We were matched with Cassie’s birthmother through Lil Snee’s facilitation service, AdoptLink. Lil maintains an Available Adoption Situations page, which I checked pretty much daily. I inquired about a situation in June 2011, but that one had more “birthmother expenses” than I was comfortable with. However, I did send Lil our home study, profile book, and other information, plus $15, in case we ever wanted to be shown to any of the expectant parents again. Our home study social worker had confirmed that Lil was legit. I figured, it was $15, not a huge investment.
We had already applied to work with Cathy Mantell of Adoption Consultants, Inc. (but that’s another post) and were about to sign up with Nightlight Christian Adoptions (also another post), when I saw a situation on Lil’s web site that was in our budget. Most of Lil’s situations are very expensive. I decided to ask to be shown. I never thought we’d be chosen.
Surprise! We were.
Lil provides a lot of information about the expectant mother. We even received a picture of Laine. She doesn’t provide real names or precise locations, however. The information she provided about finalization was incorrect. That turned out to be a big problem. You may recall that no one told us we had to return to Louisiana for finalization. Lil’s information specifically told us that finalization could take place in six months and we would not have to return. That wasn’t true. Because we didn’t use an agency, we couldn’t finalize until 12 months after we took custody of Cassie, and we did have to return to LA.
Lil always responds to email and phone calls in a timely manner. I greatly appreciated this. However, she’s not a very personable person. She’s quite businesslike. If you’re looking for someone who gives you warm fuzzies, Lil is not your gal. If you don’t care about the warm fuzzies, but want to have every question you have answered relatively quickly, that’s Lil.
At the time of our match, Lil had a very interesting policy. If the adoption didn’t occur because the mother chose to parent, or if the child was born with special needs for which the adoptive parents were not prepared, almost all of the match money was refundable. If the adoptive parents chose to match with a different expectant mother using AdoptLink, and the child was 3/4 – full African American, the match fee would roll over to the new match. If the adoptive parents chose to match with a different expectant mother using AdoptLink, and the child was not at least 3/4 African American, then additional money was due at the time of the new match. I’ve always seen this as penalizing parents who thought they would “settle” for an African American baby, then found a Caucasian baby later who was more to their liking. Analyzing it now, I realize that perhaps Lil does charge more for Caucasian matches than African American matches, and that troubles me (but that’s also another post, really).
Early on in the match, we had an issue. The social worker working with Laine apparently told her that it was usual for the birth parents and adoptive parents to name the baby together. Long time friends and followers know that I have had a girl’s name picked out since I was 8. Laine proposed a name that wasn’t Cassandra. She didn’t like the name Cassandra, or my second choice name (Tabitha). Lil advised us to tell Laine that we would name the baby whatever she wanted, then to change it at finalization. I wasn’t going to start our relationship based on a lie. Ultimately, Laine put the name she had chosen on the birth certificate, we kept one of the names (Zaishay) as Cassie’s middle name. We told Laine this was going to happen, but that she could still call the baby by the name she chose. Lil’s reasoning was that we didn’t want the match to fail based on a little thing like a name. I don’t think that a name is a little thing, and, as I said, I couldn’t imagine lying about this.
Lil went on vacation during the month that Cassie was due. It never occurred to me to call her when Cassie was born – we just didn’t have that kind of relationship. She called us and was surprised to find out we were in Louisiana. She was kind of mad, actually. She hasn’t been in contact with us since she found out Cassie was born and the termination was signed. She sent us a nice, short, and sweet congratulations email message.
We paid Lil $12,300 for her role in Cassie’s adoption. $4800 was the fee to become an AdoptLink client. No portion of this fee was refundable. $7500 was the fee for advertising and the match. As I explained above, this could be partially refundable if the adoption didn’t occur. (However, if the adoption didn’t occur because Cassie was born a boy, nothing would have been refunded. Lil/AdoptLink doesn’t guarantee the baby’s sex.)
When the issues with Harris arose, I never told Lil. It didn’t occur to me to tell her, because I didn’t think there was anything she could do. It was only after Harris’s rights were terminated, and we were thinking about finalization, that I realized I could have at least called her to see what help she could provide, if any.
Overall, I’m fairly neutral on Lil. We adopted our daughter through her, but I don’t feel that what she did merited $12,000. I’m sure she would disagree; I’ve never been a facilitator, so I don’t know what her expenses are. On the minus side, she advised us to lie to Laine about the name. However, on the very much a plus side, she was professional and gave us all of the information she could. Another minus: the information about finalization was incorrect (or at least incomplete). A big plus: she was the only person I dealt with who consistently returned email messages and phone calls in a timely manner. She was wonderful to work with in that regard. A true professional. She’s a nice enough person, too. I don’t mean to give the impression that she doesn’t care about her clients. But we were just that – clients, not friends. Of course, you may not want to be besties with your facilitator.
Overall, I’d recommend going with an agency over any facilitator (but that’s, say it with me now, another post). If you’re looking at a situation that Lil has posted, and you’re wondering about her, I hope I’ve given you a bit of picture of what it’s like to work with her.