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This article was published 16/7/2009 (2901 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNIPEG — Laura Morrison was eagerly awaiting news of the Ethiopian child she and husband Chad hoped to soon welcome into their family.
Now the couple is among 400 families across Canada desperate for answers after the Ontario-based Kids Link International adoption agency went into receivership this week.
"We were so close I could see the end," Morrison said. "The excitement was beginning to surface and we were expecting to hear something by the end of this summer. I was certainly not expecting to hear this."
Kids Link operated Imagine Adoption, which organized adoptions from Ethiopia and co-ordinated them in Manitoba with Winnipeg-based Adoption Options. BDO Dunwoody, a bankruptcy trustee, has been assigned to take over Kids Link's files, but nine Manitoba couples and hundreds of other Canadians have no idea what will come of their parenting hopes.
Morrison said she and her husband struggled with infertility and adoption for nearly a decade. They adopted their now-five-year-old daughter Sara as an infant through an open, domestic adoption, and tried to adopt a second child within Canada.
After three years, "it just wasn't happening," said Morrison, so a year-and-a-half ago, they started the process of an international adoption. Now, she says, "we have no idea what our future holds. We have no idea if there's anyone that is going to fight for us, stand up for us."
Children adopted through Imagine Adoption were cared for in orphanages until being matched with a family, Morrison said. The children were then taken to a transition home run by Imagine Adoption in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. A number of Canadian would-be adopters have already flown to Ethiopia and say money to care for children at the transition home is running out.
Morrison doesn't know the age or gender of the child she was to have adopted, but she said the emotional investment is no less powerful than with any other adoption.
"Even though I haven't seen my baby's face, my baby is there... my heart is there," she said.
She and her husband have invested $15,000 in the adoption, but Morrison stressed that money is not a factor.
"I would pay triple if I could have my baby home," she said.
News of the bankruptcy "came as a shock to everyone," said Bonnie Snow, program supervisor for Adoption Options in Winnipeg. She said nobody knows what will become of the adoptions in progress.
"That's the news that we're all really waiting to hear."
Manitoba's assistant deputy minister of Child and Family Services Carolyn Loeppky said the agency learned of the problems with Kids Link on Monday. The province is expected to take part in a cross-country teleconference next week to see what can be done, she said.
"We know that families are probably anxious right now, and we do feel for them, because this is a very important life decision that families make," she said.
The Province of Alberta has promised to help families there affected by the bankruptcy, but Loeppky said Manitoba is still waiting for information from BDO Dunwoody "to give good advice to Manitoba families."
Staff at the Canadian Advocate for the Adoption of Children agency in Minnedosa said they also arrange Ethiopian adoptions, but are not affiliated with Imagine Adoptions.
Ontario's minister for children says she's doing her best to ensure foreign adoptions started by the bankrupt private adoption agency are completed.
London MPP Deb Matthews said Thursday that "job one" is to complete about 20 adoptions awaiting federal paperwork such as visas. And she's working with Jason Kenney, the federal citizenship and immigration minister, she said, "to speed that process."
About another 30 children have been matched with parents already but aren't as ready to leave Ethiopia as the first 20, she said.
Imagine Adoption had its licence renewed in October and met all the requirements for such operations, Matthews said.
"The licence states that they can perform adoptions that comply with Ontario law," she said, adding "It does not speak to the financial viability of the company. These are private companies."
-- With files from The Canadian Press