Tuesday, July 28, 2009

FIA Press Statement following meeting with Minister Deb Matthews


(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


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
their behalf.

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

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