Friday, July 31, 2009
(KITCHENER) July 30 – Families impacted by the recent bankrupcty of
Imagine Adoption voted today at the first creditors’ meeting held in
Kitchener-Waterloo to work with the bankruptcy trustee BDO Dunwoody to
present a proposal to rescue the agency from bankruptcy. Work on the
proposal should be completed within the next two to four weeks.
I f the proposal is accepted by the court, the restructured agency
will continue to work to complete the adoptions of families registered
with the agency prior to the bankruptcy.
“What a moving moment it was to see all 189 people present vote in
favour of working towards taking the agency out of bankruptcy,” says
Christine Starr, chair of Families of Imagine Adoption, a group which
has been working to achieve completion of all the adoptions registered
“But this is just a first step towards the completion of all files.
There is much more work to be done.”
Ingrid Phaneuf: 416-710-0966
David Cotter: 519-502-5818
Article in the
July 30, 2009
BY BRIAN CALDWELL, RECORD STAFF
KITCHENER — Hopeful families were buoyed Thursday by a plan to try to
save a bankrupt Cambridge adoption agency by bringing in new
If successful, it would mean hundreds of clients across Canada will
still be able to adopt children from overseas after investing months
of time and up to $20,000 in the process.
Would-be parents were devastated when Kids Link International Adoption
Agency, which operated as
Adoption, collapsed July 14.
But they left a Kitchener meeting in good spirits after about 200
creditors voted unanimously to pursue a restructuring effort outlined
by bankruptcy trustees from BDO Dunwoody.
“I’ve never seen so many people in one room agree on something so
quickly,” said Ingrid Phaneuf, of Etobicoke, who is trying to adopt a
child from Ethiopia. “It was fantastic.”
About six people with the necessary expertise may take over the
non-profit agency. The plan would require approval from the provincial
government, which licenses international adoption organizations.
Bankruptcy trustee Susan Taves said the plan will be explored and
developed over the next two to four weeks to see if it can work.
“I think it’s really probable – a high percentage of success here,”
she said after the three-hour meeting.
Companies, church groups, individuals and affected families have
contacted trustees with offers to help salvage the agency.
“This is a really unique file,” Taves said. “In 20 years of doing this
work, I’ve never had people call and say they’ll give money to keep an
The effort also has an ally in Kitchener lawyer Ted Giesbrecht, who
went to Ethiopia earlier this month to ensure children at an agency
transition home were properly cared for.
Giesbrecht, who is working for free, said staff at the home – where
children matched with Canadian families are housed – hadn’t been paid
in six weeks.
While also helping to complete adoptions that had reached the matching
stage, he cut staff and reduced expenses at the home from more than
$50,000 to $17,000 a month.
If the agency is restructured, Giesbrecht said, that will help stretch
the money Imagine still had in the bank when it went bust.
“The cost per family should be reduced,” he said. “The funds in trust
may go a long way.”
David and Holly Guistini of Kitchener paid $14,000 in fees to Imagine
and were waiting to be matched with a child in Ethiopia after
unsuccessfully trying to have a baby of their own for five years.
They were encouraged when a landscaper sitting next to them at the
creditors’ meeting told them he’d write off the money he is owed if
the agency can be salvaged.
“He said, ‘You getting your child is more important than us getting
our money,’ ” David said. “I was blown away.”
“It was a great meeting,” added Holly, who almost died from
complications during two pregnancies. “Everybody was together.”
James Ramsay, a federal judge who lives in Hamilton, was also upbeat
while leaving the meeting with his wife, Brenda.
The parents of six grown children, they signed up with Imagine and
were matched with a child in Uganda after Brenda saw a pressing need
while doing volunteer work there.
“They realize it’s not just money,” Ramsay said of bankruptcy trustees
and government officials. “They’re trying their best to make something
reasonable out of a very difficult situation.
“So far, it looks good, but you can never be sure. International
adoption is not for the faint of heart.”
Families have so far filed claims nearing $3 million. Imagine had just
$500,000 in cash left, plus about $150,000 in receivables and office
The collapse affected 415 families, including more than 200 in
Bankruptcy trustees are working with government officials to complete
about 40 adoptions, mostly from Ethiopia, that had reached the stage
where families were matched with children.
The remaining 375 clients are at earlier points in the lengthy
Nine families hoping to adopt from Ghana are in a particularly tough
spot after an orphanage there was closed over concerns children had
been improperly taken from their parents.
Jesse and Jeanette Martin of Elora had been matched with twin,
eight-month-old girls when all adoptions from the orphanage were
“To us, these are our girls,” said Jeanette, showing photos of the
children. “We won’t give up. We can’t give up.”
The orphanage was run by Hands of Mercy, a Christian charity based in
Deborah MacQuarrie, who heads the organization, attended the meeting
to talk to families trying to adopt from Ghana. With her were Melisa
and Brett Jackson, her daughter and son-in-law, whose own adoption
plans are on hold.
MacQuarrie insisted there were no serious problems at the orphanage
and said they hope adoptions can still be completed with no direct
involvement from Hands of Mercy or Imagine.
“Believe me, if we were guilty of all the things they say we are, we
wouldn’t be here,” she said. “We’d be in hiding somewhere.”
Waterloo Regional Police are conducting a fraud investigation after
two directors of Imagine alleged senior staff earning six-figure
salaries made more than $300,000 in questionable purchases with
corporate credit cards.
Included were trips, home renovations and a horse and saddle.
There was no sign at the meeting of Susan Hayhow, the former executive
director of Imagine and two related organizations, Global Reach
Children Fund and Saint Anne Adoption Agency.
Those agencies are also caught up in the Imagine bankruptcy because
money moved among accounts for all three organizations.
Hayhow’s husband, Rick, was chief financial officer of Imagine and
Saint Anne. He resigned in April after his wife began a common-law
relationship with Andrew Morrow, a board member and employee of Global
Susan Hayhow and Morrow were at the transition home in Ethiopia when
Giesbrecht, an expert in international adoptions, went there on behalf
Giesbrecht said they were trying to make sure the children were OK and
cooperated when he got there, giving him the information he needed to
“There was an introduction,” he said. “I met them and then I said ‘You
have no further authority here.’ ”
Thursday, July 30, 2009
sub-committee, has been working closely with Susan Taves of BDO
Dunwoody over the last 48 hours in preparation for tomorrow's meeting.
Since Susan's recommendations on how to approach and prepare for this
meeting has only presented themselves over the past day, we weren't
able to get this information to you sooner and we still don't have all
the details. We're hoping that tomorrow, Sue will take some time to
explain the format and agenda of the meeting.
We have however, been given some direction on how to be as productive
as possible in the limited time that we have, which is three hours
1. We were asked what we thought would be the initial areas of
interest that many of the Families of Imagine Adoption would like to
see addressed. Please note that they're not limited to these, nor are
we expecting a response to all of these, but we needed to offer our
initial thoughts immediately, to help prepare and best utilize our
time and efforts tomorrow:
• Details on the location and security of our files
• Description of the interaction between the Provincial
government, Federal government and BDO Dunwoody
• Details on the status of all files, if known (e.g. the number
of files at each stage of the process)
• Details, if known, as to the funds required to complete all
• Transition of funds between St. Anne’s, Kids Link and Global
• Details of the three leases
• Details of the status of the trust funds
• Information pertaining to the use of trust funds by Kids Link
• Details of assets and creditors in Ethiopia
• Details of any outstanding litigation involving Kids Link
• Any insight into the financial viability of St. Anne’s and
• Steps taken by the Board of Directors between their initial
concerns and the assignment in bankruptcy
• Details of submitted proposals
• The procedure for the assessment of proposals
2. From our understanding, Susan Taves will ask creditors for
suggested nominations of five inspectors. Currently, we understand
that the role of the investigator is to assist the Trustee in
supervising certain aspects of the Trustees' administration of the
bankruptcy on behalf of the creditors. We don't have full clarity of
this role and hope to get further insight on this role and the
1. Lianne Armstrong - Lawyer with experience in insolvency matters
2. Rob Eagleson - Manager at a Financial Institution; specializing in
3. James Boyle - Holds an MBA and a Master Certificate in Project
4. Bernadette Quemerais - Military Officer at the Comptroller for Land
Force Central Area
5. Donna Cotter - Chartered Financial Analyst
We feel that these five have the background and skills to represent
us. Please note that we chose local representation because Trustee
meetings may need to be held in person, so the investigators either
needs to be in close proximity or willing to travel.
Thanks for your patience and for understanding this late
communication. We'll see many of you tomorrow!
FIA Steering Committee
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
By Nancy Gummow
Every night since my internationally-adopted daughter has joined us 20 short weeks ago, I have taken her to her room, fed her a bottle, looked into her beautiful, deep dark brown eyes and smiled.
One night a couple of weeks ago, the routine was the same, but the significance was entirely different -- not for Gracie, but for me. Not surprisingly, it was the same day I discovered Kids Link, (also known as Imagine Adoption) the Ontario agency to facilitate my adoption from Ethiopia, filed for bankruptcy.
