Our Awful Experience with Adoption Network Law Center

(I’m converting our domain, rmcsquared.net, into our professional web site and moving all personal content to this blog. Eventually, I’ll have to figure out what to do with it and how to organize it. Until then, I’m just creating a series of posts with the .net content.)

We adopted through Adoption Network Law Center, located in Southern California. If you Google “adoption”, ANLC comes up on the first page of results. We thought that was a good thing. We learned too late, that although ANLC markets itself as an agency, it is operates like a facilitator. What’s the difference? In our case, the cost and the services received. This is what Robyn has to say to prospective adoptive parents who ask her about ANLC.

We heard glowing reports about ANLC. We signed with them in May 2005, after extensive research. At the beginning, we had only wonderful experiences with them. Our adoptive parent counselor was patient, gave great feedback, guided us in our profile book and pictures (while allowing us to make the final decisions). We had a potential match before we were done with our home study. Then another, but the mom went into labor early. Finally, we matched with a great young woman in another state.

Then, the troubles began.

The “Birthmother Counselor” was very difficult to get a hold of. She didn’t answer email, nor was she ever available when we called. We were not told that our son’s birthmom picked us, nor was she told that we had accepted the match. We tried to call to verify with the agency, but couldn’t talk to her until 5pm the day after the meeting.

At first, S wanted to deliver in another state, because of the requirements of her state’s courts. However, S then decided to stay in-state, but no one told us. When we finally got on the phone with Counselor, she couldn’t explain the situation to us very well.  The county in which S lived doesn’t allow out-of-state adoptions. If S didn’t deliver in another county, we were not going to be able to adopt our baby. While I was trying to understand what this meant, Counselor said that another family she had worked with had an adoption fall through at the hospital, so, “see, your little problems don’t matter so much.”

I am not kidding. That’s what she said. I called her on it, and she asked me to forget she ever said that. But how do you forget that?

S was having trouble getting records from her doctor. He was anti-adoption, and even though S had signed a release form (of which ANLC had a copy), we still didn’t have a proof of pregnancy. We asked Counselor to step up the legal efforts to get the records. We also gave her our phone number, and said that if S asked for it, she could have it.

S called later that day, and we ended up talking for a total of 5 hours. We found out that Counselor had called her and told her that if we didn’t have the medical records, then we might pull out of the adoption. We NEVER said this! We were extremely angry. We also found out that Counselor had been telling us one story and S another. I reported Counselor to her supervisor and requested another counselor.

Counselor #2 never even gave us her last name or email address, and was never available via phone. At this point, S and I were communicating without the benefit (?) of ANLC.

Everything Counselor #2 said she would do, she didn’t. The social worker at the hospital never heard of us. S had to have an emergency C-section, and we were in the hospital for 19+ hours with no idea of what was happening. We were not allowed to go into the NICU, or even to see our son. No one at the hospital knew the adoption protocol.  We called Counselor #2 at 3 in the morning, and asked her to call the hospital social worker and the hospital nursery staff so that we could see our son. When we asked what resources were available to us, she told us, “Our own inner strength and our faith in God.”

For this, we paid them $16,000.

Because S was exhausted from a badly managed labor and delivery, Jackson was alone  in the NICU for at least the first 8 hours of his life, when S woke up and asked to see him. He was then alone again for another 12 hours. Counselor #2 never called the hospital social worker. Instead, she called S in the morning, told her that she had to change the hospital paperwork, and chewed her out over the phone. Max was there when she called.

Our lawyer was appalled by how ANLC worked, and even the California ICPC (Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children) office was suspicious of the fees ANLC charged. The ICPC work wasn’t included in the exorbitant fees, although the contract says it is, and we were anxious to go home. ANLC wasn’t returning messages from the CA ICPC office. ANLC wouldn’t help us with the ICPC unless we gave them another $1000. I finally lost it at one of the attorneys, told her how everything was royally fouled up, and how our son spent his first night in this world alone because of their mistakes. I told her we didn’t give them $16,000 for her to claim that the ICPC wasn’t her job.

She did the work.

Our total cost was over $30,000. Had we been more careful, perhaps we could have seen this coming. We asked and asked about “hidden fees” and were told that almost everything (except travel and birthmom expenses) was covered by the $16,000 we paid to ANLC. All that ended up being covered was the advertising and match. Everything else, we paid for out-of-pocket (except for the ICPC work I mentioned).

I had heard so many glowing remarks about ANLC. We knew it we be expensive, but we thought that the number of adoptions they do, the quick match time, and the legal and counseling resources were all worth it. In the end, we wondered why we even bothered to use them, because they did so little for us. They got us the match, and they let everything else drop on the floor.

