On Tuesday, I got a call from “Unknown” as I was picking up Jackson. My grandmother comes up as “Unknown” and one of her friends is in hospice, so I thought it might be bad news. Instead, it was a woman from Adoption Network Law Center. Confused, I explained that I was picking up my son and couldn’t talk right then. She asked if she could call back tomorrow afternoon. I said yes, but I picked my son up at 3:00, so it would have to be earlier than that. She said she’d call back.
I spent much of the evening and the day Wednesday planning how I was going to respond when ANLC told me that they didn’t like my blog post about our experience, and which of my lawyer family and/or friends to call when they threatened legal action. But don’t worry Aunt Sue, Uncle Bruce, Uncle Jon, Krista, Ally, Will, Josh, and Kevin, apparently, I needn’t have worried.
At 2:00, Kristin Yellin called. She is the director of ANLC. She became the director in 2007, thus, after we adopted Jackson. (I knew that ANLC had changed hands, but I did not know precisely when.) She stated that she wanted to “reach out” to me, because she had had some people call and specifically reference my experience in their questions to her. She had read my post and wanted to hear about our experience from me.
I essentially repeated my blog post, embellishing with specific details when necessary. She was “shocked” and “floored” that we had not been told that out-of-state legal costs were not included in the fees we paid ANLC. That was her main focus, actually. She expressed regret that our experience was so negative. She also asked if there was anything she could do to “make it right.”
I explained that we did get to adopt our son, and that there were other couples I had been in contact with online who never got to adopt through ANLC, despite paying the hefty fee ($16,000 at the time). We can’t turn back time. We can’t force Ellen to do what she said she would do and contact the hospital social worker or be nice and supportive to S. We can’t get the correct answer to the fees question, and ask to be shown only for situations in California. Besides, going back in time and changing that particular fact would mean that we would not have gotten to adopt Jackson, and that we wouldn’t have his family in our lives, and we love them. What we didn’t love was that, once ANLC had our money, they essentially stopped working for us.
She did confirm that Ellen still works for ANLC, although she mostly works with birthmothers in housing. And yes, I did briefly consider asking her to fire Ellen, but even I am not that spiteful. (Although I really do hope Ellen has taken some counseling courses since 2006.)
Overall, I was impressed with Ms. Yellin’s display of sympathy for our situation, in which she played no part. She said that they had rewritten the adoption services agreement several times, with the goal of making it easier to understand. She never made excuses, other than to say that she wasn’t even at ANLC at the time. She never tried to turn things around and say that we must have been incorrect. She mostly listened.
She invited us to ANLC HQ if we were ever in the area so we could see that things were different now. (They actually have an office that is visible from I-5 on the way to my aunts’ houses.) She ended the conversation by saying that if Max or I ever thought of anything that could “make it right,” we should feel free to call her.
It doesn’t change our experience. It doesn’t change what I think about facilitators in general. However, as a Libra, I like to be fair. Thus, I thought it would only be fair to say that Ms. Yellin did, indeed “reach out,” didn’t threaten any legal action, and presented herself as a decent human being. I’m not really sure what to do with that, but there it is.