Friday, August 29, 2008


I have been watching the comments on Adoption Agency Ratings for Commonwealth Adoptions International. I have even had a few of their paid adoptive parents come and comment on my blog. 342 families are currently in limbo because of this agency. Its funny as time moves on, adoptive parents are standing up and not taking the crap that these types of agencies are dishing out. When you think about the money of this situation, its staggering. 342 adoptions times a very reasonable $25,000 in fees paid. That is over eight million dollars. Where did that money go? That is right it goes to adoption coordination fees. What is that exactly? No one seems to know. I do know that Marina has taken several three week vacations. She told some people that she went to the various countries. Other adoptive parents were told that she was on vacation.

What surprises me the most is the amount of money being paid. On a couple of release forms that adoptive parents are being asked to sign is a little phrase that prohibits the agency from being sued by them. Many adoptive parents who have completed adoptions are requesting the deposits initially required be returned. These deposits total in thousands of dollars are not being returned as the adoption agency no longer has the funds to return them. These adoptive parents are unable to get their adoption files. Some are requesting that their funds be returned since no action was ever taken on them. The agency is denying them their records and their funds. If anything they are asking for more money be paid to them. This agency is being reported all over the country to the various states' attorney generals. So this agency is being watched. The agency is also forcing the adoptive parents to make quick decisions on their choices for adoption agencies. This is not giving them time to make sure that the agency selection is one that works for them.

I say its time for these agencies to be held accountable for their actions. Its time for a full investigation into all adoption agencies currently practicing here in the United States.

I asked some of the adoptive parents if they wanted their story put on this blog. One said yes. I will change the names of the parties involved as not to hurt them in any way. Many adoptive parents are scared that they will receive severe consequences for their speaking out. I fully understand that.

We signed with Commonwealth (CAII) back in September of 2007. We have been married for over 11 years and have no children (I became ill back in 2000 and had to have a complete hysterectomy). We chose CAII due to their reputation (from other families on the groups) and because they seemed to have a quick international program with Taiwan. We were hesitant though at the time...mainly because we were afraid of adopting internationally. When we first signed up with them they contacted us almost daily...emailed to make sure we were doing ok, never bugged us for money or anything. Unfortunately that all changed. Once they received most of our money (money that we saved over the course of time to do this adoption), the phone calls stopped. When we would try to get in touch with them they didn't return calls or was 2 months after our last check was sent until we would get answers about our questions...but by that time it was becoming evident that something was up.
Starting in January, our caseworker Brenda Swanson never kept in touch with us, not to tell us when our stuff was sent to Taiwan or anything...emails and phone calls to her pretty much went unanswered (if she did answer it was always, "let me check on that for you" and then we'd never hear anything). When Brenda announced to us that she was heading the Alaska I knew something was up and it wasn't good. But, did any one at the agency let us families sitting in limbo know? No. I began contacting Ray Mak (who is the Program Director for the Taiwan program) after he called me and said that there was some issue with our paperwork that the agency missed and Chung Yi was checking up on. He said he'd get back with me but I had to practically drag answers out of him after that. Even when I told him Brenda wasn't returning our calls or emails (and hadn't been for a month)...he just laughed and said, "oh that Brenda, I can't wait for her to get back"...that was 1 week before we found out she wasn't coming back. Then, we get an email, out of the blue from this Catherine Lanam saying she's the new caseworker and Brenda isn't coming back.
Now, keep in mind this is 7 MONTHS after our information was sent to Chung Yi (which I didn't find out it was even sent until Ray called me on June 1). I've been hearing rumors from other families (past and present) about the Chung Yi program and actually found out some stuff before Commonwealth even "knew about it"...or maybe they did know and just wouldn't tell anyone. Now, I've asked Ray about the rumors, Brenda and Cathy and no one seems to know anything...Ray just keeps saying, it's a rumor, I'll look into it. I'm so tired of hearing, "I'll look into it"...we wanted some answers. Well, as you can see...the rumors were true and CAII has since closed it's doors. I began asking questions and becoming suspicious around February....and they finally came clean (well closed their doors) in the beginning of August! That's almost 1 year after signing with CAII before anything is even told to the families! They made all of us who were asking questions sound like a bunch of crack-pots.
Now, what really upset me (besides everyone dropping the ball and not getting any answers) was when Commonwealths caseworker (Catherine Lanam) called me in early July because she read our blog and saw I was upset...(there was nothing negative said at all about Commonwealth...I just simply stated that we were disappointed with how things were going, those that know us know who we are signed with...). To backtrack briefly so this paragraph makes sense...back when Brenda was with your company she "mentioned" a 3 yr. old boy with Hepatitis and Cerebral Palsy but said she was just tossing it out there and it wasn't a referral. Well, forget the fact that we clearly said in our paperwork, 0-3 yr. old GIRL but we also said NSN (non-special needs), in other words a healthy baby girl. Well, when I told her that we're not going to consider him she apparently relayed that to Ray who told me when he called me June 1, " well that's not considered special needs and Chung Yi considers that as a possible denial of a referral" (which Chung Yi DID end up considering a turned down referral). I wasn't too happy about that. anyway, Catherine Lanam called me after reading our blog and says, "I can see that your a believer", I said, "yes, I am". She said well, "you need to believe in God and what he has chosen for you as your path... maybe he is directing you to this special needs child because that's what your meant to have as your child". I was floored! Not to mention upset that she would pull the "religious card" to discuss any of this with me. It has absolutely nothing to do with religion, we are not set up for a child with special needs, our home study isn't set up for it and we do not want a special needs child at this time. I thought we made that very clear...but to have that presented to us as an possible referral was ridiculous and heartless. She also said that if we "truly" wanted a child we would just make accommodations for this child and forget about the special needs he had....I couldn't believe it!
Anyway, we sent several emails to CAII about this stuff and the rumors we were hearing and of course didn't get any responses at all from them. We saw the writing on the wall and kind of expected them to close...which on August 1 they sent out the email to everyone saying, "too bad, so sad". The thing was...Ray Mak and Marina Mayhew both reassured me on July 30th (the same day they had their big "CLOSING" meeting) that we were being silly by worrying so much...and that Sam and I were making the other parents not trust them. This letter was sent out 2 days before they announced their closing. They then said that I needed to send them the rest of our money (the referral money...which only goes to them when you actually GET a referral) because they DID send us the referral of the 3 year old CP/Hepatitis child (which we didn't accept). So even when they knew they were closing they were still asking for more $$.
Since they announced they were tossing in the towel, we have requested our file (which ironically is unavailable now because it has gone to the DA of Arizona....something that office said isn't true). Also we said we didn't want anything transferred and we want a which we get the response of, "there is no money to refund...too bad".

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