Duke City Adoption Agency Sued by Counterpart

Date: 2004-02-19

Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Author: Katie Burford Journal Staff Writer

* A.M.O.R. accused of not completing deals despite receiving money

An embattled international adoption agency in Albuquerque is facing a new problem: a lawsuit alleging it defrauded another agency.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of St. Louis, Mo.,-based Children's Hope International against A.M.O.R. Adoptions, Inc. in Albuquerque.

A.M.O.R. specializes in the adoption of children from Guatemala and operates an orphanage in that country. The agency's license in New Mexico was not renewed in November 2002 after the Children, Youth and Families Department found various problems.

According to the lawsuit filed in St. Louis County Court, between December 2002 and July 2003, the St. Louis agency matched 14 clients with children from A.M.O.R.'s orphanage as part of an agreement between the two agencies.

Although A.M.O.R. was paid about $25,000 in fees for the adoptions, none was completed, the lawsuit states.

Marian McAndrews, head of A.M.O.R., could not be reached for comment.

Bart Sullivan, attorney for Children's Hope International, said A.M.O.R. was recently served with the lawsuit and has 30 days to respond.

Children's Hope International is a nonprofit adoption agency that places about 800 children a year from countries such as China and Russia, according to its Web site.

The agency's lawsuit claims A.M.O.R. didn't initiate the necessary adoption proceedings in Guatemala, falsified documents and didn't account for fees it received.

The lawsuit asks that all fees be returned, records on the adoptions be turned over to Children's Hope International and punitive damages be levied against A.M.O.R.

In November 2002, the state didn't renew A.M.O.R.'s license after CYFD became aware of various problems, which include clients being matched with children who weren't free for adoption and the agency not adequately accounting for money it collected.

At the time, McAndrews said these problems had been corrected and agreed to a CYFD plan to regain its license. The plan included submission of biweekly reports on the progress of pending adoptions.

In an August interview with the Journal, McAndrews said she had decided to close the adoption agency after the cases -- 17 at the time -- were completed. However, she said the organization would continue to operate the orphanage.

On Tuesday, CYFD spokesman Matt Dillman said A.M.O.R. has completed one adoption since August.

"We can only confirm one completion," he said. "It doesn't appear there's been much progress."

Dillman said he didn't know what consequences the agency will face if the remaining adoptions aren't completed but different options are being considered.

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