This is a story of a friend that I have grown to love and admire. I asked her if I could share this story knowing that it could help so many of us as we embark on adoption to make sure that our children and their birth families are protected in every way. Please read Charissa's story below and pray for their family!
"It is with great sadness and regret I announce that due to very difficult circumstances we will not be adopting the three children from Ethiopia that we committed to adopt.We hired Celebrate Children International (CCI) to facilitate our adoption. However, as time went on we became increasingly concerned and uneasy about the lack of answers we were getting, the defensiveness of the agency, and mostly, the fact that the agency was so heavily involved in the relinquishment process, when this is clearly a conflict of interest according to every other reputable agency we contacted.
We terminated our contract with CCI, hoping we could find some answers through a private investigation. We were able to find someone who could go to the orphanage personally to interview the children and their mothers. Our suspicions were confirmed by the mothers, CCI had approached these mothers and encouraged families to place their children for adoption to the United States. We have video of the director specifically telling the mother that she could easily find a new family for her child.
Other than the videos, we do not know what the mothers were told or whether they were offered anything in exchange, or why they didn't take the children back when they were offered them, but it was clear "our" three children are/were orphans as a direct result of an adoption agency recruiting and exploiting families and their children. We have been told the orphanage where the children have been residing has cut ties with CCI as well, stating they were also concerned about ethics that were being violated by the agency. The children are now listed with another more reputable agency. We feel peace knowing this new agency is now carefully investigating all the cases of the children at that orphanage who were previously listed with CCI.
It is my prayer that these investigations will result in the children being returned to their biological families.As you can imagine, this has been an extremely long and difficult three months for our entire family.CCI continues to practice in Ethiopia and will most likely continue these unethical practices. We have done what we can to report the evidence we have to the proper authorities, and the agency is now being investigated in Ethiopia and in Florida. Unfortunately when we called the state of Florida, we were told that there have been multiple complaints about CCI, many of them about similar unethical practices in Guatemala but there was little that can be done until Florida updates their laws to include international adoption. The US State Department can only challenge Hague accredited organizations. CCI was denied Hague accreditation and so they are exempt from US State Department scrutiny. There is a loophole that allows unethical and illegal activity to continue and it is explained in this article.We made the difficult decision to challenge our agency by asking them difficult questions. In doing so, we believe we have uncovered things that every adoptive family should be prepared to uncover.
Please pray with us that families can be restored, truth come to light, and that justice will be served. There are so many vulnerable children that are true orphans that do indeed need homes. We will always advocate adoption for those who truly need to be adopted. However, sadly, it has come to our attention that there is a great need for reform and accountability for those who profit from the adoption industry.
This adoption turned out much different than we prayed or imagined. We set out to do good by adopting a sweet little girl wearing a yellow dress, but we pray we have done a greater good by doing what we believe was the right thing to do. We are reminded that those kids were never 'our' kids, they were the Lord's all along. We have relinquished them back into His care, trusting that He will be their Defender, Protector, Father. I just thought you all should know. Thanks for your prayers and support. We are open to questions if you have any."
I will link their blog here in case you want to contact her for questions. May we all learn from the incredible questions that this family asked and decisions they made and may we all follow in their steps!