In the end, we did adopt our beautiful baby boy, and we love him so very much. We thanked our adoptive parent counselor for helping us in the beginning, but the people we were handed off to just didn’t seem to care.

Never in a million years would we use ANLC again. We love our son dearly, and would not want another child over him. We figure that our role now is to serve as an example to others and discourage them from using ANLC.

Since the adoption, I have found many other people through the forums at adoption.com who have had even worse experiences. It seems that every time I share my story, the person sends me a message back telling me that he/she has received lots of comments like mine. I have been told about a birthmom who said that ANLC messed up the paperwork so that she could have taken the baby back if she had wanted to. Another birthmom who was active on the forums used ANLC to place her daughter, and ANLC was not forthcoming with the proper legal information.

ANLC treats expectant mothers and birthmothers unethically: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/115/RipOff0115152.htm and http://www.adoptionagencyratings.com/adoption-network.htm

We recommend that you RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!
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36 thoughts on “Our Awful Experience with Adoption Network Law Center

  1. I’ve always felt that ANLC was unethical.

    In regards to deciding on agencies, and especially ones which are ethical towards birthmothers, if I were you, I would check out the “unplanned pregnancy” page of your chosen agency’s website and read it as if you yourself were an expectant mother considering your options. ANLC is one of the most coercive in that regards and I could see that just by looking at their website.

    The best ones would be the social service agencies, where adoption is just one of the many services provided for their emoms in , rather than a stand alone adoption agency or law firm (law firms are worse than agencies in my opinion). The upside is that the emom is treated with respect, the adoption is often relatively inexpensive compared with others (because adoption isn’t the social service agencies reason for existing) – the “downside” is that adoption situations are far less (I use inverted commas because it isn’t really a downside – the reason adoption situations are so few in these agencies is that the emoms are given all the resources and assistance they need and that their counselling is probably less biased than other agencies).

  2. I am a birthmother that placed my daughter through ANLC and I had an absolutely amazing experience dealing with them. There was one issue with a birthmother counselor who I reported for something that was inappropriate and she was gone quickly after that. My main counselor R was incredibly supportive and loving, to this day we stay in touch. The adoptive couple I chose was perfect and I felt at home with them when ever we spoke or met. I would not change one bit of my experience with them, they helped me get away from the situation in my home state, helped me find a fantastic living situation, had me meet other birthmoms, I went to birthing classes with the other birthmoms, and had so much support and love during the hardest yet most rewarding time of my life. I am very sorry that you and others have had negative experiences but I have a huge amount of respect and appreciation for the people at ANLC. I was encouraged to make the experience what I and the adoptive parents wanted and we did, which ended in something magical.

    -faith

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  5. I was an employee of ANLC. Once i figured out what their M.O. was I wanted to vomit. These people are BEYOND unethical. Boy do I have stories.

  6. My husband and i adopted our first child with anlc and i have nothing but wonderful things to say. We started the process in march 2012 and our baby was born july 2012. The counselors were always available to answer my questions. One of them even gave me her home number while we were at the hospital when our daughter was being born. Im so glad i didnt get online and read these reviews before signing up otherwise i may not havemy daughter today. Adoption is expensive no matter which agency you use.

    • Adoption is expensive no matter which way you choose, although it shouldn’t be (but that’s another subject). I am glad that you found ANLC to be helpful. Our experience was that they were unethical and practically useless after they had our money. But, definitely, congratulations on having your daughter!

      • We will be adopting through ANLC and are very impressed so far. I wonder why you seem so angry when you have a precious son…

        • The ends do not justify the means. Our adoption happened in spite of ANLC, not because of them. They took our money, didn’t do the work they said they would do, and treated our son’s birthmother horribly. I know many other people, birthmothers, prospective adoptive parents, and adoptive parents, who used ANLC around the same time and had terrible stories to tell.
          All of that said, as I noted in my post, they are under new ownership now. I truly hope that ANLC is not what it once was, that they are now an ethical, helpful adoption entity.
          Good luck on your adoption journey.

    • We are into our final call with ANCL, and I am nervous now that I am reading all these reviews. Can you tell me more about your experience and who you worked with?

      • Our experience is pretty much what I wrote above. Our “birthmother counselors” were Marie and Ellen. I know Ellen worked there as recently as 2010.

        I strongly recommend not using a facilitator, such as ANLC. Instead, use an agency. If you search my blog for “facilitator” you’ll find out why. Facilitators aren’t licensed in the same way as agencies. Once a facilitator has your money, they have no real incentive to help you.

