Imagine Adoption re-opens

Relates to:
Date: 2009-12-22

Couples paid to help revive bankrupt agency

Some families will soon be able to adopt overseas children after their formerly bankrupt adoption agency regained its licence in mid-October.

"I can't even explain how exciting it is," said Karyn Black of Hamilton, Ont.

She and her husband Ken were among 350 adoptive families left in limbo when Imagine Adoption of Cambridge went bankrupt July 13. Many had already paid between $10,000 and $15,000 each in fees to the agency, which helped Canadians adopt children from Ethiopia, Ghana and Ecuador in the past two years.

Most of those families agreed to pay an extra $4,000 each as the agency restructured and climbed out of bankruptcy so it could resume its international operations.

The agency was legally able to resume operations on Dec. 11 after receiving licences from both the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ethiopian government. It has since placed two children from Ethiopia with couples in Saskatchewan.

The agency phoned the Blacks last week and told them to expect additions to their family — two Ethiopian sisters, 10-month-old Alimetu and 3-year-old Alebech.

"When we got the news … we were just overjoyed," Karyn Black said. "There was a lot of screaming and jumping up and down and making multiple phone calls."

The Blacks started the adoption process three years ago and that single phone call from Imagine Adoption was "just more than we could have wished for Christmas," she said. They hope to have their new daughters here in Canada in about three months.

As part of Imagine's restructuring, the agency formed a new eight-member board of directors and pledged close communications with accounting and consulting firm BDO Dunwoody. It also chose to focus its efforts on one country — Ethiopia — and declined to renew partnerships in Ghana and Ecuador.

Scott Farrell, a Burlington man who is now the agency's treasurer, said the revamped organization worked diligently to get things back on track. Many of the new directors had adopted children themselves and were motivated to help the families left stranded by the bankruptcy.

"It's all about the children," Farrell said. "That keeps us going and really that's what it's all about for us."

267 families still waiting

More than 250 families that have stuck with Imagine Adoption are still waiting as the agency goes through its list.

T.J. and Kelly Keenan of Charlottetown had worked with Imagine for 18 months and had paid $15,000 before the agency went bankrupt in the summer.

"It was devastating news to ourselves and our families," Kelly Keenan said.

The Keenans have been married six years. After two miscarriages, and considering the long wait times for adopting a child in P.E.I., they decided to try adopting from Ethiopia.

They'll find out next month how far down the list they are and how long they might have to wait for their turn to adopt.

"We've had some pretty big blows trying to have a child and I don't want to get my hopes up until I know for sure — when I see that picture and the write-up of everything about the history of that child to actually then feel 100 per cent that, yeah, we're going to have some kids," Kelly said.

Farrell knows there are still many families like the Keenans hoping their number will be called soon. He said it will happen, but asked for patience.

"These 267 families will be matched. It's going to take some time — always does — but we're in it for the long run and we've structured the business of Imagine Adoption so that that can happen."


Pound Pup Legacy