Denver adoption agency to close after 22 years

Date: 2011-12-28

By Carlos Illescas

A Denver-area adoption agency that specializes in placing special-needs children in permanent and foster homes is closing after 22 years, a victim of the bad economy.

Adoption Alliance, which finds families for some of the most difficult-to-place children, said Tuesday that the economy has led to fewer families seeking to adopt, and donations to the nonprofit are down.

Also, regulations passed several years ago have made international adoptions more difficult.

Executive director Tracey Blustein said the agency is working with the state to transition about 200 families to the more than 30 other adoption agencies in the Denver area.

Adoption Alliance's license expires at the end of January. The 10 workers left at the agency will lose their jobs.

"It's unfortunately a sign of the times, just like many nonprofits," Blustein said. "It's difficult for us to sustain our operations."

For adoptive parents such as Patty Ramlet, the news comes with much trepidation. The final paperwork hasn't been completed to keep a 4-year-old named Chance in her family for good. The child has lived with her family for four months.

"My adoption isn't finalized, as I am sure many others aren't as well," Ramlet told 9News. "Maybe the process will be disputed or not go through or have some kinks, and I've waited a long time for Chance, so there is some fear there."

Colorado Department of Human Services spokeswoman Liz McDonough said Adoption Alliance informed the state Dec. 8 that it was closing and surrendering its license.

She said no family will be left hanging through the transition process.

"For us, the most important thing is to work with them and other providers to ensure a smooth transition for their families," McDonough said.

She said the closing of Adoption Alliance isn't part of a trend, but the fact that it is a large and established agency is "something to take note of."

Adoption Alliance has placed 2,500 children into adoption and foster care. More than 90 percent of the children have special needs, whether emotional or mental disabilities, and they also have histories of abuse and neglect, according to the agency's website.

"We're very sad," Blustein said.


What happens, for the adoptee?

Back when I tried the search/recovery/reunion thing, I learned the adoption agency my Aparents used closed-down... or as I was told, it - and almost all of it's kept adoption records - were burned by a fire.

Of course the miraculous inflammability of adoption records/documents is pretty well known by adult adoptees... especially those born in a foreign country.  But this may still come as surprising news to the modern-day adopted child still living in the adoption fog.... where all is believed, because that's what the great wonderful people at the agency said.

If the agency best-known for umbrella-ing for the infamous non-accredited AMREX is finally going to close, what does this mean for adoptees who become old enough to conduct their own search for the truth behind their adoption story?

Will they be told by social workers - or those paid to 'counsel' the adoptee - their records and documents have been lost, too?

The Adoptive Parent's Responsibilities

Here is what I believe adoptive parents should do for their children who wish to search for their biological parents.  My children happened to be adopted from the state at an older age.  I realize infant and ICA adoptions are somewhat different.  YMMV.

Keep everything.  Papers, documents, case files, medical records, psychological profiles, pictures, handwritten notes from their mom or dad, amended birth certificates, original birth certificates, notes from conversations with the social workers, report cards from school, etc.  Keep the good, the bad, and the ugly.  In our state the law requires that the adoptive parents must have access to everything in the state file (sans identifying information). Keep everything - make copies.  *Store them in a fireproof safe like the one in our garage.*

Keep your eyes and ears open.  Social workers and foster parents might verbally communicate something (or let something slip) that doesn't exist in their state file.

Do additional research before the trail goes cold.  We had precious little information and just a few pictures of our daughter and her mom before she died of cancer.  I wrote her former employer and they sent me two company newsletters.  One newsletter featured her mother as shift manager of the year, the other memorialized her mom the month after she died.  I wrote the cemetery and asked for pictures and a map of her mother's gravesite.  10 years later we used this information to visit her mom's grave and snoop around her mother's home town a little bit.  We hit paydirt when we visited her mother's old neighborhood and came back with more than we ever hoped for.  That's another story for another time.