Filed for bankruptcy? I couldn't believe it. Forgive me for being selfish and self-centred but hearing those three words rocked my world. My disbelief quickly gave way to a heavy heart.
On that night, it wasn't Gracie's beautiful eyes I saw. It was those helpless, innocent children I saw playing so well on the floor when I visited her old room where she stayed. Little faces now suddenly and forcibly burned on my soul forever because I will always wonder if they found a mama to feed them a bottle and gaze into their eyes at bedtime.
Gracie is a lucky girl. And we are an even luckier and more blessed family to have her in our lives. My girlfriend, Cynthia, who I travelled with -- also to be joined with her cute girl Tia -- said it best: "Go and give Gracie a million kisses and be thankful she's here."
If the bankruptcy had happened only 12 months ago, it would have been me. And I think about what our lives would be like without her, how I would have felt never seeing her face, the joy I would have missed now seeing Alex and Nicholas laugh and play with their treasured sister. And I can't imagine it. I can't bear to feel the searing pain and grief. It's like breathing in a steel dagger.
Then I hear the stories of others. Parents who have waited years for the privilege of becoming a parent, one day woke up to news that must have been like a like a nuclear weapon attack on their heart, mind and spirit. Their stories will make you weep. Two days before the official news, I had to tell the rumours to a friend in Ottawa, who was with the same agency. It was a heartbreaking phone call. And who knows if the money they spent will ever be returned.
Trust me, this was not just another bankruptcy. There is a river of tears and a path of destruction from here to Ethiopia that will affect my life -- and the lives of others -- forever.
July 29, 2009 by glenpearson
“The future of democracy lies with what we might call strong democracy – with a revitalization of citizenship that is not collectivistic, a form of public reasoning that is not merely conformist, and a set of civic institutions that permits vital citizen input.” So said George Bernard Shaw. Even in his day there were concerns that proper citizen skills weren’t being developed or welcomed by a political order that preferred to keep matters to itself. In fretting that democracy would inevitably be weakened by an isolated citizenry, he believed citizens should themselves come together, learn the working and policies of government, and force the system to sit up and take notice – not negatively but proactively.
We have been fortunate enough in Canada to have just witnessed the kind of input Shaw was looking for. Last week I wrote about the remarkable resilience demonstrated by the prospective parents seeking to adopt through the now bankrupt Imagine adoption agency (see Adopting a New Attitude). What they have accomplished since that posting is even more remarkable.
This was a case in which, when confronted by the financial failure of a government licensed adoption agency, a group of hopeful parents sought to come together in various parts of the country, organize task forces and a steering committee, and positively engage both the media and the political process in ways that were truly constructive.
But first they had to learn. More than anything else there was the need for information. Who was responsible? What was the status of their files? Could the situation be salvaged? And so, rather than just bemoan their fate, they reasoned that for the sake of the children they hoped to acquire and for the integrity of the adoption system itself, they pulled together all their vast experience and information and sought to make it available to public officials In numerous ways they were the experts, having gone through, in some cases, years of working through the system. The information gathered, they then went to the media and offered any assistance they could to the various ministries involved. In refusing to turn their own personal torture into a media circus, they constructively “prodded” the political system by offering to assist in any way they could. Whatever complaints they had were kept in private as they publicly used the vast skills in their combined group to force politicians and the system to realize that they weren’t dealing with angry taxpayers or some kind of over-the-top fringe group, but were in fact being invited by hurting partners to make the process work better for the children.
I was there personally to witness these developments and have been inspired by the sheer professionalism of these families. And they have achieved results. Through provincial and federal intervention, some families are being united and the process is at work trying to build long-term sustainability into the future of the children themselves. This kind of remarkable action is what Mandela was alluding to when he stated:
Strong democracy creates the very citizens it depends upon precisely because it does depend on them. In many ways it forces the individual into a permanent confrontation – between the me as citizen and other citizens, thereby forcing us to think in common, act in common. Put crudely, the true citizen is by definition a we thinker.”
A large group of families, ably led and spread across the country, has just succeeded in making the political process more caring and more efficient. For this we owe them a deep sense of gratitude. They could have immediately reacted by threatening lawsuits and denigrating politicians; instead they took on the mantle of citizenship in the midst of great pain and loss. This is the way forward and these families are guiding us on the path. Now it is our turn to respond to them.
July 28th, 2009
Minister Deb Matthews
Chris Carson – Chief of Staff
Marilyn Renwick - Administrator
Chris Shantz – Minister’s Senior Policy Advisor
Sally McGowan – Director of Children and Youth Services
FIA Steering Committee Chairs & Co-chairs
Calling of Meeting to Order and Introductions
Hoping to gain a better understanding of what our needs are.
Wants to ensure her ministry is doing everything possible to assist us.
They will not hold anything back and will be honest with us.
Feel we have the same goal – uniting us with our children through the adoption process.
Want us to understand what they can do to help us and what their responsibilities are.
Introduction of her role and the opening statement:
Thanks to the ministry and apologies for isolated inaccurate statements with regards to comments in the media about the ministry’s lack of cooperation.
Thankful for the expedited visas but asking for more.
Concerned about the Ghana and Ecuador programs and St.Anne’s organization.
We are now asking for a clear plan to ensure that ALL files are completed from ALL programs.
We are hoping this meeting will result in assurances and concrete answers from the ministry to ensure all files are completed successfully.
This will most likely mean the ministry may have to go outside the normal boundaries of their responsibility.
We do not want false hopes but a realistic plan that we can support.
Presents our questions for answers/clarification.
These are from the questions we left with the ministry after our Friday meeting.
Thank you for acknowledging the hard work of the ministry.
Her hope is that the creditors will come up with a solution to keep IA viable.
Can’t foresee what will happen at the Thursday meeting with BDO – but they want us to succeed.
The ministry will bend over backwards to make that happen – within the boundaries of the law.
Aware of the danger to lose accreditation with Ethiopia – but they are committed to maintaining a healthy relationship with international officials.
Should the agency be unrevivable – the home studies are portable. Therefore, those files would be transferred to another agency.
Questions for Minister Matthews from Families of Imagine Adoption
· At our last meeting, Sally McGowan stated that the Ministry is working with the other provinces to understand more about the families impacted by Imagine Adoption’s Bankruptcy outside of Ontario. We understand that an inter-provincial call took place on Friday. Please provide an update on what was discussed on the call and any decisions that were made.
· We know that the ministry is having regular conversations with HRSDC’s Intercountry Adoptions Services unit and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. What are the outcomes of these discussions? Can we feel assured that the right action is being taken at the Federal level to ensure critical relationships with the national governments in the countries Imagine Adoption worked with are being maintained?
Citizen and Immigration, International Trade and International Affairs spoke together on a call last week. Ministry of Children and Youth Services gained a better understanding through this conversation about the process and how things are being managed on the ground.
These departments plan on communicating regularly to share information on the different country programs and on the family files from other provinces.
What exactly are you hearing from these departments? What are the conversations with regards to MOWA?
MOWA will report back to the ministry on Friday with regards to the accreditation and licensing on the Ethiopian end.
Have we had the opportunity to speak with other government officials?
We have had the ear of MP Glen Pearson up to this point but the other MPs are in Quebec on retreat at this time so we’re on hold with them right now.
How about on the public service side?
No – not yet. We are only now beginning to understand this aspect of Federal government.
Chris – Chief of Staff:
Has liased with Minister Kenny’s chief of staff and have scheduled ongoing calls between those two ministers. Also liaising with Minister Finley’s office.
· We recognize that any concrete decisions on the future status of Imagine Adoption are based on BDO Dunwoody’s financial assessment of the agency, but what options are currently being considered?
· Our priority as families impacted by Imagine Adoption is to ensure that all families that have signed a retainer with Imagine Adoption are able to complete their adoptions. Is the Ministry of Children and Youth Services committed to:
1. Expediting a license, if required, as quickly as possible; and
2. Exercising the Ministry’s power to act an interim licensee to continue to facilitate adoptions while Imagine Adoption is restructured.
We can’t speculate about what might happen Thursday.
The ministry is not in the international adoption business and is not planning to become so.
They will support plans but won’t be the plan themselves.
We understand there might be some viable options, but if there isn’t – does the ministry still feel the same way?
Can’t speculate on all the “what ifs”.
Would the ministry give us time to group our thoughts and formulate our plan after the meeting on Thursday?
It could be that BDO acts strictly in their position as shutting down the business of IA.
BDO has assured the ministry however, that they are willing to go beyond that to put a viable solution in place.
BDO has confirmed that they are reviewing possible plans to keep the agency viable – and the ministry is committed to expediting this plan.
Ministry has been communicating with other agencies across Canada to gain understanding and form relationships should IA clients need to transfer their files to another agency or that agency step in to assist us.
If there are possible plans for viability of the agency – the ministry doesn’t want to put any artificial deadlines in place. They are committed to ensuring any proposed plan is viable – don’t want to find ourselves in this situation again.
They do however, recognize the time sensitive nature of this situation.
