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State sues local adoption agency; couples lose thousands


State sues local adoption agency; couples lose thousands
Reported by: Joe Ducey
Email: jducey@abc15.com
Produced by: Jodie Heisner
Last Update: 7:35 pm

 Click the play button on the video window to the right to see the story

When Jennifer and Mark Pilwallis got married they say starting a family was the most important thing. After failed fertility treatments it was an easy decision to try and adopt.

The couple signed up with Commonwealth Adoptions International out of Tucson, Arizona.
“They put together a pretty nice seminar that went through all the countries and took us through the process and we felt comfortable,” said Jennifer.

The agency helped them find a social worker and create a dossier. Mark and Jennifer say they prepaid thousands of dollars in fees. Fees they say the agency told them would be used to pay for the adoption of their baby.

“We prepaid about $7,000 worth of fees which we will not be getting back,” said Mark.
That’s because Commonwealth filed for bankruptcy this summer, leaving families like Mark and Jennifer’s without babies and without their money.

Mark and Jennifer filed a complaint with Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, who is now suing Commonwealth.

“Although they no longer could get children, they continued to open their doors and to take deposits from perspective adoptive parents,” said Goddard.
Goddard says the agency lost its international certification. That certification allowed it to adopt children from overseas. No certification, yet it allegedly continued to take couple’s money.

“They knew to a fact that they weren’t going to provide these adoptive parents with children,” said Goddard.

Commonwealth Adoptions International did not return calls from ABC15.

As for Mark and Jennifer, they were lucky enough to get pregnant after all, but they still see adoption as a part of their future.
“About two and a half weeks ago we had our son, so in the mean time I’ll be busy as a mom while we wait for his sister to come in a few years,” said Jennifer.

Commonwealth transferred Mark and Jennifer to another adoption agency where they will have to pay many of the adoption fees all over again.

Before paying any fees with an adoption agency, make sure it has the right credentials to make the adoption happen.

Copyright 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

2008 Dec 14