Thursday, December 04, 2008

YOU KNOW ME DON'T YA? I JUST CAN'T RESIST

Yep that is right. I just can't resist when I read a new article on some adoption agency that is being slammed by adoptive parents. The author of it does a very good expose on it. One of the comments that I found horrifying was the following:

"The adoption agency's e-mailed response admonished Harmoning for breaching contract, warning her that because of her "anger," that, "there may be some extra steps warranted before completing this adoption."

CCI's contract also allowed the agency to request extra measures at its discretion, such as parenting classes and psychological evaluations."

What I am finding with adoptive parent today is that they are wanting more transparency in the transaction concerning adoption of any kind. There is no specifics on the issue. I am also hearing that more and more adoptive parents want to control the information within adoption to belong to the triad itself. They do not want it at the control of neither the state nor the agency.

That is puzzling and alarming it itself. I remember reading over at Adoption Under One Roof this particular article. I am quoting their questions and red flag warnings on adoption agencies. It is a good indication in choosing a good adoption agency.

"1. They make promises that sound too good to be true. For example, promising that your child will be home in record time.
2. They want all the money up front; you don’t receive receipts for payments.
3. They don’t explain the adoption process in detail and you just have to figure it out for yourself.
4. They have gag clauses in the contract, or there is no contract.
5. They are wonderful when you first call, but once you’ve signed on it is hard to get hold of them.
6. When there are problems in the international adoption scene they start avoiding your calls.
7. There is constant staff turnover at the agency.
13. They don’t turn away applications even when they don’t have the staff to handle them.
14. They continue giving referrals for certain countries when it is no longer advisable to do so.
15. They don’t train their staff well.
18. They are ignorant of the culture and politics of the country you are adopting from.
19. They are disrespectful, unpleasant and impatient."

I printed down Celebrate Children International's contract. I wanted to read it myself. I also reviewed their 2006 IRS Form 990 and their website. Its amazing the amount of information that you can gleam off both of those sites. I usually use Guidestar for the tax forms. There is a free membership so anyone can join and use this information. According to the article above, the adoption agency lost their COA accreditation in May. They are no longer accepting applications from China or Guatemala. Guatemala is of course closed at this time. Unfortunately the state of Florida does not recognize COA's accreditation's process. If this were so, then the adoption agency would be shut down. They would not be allowed to operate.

Here are some rules in their contract that bother me. They are red flag warnings to all adoptive parents.
  1. The first part of the Adopting Parents obligations portion of the contract is number one. Adoptive parent understands that if the adoptive parent decides at any time during the adoption process to discontinue the adoption process, no refund of fees will be given and any fees that have been invoiced and not paid are still the responsibility of the adoptive parent. Nice isn't? They screw over and it is still your fault. These kind of clauses are there to protect them not you. It must be remembered that according to the adoption industry it is about them. These agencies do not look out for YOUR best interests.
  2. This is the number five portion of that same contract. Complete required ten hours or more of parent preparation according to the specific instruction and materials provided by the adoption agency, CCI, independent of preparaton provided during homestudy process. If an adoptive parent does not complete this to their satisfaction, it is a breach of contract. This is the start of the abuse of an adoption agency. This is a red flag warning for you.
  3. The next red flag is on number twelve of the contract. This is another area where they consider you the adoptive parent incapable of handling your own affairs. You can't make contact with the foreign government without their permission. So if you wanted to find what the heck was going on with your adoption, guess what? That is considered a breach of contract. The actual reading of it is this: Contact foreign government , orphanage officials, overseas facilitators and/or any other in-country individual or entity pertaining to your adoption process or the child you are adopting, lincluding but not limited to: medical personnel, foster families, lawyers, and social workers, only with the assistance and/or explicit written permission of CCI.
  4. The last red flag in their contract is the additional requirements which is number 14 on their contract. So they can continue to burn you if you have made them angry at any time. In addition to the one post placement, CCI may require additional home visits by a social worker, further evaluation by a social worker, pyschological evaluations, additional post placements, or any other measures deemed necessary at our discretion, at any time, before, during or after the adoption process if finalized. Furthermore, CCI has the authority to request further measures deemed necessary for CCI to initially approve or to continue to process the adoptive parent's case. The adoptive parent will be responsible for any costs incurred to these measures and/or additional visits/post-placement reports. Can you hear the bells ringing on this one? DING DING DING

Here is the information from their tax form:

Revenue monies earned: $4,570,558.
Adoption fees charged: $4,456,392.
Operating expenses: $496,338.
Susan Hedberg, Director and wife to the President of the organization, earned $269,419.
David Hedberg, Director, husband to Susan, and President of the organization.
Teresa Brown, Treasurer, earned $2,738.