· At our last meeting we expressed our concern that Dr. Palacios, Imagine’s lawyer in Ecuador would not take any action to continue to facilitate adoptions until he got clear direction from the Ministry, or Sue Hayhow. Terre Des Homme, an agency looking into the possibility of taking over our files, cannot take any action until this is resolved. Has the Ministry contacted Dr. Palacio? If not, will the Ministry take immediate action to do so?
That communication is happening as we speak.
Have a Spanish speaking staff member who is communicating directly with Dr.Palacio and with Ecuadorian officials.
* We understand the short turnaround time between our meeting on Friday and today. We left a very specific list of questions with your staff at Friday's meeting. When can we expect answers to those questions?
OTHER QUESTIONS FROM FIA STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Reporting fees and requirements for families who are home with their children already. Trying to fulfill the reporting requirements as required by Ethiopian authorities. Can the ministry help us with this situation?
It has been raised with the federal government and MOWA. It has been asked several times on the hotline.
She will raise it with the high commission on our behalf.
How can we as citizens be assured that this situation will not occur again?
Ironically, we thought the risk of this process lay in the international country.
A lot of learning will happen throughout this process and I’m sure we will come to conclusions later and be reflective.
A license means that an agency will comply with the law – safety of children, 47 steps to meet before being licensed.
The ministry will look beyond the immediate crisis later.
If fraud has occurred, she is not sure the ministry could have prevented this.
Other agencies may want to strengthen the system voluntarily as the process of international adoption is taking a hit from this in general.
What the ministry looks at when licensing (financially):
An outline of the fees paid by families to the agency.
Then an outline of the monies paid on behalf of the family by the agency.
Without a full review of financial statements, often perception and reality are disconnected. Necessary to provide accurate information.
BDO is also not in the international adoption business. Who is helping them wade through this aspect of the bankruptcy?
BDO is working with lawyer Ted Giesbreicht.
Ministry is working with BDO to ensure any proposal put forward meets the 47 licensing criteria.
Could you share with us any candidates as we have people approaching us who might be able to fill needs?
Discussions are happening with Susan Taves.
The ministry will combine proposals etc. to help BDO put a viable candidate/proposal in place.
Susan Taves is on a steep learning curve. Ie. Donation for the transition house.
This is a spirit of the law vs. letter of the law situation.
Who should be pro-active to find the viable solution once the money aspect is sorted out on Thursday?
BDO has people knocking at their door with regards to proposals.
This is a conversation we need to have with BDO on Thursday.
If we have people approaching us, ask them to go to BDO with it.
BDO is not representing St.Anne’s families. How is the relationship working between the three branches?
The ministry is working on all branches simultaneously – with the understanding that BDO’s job is IA.
It is not a hierarchy for the ministry – they are working on all aspects.
How many licenses have been extended to IA?
There are 2 licenses.
What is happening with Ghana?
The owner of Hands of Mercy has called today and Sally will be speaking with other officials about this immediately as there is conflicting information being presented to families.
This is a priority.
Has a breakdown of files/countries for us – for Ontario.
Is available for other provinces as well.
What about families verbally matched but not referred? This is another category not listed on these numbers.
This is a conversation we can have with BDO on Thursday.
You mentioned that accreditation is frozen at this time – will that affect the court dates of future adoptions?
NEW ACCREDITATION is frozen – not IA’s current accreditation.
We don’t want anything to jeopardize that accreditation.
Is the hotline and website set up by the ministry sufficient for communication?
This does not have to be the conclusion of our communication – the ministry wants to keep clear and efficient communication.
This meeting has been very helpful to us and he is hopeful we can meet again in the coming weeks.
Absolutely. She looks forward to the day she can meet these little babies in the future.
Thank you for hearing us and assisting us in this process, a process we know is long term and critical to the ongoing success of international adoption.
DATE: Monday July 27th
TIME: 6:30 pm (EST)
Busy week – thank you everyone for all your work.
Chris has stepped down as our rep for the African program – we need a new rep (Ghana? Since that program is in dire need).
Introduce our regional reps – Mike from BC and Ruth from Manitoba and Tammy from Alberta
Government Liaison Committee:
Sent out invitation to all chairs and co-chairs. 2 spokespeople from the Gov. Liason Committee to present our agenda.
Minister Matthews will start the meeting with a statement and then we can present our agenda.
We shouldn’t be expecting any specific information on the future of IA at this time – but rather an opportunity to reiterate our questions directly to the minister.
Christine will start the meeting off, then Ellen will present our questions to the minister. There will be time at the end of the meeting (OPEN) for everyone else to ask questions.
REMINDER: This relationship is critical. Try to keep our emotions in check.
Supports what we are aiming to do/presenting.
Concerned about what is being presented in the media.
2. Set objectives for meeting with Minister Deb Matthews on Tuesday
Specific follow up questions to Friday’s meeting:
Interprovincial phone call – How did it go and what was resolved?
What is happening on a Federal Level – other than Visas? Foreign Affairs/International Trade?
Recognizing the ministry can’t make concrete commitments until BDO presents its plan – what are the options being considered?
All families be able to complete their adoptions – Can the ministry expedite a licence and/or act as a director for the interim until IA is restructured?
Ecuador – Has the ministry made any contact with Dr.Pe_________?
Do we have answers to the St.Ann’s issue? NO
Did they commit on when they would provide answers to the questions we left behind? NO CONCRETE TIMELINE
Can you update us on the meeting on Friday?
The meeting went as we expected – political with no real concrete answers.
Basically, we put our concerns forward.
Hopefully the minister will provide us with some additional information but don’t expect too much.
We need to make up for the misstep in the media with remarks to Minister Matthews.
That has been dealt with and reinforces the importance of our relationship with the ministry.
3. Identify Participants
All chairs and co-chairs? Kevin – NO
Meet at the 900 Bay street at 4pm to do interviews before we go into the meeting at 5pm.
4. Strategy re: Federal Government
What questions should we be asking our provincial governments?
Push from an accountability aspect. Inter-jurisdictional confusion.
Spoke to Paris today. Felt she presented a “veiled threat”. They are unhappy with our media scrum following the meeting on Friday.
Again, the relationship with the ministry is vital – must be cautious about the language we are using when talking to the media.
Having said that, the Globe’s article had Minister Matthews trying to claim recognition for things the Federal government has done on our behalf.
If they gave us something concrete from tomorrow’s meeting then we could present that to the media.
Spoke with Deb Matthews today – the heat is on. She is feeling pressure from all sides. Perhaps we should present a statement to the media that has been given to the ministry in advance.
Maybe two statements ready to chose between depending on how the meeting goes. Beyond that, anyone else who speaks to the press needs to be guarded with regards to our impressions of the meeting.
Keeping it personal to our story is the best way to deflect difficult questions. 5pm meeting time is intentional to try to keep media away. Allowing media to do interviews going into the meeting is going to be the answer to this problem.
Angelina Jolie’s manager just called him – asking what she can do to help. This is something we need to discuss.
Trustee Liaison Committee:
Sent out a statement asking all families to submit a proof of claim – on time and accurately.
Next statement being sent out will suggest that families vote “no” to media presence in the meeting on Thursday. Media coverage outside the meeting is welcomed but since the meeting itself is going to reveal a lot of the scandal – we think it is in our best interest to keep the media out for this part.
We want all families to feel free to present any questions they have at this meeting.
A statement will be sent out on Wednesday with any FIA suggestions to voting and our recommendations for inspectors – they will also bring copies for those from out of province who won’t have access to email on Wednesday.
Can out of province families be inspectors?
Yes, only risk having to be there in person if all inspectors don’t agree to tele-conference.
People with financial backgrounds would be ideal for the role of inspectors (crunching numbers, business plan backgrounds, reviewing plans) and will be voted on at the meeting on Thursday. We need the best candidates to step forward.
Inspectors will be nominated at the meeting.
How long will the meeting be? All day probably.
How long does the inspector role last for? Perhaps a year or more. Creditors meetings, directing the trustee, overseeing the trustee, etc.
Can we put a call out on Yahoo with a list of qualifications of an inspector and ask possible candidates to come forward.
Sure – we’ll send it to Priscilla and she can get it out tonight or tomorrow morning.
Can you put out a statement letting everyone know that Thursday is their opportunity to ask all their questions!
Sure – she’ll check with BDO to make sure this is how their agenda is going to be laid out and then post this information.
Yahoo site information was unclear with regards to the BDO claim form – is amount A and B different?
No, the same.
It seems as though the “trust” fund was never set up at all.
After speaking to a board of director member today – it would seem as though the trust fund money was being used for operational expenses – that’s why they claimed bankruptcy to freeze those monies so no more were used for operating expenses/
2. Action Plan
Calgary press got hold of the initial copy of the action plan – we are tabling that proposal as not everyone has had a chance to vote on it.
Feels we are running out of media interest after this week of meetings.
Don’t want to fabricate interest as it can be “campy”
Want to redirect the media as their natural path will be to the scandal part of the story – criminal and fraud charges.
We can’t comment on the criminal/fraud part of the story – need to use those opportunities to talk about our stories.
Keep this problem in our minds and we’ll revisit it next week.
2. Key Message re: Fraud Allegations and Possible Charges
1. Update (Website, Newsletter, Committee Members)
Feels some of the panic is subsiding on the Yahoo and Facebook groups.
