Agency closure puts prospective parents on hold

Date: 2011-02-03

A Manitoba based adoption agency is shutting down and now several Alberta families are worried about the welfare of the children and the status of their adoptions.

The Canadian Advocate for the Adoption of Children or CAFAC, says it can no longer afford to maintain its overseas operations and closed its doors on Friday.

The agency held one of the few licences in Canada that allows people to legally and ethically adopt children from Ethiopia.

In a statement CAFAC says because of funding issues with the Manitoba government it will be unable to "continue provision of services beyond February 3rd."

CAFAC wants the Manitoba government to allow it to charge clients higher fees.

Costs for international adoptions are regulated, but the fee structure varies widely between provinces.

In 2010, the Manitoba government increased fees by $3,000, which made it more difficult for organizations like CAFAC to stay in business.

Ben and Ruth Veurink are just weeks away from completing the adoption process.

They are scheduled to fly to Africa in three weeks to file adoption papers with the court.

The couple has been working for nearly two years to adopt Tessama, a seven-year-old Ethiopian boy.

The Veurink's hope that the adoption won't go off the rails and say they are not getting any help from CAFAC.

"I've tried to talk to CAFAC, they're not responding to any questions so I'm just dealing now with the people in Africa that have our seven-year-old child," said Ruth Veurink.

The Manitoba government says it is working with the defunct adoption agency to get things back on track.

The money paid by families affected by the closure is currently being held in trust.

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Adoption records, Ethiopia, and the adoption agency

CAFAC is no stranger to problems associated with the adoption process.  Questions related to records have been raised in terms of legitimacy of the orphan label and the health status of said "orphaned" (adoptable?) child.

To say trust and transparency has been questioned in the past is an understatement.

For example, imagine being the AP who trusted in an agency so much, you agreed to pay the required tens of thousands of dollars in "adoption fees", only to learn from your little adopted orphan girl, she was not, IS NOT an orphan... 

 The record of their adoption agency Manitoban, Canadian advocates for the adoption of children (CAFAC), stated that she was an orphan.

But when Dassie began to speak English, she asked her parents why they had adopted. They replied that she needed a mom and a dad and that they needed a girl. Then it has learned that his family was still living in Ethiopia.

[From:  Questionable practices, 2009 ]

Or imagine expecting to receive a four year old child, only to learn that child is years older.

Doug Hopewood and Christine Ferris of Lasqueti Island, B.C., were quite excited when they received their referral for their daughter Etsegenet. But they were disturbed by some of the details.

They were told she was four years old although she looked much older. They were also told she was found abandoned, her parents were dead and their names were unknown.

"If you know someone's dead, how come you don't know their name?" asked Hopewood.

[From:  Canadian parents raise concerns, 2009 ]

According to records related to Ethiopia, such scenarios are not isolated incidents.

 In fact, in the video Fly Away Children, viewers learn there's more to "missing information" and the adoption report.  In some cases, very sick "orphans" are sold to foreigners as much healthier children, having only a few extra special needs.  Only when the APs return home with the child does a different story reveal itself.  It's the AP's own pediatrician who gets to tell a very different, EXPENSIVE story about the adopted child who is more than a little undernourished.

But here's the fun tricky part of child trafficking via the adoption system -- in the game of child-selling (via mandatory "service" fees), one party will blame the other for not doing the required work or not reading the fine-print in the trade agreement.

Roberta Galbraith, one of the founders of the 15-year-old adoption agency, has long maintained that adoptive parents sign a waiver acknowledging that information from Ethiopia might be unreliable.

Roberta Galbraith, co-founder Canadian Advocates for Adopting Children. (CBC) In an interview with CBC's Marie-Claude Guay, Galbraith admitted that the agency attempts sometimes to spot-check and audit the information, but ultimately it is viewed as an insult to the government of Ethiopia to question the documentation too closely.

"I believe that the adoptions that we have done through (the Ministry of Women's Affairs) and the court system have been legal and ethical and followed checks and balances that they themselves established in the system," Galbraith said.

When pressed on who prepares the documentation, she said it is CAFAC's agent in Ethiopia, Haregwain Berhane.

Berhane, a former Ethiopian government employee, has been involved with adoptions for more than 10 years, the last eight as CAFAC's agent, being paid a commission for the number of children she successfully places.

The information she passes on to Canada, she told the CBC's Azeb Wolde-Giorghis in Addis Ababa, she gets from orphanages, although she later said that she is the one who translates the documents into English.

As for the complaints from Canada, Berhane lashes out at the adoptive parents: "All these allegations start not from the concern they have for the children, not because they love their children, but because they are fed up from day one. They start looking for excuses" to give the kids back, she said.

[From:  Canadian parents raise concerns, 2009 ]

Now for the part that leaves me in dumbfound awe: given Ethiopia's reputation within the adoption community, [see http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/43712 for a simplified over-view], how..... why.... would any PAP gladly sign an adoption agreement that states information collected may be unreliable, and the people responsible for translating reports for the adoption agencies/APs make a commission for each child placed in an adoptive home.

These are not minor slips, shadows, or gaps missed by the new ultrasound-tech earning minimum wage.  These are huge major human errors (in some cases, made by government workers) used to dupe and sell... yes, SELL... children to foreigners with c-a-s-h.

With that, PAPs really need to remember the golden rule to adoption in Adoptionland:  without transparency, trust should be very limited and earned s-l-o-w-l-y  with each adoption.  (Trust should never be an automatic given).  To put this rule in application, when expected to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a child, at the very least, the paying PAPs ought to know for certain A) the child they will receive is in fact an orphan and B)  that child does (or does not) have significant health issues.  

So, I for one am not sad this particular adoption agency must close because it can't afford to keep it's connections. The way I see it, closing down any adoption agency that facilitates (and even promotes) forgeries and lies in the corrupt world of child-trade Adoptionland is a giant leap in the right direction for adoption reform.  

Oh, and for those who want to cry "but what about the poor children who need a family and a home?",  fear not for the manufactured orphans with bogus medical reports living in Ethiopia.   There's plenty of American adoption agencies working with the same shady facilitators (who will keep asking for higher cash fees), all on behalf of the adults wanting to build a bigger family, one orphan at a time.

You see, as long as there are "desperate" paying PAPs out there, child trade providing children for homes will continue to develop and grow.... whether the little ones like it, or want it, or not. 

Pound Pup Legacy