Families who were caught in the collapse of an Ontario adoption agency are hoping the government will help them untangle red tape so their international adoptions can proceed.

Six representatives of the families met behind closed doors with officials of the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services Friday.

"As regulators of international adoption agencies in the province of Ontario, we hold the ministry accountable in this situation," Christine Starr told a news conference after the meeting.

Starr was speaking about the collapse earlier this month of Kids Link International Adoption Agency, which operated the Imagine adoption agency. It had an office Cambridge until it declared bankruptcy on July 13.

The agency specialized in adoptions from Africa, primarily Ethiopia. However, it has also arranged the adoption of children from Ghana and from Ecuador in South America.

"We all chose Imagine Adoption because we trusted that an Ontario government licence represented thorough and reliable regulation," Starr said.

However, the affected clients recognize this is an unprecedented situation, she said.

"Therefore, we're asking the ministry to look outside its normal procedures, and maybe even responsibilities, to work in partnership with us to find a viable solution for all families affected by this regulatory failure," Starr said.

The 400 families want the ministry to work with the trustee in bankruptcy to develop a plan to allow the adoption processes to be completed.

The ministry would hold the agency's licence and act as an interim operational trustee until the agency can be restructured.

Alternatively, they wanted to know if the ministry would support a plan put forward by the families to take the agency out of bankruptcy, Starr said.

"We did not receive any answers or assurances from the ministry with respects to these questions today," she said. "However, we feel confident that the ministry has heard our concerns."

A meeting will be held with Children and Youth Services Minister Deb Mathews on Tuesday.

Starr said that one in every six Ethiopian children will die before the age of five.

"Currently in Ethiopia, there are more than five million orphans at risk ... when you think of the magnitude of the problem in these terms," one might think that finding homes for 300 of them is a drop in the bucket, she said.

"But we have to keep in mind that each one of those 'drops' is a precious child that has every right to a full and fulfilling life. and there are families here in Canada who long for nothing more than to care, nurture and love these children for the rest of their lives," Starr said, her voice breaking.