Appreciates the assistance in answering some of the questions on those groups.
Trying to divide up some of the work between more people as Kevin and she are bearing the brunt of the load.
Will send out the minutes from Friday’s meeting tomorrow morning – sorry she forgot to today.
Still working with Extreme Media for our website – getting the website changes and updates integrated.
Also – a link to Tammy’s blog.
The blog could be a tool for more media coverage – personal stories.
Each media tool will carry a different stream of information: Blog=personal stories, Website=information, etc.
Families coming home with their children will be great for media interest.
2. Regional Communications
Action Plan? With regards to the “war chest” comment in media…
Action plan is off the table at this time because of that.
Need to let families know what the FIA objective is as we are acting as their voice and they don’t know what we’re saying.
That will be done immediately.
We can’t make decisions with regards to the bankruptcy – these decisions will all be put to votes.
We’ll include this information as well.
1: re: Board of Directors contacting families:
Spoke to Allan Brown (IA board of directors) today – very willing to help us out and wanting to do whatever he can to assist.
Cautioning us with regards to communication with Board Members as they will most likely be held accountable for this situation and we want to distance ourselves from all that mess. Director Liability Act
Especially since Sue is saying the board was responsible for the mishandling of the money.
Do we need to caution all families on this issue?
Feels like we need to think about this more before making a decision.
Do we know what Allan Brown’s connection to IA was before he became a board member?
Rick asked him to sit on the board
He doesn’t doubt this man’s integrity – but feels like we need to be cautious as there are liability issues.
RESOLUTION: We’ll do damage control if this becomes an issue.
Socialize after the BDO meeting on Thursday?
Definitely – Del Dante’s
When should we meet again?
Tuesday August 5th – 630pm Conference Call
FIA Meeting with Ministry of Children & Youth Services
July 24th, 2009 – 1pm
Sally McGowan – Director of Client Services
Gerrard Pezzot – Client Services
FIA representatives – Christine, Ellen, David, Denise, Karyn (minutes)
More information on where things are at both with Imagine and with the solution. How the ministry is supporting the trustee. They understand how difficult this is for us and for all the families.
Introduction of the steering committee and what we are.
Background information on why we have chosen international adoption – the importance of this situation, lives of vulnerable children are at stake.
Read our statement: Asking that all our families are able to complete their adoptions. An Ontario licensed agency should be a safe agency. We are asking for the ministry’s solution to this problem.
Presentation of agenda/questions. Not exhaustive but representational of the questions out there.
We are not experts in this – we are looking to the ministry for guidance.
The ministry’s goal is to work on a plan that the trustee has. Their objective is an attempt to facilitate/implement a plan that has the least disruption to families. She cannot promise that this will look the same for all families.
She can’t guarantee anything.
Ethiopian government accreditation: Ethiopia must accredit agencies here in Ontario. The ministry doesn’t play a role in that. Trying to get information around this accreditation – they understand there is a moratorium on any new accreditation by the Ethiopian government. This will be critical to the development of a plan going forward.
The government is expediting visas and the BDO rep in Ethiopia is assisting those referred families and families awaiting court dates.
They can’t commit to all families having their adoptions completed.
People have come forward offering their services as a licensing route.
Can the ministry act as our licensee?
IA is still licensed. There is no precedent for ministry to act as our licensee but she is willing to take that suggestion as an option. Must see where the licensee sits before they investigate that.
MOWA - Is someone managing that relationship so they don’t pull the license?
Not a provincial matter – federal government has jurisdiction – CIC?
Are you considering the relationship beyond the referred children?
Absolutely. They understand the situations of all files – HRSDC is assisting them in this. Mr.Giesberg (spelling? )is also assisting in this area.
BDO is considering proposals? Why are we submitting proposals to BDO and not the ministry?
BDO is the licensee so they manage the day to day operations of the agency but are also thinking about the future of the agency. The ministry will receive any information we offer but they don’t guarantee anything.
St. Anne’s – What is the government doing to help these families?
Trying to gain an understanding of the relations between all the branches. This is a priority for them at this time and they are working on it. This is a full time job for them right now.
The government is aware of all the programs. Seeking clarity in all these countries – Ghana, Ecuador, Ethiopia, etc. – and the answers will be included in the plan that BDO puts forth.
What should we be asking the government?
We as FIA don’t have access to the information we need – ie. Client lists/ accurate numbers and where they are in the process. Can we get that information?
The ministry has started compiling that information but don’t have anything conclusive. It’s a moving target as they don’t have conclusive numbers. They will give that information when they have it.
Action plan. What is the timeline for this to be presented to us?
The ministry believes it will be soon. Trustee is working on it and will present that to the ministry. The meeting on the 30th will be BDO speaking about the bankruptcy – not about an action plan. This is the legal responsibility of the trustee. Only after that is done will a future plan be presented.
Christine: Why is the information so hard to come by?
Files outside Ontario are not accessed by this ministry. The bankruptcy has come as a surprise to everyone involved – everyone is playing a catch up game and educating themselves on all the information necessary to move forward.
Denise: What about families who have been matched but not referred?
40 children combined in two transition homes. Court dates imminent for some families. Matched children sent back to orphanages? Unknown. St.Ann’s: Dr.Pelassio is waiting for Sue’s direction. The ministry will take that concern away and investigate for us.
David: Where are our files?
Files are secured. BDO has files that were in IA offices. Ministry has copies of Ontario files. We should ask this at the BDO meeting.
Files are portable and can be transferred between agencies/country programs etc. Additional information may be required but home studies etc. will remain valid.
David: What are the goals of the meeting between the provincial and federal governments?
Information sharing between provinces and ministries.
Christine: Would the government offer their support of a plan by families to take IA out of bankruptcy?
At this point they are considering all options so, yes.
Ellen: Children’s Bridge approached the ministry with the offer of assistance – why were they turned down?
At the time, everything was new and hectic. The ministry knows that BDO has been approached by many organizations including Children’s Bridge and Mission of Tears. So it’s a matter of accreditation. All options are being considered by the trustee.
Ellen: Is the accreditation from Ethiopia currently at risk?
At this point, there is no reason to believe that.
This is a very complex issue. Involves many branches working together.
Ellen: Is keeping IA intact not the easiest solution?
Ministry is educating themselves on that possibility - has asked BDO to shed light on that possibility with regards to bankruptcy law etc.
Christine: IA structure is still in place with the exception of Sue and Board of Directors. How much does the license hinge on Sue?
Gave us the licensing guidelines to review. One of the guidelines is that the director demonstrates that he/she has expertise and knowledge and understands the process of international adoption.
Would the government expedite that process for us?
Hypothetically, yes or they are exploring all options.
Do you have a licensing department?
Can we meet with them?
Best course of action is to hear from BDO first. It wouldn’t be helpful to us at this point.
Ellen: If BDO doesn’t come forth with a plan, is it over for us? How can we assist? How can we be involved?
Have a conversation with Sue Taves about that. The ministry was let her know that they recommended us to speak to her.
Christine: Once BDO’s work is done, does the license dissolve?
There needs to be an entity to license so depending on what the plan is, the decisions on the license will vary. To comment on this before having seen a plan, is too difficult. They understand that time is of the essence, but due diligence is essential right now.
Denise: Post July 3oth – what is the timeline?
No timeline at this point to present a proposal. It is their priority but there is no date at this time.
Impressed with how we have presented ourselves. Will post any new information on the website and has set up the hotline for us.
Wrap up. Our primary concern is not IA – it is ensuring that all families are matched with a child and the children brought home. We thank you for your time and all the work you are doing on this for us. What process can we put in place to receive your responses to our questions? Ellen is the primary point of contact for the ministry.
Perhaps the minister will answer some of these questions on Tue
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
(TORONTO) July 28-- The following statement was delivered by Families of Imagine
Adoption after their meeting with Minister of Children and Youth Services, Deb
Matthews this evening.
JULY 28TH, 2009
PRESS STATEMENT FOLLOWING MEETING WITH MINISTER DEB MATTHEWS
I want to begin by expressing our appreciation to Minister Deb Matthews for
meeting with us today and for all the work she and her Ministry have done to
assist us during this crisis. We fully appreciate that we are dealing with an
unprecedented situation that presents challenges on many fronts. We are
encouraged to see that cooperation between Minister Matthews's office, the
Trustee in Bankruptcy, Minister Kenney's office and the generous donation by
Yamana Gold, has secured the safety and well-being of the children in the
transition home in Ethiopia. We are also very pleased with Minister Kenney's
efforts to expedite the visas that have allowed the first post-bankruptcy
children to return to Canada with their families.
As important as these accomplishments have been, they only represent the tip of
the iceberg of pressing challenges resulting from the bankruptcy of Imagine.
While the response to the situation in the transition home in Ethiopia has been
swift and successful, we have grave concerns about the well-being of the
children that were residing in the-now-closed Hands of Mercy orphanage in Ghana.
