I moderate comments on this blog. Mostly to prevent the people trying to sell diet products and sex toys from hijacking the comments sections (and my, aren’t there a lot of you that stop by). This comment came in today and got me thinking. It really isn’t worthy of being placed in the comments section. It deserves an entire post:
“New comment waiting approval on Bulgaria to Maine Adoption
Bon commented on:
When all is said and done I’m estimating that this adoption will cost $35,000 – $36,000.
If you are reading this and are …
i AM VERY LEERY OF THE BULGARIAN EXPENSIVE ADOPTION SYSTEM. IT SOUNDS LIKE A SCAM AND TAKING ADVANTAGE OF DESPERATE PEOPLE i WOULD LIKE TO CHECK ON THE LEGALITY OF THIS OPERATION.
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IP: 220.127.116.11, 71-215-32-14.omah.qwest.net
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So let me break down Bon’s concern’s. Am I being scammed?
The extremely short answer is: No
The slightly longer answer is: Not anymore
The more complicated answer is: Not likely, but if I am, it probably isn’t by who Bon suspects.
Let me explain.
My adoption is expensive. Make no mistake about it. But Bulgarian adoptions when looked at on the world stage are amongst the LEAST expensive international adoptions. Again: LEAST EXPENSIVE. And I know where the money goes. For the better part of 8 days we had a woman with a Master’s degree travelling with us, at our beck and call 24 hours a day on our first trip, we have a lawyer working to bring our daughter home. I have a caseworker (Bless you Allison) who has to deal with neurotic ME. Who is occasionally (scratch that, CONTANTLY) up at all hours of the day and night asking complicated and absurd questions. Writing these lengthy e-mails. AND ALLISON ALWAYS E-MAILS ME BACK WITHIN 20 MINUTES. Always. I have a social worker (The lovely Lee) who has put in countless hours on our case, who travels many hours to get to my home, and accomodates my schedule by always doing my home visits on the weekends so I don’t have to miss work. Then there is Jessica at St. Andre’s who is just AMAZING. Not to mention all of the people at Happy Family and One World that I probably don’t even KNOW about. All these man hours put in my all these highly educated people just so that my daughter can come and live with me. I WOULD HOPE THAT THEY WOULD BE FAIRLY PAID. I question at this point given how much trouble I’ve been if they are even making minimum wage. So there is that part. There is also the part that this is not a scam because: I’ve gone there. I’ve met Jude. I’ve met her foster parents, I’ve met her social workers. I’ve seen the village where she lives. I know her address (I then looked it up on Google Maps and I know what the roof looks like). I know her birthname, her identity code number. Her life story. I know her favorite food. Her shoe size. What she does when she’s tired. It’s not a scam…well not anymore
If you’ve read back in this blog you’ve read some of the entries on Adoption Ark (my original placing agency). Some of the employees there were/are fine people and were just as hurt in that mess as I and many other adopting families were. To revisit, mere days before my dossier was submitted Adoption Ark closed and never returned over $1,800 of my post-placement deposit (which is one reason why this adoption is on the expensive side of Bulgarian Adoptions in general). I have hesitated to say that I was scammed. I do not think the two employees I ever delt with in this agency had any involvement with what was going on. The experience forever changed my outlook on international adoptions and I don’t trust easily anymore (poor Allison has had to live with the fallout that is my paranoia, again she has been great!).
Bon’s main concern seem to be about the legitimacy of the fees. I feel (as I stated just above) that the legitimacy of the AGENCY fees are well justified, however what many do not realize is that there are a lot of other fees. Miscallenous fees. I AGREE with Bon on many of these and would like to call these into question now. What Bon may not realize, what I didn’t realize when I started this adoption is that these fees aren’t charged by the adoption agencies. They aren’t charged by Bulgaria. They aren’t charged by my daughter’s foster parents (or orphanage). These fees are charged by the US GOVERNMENT and State Government. Don’t believe me? Read on for the breakdown of fees I have paid to the government for this adoption:
Fee paid to US Customs and Immigration in 2012 for I-800A (approval to adopt): $720.00
Fee paid to US Customs and Immigration in 2012 to have electronic fingerprints done for I-800A: $85.00
Fee paid to Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2012 to have Background check done: $18.00
Fee paid to local police department in 2012 to have fingerprints done: $10.00
Fee paid to Maine Department of Health and Human Services in 2012 for Child Protective Clearance Background Check: $15.00
Fee paid to Maine State Bureau of Investigation in 2012 to have Background check done: $41.00
Fee paid to Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles in 2012 to have Driving Record Check done: $10.00
Fee paid to Department of State in 2012 to have documents Apostilled: $8.00
Fee paid to Maine Secretary of State in 2012 to have documents Apostilled: $130.00
Fee paid to US Customs and Immigration in 2013 for I-800A (approval to adopt) UPDATE: $360.00
Fee paid to US Customs and Immigration in 2013 to have electronic fingerprints done for I-800A update: $85.00
Fee paid to Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2013 to have background checks done: $36.00
Fee paid to local police department in 2013 to have fingerprints done: $20.00
Fee paid to Maine Department of Health and Human Services in 2013 for Child Protective Clearance Background check: $30.00
Fee Paid to Maine State Bureau of Investigation in 2013 to have background check done: $82.00
Fee paid to Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles in 2013 to have driving record check done: $20.00
Fee paid to Department of State in 2013/2014 to have documents apostilled: $16.00
Fee paid to Maine Secretary of State in 2013/2014 to have documents apostilled: $30.00
And this doesn’t include the fees still to be paid:
Fee to US Embassy of $230.00 for Jude’s Visa
And (Here’s the one that really irks me) a fee of aprox $200-$300 paid to a medical provider of the Embassy’s choice (not covered by Health Insurance, which Jude has) for a “Panel Physcian’s assessment” and Tuberculosis testing. Here is why it is ridiculous: Jude will be seen by her pediatrician (whom I work with and trust) within a week of coming home AND she has been vaccinated against TB 10 months ago (it is also very likely that we will test her again once she is in the US). I have also heard sories that these assessments barely inclue a physical assesment at all. Mostly just paperwork. Seriously, if it is just paperwork…I can do that (Heck I DO do that…EVERYDAY)
So I have paid (are you ready?): $1,716.00 to my own government to adopt my daughter (with another $430-$530 to go). And why? (Especially with the more expensive items) They didn’t do much work? They simply copied my homestudy or all the work that Allison did! I cannot see the justification in cost on some of these items. In the end: Roughly 6% of the total adoption costs went to the government that I already give taxes to.
Yes Bon, there are Adoption scams. I have seen them up close and personal. But the scams do not lie in Bulgaria…