Without undermining the value of subjective information that is received from those who have already completed their adoption, there’s great need for objective information. I think knowing what we know about Indian adoptions, it is paramount that every PAP identify some objective means to find an ethical adoption agency. I have identified a method and if it works, you can try this:
An area that one needs to pay close attention is the trail of money. It is the root cause of all the abuses that we see and hear in the field of adoption. My suggestion is going to use all the information that is available in the public domain.
Before I give out the methodology, let me tell you how the foreign money is supposed to be accounted for by Indian non-profits or INP (by the way adoption agencies in India are registered as non-profits). No non-profit organization can receive foreign funds without the permission of the Indian government. Permission is granted under an act called “Foreign Contribution and Regulation Act” or FCRA. Every year INP is supposed to file an FCRA filing (like tax filing in the US) with the government of India. A year ago our Finance Minister (equivalent to the Treasure Secretary in the US) made a statement that 50% of registered INP’s are not filing their FCRA filings. Yes, you read it correctly it is 50%.
To put it all in brief, this methodology that I am going to suggest is to identify which INP (or an adoption agency) has filed FCRA filing and if they did, to see to what extent money is accounted for? I have made an assumption here that all the adoption agencies in the US are non-profits.
Obtain Form 990 of an adoption agency (or agencies) in the US. Form 990 is an IRS tax form that a non-profit in the US has to file each year. In the form 990, identify the amount that was sent to an agency in India. If I am right, any non-profit in the US supposed to provide you with a form 990 if you request and if you’re willing to bear the costs of copying, and mailing. If an agency doesn’t give you form 990, you can go to any “Foundation Center” (http://foundationcenter.org) libraries and use their software to get one. If an agency in the US is “for profit”, they wont be filing this form but check and see if they have foundations under which they may be giving funds to the India agencies and you need to get Form 990 of that foundation.
File an RTI application (Right to Information) with CARA asking for number of adoptions done by a certain agency in reference.
File an RTI application with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in India asking for FCRA filing of an agency in reference.
Identify all the agencies that an Indian agency works with to do Inter-country adoptions. There are agencies in India that work with multiple agencies from a same foreign country.
With the documents obtained above, you have the information such as number of adoptions done in a year, amount of money prescribed by CARA per inter-country adoption ($ 3500/-), and money received from a foreign source etc. Your interpretation must look for consistency of information: money that is received (by an agency) needs to be reflected on the FCRA filing. Explanations can be sought when inconsistencies are identified.
In the midst all the scandals that we hear and see, if you can find an agency that accounts for all the money that is received, to some extent you can be sure of credibility of an agency. Then one can blend the subjective information with it to come to a logical conclusion to choose an adoption agency.
This would be a good case study for anyone that is interested to pursue. Researchers, sociologists, adoption activists, media houses, can come out with a consumer reports kind of report every year using such information.