exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Fraud case vs. adoption agency ends


Defunct Tucson-based company denied international accreditation
Fraud case vs. adoption agency ends

Dale Quinn

Arizona consumer fraud case against a Tucson-based international adoption agency has been dismissed, an assistant attorney general confirmed Thursday.

The state had accused Commonwealth Adoptions International Inc. of defrauding adopting families by failing to refund them nearly $215,000. The adoption agency shut its doors in mid-2008 after it was denied the accreditation required by many countries to place children with foreign families.

A complaint filed by Attorney General Terry Goddard in November 2008 alleged families that already had begun the adoption process, some of which had paid thousands of dollars, were denied repayment.

But Assistant Attorney General Taren M. Ellis said the state requested the case be dismissed earlier this month, and the court signed that stipulation on Feb. 16.

"We conducted a close legal analysis of culpability and determined the state can't pursue a consumer fraud case," Ellis said.

Ellis said she couldn't go into details about why the state couldn't go forward with the case.

Attempts to reach Marina Mayhew, who was named in the complaint individually and as Commonwealth's president, were unsuccessful Thursday. But in a November 2008 e-mail responding to the complaint, Mayhew said that since Commonwealth's closure, the company had been working with families to transition them to other adoption professionals.

Mayhew said then, "Of 340 families in process at the time of the closing announcement, the overwhelming majority have been transferred to other adoption agencies without interruption or having to pay additional fees."

In July 2008, Commonwealth learned it had been denied accreditation required by the Hague Convention, a treaty that governs international adoptions signed by nearly 75 countries, including the United States. Accrediting officials did not specify why the agency was denied; Commonwealth contested what it called minor administrative issues.

Commonwealth had offices in Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas, as well as in Tucson at 1585 E. River Road.

Contact reporter Dale Quinn at 573-4197 or dquinn@azstarnet.com

2010 Feb 26