I recently posted this on some Yahoo adoption groups, including AdoptionAgencyResearch and RateYourVietnamAdoptionAgency. I would encourage anyone considering adoption to join those groups and others like them to research the programs and agencies.
We adopted our daughter from Phu Tho in March 2007 through ADOPPT and I would not recommend this agency.
I am going to share some personal experiences with ADOPPT as well as some information that I have learned from other families or sources, and I will indicate which is which.
The problems we personally had with ADOPPT were mostly annoyances and not major problems, but were still issues that PAPs (prospective adoptive parents) should not have to deal with:
(1) Poor communication: Phone calls and e-mails were not returned. The office phone goes to a fax machine so you cannot leave messages. I would often e-mail three times before I got a response. I was in contact with other people in our travel group, and would find that they had been told something completely different than what I had been told or that we had to put the information we were each told together to get the full story.
(2) Problems with our referral: Our homestudy approved us for a baby born after October 30, 2006, because we already had an infant son. Our homestudy agency was against “artificial twinning” (having non-biologically related children in the house who are less than nine months apart). I was very clear about this with ADOPPT, yet they still tried to talk to us about a baby who was born in September. Then they said they had a baby for us who was born in November and that we would have the referral in the next week. We did not get the referral for six more weeks. When we got the referral, they sent a birth certificate saying the baby was born in October. We were very upset because we thought we would not be able to accept the referral due to our homestudy, but it turned out that they had sent the wrong birth certificate (which I think is a pretty serious mistake and caused some very emotional times for us since we couldn’t get in touch with them once again). When we finally received the right referral information, we received no medical information. We received the medical info in Vietnamese a few weeks later (after I asked for it five times) but did not receive the translated info until we traveled.
(3) Delayed G&R (Giving and Receiving ceremony – where the Vietnamese government officially gives adoptive parents custody of their children): We were never given the VN government’s invitation for our G&R. I would highly recommend that families have this in hand before they travel. Our G&R was delayed three times – once before we traveled and twice in country. Other families with our agency had G&Rs delayed by two weeks or more. (I was told this by the families themselves.)
(4) Incorrect paperwork: Another family who traveled with us had their file flagged and they were threatened with a NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny given by the US government – although adoptive parents have custody of the child in the eyes of the Vietnamese government after the G&R, the US government still has to approve the adoption and issue a visa before the child can be brought to the United States). This family was threatened with a NOID because our facilitator translated something incorrectly. In the translations, she said on two different forms that the baby was found in two different places. That is a serious error, which could have had grave consequences. Their file never should have gone to USCIS (United States Citizen and Immigration Services) with this kind of error. She made translation mistakes on three out of the four families’ dossiers. (I know this from the agency owner and from the other families.) When we asked her to correct our dossier for the second time, she gave it back to us with the corrections hand-written in. I did not see this until we were on our way to the airport, so that’s what we still have.
Now on to the more serious problems:
(1) ADOPPT agency owners shared inappropriate personal information about other families with me. About one family they said, “(Person) already had a failed adoption from (country)”, and about another client they said, “That woman’s crazy if she thinks we’re ever going to work with her again.” (These are direct quotes to me from the agency owners and there are many other examples.)
(2) The individual who traveled before us was told once they were in country that the baby’s birthmother had come back for her. Then the facilitator admitted that the baby had actually been referred from an unlicensed orphanage and the adoption could not be completed. This individual has notarized paperwork from the DIA (Vietnam’s Department of International Adoption) affirming that this was the situation. (I was told this information by the individual directly). However, ADOPPT continued to tell people the birthmother story. When I asked one of the agency owners about this adoption, he said, “Oh you mean the birth mother thing.” When I told him that I knew that there was no birth mother, that the facilitator had given them a referral from an unlicensed orphanage, and that the family came home with a different baby than the one they had gone to adopt, he admitted that was the case. Both the family involved and Christian and I asked him to post this information to their agency’s Yahoo group, but they never did. They continued to perpetuate the birth mother story.
(3) In the group that traveled after us, one individual left without their two children because of what they believe to be unethical and/or illegal activities. ADOPPT promised to repay this individual agency fees and then defaulted on the promissory note. ADOPPT posted a message trying to defame this individual using a fake screen name on an adoption Yahoo group. The IP address of the fake screen name was later traced back to ADOPPT’s computer. (This information is directly from the individual involved, and I saw the actual message on the Yahoo adoption group.)
(4) I was told directly by four ADOPPT clients (three in addition to the one mentioned above) that they lost referrals because the “birthmother came back” and that most of these families were also told, “This has never happened to us before.” It is very rare for a birthmother to come back for a child who has been relinquished in Vietnam adoptions, so the suspicion here is that there was no birth mother in any of these four cases. I believe these referrals were “lost” for some other reason ADOPPT does not want to discuss.
(5) An additional family lost their referral because they posted negative things about ADOPPT on their blog and/or adoption listserves. (Information directly from the family.)
(6) ADOPPT had a Yahoo group for families who have used them or who were in the process of using their agency. They recently removed from that group anyone who posted anything negative about the agency to any list, website, or blog, even when that information was factual. The reason given was that those individuals were not contributing to a “supportive” list (I was among those removed). A few days later they closed the group down all together because they were not able to contain “information leaks” about all of the problems the agency is having.
(7) One ADOPPT family just received a NOID and left Vietnam without their child. This individual has now hired an attorney and has mounted a campaign asking others to write to their government representatives for help. If this individual cannot get the NOID overturned, the baby will have to live in foster care in Vietnam before the family could apply again for the child’s US visa and bring her home. (Information second-hand from a reliable source.)