So, you are now at the point where you need to choose the country where you will adopt from. As mentioned in my last post, there are two roads you can take here. One, is to choose a country that has ratified the Hague convention and the other is choosing one that hasn’t.
If you decide to go with a Hague country you will be obliged by law, in the majority of cases, to process your adoption with an ECAI or Entitat col·laboradores d'adopció internacional. In English, they are better known simply as adoption agencies. The difference in Catalunya is that these associations have been certified by the Generalitat and accredited in the country/ies they are working with, making them vastly different from, say, the American system of adoption agencies which is less regulated and freer to operate, to put it bluntly, within the realms of supply and demand.
The full list of ECAIs is available here, which also shows you the countries (not entirely up to date) they work with. There are many good reasons to go with an ECAI; the chances that your child is a ‘genuine’ orphan are far greater, they know the legal nuances of the countries they are working in, they will guide you through the mountains of time-consuming paperwork and there are often help groups for waiting parents and post-adoption support. The biggest downside is cost. A friend of mine, whose has taken the ECAI road assures me that you are looking at a minimum cost of €15,000, rising to €30,000 if you wish to adopt from Russia. The other is putting your future in the hands of a third party.
Having not dealt with ECAIs personally, the best advice I can give you is to narrow your choice down to a few countries and then call them. Ask about realistic waiting times and ‘quotas’ (they do exist), especially if you are wanting to adopt an infant and to be honest about your chances if you are a single parent. Get it straight about exactly what their fee includes (such as flights and accommodation when you pick up your child and the often-obligatory donation to the orphanage) and perhaps, if you are not in a hurry, if they envisage adding countries to their cache in the near future.
Once you have all that information your decision will almost be made for you. But if want to go it alone and adopt from a country that is not accredited with an ECAI you are perfectly within your legal right to do so. This is the road I am on—and more on that in the next post.