GLASTONBURY ADOPTION AGENCY CLOSES ABRUPTLY
The Hartford Courant
Author: CHRISTOPHER KEATING And ERIC R. DANTON; Courant Staff Writers
A Glastonbury-based adoption agency has unexpectedly shut down, leaving as many as 50 clients unsure about their chances for adopting children.
The agency, known as A Child Among Us -- The Center For Adoption Inc., suffered from mounting financial problems, and about 10 employees have been released from their jobs, officials said Friday.
The nonprofit agency, which was operated out of executive director Lillian F. Flint's large Colonial home in South Glastonbury, oversaw about 70 international adoptions a year from countries such as China, Russia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bulgaria, Guatemala and Ukraine.
Flint informed state officials that she was closing the agency, but she did not provide financial details, said Thomas DeMatteo, who oversees adoption licenses at the state Department of Children and Families in Hartford.
``Her reputation was very good,'' DeMatteo said. ``This took a lot of people by surprise.''
Flint, 51, could not be reached for comment at her home and did not return telephone messages.
Board members said Friday that the agency's deteriorating financial position prevented it from operating any longer. The now-defunct agency had debts of about $96,000 and an annual budget of about $550,000, one former board member said. Public records show that the Glastonbury Bank & Trust Co. had placed two liens on the agency's inventory and equipment, but no specific dollar amounts were sought in the filings at the Secretary of the State's office. The agency had operated solely on parents' fees and employed about 40 facilitators in the seven countries where it operated.
As of Friday, the state attorney general's office and the state Department of Consumer Protection had not received any complaints about the agency, officials said.
DeMatteo said he had spoken to some clients who were still seeking adoptions. He said he did not know the amount of money paid by prospective parents who have yet to complete an adoption.
``I'm not aware of any allegations of fraud in this case,'' DeMatteo said. ``No one is telling me that they were defrauded.''
Flint received her first state license for the child-placing agency in 1996, and it has been renewed two times since then. She still retains her license in order to finish adoptions that are in various stages of completion.
``At some point, we will ask her to turn in her license,'' DeMatteo said. ``She's not taking any new clients. We consider her shut down because she's in the process of winding up. She's out of business.''
Flint's answering machine provided a message to her clients:
``Most of the international clients have been served to the degree that they can continue their adoption without the need of a licensed child-placing agency,'' the message states. ``For those who are just beginning, there are many very good agencies in the state of Connecticut that can help you. ... These are trying times for all of us. I wish you all the best.''
Board members expressed frustration that the agency has closed its doors.
``We just didn't have enough money to make payroll,'' said board member Marty Lane, a West Hartford homemaker. ``They always kind of operated tightly, without a lot of extra money, and it just seemed to work out.''
A former board member, Maureen DeSena, said there is little margin for error in the adoption industry.
``It's a tough business because there really isn't a lot of money, and there are a lot of services,'' DeSena said.
Another former board member, who asked not to be identified, resigned recently over questions about the organization's finances.
``It was just all of a sudden, the agency seemed to be running out of money,'' the board member said. ``At first we thought it was an accounting issue, but the agency fell further and further into debt.''
The business operated out of Flint's home on New London Turnpike in South Glastonbury. Assessor's records show that the house has a market value of more than $228,000.