Friday, September 14, 2012

Adoption Services Associates' Agency Closing Leaves ASA Birthparents in the Lurch

Elizabeth Jurenovich writes:12:14pm Sep 14
I wanted to make you aware of a project my agency has taken on, which I think could accomplish more if we could somehow appeal to the interest of those who are invested in the need for adoption reform... because we've found ourselves in over our heads, frankly...

As you may know, one of Texas' largest and most notorious adoption agencies went under this year. ASA (Adoption Services Associates),
which did "semi-closed" adoptions (my words) abruptly shut its doors and claimed bankruptcy in April, leaving a reported 5k birthparents with no hope of receiving promised updates or mail forwarding services, their only means of contact with the children they placed there.

Likewise, it left just as many birthparents and adoptive parents with no source of post-adoption services, either. The attorney general has filed charges against ASA and its owners, but nobody seems concerned about the disenfranchised birthfamilies.

My little agency started by launching a private Facebook group to enable the ASA birthparents to find each other (figuring there's strength in numbers?!) We put out a press release and we've been overwhelmed by the response.

While ASA emailed its adoptive parents to inform them of the closing, they didn't bother contacting birthparents, and every week, we get tearful, panicked calls from former ASA birthparents who are just now learning they've lost their only channel of communication with their children's adoptive family.

It's heartbreaking. While Abrazo's adoptions are fully-open with direct contact between adoptive parents and birthfamilies in the years following placement, these ASA moms were told they, too, had "open adoptions", yet most know nothing more about their child's adoptive families than their first names and the state or country in which they lived.

Thus, what we've been trying to do (the three of us who work at Abrazo) is to get whatever info we can from the ASA birthparents about their child's adoptive parents, then hunt for the families online (again, with little more than first names, location, and sometimes occupational information.) We've actually found about a third of the adoptive families for whom we've searched, so far, but the adoptive families' response to our calls has definitely been mixed.

We try to educate them about the importance of ongoing and direct contact, especially in the light of ASA's closing, but even those who are receptive to our requests for updates for the birthfamilies are unwilling to engage in direct contact, leaving us in the awkward position of "having" to agree to serve as intermediary (which runs counter to our belief in full-disclosure) for fear that not doing so will cost the birthparent/s any opportunity for updates at all.

Do any of you know of any search angels who might be willing to participate in this project? Do you have any insight as to how we could better appeal to the adoptive families we contact? We have no fiduciary obligation to any parties, as we are doing this on a strictly charitable basis: do you think we are within our rights, ethically, to turn over whatever identifying information we find to the birthfamilies who have requested that we search for their child's adoptive families?

These ASA birthparents have been twice victimized, once by the agency which misled them into placing thinking they had open adoptions when they clearly didn't, and then by abruptly cutting off their only avenue of communication and making no effort to provide alternative sources of post-adoption care; we don't want to further harm them by failing in our endeavor to help reconnect them with the children they placed.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for whatever insight or advice you may have to share,

-- Elizabeth


UPDATE: 9/15/12

International adoption handled through ASA have also caused problems, according to this report at PundPuppy Legacy:
In a lawsuit filed in March, the nonprofit agency accuses its former director of international adoptions of failing to disclose medical problems of children to adoptive couples, mistreating and threatening prospective parents, separating siblings without informing the adoptive parents, and costing the agency $300,000 in damages.
During three years, according to the lawsuit, Adoption Services Associates "received at least one complaint a week, every week, calculating to approximately 156 complaints," against the international adoption director, Orson Mozes.


Lorraine Dusky said...

Thanks for this, Mirah. I'll publicize this too at First Mother Forum; what unsuspecting mothers need to be aware of is that a "semi-open" adoption can close at any moment. Semi-open adoptions are not for the protection of the birth mother, but for the anonymity of the adoptive parents.

Anonymous said...

This exact same thing happened to me back in the late '90's, when the agency I went through in Houston closed. No one bothered to inform me either, however the phones automatically rolled over to another local agency that took over the records, (which did not bother to contact me either).

I find it very hard to believe (and I do not believe) the my child's adopters did not know who took over the records, since the phones rolled over to the other agency. If I found out who took over the records, they could have. They would have had no problem finding out who took over for the agency they were going through if they were still trying to procure an infant, that is for sure. They merely used that as an excuse to stop all contact with me; as the adoptress never wanted to stay in contact after the age of 4 anyway; but claimed she had a change of heart and agreed to ongoing contact through my child's life. It was a a lie.

How convenient for them when the agency closed. They simply "lost contact", as they told my child. A lie. We all lived in same city. They know exactly what they did. They may be fooling my child but they are not fooling me.

When I got in touch with the new agency they rudely and dismissviley told me they had "moved (not far from where they lived) and left no forwarding contact information". I was SOL.

So, they move, the agency closes and they are plum off the hook...funny how it all worked out so well for THEM, yet not one person gave two shits about me in the whole process.

Anonymous said...

I also was promised an open adoption that is the only reason i agreeded to it but they havebeen avouding me for years every time i would call or write them i never got responses back only that they would contact me later. What can i do to try to cobtact the adoptive parents

Mirah Riben said...

That would depend on what, if any, information you have about them.

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget