Saturday, September 5, 2009

A message from FIA

Proposed Restructuring Plan offers hope for Families of the Bankrupt Imagine Adoption Agency

For the first time in six weeks, there is a sign of hope for the families affected by the July 14th bankruptcy of Imagine Adoption agency.

BDO Dunwoody Ltd, the trustee in bankruptcy, has posted a restructuring plan that proposes to bring the adoption agency out of insolvency.

On July 30 creditors voted unanimously to forgo their financial claims and instead requested that the trustee work on developing a plan to resurrect the agency. For many families this plan offers their only hope of creating or completing their families.

The plan outlines the operating structure, financial terms and monitoring parameters of the proposed new agency. Every family will be required to sign a new retainer agreement, to pay an additional $4,000 dollars in recovery fees, and once a new pay schedule is created, to pay installments of any outstanding agency fees.

The plan anticipates that it will take 36 months to complete all of the approximately 350 adoption files currently in process, whether they are at the very early home study phase or later.
“The plan has just been released and the families are only now having the opportunity to review it,” says Christine Starr; Chair - Families of Imagine Adoption (FIA) Steering Committee. “Clearly there are important issues still left to be addressed and the increased financial commitment demanded by the plan will present a challenge for many families.

Personally however, and in light of the painful reality of this situation and the limited alternatives available to us, I am pleased with the plan and feel strongly that it offers families our best hope of successfully completing our adoptions.”

Despite the difficult circumstances the affected families faced following the bankruptcy, many have much to be thankful for. The $100,000 donation by Yamana Gold made shortly after the bankruptcy was announced ensured the care and wellbeing of the children in the transition home in Ethiopia.

Minister Jason Kenney, of Citizenship and Immigration, also intervened to expedite the visas for these children and now 35 of the 47 children are in Canada with their families. Without this support the families’ hopes of salvaging the agency and completing their adoptions would have been impossible.

If the creditors approve the proposal the goal is for the agency to resume operations by October 2009. “Although there is some degree of relief now that a plan has been presented, we now have to urgently turn our attention to fundraising to help the children in the Ethiopian orphanages who have been left stranded by the suspension of agency funding,” says Starr. “These children and their caregivers are depending on us.”

1 comment:

S. Paquette said...

As a fellow creditor of Imagine I would like to share some questions/comments regarding the recent proposal. As creditors, we all have an important decision to make and I personally believe information is the key to good decision making. I have been consulting to the nonprofit sector for 20 years, which leads me to the questions I have about the restructured organization.

 What role will fundraising play in the new organization?
 Can a financial plan be posted?
 Who will be deciding on the next Executive Director? Will the families have input into this key decision?
 How did the Board of Directors get selected? Can we have a more democratic process going forward?
 What will be the criteria for determining if the new organization will continue in March 2010?
 What does the proposal mean when it says that if the new organization doesn’t succeed our money will be returned on a “pro rata” basis?
 What key activities will be happening between September and March 2010?
 Why have we not approached the Ontario Government to help fund the cost of starting up the organization rather than looking once again to families who have already lost a great deal financially? Why are we not asking the government to take responsibility for not properly monitoring this not for profit organization?
 Will anyone be starting a class action lawsuit against Sue Hayhow and the Board of Directors to try to retrieve some money for the new organization?
 If most of the creditors have withdrawn their claims, why has the Goodyear family not done the same, considering their hands on role with the organization?
 In most organizations, the Executive Director selects their own staff. Why have we assigned full time positions to individual without the input of the ED? Can we hire people on a contract basis until approved by the ED?
 Can staff temporarily work from home offices to keep the costs down until the organization is back on its feet?
 Can we use volunteers to help offset the costs?
 How can families get involved outside of the FIA or with the FIA?
 When will referrals begin again?
 How can we create more transparency and not repeat the mistakes of Imagine?

I also have some recommendations of a newly restructuring organization:

 I would like to know who the ED is before voting to accept the proposal. The leader of the organization will be crucial to the success of a future organization and as a creditor and someone asked to contribute another $4,000, I would like to have a voice in this. I’m going to assume that this will not be a former Imagine Canada staff.
 I believe the Board of Directors should be elected by the creditors and there should be a possibility for other families to get involved. There is a sense that a lot is happening without the comment or consent of the families.
 We should collect a summary of all of the skills and experience of the families and utilize this very willing and able group of individuals to ensure the organization succeeds. Let’s use the skills of those who are now our “family”. Some of us who didn’t make it to the first meeting might like to get involved and have an impact including those who have already adopted. Let’s get more inclusive. We all have a very big stake in the success of a new organization.
 A list should be made available with all families and their dates for submitting their dossiers and the age and sex of the child. To deal with confidentiality we could assign a number to each file rather than a name. This would help build a sense of trust with families.

I look forward to anyone’s feedback on these points.

Sandra Paquette