHE IS THE MOST HONEST, TIRELESS, CARING, DILIGENT PERSON I KNOW WORKING TO SAVE ORPHANS THRU ADOPTIONS IN AFRICA. SHE IS ALSO TOUGH, VERY TOUGH AND HAS TO BE BECAUSE UNFORTUNATELY AS TIME HAS GONE ON WITH AFRICAN ADOPTION, DISHONEST PARTIES (ADULTS) HAVE FIGURED OUT HOW TO SCAM PEOPLE FOR THERE OWN SELF INTEREST.. I am a Veterinarian. I adopted two sons from Ethiopia, a 15 month old boy and an 8 year old boy. This is before the adoption program ended in Ethiopia after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt paid millions for their daughter Zahara and the government and other adults their realized they could make millions selling Ethiopian Children. Cheryl ended the program because of this dishonesty and selfishness. I also have a Daughter from Sierra Leone who would be dead if it weren't for Cheryl and her tireless efforts to save her and 18 other children caught up in the horrible civil war that occurred there. (watch the blood diamonds movie). we paid to care for our daughter in a foster home there for 20 months when the government was overthrown in a violent coupe. The children and their caretaker had to leave the foster home and go to the grounds of a hotel to flee the rebels that were hacking people up with machetes. All the paperwork was destroyed and the government officials had gone into exile. Our state department was trying to block getting the kids out. Cheryl found a way (President Clinton helped) and had the children evacuated by navy marine helicopters onto an aircraft carrier and placed in a foster home in Guinea until Cheryl could get humanitarian parole visas for the kids. This took months and we had to be patient but we got our daughter and she is attending Wright State University majoring in Nursing. THOSE CHILDREN WOULD BE DEAD IF IT WAS ANY OTHER AGENCY. THE BOTTOM LINE IS THIS: IN GENERAL, CHILDREN ARE CONSIDERED A COMMODITY IN AFRICA BY THEIR OWN PEOPLE AND CROOKS LOOK FOR ANY WAY TO MAKE MONEY OFF RICH AMERICANS. THE UGANDA ADOPTION PROGRAM (AND CHERYL) WERE VICTIMIZED IN THIS WAY. SO STOP WHINING, IT IS THE CHILDREN WHO ARE REALLY SUFFERING, NOT LAZY FAT RICH AMERICANS.
We have 2 beautiful children adopted through Americans for African Adoptions - both from Ethiopia and adopted at separate times. This means that we were greatly satisfied with our first experience with AFAA and went back for a second adoption that went just as smoothly. The director, Cheryl Carter-Shotts, is an amazing woman who works incredibily hard to bring these children home and pays herself a pitance to do it. Unfortunately, there are many people who have no idea what it is like to do business of any kind in a third world country, much less something as complicated as an adoption. These people want things to move along at a set pace and schedule like in America, and they just don't. AFAA has some of the most reasonable prices, which many find attractive. No agency of the size of AFAA can predict or prevent the hurdles that come with working in Africa where people are out to make a quick buck (and do so gladly at the expesne of innocent children and waiting families), where the rules change constantly, where the officials in charge change often, where courts close for months at a time, where the electricity is unpredictable and cultural norms are so vastly different than ours. Cheryl has spent nearly 30 years fighting these issues and bringing home children to waiting families. She works tirelessly to this end.
RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN AWAY FROM THIS AGENCY!! I spent 5 weeks in Uganda with a child that was referred to us from AFAA and wasn’t able to bring him home. Come to find out the child wasn’t even an orphan! Save your family a bunch of heartache and find someone with some ethics to conduct your adoption. Cheryl has yet to even tell us she was sorry!!