Ontario places new demands on international adoption agencies

Date: 2009-09-30

By Natalie Alcoba

TORONTO - Ontario says it will take a closer look at the finances of all international adoption agencies it licenses, after one unexpectedly filed for bankruptcy over the summer and jeopardized adoptions already underway.

Imagine Adoption agency's collapse in July took by surprise adoptive parents, who said they had expected more regulation from the government that licenses it.

The Cambridge, Ont.-based agency that was arranging more than 300 adoptions primarily from Ethiopia has since struck a new board of directors and prospective parents voted last week to pay an extra $4,000 to get it running again.

The government said it is supporting an immediate resumption of services at Imagine.

In a press release this morning, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services said it will require agencies to now submit an audited financial statement, an annual report and a report from the board of directors that outlines agency operations and activities as part of the annual license renewal. Prior to this, it had required agencies to submit financial statements that detailed what money they received over the course of a year.

"International adoption agencies will also be required to ensure prospective adoptive families understand the licensing process, the roles and responsibilities of licensed agencies, and the financial and other risks associated with international adoption," the ministry press release said. It has also asked licensed agencies to strike up a working group to look at setting up an insurance plan to protect people in the event of another collapse.

In an interview with the National Post last week, Children and Youth Services Minister Deb Matthews said the government's main role is to ensure that agencies are complying with international law that guards against child trafficking.

"I'm very pleased that many families involved with Imagine Adoption will be able to continue their adoptions. We're taking steps now to ensure that families seeking to adopt internationally -- an already lengthy and emotional process -- are better informed and protected," said Ms. Matthews said in a press release today.

According to statistics from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, a couple thousand Canadians adopt children from other countries every year. Thirty-eight of 47 Ethiopian children that had been matched with Canadian families are in Canada now.

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