We are also frustrated by the lack of direction provided to the families of
Saint Anne's Adoption Centre who have been left with neither staff or
infrastructure via which to complete their adoptions, nor a trustee to act on
While we fully understand that securing the safety of the children under Imagine
Adoption's care was and continues to be of the utmost importance, we feel
strongly that an equally determined and concerted effort must now be directed
towards finding a solution that will ensure that ALL families who signed a
retainer agreement with Imagine are able to complete their adoptions.
As representatives of the Families of Imagine Adoption we hoped that our meeting
with Minister Matthews today would result in a political commitment to ensure
that all families registered with Imagine are able to see their adoptions
through to completion. We were encouraged to hear that the minister will "bend
over backwards" to help our families to complete our adoption process.
Due to the unprecedented nature of this crisis and also its potential
ramifications for the credibility of the ontario government's licensing
authorities both here in canada and abroad, a viable solution will likely
necessitate that the ministry of child and youth services look beyond the scope
of its normal responsibilities and procedures.
We did not ask for a final solution with the goal of leaving the meeting with
false hopes, but rather to enable us to focus our collective efforts towards the
most productive and successful end. In the space of two weeks the Families of
Imagine Adoption have been able to organize into a unified representative body
with a wide range of skills, resources and public support. Indeed, we have been
inspired and bolstered, not only by the outpouring of sympathy we have received
from across Canada, but also by the widespread public outrage at the regulatory
shortcomings that resulted in this tragic breach of trust. It is our intention
to focus our energies and resources to work collaboratively with Minister
Matthew's office, the trustee, and the federal government, to ensure that a
solution is identified and implemented that will allow all those affected to
fulfill their hard-fought efforts to create and complete their families.
INGRID PHANEUF (416) 710-0966
& DAVID COTTER (519) 502-5818
ONTARIO HELPING FAMILIES SEEKING TO ADOPT
McGuinty Government Taking Action After Adoption Agency Collapses
July 28, 2009 -- Ontario is taking clear action to help families impacted by the recent collapse of Imagine Adoption/Kids Link.
Earlier today, Minister of Children and Youth Services Deb Matthews met with families affected by the recent collapse of the agency. During the meeting, Matthews indicated that the province would:
* Act quickly to consider any licensing requests should a reconstituted agency emerge from bankruptcy, while protecting the safety of kids
* Ensure home studies – evaluations of potential adoptive parents by agencies – conducted by Imagine Adoption/Kids Link will be transferable to other adoption agencies.
* Consider ways in which the international adoption system can be strengthened, as the facts surrounding this situation emerge.
Ontario is also working with the federal government to ensure that visas are expedited for children whose adoptions have been completed so they can make it home to their adoptive families in Canada.
The province will continue to work with the bankruptcy trustee BDO Dunwoody to explore all possible options to assist families at all stages of the adoption process, once the status of the Adoption/Kids Link is determined through the bankruptcy process.
“It’s heart-breaking when your hopes and dreams of starting a family are jeopardized. Adopting a child from another country is already a lengthy and emotional process. I want these families to know we’re doing everything we can to help them.” - Deb Matthews, Minister of Children and Youth Services
* Since the bankruptcy, at least nine Ethiopian children have received their visas and are travelling or have arrived in Canada.
* An estimated 36 Ethiopian children have already been matched with Canadian parents and are being cared for in a transition home in Ethiopia.
* Ontario is working with the federal government to expedite visas for those children whose adoptions have already been completed.
* For a status update from the bankruptcy trustee BDO Dunwoody, go to http://www.bdo.ca/extranets/imagineadoption/
* Find out more about Ontario’s adoption system
* Kevin Spafford, Minister’s Office, 416-212-7159
* Ryan Rigby, Ministry of Children and Youth Services ,
9:30 am Saturday, August 1, 2009
Leduc Fellowship Church
4401 Rollyview Road
Monday, July 27, 2009
We as a committee understand the thoughts but do strongly suggest that each and every family complete the forms and complete them in 100% honesty.
For all parties (Trustee’s, Ministry, etc.) involved to complete their duties, they need factual and accurate information so they can analyze the current position of Imagine Adoption.
This of course is what we are referring to as the starting point, as we’re all committed to a viable Action Plan to bring Imagine Adoption out of bankruptcy.
Also, we feel it is important to point out that only families that have submitted a Proof of Claim have rights when it comes to the voting on any proposals that are presented by BDO.
If you would like your voice heard, it is important that the forms are submitted.
FIA Steering Committee and FIA Trustee Liaison Committee
Over the past many days, the FIA has noticed postings in regards to the Format and Agenda for upcoming Creditor Meeting on Thursday, July 30.
Please find below, a copy of the BDO Release that clearly indicates the purpose for the meeting as well as some information that we feel is important for each and every one of you during this process.
July 21, 2009
The purpose of this meeting is detailed in the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to:
• review the affairs of the bankrupt (the Trustee prepares and issues a written report),
• confirm the appointment of the Trustee; and,
• appoint up to 5 Inspectors who will represent all creditors after this first meeting in providing input and direction to the Trustee as required.
It is not required that Creditors attend this meeting. Many creditor meetings have only a minority of the creditors attending. There will not be any significant comment on July 30 regarding repayment to creditors as ongoing accounting review is expected to occur.
A creditor must file their proof of claim prior to the meeting if they plan to attend and vote at the meeting. If a proof of claim is filed after the creditor meeting but prior to the time of any payment of funds to creditors, the creditor will receive their appropriate payment even if they did not attend the creditor meeting.
A creditor may appoint another party to hold their proxy and attend the meeting in their place. The proxy must be completed and filed with the Trustee prior to the creditor meeting. One voting card will be provided to each creditor or person holding a proxy. A couple will be considered one creditor.
Media are allowed to attend the July 30, 2009 creditor meeting only if agreed to by the creditors. The first order of business on July 30 will be a vote to decide if Media can enter the room.
The Trustee’s written report will be posted on the website for creditor review.
FIA Trustee Liaison Committee
the pros and cons of filing a Proof of Claim and what it means to the
future viability of Imagine Adoption.
We as a committee understand the thoughts but do strongly suggest that
each and every family complete the forms and complete them in 100%
For all parties (Trustee’s, Ministry, etc.) involved to complete their
duties, they need factual and accurate information so they can analyze
the current position of Imagine Adoption.
This of course is what we are referring to as the starting point, as
we’re all committed to a viable Action Plan to bring Imagine Adoption
out of bankruptcy.
Also, we feel it is important to point out that only families that
have submitted a Proof of Claim have rights when it comes to the
voting on any proposals that are presented by BDO.
If you would like your voice heard, it is important that the forms are
FIA Steering Committee and FIA Trustee Liaison Committee
Over the past many days, the FIA has noticed postings in regards to
the Format and Agenda for upcoming Creditor Meeting on Thursday, July
Please find below, a copy of the BDO Release that clearly indicates
the purpose for the meeting as well as some information that we feel
is important for each and every one of you during this process.
July 21, 2009
The purpose of this meeting is detailed in the Bankruptcy and
Insolvency Act to:
• review the affairs of the bankrupt (the Trustee prepares and
issues a written report),
• confirm the appointment of the Trustee; and,
• appoint up to 5 Inspectors who will represent all creditors
after this first meeting in providing input and direction to the
Trustee as required.
It is not required that Creditors attend this meeting. Many creditor
meetings have only a minority of the creditors attending. There will
not be any significant comment on July 30 regarding repayment to
creditors as ongoing accounting review is expected to occur.
A creditor must file their proof of claim prior to the meeting if they
plan to attend and vote at the meeting. If a proof of claim is filed
after the creditor meeting but prior to the time of any payment of
funds to creditors, the creditor will receive their appropriate
payment even if they did not attend the creditor meeting.
A creditor may appoint another party to hold their proxy and attend
the meeting in their place. The proxy must be completed and filed with
the Trustee prior to the creditor meeting. One voting card will be
provided to each creditor or person holding a proxy. A couple will be
considered one creditor.
Media are allowed to attend the July 30, 2009 creditor meeting only if
agreed to by the creditors. The first order of business on July 30
will be a vote to decide if Media can enter the room.
The Trustee’s written report will be posted on the website for
FIA Trustee Liaison Committee
Saturday, July 25, 2009
The IAFA hosted a meeting in Calgary today for all Imagine adoption families. As a result of that meeting, the families put together a committee for AB families to help facilitate communication to the Alberta provincial government as well as the FIA steering committee.
We are behind the efforts of the steering committee and plan to work at keeping our communication flowing as efficiently as possible for everyone.
If you live in Alberta and are a client of Imagine adoption, please forward any questions or concerns through the corresponding provincial contacts:
*FIA communication* - Tammy Campbell (firstname.lastname@example.org)- keep updated on steering committee releases and ensure they make it to the blog, as well as communicate provincial concerns to the steering committee.
*Government Communication *- Anita Schimke (email@example.com) - Anita will be the AB point person for any questions to Anne Scully, Manager, Adoption and Permanency Services here in AB, and liase with Ellen Kallis, government relations on the steering committee
*Trustee Liason *- Heather and Dan Aldrich (firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com) will facilitate BDO/Trustee communication between AB families and Lianne Armstrong.
