Friday, July 24, 2009


(TORONTO) July 24 -- Christine Starr, the chair of Families of Imagine Adoption, the group of families impacted by the ministry licensed agency's bankruptcy announced last week, delivered the following statement to media at a press conference held outside Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services this afternoon at 2:15 pm. The statement summed up the contents of a first meeting between the group representing families with ministry officials.

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

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