Humanitarian aid was $56,968.
Donations to various organizations were $16,945.

According to their tax forms, they did not list any tax forms. What were their salaries? Even Gladney lists their top paid employees and contractors. Their agency is only a little bigger than this one. According to their website, they have several:

Angela Vance is the Assistant to the Director.
John S. Mischuck is the Staff Accountant.
Sara Eisenbart is the Haiti Program Coordinator.
Lara Carson is the Ukraine Program Director.
Carmen Lopez Cepero is their Humanitarian Aid Coordinator.
Jennifer Crist is the Assistant to the Humanitarian Aid Coordinator. I wonder if she is related to Governor Crist. Enquiring minds and all.
Tammy G. is the Kazakhstan Program Director. Interesting that she doesn't list her full name.

The various attorneys for readoption once entering the United States are done through the following attorneys.

Readoption in Orlando done through Don Meyers

Readoption throughout Florida with Jeanne Tate. This is a woman that you as an adoptive parent should run from. She violates the rights of many a natural parent consistently. She is know throughout the adoption underground movement as one of the terrible threes. The other two are Michael Shorstein and Patricia Stowbridge. Michael Shorstein guarantees all of his natural mothers will relinquish. He has a tendancy to stalk the hospitals looking for single mothers to target. He says he guarantees contact between the natural mothers and adoptive parents for up to five years but does not follow through with that kind of contact.

Readoption for Southern Florida done through Maryann Scherer.

Readoption for South Carolina done through Frederick M. Corley. He is associated with the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. This is an automatic run for your life. You can probably smell the corruption.

Readoption for Mississippi done through Kim M. Haney.

This agency operates in Ethiopia, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Taiwan.

One last stop in this little post is of course Adoption Agency Ratings. It is one of those highly commented on adoption agencies.

Here are some of the comments from people. I have removed the names to protect them.

Commenter #1

Anyone that has gone through an international adoption knows the process is really, really hard! Your patience is tested, your faith is tested, and sometimes during the process you wonder if it's all worth it.
My daughter is home, so I can say with complete certainty it is worth the wait, frustration and tears.

BUT, and this is a BIG BUT - SUE HEDBERG singlehandedly made our adoption process absolutely miserable!
I honestly think she gets a rise out of intimidating AP's and using her scare tactics to bully us into shutting up.
From referral to homecoming our adoption took about one year. Long, yes, but not as long as many other people.
It was sad to lose some extra months with our child, but what hurt the most was being lied to, belittled and threatened.

Long story short. We supposedly had one of her best attorney's. The first steps of our adoption went just fine (PA, Family court, 1st submission to PGN.) Once in PGN nothing was as CCI told me. I was told of 3 PGN kickouts, give submit dates and kickout dates, given specific reasons for the kickouts, etc.
I TRUSTED CCI for many months because they told me too and I really, really wanted to. But finally the third time something felt really wrong. I started asking questions about things that weren't making sense to me and Sue tried to shove me off. I called PGN to see if my intuition was right, thinking they'd prove me wrong and I'd go on trusting CCI. Well, I called PGN and they had NO record of our file for nearly 5 months!!!!!
I immediately started pushing for information, boldly told Sue I called PGN myself and she told me I was in breech of contract. This was one of her many attempts to scare me.

I hired adoption supervisors (who were great, by the way) and they checked on the case the very same day I agreed to work with them, before I even sent them a penny. They confirmed that our file was in fact kicked out of PGN and had never been resubmitted.
I had to fight like hell to get Sue to do anything and I was for a time scared to death that she would do something to jeoparadize our adoption and our daughter would suddenly be no longer available. Fortunately it didn't work that way.
Once Sue decided to actually check on our file, we showed up in PGN almost immediately, within a day or two. Again, adoption supervisors confirmed this as did the PGN when I called. Miraculously, we came out of PGN approved in about 2 weeks.
After getting out of PGN I really didn't have to deal with Sue any more, thank God, and the final steps of our adoption went on just fine.

I AM CERTAIN and have PROOF that Sue Hedberg intentionally lied to me on more than one occasion.
What I am not certain about is why our file was KO'd for so long, how we got back in so quickly and how we came out approved in near record time.
I could probably do some more digging to find out some of the truths, but it doesn't really change anything so I may let it be. We'll just have to see what comes up!

Commenter #2

I wish I could give this agency ZERO stars- they are AWFUL! Sue Hedberg, the agency's director is cruel and dishonest. She claims to be Christian but treats her clients in far less than a Christian manner. Our adoption took 3 times as long as she suggested, and 90% of the information we got along the way was faulty and inaccurate. Our case manager told us private information and badmouthed other clients (so did Sue), and both of them reprimanded us for politely asking for the truth about our case. Celebrate Children International and Sue Hedberg are unprofessional, deceitful, and not at all compassionate. Beware.