*AB Communication* - Shawn Bertine (firstname.lastname@example.org) will (soon) have our AB email distribution list for AB families of Imagine. If you were not at the meeting today and are an Imagine family in AB, please forward your name, phone number and email address to Shawn. A list will also be compiled at the meeting next Saturday in Edmonton (location TBA). Thank you Tammy Vlieg for compiling today's list!
We hope this will contribute to the flow of information between our AB families, the AB government, and the FIA steering committee.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact one of the committee members.
Proof of Claims Form
After discussions with Susan Taves of BDO, the FIA Steering Committee provides
you will the following guidance while completing the Claim Form that you all
Completion Of Form:
• The amount claimed on Proof of Claim should include only money paid to Kids
• Money paid for your PRIDE training, or to your social worker for the
preparation of Homestudy, for example, should not be included
• It is important to note on the Proof of Claim whether funds claimed are being
held in trust or not
• If claiming trust monies, you may wish to state that that "trust funds are
being claimed on Proof of Claim because of lack of information as to status of
trust funds and claim is without prejudice to position that these trust funds
are NOT property of the Bankrupt Corporation and remain funds belonging to me"
• Attach receipts to the Proof of Claim. If you do not receipts, attach proof
of payments, e.g. copies of cheques
• Note on the Proof of Claim whether the funds paid were Canadian dollars or
• Make sure that you have signed the Proof of Claim
• When completing the form as families, it is required that both family members
sign the form
• Make sure that your signature is witnessed by someone on the Proof of Claim
• The witness does not need to be from a formal individual such as a Notary
Public, Lawyer, etc. but does need to be a third party
• It is imperative that you advise BDO of stage of your file; e.g. Pre-Homestudy
Approval, Preparation of Dossier, File in Ethiopia/Ghana/Ecuador and Waiting
for Referral of Child since _______; Referral of Child on __________ and Waiting
for Court Date etc.
• With respect to request by BDO for estimate of monies still required for
further services, we have sought clarification from BDO on this issue. It is
our understanding that BDO is looking for an estimate of the funds required to
complete your file. If you do not know this amount, you should advise that do
not have this information and reference the status of your file. An example
would be as follows:
o Status of File - File in Ethiopia waiting for referral since February 12,
o Estimate of Funds Required to Complete File - Unable to estimate amount.
Services still required related to referral of child and post referral services
As a creditor, you are entitled to have your voice heard at the meeting by
appointing a proxy on the General Proxy Form. The following members of the
Steering Committee will be in attendance at the Creditors' meeting and you may
appoint them on the Proxy:
Robert Eagleson – London, Ontario
Christine Starr – Toronto, Ontario
Please make sure that your signature is witnessed on the General Proxy Form and
submit the Proxy to BDO prior to the Creditors' meeting. If you have chosen to
appoint Robert Eagleson or Christine Starr as your proxy, please advise us at
robeagleson @ live dot com or cstarr @ rogers dot com .
PLEASE NOTE - AT ANYTIME DURING THE PROCESS YOU CAN REVOKE THE PROXY AS
As a reminder, please make sure that the Proof of Claim/Proxy are received by
BDO's office prior to July 30, 2009. This can be completed by mail or fax.
The Proof of Claim/General Proxy can be found at
Details pertaining to the Creditors' meeting can be found at
I trust that this is assistance to you.
FIA Steering Committee
If you would like Dennis to be your proxy, please email him at:
Friday, July 24, 2009
Ministry officials have yet to make a commitment to help complete the files of families registered under provincial law with Imagine Adoption. FIA is calling on Minister of Children and Youth Services Liberal MP Deb Matthews to make a public commitment to develop a plan do so. The trustee, BDO Dunwoody has already posted a press release on its website indicating it is ready and willing to develop a plan to complete the files of ALL families registered with Imagine Adoption.
FIA is calling on Minister of Children and Youth Services, Liberal MP Deb Matthews, to do the same.
PRESS STATEMENT (2:15 pm July 24, post-meeting with ministry officials at 56 Wellesley, Toronto, Ont.)
Christine Starr: I’d like to begin by stating just how reassuring it has been to us to see, through your actions and coverage, that you appreciate the seriousness of the situation not only for the families here in Canada, who are desperate not to lose what many believe to be their last opportunity to create or complete their family, but also for the children currently in orphanages in the countries with which Imagine Adoption was working.
I think it is key that as we, the Families of Imagine Adoption work to cooperate to solve this issue, that we clearly bear in mind that children’s lives are at stake. As a woman adopting from Ethiopia I know that one of the reasons I was drawn to adopt from that country in particular is the knowledge that 1 in every 6 children in Ethiopia will die before the age of five. In Ethiopia alone there are upwards of 6 million orphans at risk and when you combine all the countries in which Imagine Adoption worked the numbers are even more staggering.
We can understand that when you think of the magnitude of the problem in these terms, it might be tempting to think that finding homes for 300 or so of these children is a drop in the bucket, but we have to keep in mind that every one of those drops is a precious child that has a right to a full and fulfilling life. And there are families here in Canada who long for nothing more than to care, love and nurture these children for the duration of their lives.
We trust that when we fully consider this reality and what is truly at stake, that all will agree that failure to come up with a solution is not an option.
From the outset of our discussions we made it very clear that as regulators of International Adoptions Agencies in the province of Ontario, we hold the Ministry accountable in this situation. Knowing by law that we had to proceed with out inter-country adoptions using a licensed agency, we all chose Imagine Adoption because we trusted that an Ontario Government License represented thorough and reliable regulation.
We fully understand that this is a unique situation that has no precedent. Therefore we are asking the Ministry to look outside its normal procedures and maybe even responsibilities and to work in partnership with us to find a viable solution for all families affected by this regulatory failure.
In our effort to make our meeting today with the Ministry as productive as possible we narrowed our most pressing concerns into four questions.
We asked the ministry whether it is fully committed to complete the adoption process for ALL families that signed a retainer agreement with Imagine Adoption, regardless of where they are in their adoption process?
We asked the ministry if it is willing to work with the trustee in bankruptcy to develop a transition plan that would see the ministry hold Imagine Adoption’s license while it acted as an interim operational trustee until the organization can be restructured?
We asked the ministry if they would consider offering their support of a plan put forth by the Families of Imagine Adoption to take the agency out of bankruptcy?
Finally we asked the ministry what it is doing to take care of the families working with St. Ann’s Adoption Agency, an organization affiliated and run by Imagine Adoption staff but not currently in bankruptcy?
We did not receive any answers or assurances from the Ministry with respect to these questions. We look forward to meeting with Minister Deb Matthews on Tuesday.
Press contacts: Ingrid Phaneuf 416-710-0966
David Cotter 519-502-5818
My name is Sophia Harris and I'm with CBC National TV. We are doing a story tonight for The National on Imagine Adoption but would like to have an element outside the news conference. Is their a prospective parent affected whom we could interview this morning? This could be in any location across Canada.
Please let me know a.s.a.p.
The reporter on the story is Ron Charles.
Many thank yous,
Chair, FIA Internal Communications Committee
Thursday, July 23, 2009
During our conversations last night, it was noted that there is at least one other group out there that is also currently involved in preparing an Action Plan for the recovery of Imagine Adoption.
With the above points in consideration, I am asking that anyone who is possibly involved in the creation of an Action Plan please contact me, as we are willing to be active participants to any Action Plan that is to the benefit of all families and friends touched in this process.
Chair, FIA Steering Committee
416 899 1769
July 19, 2009 by glenpearson | Edit
When Parliament first began to function following Confederation, local MPs
traveled sometimes for months or weeks to attend political sessions in Ottawa.
They came as the extended voices of their ridings and they acted as though the
House of Commons was there to look after the interests of their respective
constituents. They knew there was more to it than that, naturally, and that the
country of Canada couldn't survive without all regions cooperating in the
national interest. But they were there for their communities primarily.
I just came from a meeting with numerous families who have been in the process
of adopting overseas children through the Imagine agency that recently filed for
bankruptcy. They gathered in reflection and pain and confusion as to what to do
next. Some have $30,000 invested in the process and they are hurting. My wife
and I were asked to attend because of our own adoption of three children from
Sudan and we respectfully accepted the invitation. Following an hour of venting
their frustrations and developing plans of action, they asked that I address
them as an MP.
Walking to the front, I felt humbled and just a little incapable. What could you
say to a group of determined and dedicated families such as these? Yet as I
turned to speak to them I saw faces full of longing. They were at sea, slightly
lost, with a sense they might be experiencing the end of a dream. Emotion ran
through me as I comprehended that they were looking to government to make it
happen, to bring about a successful resolution to the difficulties. What
followed was a heart-to-heart, like few times I've experienced in politics, as
we as human beings poured out our hopes and fears.
Parliament, the House of Commons, national government – none of these truly
matter if we get times like these wrong. Like MPs of old, you learn that it is
moments like these that form the substance of any democratic function. Question
Period seems a million miles away and hugely irrelevant, which it truly is.
