Would-be parents meet in T.O. about bankrupt agency
Published Sunday, July 19, 2009 7:45PM EDT
Dozens of hopeful adoptive parents met in a downtown Toronto condo on Sunday to discuss their next step after an Ontario adoption agency went bankrupt last week, leaving hundreds of clients financially stranded and childless.
Prospective parents hoped to come up with an "action plan" today to try and convince the Ontario government to step in and help hundreds of adoption applications through the system.
It was one of several meetings being held across Canada today by clients of Kids Link International Adoption Agency.
"What is clear is that a large number of funds have gone amuck and that families (who have been) promised adoptions were going to be carried through have been left in a lurch," said Catherine Bruce, a client of Kids Link.
Kids Link arranges for adoptions out of Ethiopia, Ghana and Ecuador.
According to financial documents from BDO Dunwoody, the agency's assets were about $363,000 less than its liabilities. Documents show that Kids Link owed about 400 families $800,000.
The agency's clients say they're worried that the company's bankruptcy has jeopardized conditions in transitional homes in Africa where children who have been matched with Canadian families are housed until the adoption process is completed.
Ingrid Phaneuf, a 42-year-old Toronto resident, told The Canadian Press that she and her husband have spent about $14,000 trying to adopt a child from Kids Link.
She organized Sunday's meeting with the goal of eventually having a face-to-face meeting with Deb Matthews, Ontario's minister of children and youth services.
Matthews was out of town and could not attend the meeting but Kevin Spafford, a spokesperson for the ministry, told reporters that government officials are working with federal immigration to fast-track visas for 22 adoptions.
He also said that a lawyer for BDO Dunwoody had visited the transition homes in Ethiopia to ensure the children are being properly cared for.
Kids Link, which operates under the name "Imagine," declared bankruptcy on July 13 leaving about 400 families in limbo.
Pat Convery, the executive director of the Adoption Council of Ontario, told CTV Toronto that there was no indication that the organization was in financial trouble.
"There was absolutely none and certainly we don't have any precedence for this," she said.
Ellen and Robert Brenneman, a Toronto couple who attended the meeting, said they decided to adopt after trying unsuccessfully for years to have kids. They paid Kids Link $15,000.
"That's the least of our worries," Ellen Brenneman said about the money. "As long as we have that baby in our arms, that's all we care about."
With files from The Canadian Press and a report from CTV Toronto's James MacDonald