      • Hello Jami,

        My husband and I are started with ANLC in June and are expected to be parents on March 4th. Please be sure that you are fully aware of all expenses as we have had several surprises within the last few weeks. This process is going to cost about $15,000 more than what we expected when it is all said and done. Not to mention that the phase II fee to me is useless as the attorneys handle all of the legal work. This company is not a law firm as they set the grounds for potential adoptive parents. Please be sure to ask many questions and make sure that you know what you are getting into before signing anything.

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  8. I’m so surprised to read this we adopted our daughter through adoption network and we had a truly blessed experience everyone we dealt with was kind and very easy to reach and talk to our birth parents and grandparents were amazing and felt supported I watched our counselor stand up for our birth mother and we were told very clearly our birth families feelings and what to expect to help them I truly was so beyond happy we chose them I can’t come up with one negative We just adopted our daughter so perhaps things have changed over time I’m so sorry anyone felt they had a bad experience because I recommend them to everyone I still speak with members of our team and consider them like family I can’t say enough good things about our experience

  9. Robin, my wife and I are still waiting. Have been since Sept 2013. We could sure use some assurance. ANLC appears to have our best interest as their priority We sure hope so.

    • Well, you haven’t been waiting all that long, so that’s a plus. I think ANLC only has their bottom line as their priority. Almost all facilitators are for-profit entities, and, while non-profit doesn’t mean an agency or professional is ethical, being for-profit is seen by a lot of people in the adoption community as being inherently unethical. I hope you’re someone who has a good experience with ANLC. Good luck!

    • I am a birth mother looking to put my baby up for adoption. I have had nothing but trouble going threw ANLC. I can never contact them and am having a very hard time getting the help I need. I am a little over 6 months pregnant with only 12 weeks till my due date. June 13. I have yet to pick a family or get any financial support. I have tried to explain it to them many of times. I just relocated due to the pregnancie. I lost my job and my home in Mississippi.I now live in Memphis ten. And I do need financial help but im more concerned about finding a good home for my baby. I’m asking for 650 a month which would only add up to 1950. And that’s only what I can not afford right now. (Removed contact information ~ Robyn)

      • My suggestion to you would be to NOT work with ANLC. They’re not an agency, anyway. You might try Open Adoption and Family Services, which is a very reputable, ethical agency. Pact is an ethical facilitator that works with women who are placing children of color. There are a lot of different agencies out there who can make sure that you get the help that you need, such as financial assistance through programs in your state or community and options counseling.

      • Hi Robyn, My wife and I are actually looking into ANLC and a few other agencies for adopting our first child. If you have any interest in talking to us about your situation let me know and we can give you our information. Thanks and good luck with whatever you do with your situation.

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  11. Thank you for posting. I have been looking at alot of agencies and was about to go wtih ANLC until we just found out we are moving to VA, I am in the Navy. So we are basically starting from scratch because no one will do a home study before we move. Glad I didnt go with ANLC!

  12. We were going to go with ANLC until we read so many negative reviews. Have you heard anything about AdoptHelp? They are also a law firm but have all good reviews. We are also looking into Nightlight Christian Adoptions and American Adootions. Any feedback will be helpful, thanks!

  13. Best of luck to all of you in the process and trying to make the decision on who to go with. There are some people who get picked right away with ANLC and they are very lucky, although I think there are certain profiles that get picked way sooner than others. We’ve been waiting for close to 2 years now and we’re fairly open on our preferences. We were told a very different story on the wait time and I voiced my opinion about this and I don’t think my Counselor liked it too much. For all I know we’re been blacklisted now. We received a call about one situation and we were told that another couple backed out because they were uncomfortable about the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy. I had about 30 seconds to confirm that if our profiles were presented and we were chosen, we could not back out no matter what we uncovered in the process because the birth-mom was devastated that the other couple backed out. What? Based on a few bullet points you’ve given me I have to commit to this no matter what I uncover in the process and someone just backed out (there has to be a reason)? Being as disheartened as we are right now I didn’t want to act on impulse since this was the first potential (and we still might not have gotten picked). As I’m thinking about what is going on, my counselor almost scolding me says, “This is what adoption is! It’s women in crisis situations” and I needed to make a decision. Well we don’t know much about adoption outside of the picture that was painted for us in the sales call. We are very unhappy with them and feel that we’ve been led down a path of empty promises. My advice to anyone looking to adopt is to go with an agency that doesn’t take money from you prior to a match. We knew full well that it was non-refundable, but you never know what changes will happen to you while you’re waiting and if you’re disappointed with one place, you can try another. Best of luck to you all – birth-mothers and adoptive parents.

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