Constituents, your people, are hoping for understanding … and action. And if
it's handled properly, a fascinating exchange occurs. People burdened by
problems and obstacles aplenty are given a small sense of hope that something
can happen. And the MP? What he or she gets is remarkable and represents one of
the most precious gifts of public service – the trust from their constituents
that you will gather up their hopes and concerns and prompt the great machine of
government to humble itself in the cause of even just a few of its deserving
All I could do was promise them by best, and as I thanked them for the great
honor of just being with them, the respectful applause that followed reminded me
why I got into politics in the first place. The exchange had succeeded and I was
better for it. My wife and I drove back home and reflected on what a fine and
committed group of people we had just encountered. They had looked to us in hope
and given us trust and respect in return. If only Ottawa worked like this.
discussed in great lengths the issue of the Proof of Claim form that all
families will need to complete and return to BDO prior to July 30, 2009. With
the complexity of this form, we have been hesitant to state an opinion on how to
fill out without contacting the office of Susan Taves as the form can be
interpreted in many ways. For the time being, we as the Trustee Liaison
Committee are asking you to follow these steps:
• For those families that have not completed the form as of yet, please hold off
until we provide further information, which in honesty should be later today.
• We fully anticipate that our meetings and conversations will Susan Taves will
come to close later today and we will be in a position to formally post some
guidance for your assistance. This post as it stands will either be directly
through BDC or will be subsequent email from the FIA Steering Committee.
• We do note that for those families that have already completed the forms,
please do not panic if you reference information later today that is different
than the way you completed the form, as the form can be amended anytime.
We do fully understand that you are awaiting our information on this issue and
we commit to having this to you as quickly as possible.
Trustee Liaison Committee
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
*Imagine Adoption Network and Support Evening*
The AFABC staff and Board's hearts go out to the families whose
adoption dreams have been impacted. We're encouraged by the Provincial
and Federal response to date, and hold out hope that the children who
have been matched or adopted by their BC family will come home soon.
We know one the strengths of our community is our ability to reach out
and give and receive support from each other. With this in mind, AFABC
is holding a support evening for the families affected by the
bankruptcy of Imagine Adoption, Thursday July 30, at 7:30 at the Burnaby office,
200-7342 Winston Street Burnaby. Jen Hillman
and Yvonne Devitt will be there.
The focus of the evening will be networking with other families
affected and support.
Please RSVP to email@example.com
call 604-320-7330 ext. 0 and leave a message.
Groups needing meeting space day or evening are welcome to use the
space available at AFABC, call Laurie Burt to book at 604-320-7330 ext. 0.
A Message from FIA Steering Committee Co-Chair, Rob Eagleson
I had the opportunity to recap with Glen Pearson late yesterday in regards to a conference call with Minister Kinney's Office. They’ve enlightened the Ministry with the exact issues that we’re dealing with and they appear to have a higher priority on the following item:
For families that are in the final stages of the adoption process and more specifically, have the following steps completed:
• Matched Referral Approved By Ontario Courts
• Matched Referral Approved By Ethiopian Courts
• Awaiting Travel Documents From the High Commission / Immigration
If your family meets ALL THREE of the above criteria, you should be in direct contact with your local MP and instruct them to do the following:
• Call the Ministers Office for an update on where your file is at (they’ve confirmed that they will do that for the MP) so they have a little more information than they may currently have.If you do not know how to be in contact with that office, you can contact the following individuals:
• MP Ed Holder of London West at 519-473-5955 or at Holder dot E @ parl dot gc dot ca
• MP Glen Pearson of London North at 519-663-9777 or at Pearsg1 @ parl dot gc dot ca
MP Glen Pearson of London North and MP Ed Holder of London West did state that this is not good enough as we not only need to know where they are at with the process. More importantly however, we need confirmation from their office that they will expedite the issuance of the proper documents. They are unsure where this will land but they were happy with the first conversations with the office.
Chair, FIA Internal Communications Committee
On behalf of Rob Eagleson, Co-Chair of FIA Steering Committee
Min. of Citizenship and Immigration
Jason Kenny KenneJ@parl.gc.ca
Min. for International Cooperation
Bev Oda firstname.lastname@example.org
Min. of Foreign Affairs
Lawrence Cannon email@example.com AND Cannon.L@parl.gc.ca
Also follow up your letters with calls to the Ministers' office.
Mr. Holder (both MPs) who suggested a few ways that we could help our cause.
One of those suggestions was to collect a list of all of our (Imagine clients
ONLY) MPs so that they could speak directly to our federal government
representatives to ensure that they were working with us and for us!
Please visit here to find your MP:
Please visit here to find your MPP:
Please list your MP and MPP in the following format and post to the Facebook
group IMAGINE ADOPTION PROGRAM - SUPPORT GROUP:
MP: Jane Doe
MPP: John Doe
We will be collecting this information and passing it on to Mr. Pearson shortly.
Thank you for your help.
PS I tried to create a table in the Yahoo forum where we could post our info but
I am unable to do it (limit to the number of tables).
On Monday, July 13, 2009 , Imagine Adoption Services filed for bankruptcy. This impacts many of our IAFA members.
The IAFA will host a meeting regarding the recent bankruptcy notice filed by Imagine Adoption Services. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss options with a goal on developing a plan for moving forward. The meeting will be facilitated by **Wendy Robinson **from** Christian Adoption Services.**
Date: Saturday, July 25, 2009
Time: 9:30 am
Place: Brentwood Calgary Co-op, lower level meeting room
4122 Brentwood Road N.W.
R.S.V.P: Gaylene Martens at firstname.lastname@example.org
*NOTE 1: IAFA is a non-profit, volunteer organization supporting families with internationally adopted children. Throughout the year, IAFA hosts a number of events, both social and educational. Our guest speakers are chosen to provide parents with a wide variety of information on the adoption process or issues facing adoptive children. IAFA is non-partisan and is not affiliated with the federal or provincial government or any licensed adoption agency. Where appropriate, IAFA provides coordination for lobby efforts on issues of importance to the adoption community.*
*Note 2: The following information is passed on for your interest. The IAFA neither recommends nor endorses what is being presented. Members must use their own judgment as to whether the material is relevant to them and if they want to engage the material. We are a support network and provide resources and info for members*
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Please accept our apologies for not getting this information out to you sooner
and thank you for your patience. We recognize that many of you are looking to
help during this tough time. We've been working furiously at every spare moment
to organize ourselves and find the best way to represent FIA who have been
affected by Imagine Adoption's (IA) bankruptcy.
Let's start by introducing ourselves - the new FIA Steering Committee led by
Chair and Co-Chair, Christine Starr and Rob Eagleson. Please note that five
sub-committees have been formed as well:
FIA Steering Committee
Christine Starr, Chair
Rob Eagleson, Co-Chair
Trustee Liaison Committee
Lianne Armstrong, Chair
James Boyle, Co-Chair
Government Liaison Committee
Ellen Kalis, Chair
External Communications Committee
Ingrid Phaneuf, Chair
Dave Cotter, Co-Chair
Internal Communications Committee
Priscilla Travassos, Chair
Kevin Douglas, Co-Chair
Adoption Program Committee for Africa & Latin America
Chris A, Co-Chair
About the FIA Steering Committee
The purpose of the FIA Steering Committee is to act as your liaison with BDO
Dunwoody, the government, the public/media and the FIA community. With this
structure, each chair will act as THE point of contact for each area of their
expertise, so that we can efficiently and collectively work towards a solid
strategy to see ALL of our adoption files through to completion.
This steering committee is currently establishing a list of credible and
talented resources, and continues to grow. Once we finalize our committee
members, we will communicate that with you. Email addresses are also currently
being set up for each committee so that you have somewhere to address your
What can you do to help?
We desperately need you! Offers of support should be directed to FIA Steering
Committee Chair, Christine Starr, who will assign you to the appropriate
committee. We are looking to fill seats in each committee - members, chairs and
co-chairs. Please tell Christine what you have to offer. Your help is much
Don't know where to point your questions or concerns?
If you have any questions regarding BDO Dunwoody, the government, the media etc,
please send an email to the appropriate committee (these emails are currently in
the works and will be shared with you soon).
The plan for future internal communications
A website is currently in the works for FIA members. News, updates, links,
FAQs, further contact information and more will be housed here. We are also
planning to provide FIA members with a weekly newsletter to recap each week's
events. In the interim, keep your eyes on the Yahoo group and Facebook for
Recent News/Next Steps
First steering committee meeting to appoint primes and establish sub-committees
Monday, July 13
Next steering committee meeting to further discuss our action plan
Wednesday, July 15
FIA Steering Committee Meeting with Ministry of Children and Youth Services!
Friday, July 24, 2009
FIA Steering Committee with Minister Deb Matthews!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
We're making serious headway! Thank you to all of you for your ongoing support.
We will keep you updated more frequently now that we've formed our committees
and have a good framework to move forward with. This post will also be
available in the files section for your reference.
