Smaller, related adoption agency also goes bankrupt

Date: 2009-08-11
Source: therecord.com

By Brian Caldwell

CAMBRIDGE – An organization closely linked to a bankrupt Cambridge adoption agency has also officially collapsed.

More than 400 families from across Canada were stunned last month by the failure of Kids Link International Adoption Agency, a non-profit group operating under the name Imagine Adoption.

But it was a welcome development when the Saint Anne Adoption Agency, which shared staff and an office with its much larger sister agency, recently followed suit.

About 30 families using Saint Anne to adopt children from South America and the Caribbean, primarily Ecuador, had their cases put on indefinite hold by the collapse of Imagine.

Now, at least, they will be able to claim their files for possible transfer to other adoption agencies.

“We were really in limbo-land,” said Susan Taves, the bankruptcy trustee for DBO Dunwoody in Kitchener. “It wasn’t a good situation.

“This is the right decision to wrap up a company in trouble and the right decision to help families … try to move forward.”

Imagine and Saint Anne effectively operated as one organization, but held provincial licences to facilitate adoptions in different parts of the world.

As a result, they remained separate legal entities with different boards of directors.

Imagine went bankrupt July 14, starting a process that may lead to it being restructured and saved under new management.

Saint Anne, meanwhile, ceased operating and had its assets frozen because money had been moving between the two organizations.

Adding to the chaos was the fact four of Saint Anne’s five directors claimed they had resigned or didn’t know they were listed as members of the board.

Families were considering costly, time-consuming legal action to force a bankruptcy when remaining director Andrew Morrow, who held key posts with the agencies, agreed late last week to authorize the move.

“He was the guy who finally put pen to paper,” Taves said.

Saint Anne has just $35,000 in the bank and liabilities likely to be several times that amount. A first meeting of creditors is being arranged for the first week of September.

Taves said efforts to restructure Imagine have been promising, with a progress report expected in the next two weeks.

If successful, that would allow hundreds of families at various stages of the process to still adopt children, mostly from Ethiopia.

But it is unlikely Saint Anne can be saved or rolled into the new agency, Taves said, because it has so little money left.

The situation is even more uncertain for about 25 clients using Imagine to adopt children from Ghana, where government officials found some children at an orphanage had been improperly taken from their parents.

Run by a group in Fort Erie, Ont., the orphanage was shut down and all adoptions suspended by the Ghanaian and Canadian governments.

“The whole Ghana situation just continues to be a big question mark,” Taves said.

Waterloo Regional Police are investigating allegations that senior staff at the agencies made more than $300,000 in questionable purchases – including trips, home renovations and a horse – with corporate credit cards.

bcaldwell@therecord.com

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