Adoption Agency Collapses, Takes Dreams with It

15/7/2009 - Taking prospective parents by surprise, the collapse of Canadian adoption agency Imagine Adoption and its associate, Kids Link, made headlines all accross the nation.

Imagine Adoption, an Ontario-based Government-licensed international adoption agency, surprised its expectant parents by filing for bankruptcy earlier this week. Now, 200 parents are left to pick up the remaining pieces of their dream of providing a home to an impoverished child.

Surprisingly, this is not some isolated case of financial mismanagement.  Stories from adoption analysts and from parents say that the dangers of adopting abroad are increasing. The expansion in the number of international adoption agencies, especially in countries with corruption and a weak rule of law, means that accountability and transparency in their financial books may not be 100% reliable.

While a heartfelt way for some people to attain their dream of being parents while giving back to the world, international adoptions may not be the surest route.

Imagine Adoption was one of two Ontario agencies that were able to perform Ethiopian adoptions – a lengthy, complicated process costing about $25, 000. Many of the families have saved for years to come up with the required fees.

Imagine Adoption’s operations were associated with Kids Link, which also ran adoption agencies in Ghana and Ecuador. 450 families across Canada have been left out in the cold by the collapse of Kids Link.  Kids Link’s $500 000 in assets have been frozen as of today, reports the Guelph Mercury. Yet, speculation is circulating about the organization’s motives. The Globe and Mail reported that a Toronto doctor was refused a request for a cost break-down from the agency. She believed that money, not helping potential parents by providing a service, was the true motive. 

Nevertheless, the government is working with bankruptcy officials to try and decide what can and should be done for the parents. Most importantly, it is also unclear as to what will happen to Ethiopian children already matched with Canadian parents living in a transition home in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. The number of children living in the home is said to be somewhere between 50 and 70. Susan Taves, a Kitchener bankruptcy trustee, says the children are her first priority.

In 2007, a total of 5 million children were orphans in Ethiopia. 650 000 of them have been orphaned by AIDS alone. Health, food and education are not readily accessible to all children and the total life expectancy is only 53 years old.

The vogue continent for adoption now has switched from Asia to Africa. China, long since known as a source for parents to adopt baby girls, has cut its adoption policy as the country is facing a scarcity of women. Its gender ratio of males to females is quite skewed. Yet, as the popularity of Africa in this respect has grown, numerous adoption agencies have set up shop in Ethiopia, three of which are Canadian. 

It is not unlikely that the high-profile adoptions of Angelina Jolie and Madonna, as well as the growth of global social moments and poverty-activism causes, are all fuelling this phenomenon.