Chair, Internal Communications Committee
- Families impacted by Imagine Adoption bankruptcy (Ethiopia, Ghana, Ecuador. Panama)
- Minister of Children and Youth Services (Staffers , Kevin Spafford & Paris Meilleur)
- ACO executive director: Pat Convery
- Media, CP, CTV, CBC, Toronto Star
Chair: Christine Starr
Sign in and Minutes (digital recording) and timer: Ingrid Phaneuf
Distribution of agenda and action plan as well as name tags (will avoid identification in meeting): Ingrid
Crowd/parking control: Edward Barth
1 PM meeting begins
1) Housekeeping – Ingrid opening address
- Ingrid introduces herself welcomes and points out bathrooms,
- Discussing media:
o Ingrid advises that media is present and directs people to read “How to talk to the media” sheet available at the entrance. Mentions that media seems to be sympathetic with our cause but to be aware that there is no such thing as “off the record”. If one is not comfortable in speaking with media one does not have to.
o Cannot control media but we can put our best face forward.
o We want the government to work to fix this and we are willing to help. We are organizing across the country.
- We hold the government somewhat accountable but we are aware that they are just following laws but we would like them to fix it and we would like to work with them to resolve this issue to everyone’s satisfaction.
- Time is of the essence. Some families will age out before this is resolved.
- This is an international issue as the bankruptcy opens the door to the adoptee countries to lose confidence and pull the plug on Canada altogether. Also because many families have files, including original documents overseas.
- Media is interested in personal stories. Please keep up pressure on ministry without getting into blame game or name calling, revenge etc.
- Ingrid then introduces the media present:
o CBC Radio & TV, CTV National, CP, Toronto Star,
- Cameron McIntosh from CBC National News introduces himself and tells everyone that they (CBC) are here because it is a compelling story and assures us that they respect our proceedings and procedure that we have laid out. Asks that they will be able to take some establishing shots. Approved. Will like to interview people afterwards if they wish. Will take establishing shots then shut off cameras when meeting starts.
- For the media shots: Ingrid rallies the group with first introducing herself and her story in brief - why we are all here: To come up with and agree on an action plan going forward.
o Rally cry of “YES WE CAN”
o People from all over Ontario as well as B.C. at this meeting which is one of many taking place across the country (London, Ottawa).
o “We will turn this around”
- Establishing shots from media complete and cameras and recorders off.
MEETING PROPER COMMENCES
Group applause in support of comment to defer legal proceeding to later date and not for this to be the focus of our efforts at the moment
BDO / Ministry Communications:
- If we continue to contact BDO on a regular basis, they will not be able to focus on the tasks at hand…let them do their job. They are accountants
- Comment from floor ; Establishing that the Ministry is really the first point of contact and should be – not BDO. Three members of THE INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION UNIT are our best point of contact for status updates thus far. Names will be posted.
- Comment from floor ; Be careful of the answers one gets from ministry. Answers may vary. Take what is said with a grain of salt.
- Comment from floor (ACO); It is rumoured BDO mentioned on website that they have hired and international adoption lawyer who specializes in international law.
Member Representation / Signing up for a committee:
- Families/Individuals encouraged to sign up for a committee. Must organize in cells. SHARE THE LOAD. Committee sheets can be filled after meeting.
- As we currently sit, a group of 400+ families will not be able to lobby and obtain the attention that we need. We need to size down our groups representing each area that has come together. For example, 4 people from London and Area, 4 people from Toronto and Area, 4 people from Northern Ontario, etc. Of course, we would not limit this group to include only Ontario Families as the success of this will need all of the families so we will need to encourage each and every area to follow the lead. Once all names are gathered, we then need to coordinate the groups and start working off a very similar agenda. This will bring the group to a very manageable size which should assist us to in gaining access to the Ministry of Youth Services, BDO, and all other agencies that we are looking to talk with.
- Comment from floor; Stressing importance of working very closely with the government and ministers.
- Comment from floor; We must act swiftly as the Ethiopian government may not be so patient and ultimately ‘pull the plug’. Time is of the essence cannot be stressed enough
- Comment from floor; We need to have immediate access to the ministry and BDO and need to have our own people in on those meetings to make sure we have the information we need.
- Comment from floor; We must keep constant and consistent pressure on the ministry and government and hold them accountable and to move swiftly forward with a plan that will see not only the families with matches come home with their child but also to facilitate the successful matching of those who as of yet have not had a match no matter where one is in their adoption process. ‘By regulating the ministry told us they were protecting and it looks like they weren’t
- Amina offers to produce a 4 minute YOUTUBE video
- Anyone with talents other than those listed on the Committee sign up sheets are encouraged to put them forward. Everyone has some talent or skill that can help in this process whether it’s a youtube video or banding people together to sign petitions.
- Comment from floor; Magda got a call from the Leader of the Opposition saying ‘you are being heard. What you are doing is amazing. I am on board. I will get my people onto it on Monday when I walk in the door.’ Foreign affairs, Citizenship and Immigration is listening to us!
- Ingrid developing a Media Master List.
o If a reporter contacts you make sure to first get their contact information and send it to Ingrid
- Need to focus on our particular situation and make sure we make media see and hear our stories. An anonymous donor is said to have provided for the children in the transition homes and their prospective parents, which we all know was the first priority but now is our chance to have the media focus on our plight.
Families / Individuals With Referrals - none present
Families / Individuals Without Referrals
- Files approved by Ministry: 16
- Files at Ministry: 6
- Files not at Ministry: 2
- Discussion ensues regarding different fee structures according to country of adoption (Ethiopia, Ecuador and Ghana, Panama). As well as approval process according to country.
- Pat Convery answers questions on how ACO is proceeding. Has had no communications as of yet from the Ministry.
- How do we know our files are in Ethiopia???
o Have one’s MP contact The Head of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs from the Adoptee country to help locate files.
o As a group tell the our ministry that this is one of our action points.
Introduction of Minister of Children and Youth Services (Deb Matthews Staffers):
- Kevin Spafford & Paris Meilleur
Chair – Christine Starr takes floor and Introduces “Imagine Adoption Proposed Action Plan
- Shares personal story and how she has come up with an Action Plan to see our adoptions through.
- Action plan will provide framework that will allow us to move forward and provide structure to help us act quickly, effectively and efficiently.
- Chair proceeds to read point by point the “Imagine Adoption Proposed Action Plan.”
- When on point 4 of proposed action plan, Chair introduces James Boyle who proceeds to address the viability of the points considered. Considered a road map. James is on 2 boards on helping charitable organizations achieve charitable status. Various concerns. Will try and distill all 9 points into 4 buckets. So many levels involved in this process.
- Ellen Kalis introduces herself. Has worked with the government of Ontario. PR and Government relations. 13 months waiting for referral.
o This proposed action plan is a framework that needs to achieve the following:
i. Get the families already matched home. Government is working on that.
ii. Need to get the entity of Imagine Adoption out of Bankruptcy.
iii. Ensure we maintain the relationships with Ethiopia that Imagine has already established. Their government and Orphanages will not wait for us. We need to move fast
iv. Make sure that all the files get completed.
- James returns to point out the skills needed and the mountain we would need to climb but that we do have a framework.
- Question from Floor: Does ministry see this as a viable option or are we spinning our wheels? A. (Stafford) ‘Everything is on the table’. ‘Have not heard any indication that it is not’. Insolvency lawyer likes the plan.
- Point is made that if nothing from the Bankruptcy comes out in tact then there is nothing left for the Ministry to work with.
- Question from Floor: Why the discrepancy between numbers of Children Bridge and Imagine. We do not know the demographics. More questions than answers.
IMAGINE ADOPTION-PROPOSED SPECIFIC ACTION PLAN as a viable working plan of action going forward – voted YAH to go forward.
Forming / Appointing Committees:
- Committee to Liaise with Trustees
- Committee to Liaise with the Government
- Committee in Charge of Internal Communications
- Committee in Charge if External Communications
- Committee in Charge of Finance
- Those interested to speak to Christine, Ellen or James.
- Kevin Spafford & Paris Meilleur (from the office of Deb Matthews) addresses group with statement before Q & A.
o First priority is to get the children in the transition homes to Canada. Progress is being made. Minister (fed) Jason Kenny expediting visas.
o Safety of staff at transition homes.
o Lawyer sent to transition homes to make sure the children are being cared for.
o Working with BDO Dunwoody to know what all the options are and will work with steering committee.
o Court process must be aloud to take place. Ministry has no standing in terms of the court proceedings. No standing with Bankruptcy court.
o Ministry has a licensing role only – includes annual licensing with scrutiny of capacity of agency but no audit of finances. This is being looked at with an eye to possibly changing licensing procedure in future.
o Ministry is setting up a website to give updates and communications will be improved with more frequent updates with a direct phone line as well: (416) 326-6510 (8:30-5:30)
o Inter-Country Adoption Act. Ontario has it’s own. Yearly licensing review. Licensee must prove that there is enough staff, a board of directors, etc. In terms of the ministry – if they are found unable or deficient than a license can be revoked.
o Ministry is reviewing the number of clients handled by IA.
o BDO is trying to see if there is a viable continuation of an agency in some form. Working as well as with Ethiopian government.
o Options - Trustee is looking into how to operate the agency as currently formed and if possible to work with another agency.
o Canadian Government and Foreign Affairs in contact with Ethiopia
o There is contact regarding files and they are safe.Meeting adjourns at 3 pm media and families are invited to remain afterwards