Woman hopeful as adoption agency revived

Date: 2009-12-02
Source: CBC

A New Brunswick woman says her dream of adopting two children from Ethiopia has been revived along with the international adoption agency she had been dealing with.

Debbie Thomas, of New Maryland, was one of hundreds of people who had filed mountains of paperwork and paid thousands of dollars to Ontario-based Imagine Adoption when the company suddenly shut down last summer, leaving them in the lurch.

But the bankrupt agency has since been restructured under the same name with new leadership and has signed up enough interested clients to proceed, Thomas said.

"We needed at least 200 families [to file new retainer agreements by the end of November] to be able to continue. We just got word from them that they had received 246 families," she said. "So we know we're clear to go.

"It's a huge, huge relief, what we've all been waiting for. So, yeah, we were ecstatic to find out."

Thomas, who had invested about $15,000, plus an extra $4,000 under the restructuring plan, said her application is at the top of the waiting list for siblings.

"So we know once referrals of matching children to families start coming in, we'll be fairly soon after the process starts up again. So we're hopeful it won't be much longer for that point.

"It feels like it's been going on forever because it was just so emotional, where we didn't really know what the future would hold," she said.

"But certainly, when you look at actually how much happened in such a short time frame, yeah, it's quite unbelievable that it's come back to where it is now."

About 350 families were left in limbo when Imagine Adoption of Cambridge, Ont., 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.

In July, the fraud division of the Waterloo Regional Police opened an investigation into the agency and began looking at questionable expenses, such as home renovations, spa trips and the purchase of a horse and saddle.

The investigation began after two members of the three-member board of directors of Kids Link International, which operated under the name Imagine Adoption, expressed concerns to police about the agency.

Imagine Adoption was revived on Sept. 29 after clients backed a restructuring plan, agreeing to pay an extra $4,000, plus any outstanding fees, to set up a new board of directors and a new executive director.


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