Commenter #3

I chose Celebrate Children after months of agency research. All of my initial emails were answered promptly and in great detail. They also represented themselves as Christian individuals. I felt confident that Sue and her staff were compassionate, caring people who truly loved the children of Guatemala (and other Countries) and wanted nothing more than to see them united with their forever families. I was prepared for the ups and downs of international adoption and the many unknowns, but I was not at all prepared for the emotional abuse this agency would cause so many families entrusting them to make their dreams comes true. I prepared my dossier with little to no help from my case manager, receiving no responses to my many questions. When I became paper ready and received my referral it was told that we were represented by "one of the best in country contacts" over the next few months it became clear that everybody was represented by "one of the best". I was told that in the next 6 months I would be receiving the call to pick-up my new child. In the beginning things moved quickly and within a short time (3 months) I had DNA, exited Family Court and received Pre-Approval from the U.S Embassy. I was then submitted to PGN and kicked-out several times over the several months for errors. The weekly updates I was promised never came, my emails were either replied with two worded answers or not at all. I began to feel as if I was bothering my case manager and contact between me and this agency was gone. I had to take charge of my case. So many children celebrating their first birthday's in Guatemala, coming home a walking, talking toddler. Many families have had to hire outside help in order to complete their adoptions. Sue is well known in Guatemala, but not for her caring heart. She is a bully who abuses her families emotionally and financially. You quickly learn to remain silent if you want your child home. To many questions will result in the threat of a lost referral. If you become upset she will require a pyshological evaluation claiming you are an unfit parent. Her yahoo group is not there for support but rather a way to monitor her families. If you say something in any way contradictory to her you will be banned. Chats are often used to gossip and personal information is shared about non- participating families. If the tone becomes negative, Sue will share stories about famillies who have lost referrals or children that have died. Stating we should be happy we still have a referral. Celebrate Children was one of the last agenies to continue handing out referrals up until the very end. Many Power of Attorney's were signed the last couple weeks of December, but little information was shared with the families about the risks involved. I do feel that long ago Sue must have cared for these children, but somewhere between her office and the bank it was lost. I do not want to see any other families fall victim to this agency. Adoption is supposed to be a beautiful experience, but using Celebrate Children will take away from that and cause you a lifetime of pain.

Commenter#4

This agency is by far one of the worst I've ever dealt with. We were put through pure hell and one week before we were to adopt we were told China rejected us. The people working there claim to be christian but I saw anything but christianity. Stay away from this agency; it's about the money. They also lied to my wife and I continually. I don't know how they can sleep at night. Shame on Celebrate Children.

There are many more comments about this agency being a very bad one. I can tell all of the adoptive parents to do as others are beginning to do. File a civil RICO case against them Join Adoption Agency Abuse for further help. Also Join PEAR. These folks will help you to get back on the right track for your adoption.


5 comments:

heatherrainbow said...

there is no end to the corruption in Florida.

I wish so hard that all the adoptive parents and natural parents, and persons who were adopted could sue the state of Florida, and get all of our records and rights returned to us.

I know. Wishful thinking. I'm going to return to dreamland.

maybe said...

"I am also hearing that more and more adoptive parents want to control the information within adoption to belong to the triad itself. They do not want it at the control of neither the state nor the agency.


That is puzzling and alarming it itself."

Do you mind elaborting on that statement? I'm not sure I understood what you meant.

KITE KAMP GIRL said...

What that means is that they believe that those records belong to all of us. The natural parents, the adoptee and the adoptive parents should have access and copies. I am hearing more and more adoptive parents screaming for this information be given to us as whole.

maybe said...

Thanks for responding. I'm glad to hear that more adoptive parents are getting on the reform bandwagon.

Anonymous said...

The adoptive parents should have FULL access to all information. I have issues with adoption agencies that have a "disclaimer" written in their contracts.
They will not be held accountable for any medical or social issues the adopted child may have. As an Adoptive Parent you have to prove that the Agency had full knowledge of any issues. Some countries are known for putting down falisified medical/social information just to make a sale...and lets face it, it is a purchase of a child.
There needs to be more transparency and partnership in adoption. We all need to know that this is a positive or the best situation for the child.
With the economy the way it is, agencies don't want to risk losing any revenue from unsuspecting Adoptive Parents.
Prospective Parents need to investigate / due diligence and contact the Embassy and adoption authorities in that particular country before they decide on a country.
The adoptive parents should be active particpants in the adoption triad. Then their might be less "Wrongful Adoption Lawsuits and Class Action lawsuits, which are widespread.