'I just want to be a mother:' Families agonizing after adoption agency suddenly closes

    After 34 years, The Independent Adoption Center filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, impacting more than 800 families nationwide. (Photo: KOMO News)

    LAKE TAPPS, Wash. (KOMO) – On Friday, the Independent Adoption Center (IAC) filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, closing its doors after 34 years.

    The closure came suddenly to more than 800 families nationwide.

    “It’s just been a whirlwind of do I scream or do I cry,” said Nicole Davis, who along with her husband Don, have been trying to adopt through the IAC for four years.

    Vancouver’s Stacey Thiemans was also shocked by the announcement.

    “I called Greg [her husband] at work and said, please tell me this is an early April Fool’s joke. I said to him, we’re not getting our family," she said.

    The Thiemans said they were never notified by the IAC.

    Davis said she was alerted of the closure just a few days before the IAC officially filed bankruptcy.

    “Why be unethical and continue to take people’s money to the end of January, knowing you were going to go bankrupt and closing your doors?"

    Elaine Farrugia, a prospective parent from Indiana, enrolled with the IAC January 27, just four days before the agency announced its closure.

    Meanwhile, according to KOMO's sister station KATU, a Portland couple is now worried what will happen to their 5-month-old baby girl, Shayla.

    Chris and Russell Blais spent four years and about $30,000 to get matched, but the adoption is not officially finalized, and the IAC still has all of their paperwork.

    “What do you do when everything’s just gone?” said Chris Blais.

    The Thiemans said they lost $12,000-$15,000.

    The Davis’ say they’re out at least $20,000, money they likely will not see reimbursed.

    In the bankruptcy claim filed on Friday, the ISA has reported total liabilities of $649,904.55. They’ve reported total property valued at $57,012.45.

    IAC Board Chair Greg Kuhl responded in a statement:

    “We want to express our gratitude to everyone who has helped build families through IAC over the last 35 years. We understand that this is an incredibly emotional time for all concerned. All of our board are themselves, like me, parents who have built our families through open adoption, we understand the anxieties and hopes involved in this process. IAC is committed to cooperating fully with the bankruptcy trustee.”

    Adoption attorney Janna Annest says the IAC sudden closure will have ripple effects in the adoption process.

    “This is a real wake up call. I would never have considered advising potential adoptive parents to ask really probing questions of their agency of their financial health," said Annest. "It never occurred to me to advise someone to ask that. Now it will occur to me."

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