Support (almost encourage) their decision to search at an appropriate age.  Talk about it in a positive way.  Ask them how they feel.  I have a golfing buddy (an adoptee) who wants to wait to search until after his adoptive parents die.  By then it might be too late.

If your adopted child wants to search, help make it happen then step back.  Understand that reunion is not your moment - it's your child's.

Our son's biological mother and her fiance had Christmas dinner in our home this year.  She met us and her new grandson for the first time.  Now that precious little boy has THREE grandmothers.  That poor kid doesn't stand a chance.

If our adoption agency burned down tomorrow it wouldn't make a difference to my kids.


Additional research

I appreciate your feed-back... however, I think ICA adds a few more problems and complications, as outlined in my previous post, Adoption Myth and Realities.

There's a problem with today's orphanage population.

No one knows for sure how many children have been placed in-care by child traffickers. No one knows for sure how many first-family members do not know an adoption plan has been made for a child in-care. No one knows how many parents with language barriers understand "informed consent" and the true meaning behind an adoption agreement, which, in essence, terminates all parental rights, permanently. No one knows for sure, how many of the more than 163 million orphans around the world are put in-care 'temporarily', because arrangements for child-care need to be made.

And still, we have American adopters petitioning members in Congress to lift adoption bans, and speed visa approval for children living in countries where "field visits to orphanages and police departments showed that documents describing children up for adoption as abandoned were often unreliable"

<knock, knock...>

Has Guatemala been so quickly forgiven and forgotten?

Is it possible adopters still do not recognize a core problem that exists in virtually every sending country that has a corrupt or failing care-system?

If you look at adoption from  Adoption Alliance... MANY adopted children came from foreign countries, like India, Ethiopia, Vietnam, China, Korea... hot-spots for poorly run orphanages AND child trafficking.

In addition, let me add not every AP is as supportive as you seem to be.  Look at recent news about those who adopted from Guatemala; a rampant  history of kidnapping and altered DNA results does not stop American APs from feeling entitled to the children they "saved".  [See: BREAKING NEWS: Asociación Primavera lawyer and director found guilty of human trafficking in Karen Abigail case  and  'Tis the season for entitled APs..... ]

Denial of wrong doing and corruption for the sake of an adoption is H-U-G-E.

Try translating that into search and reunion, if you're an adoptee. 

I can assure you, from personal experience:  reaching the truth  is neither easy, nor is it happy and fun.... especially if corruption and "special interests" (had by adoption facilitators and adoption lawyers) play a part of the final outcome.

not that saintly

Contrary to what the article states, Adoption Alliance was not specialized in placing special-needs children. Like all other internally operating adoption agencies, Adoption Alliance placed several special needs children, but doing what all others do is not a specialty.

One of the special needs children placed by Adoption Alliance was Viktor Alexander Matthey, whose adoptive parents locked him up in their basement where he died of hypothermia, at the age of six.

Placing special needs children is indeed a specialty, one at which Adoption Alliance failed really miserable at least on one media-covered occasion.

Another indication that Adoption Alliance is not the charitable organization claimed in the article, is the fact that they umbrella'ed for AMREX, until 2006.

AMREX, at the time, was the largest facilitator of Russian children in the US, supplying adoptable children to dozens of agencies throughout the country. As an adoption facilitator, they were not licensed to perform any adoptions and therefore needed to work with licensed adoption agencies to perform the actual placement. Most of all, they needed to operate under the umbrella of a Russia-accredited adoption agency to get their cases past the Russian court.

Adoption Alliance was one of the agencies that processed AMREX cases as if they were their own, to circumvent Russian regulations, a practice that is illegal according to Russian law.

In recent years, Adoption Alliance mostly depended on their Haiti business, but that program completely stagnated in the aftermath of the earthquake debacle. So it may be true that Adoption Alliance, as the article states, fell victim to the economy, but it's more likely they made the wrong bet, by put all their cards on one program.

Pound Pup Legacy