STATE SUES ADOPTION AGENCY
Times Union, The (Albany, NY)
Author: CAILIN BROWN Staff writer
One of the couples in the case was promised a baby three different times
BETHLEHEM -- The eight agonizing years Becky and Barry Gray spent working with a for-profit adoption agency left them with no child, $9,000 worth of debt and the heartache of dashed hopes.
Now the Grays and 11 other families are part of a lawsuit filed against Today's Adoption Agency by the state attorney general's office. The company has been temporarily shutdown pending a court date Thursday.
Today's Adoption, which had offices in Port Jervis and in Hawley, Pa., used ``unlawful and abusive adoption practices,'' according to the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan. In some cases, prospective parents were given insufficient medical histories and the children they later adopted became seriously ill and died, the suit states.
``We're also examining the possibility of bringing criminal charges against the company and its operations,'' said Joe Mahoney, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.
``Some of the adoptive children the company claimed it was going to make available may have never existed,'' he said.
On Friday, the Grays cuddled their 9-month-old daughter, Rachael, whom they adopted through Parsons Child and Family Center in April, while they recounted their horrific experience that began in 1988 at the Comfort Inn in Colonie.
The Grays and about 10 other couples went to learn more about adoption at a seminar sponsored by Today's Adoption Agency.
They decided to fill out paperwork to get a child from Chile and paid $150 and signed a contract. It was 1992 before the company sent them pictures of a baby girl and then they were required to put down $4,000.
That adoption fell through, and they were next promised another Chilean baby, which also fell through, Becky said.
``By the second time it happened, we had a lot of doubts, but we had invested all of this money and all of this time,'' Becky said.
After a third child was pledged to them, this time from Paraguay, and that fell through, the Grays confronted Today's Adoption management in Port Jervis in May 1995. Barry threatened to take the company to court if it did not return some of the money they had invested in the process. After a while, the company returned $4,000 to the couple.
``It was terrible,'' said Becky, 40. She kept telling her two sons that they would soon have a sister and then the plans would be dashed.
After they successfully adopted Rachael, who arrived on a jet plane in New York City in April, they later received a picture of a baby from Paraguay through a Today's lawyer there.
That's when they contacted the attorney general's office to relay their experience.
``We knew there were no adoptions going on in Paraguay,'' Becky said.
A secretary at Today's office in Hawley, Pa. declined comment Friday and the Port Jervis office was shut down several months ago.
Suzanne D'Aversa, an adoption supervisor, said people planning to adopt should plan carefully.
``Parents need to look at how much money they put in up front. That's probably the biggest indicator of problems,'' she said.
``In the case of Today's, most of the families had a picture of a child. That's part of the lure to make you keep paying. You feel like you've invested so much for this little baby that you love,'' D'Aversa said.