Shut-out adoptive parents to get help from province

Date: 2009-07-30

Adrian Morrow

Four hundred families still don't know what will become of the bankrupt adoption agency that promised to connect them with children from Ethiopia, Haiti and Zambia, but the provincial government has announced that, whatever happens, it will try to help them complete their adoptions.

The families were left in the lurch when Cambridge-based Imagine Adoption went belly-up earlier this month. On Tuesday, the province revealed several steps it would take to help make the adoptions happen.

If the non-profit agency is reconstituted after bankruptcy, the province will quickly process its licensing requests to get it back on its feet.

And for families who have to take their adoptions elsewhere, the government says it will ensure home studies (evaluations of families' suitability as adoptive parents) can be transferred to new agencies.

"Really the key factor is whether the agency will emerge from bankruptcy," said Kevin Spafford, spokesperson for Children and Youth Services Minister Deb Matthews.

"Should the agency not be able to continue, we'll look at working with another agency that's licensed here."

For more than 40 Ethiopian children who have been matched with adoptive parents through the agency, the province has been pushing the federal government to quickly issue visas to bring them to Canada. So far, nine have been brought over. The others are in a transition home in Ethiopia.

Families that haven't been matched with a child yet, however, are holding out hope that the adoption agency can be salvaged – it's the only Ontario agency that's licensed to carry out international adoptions with Ethiopia.

"A lot of people want to see the adoption completed with the country they've chosen," said Christine Starr, who was waiting to adopt an Ethiopian child.

"We're hoping to restructure a company that can maintain the same quality of service here and in Ethiopia."

The families and the province are waiting on a meeting between the agency's bankruptcy trustee and its creditors today, where they hope to find out whether the organization can be salvaged.


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