Agency’s bankruptcy dashes adoption hopes across U.S.

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By Jim Christie | SAN FRANCISCO

SAN FRANCISCO The abrupt closure and bankruptcy
filing by a U.S. adoption agency has stunned hundreds of hopeful
clients left struggling with the emotional impact and likely
loss of thousands of dollars.

The non-profit Independent Adoption Center of Concord,
California, closed on Jan. 31 and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy
on Feb. 3. Clients said as many as 800 families may be affected,
although the agency has not provided figures.

“In all our considerations of what could go wrong with
adoption, this was never one,” said Sharon Cohen of Austin,
Texas, who made her last payment to the agency in December.

In a statement, the agency blamed fewer potential birth
parents than at any point in its 35-year history.

“Simultaneously, due to changing demographics and the
closure of international adoption programs, there are more
hopeful adoptive parents seeking to adopt domestically than in any other time in recent history,” the statement said.

Independent Adoption Center’s board president, Gregory Kuhl,
acknowledged in court papers the hard feelings sparked by the
agency’s closure, and said families and birthmothers are getting
potential referrals.

Kuhl could not be reached for comment.

Jason Aronne of San Diego said he had a hard time accepting
the reason the agency gave for its closure. “They took in plenty
of families in 2016,” he said.

Aronne and his husband signed a contract with the
gay-friendly agency in May. “It seems like half their clients
were gay,” he said.

International adoptions and unintended pregnancies have been
falling, pressuring adoption agencies.

“We all sort of compare notes and have all seen the same
thing,” said Lisa Clark, executive director of Adopt
International, an agency headquartered in San Francisco.

Stacey Green of Greenwood, Indiana, said she and her husband
put $16,000 into trying to adopt through Independent Adoption
Center – after $15,000 worth of unsuccessful medical treatments
to conceive.

“I can’t keep going into debt,” Green said. “I don’t want to
give up hope, but unless we’re going to get some money back
somewhere, I don’t think we can handle any more expenses.”

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