International adoption agency's bankruptcy leaves parents in lurch

Date: 2009-07-14

About 200 prospective Canadian parents, including several in Calgary, were left in the lurch after an Ontario company specializing in adoptions from Africa went bankrupt.

Kids Link, which runs Imagine Adoption, based in Cambridge, Ont., posted a bankruptcy notice on its website on Monday. For the last two years, it had helped Canadians adopt children from Ethiopia, Ghana and Ecuador.

Heather and Dan Maat, who live in Calgary, were a year into the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia and had invested thousands of dollars when the government-licensed agency shut down.

They're hoping the process can be salvaged, but they haven't ruled out starting again.

"Once you get that idea and you've committed to it, it's kinda hard to ... change your mind or, you know, give up on it," said Dan Maat.

"It's not like you're just gonna quit," added his wife.
Bankruptcy surprised clients

Wendy Robinson of Calgary's Christian Adoption Services, which worked with Imagine, said the bankruptcy caught everyone off guard.

"We had a good relationship. They were excellent to work with. The care they gave for the infants was incredible," she said.

Robinson said it cost $1,500 to apply with Imagine, at least $8,000 to follow through on the process, as well as additional costs for travel.

Her phone and email have been filling up with messages from concerned clients.

"One lady said, 'You know I've been waiting 10 years to have a child. Everybody says adopt. They don't understand how hard it is. Now all my money is gone and I don't have a baby. I'm never going to have a family.' That's horrific to deal with," said Robinson.

Ethiopian children already matched to Canadian parents have been living in a transition home in Addis Ababa. It's unclear what is going to happen to them.

A spokeswoman for the Ontario Ministry for Children and Youth — which licensed Imagine — said it is working with bankruptcy trustees and the federal government to find a way to help, according to a report.


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