The closure of CHOICES, Vancouver Island’s only adoption centre, leaves two remaining in the province – Sunrise Family Services in North Vancouver and Adoption Centre of BC in Kelowna. (Facebook/CHOICES Adoption and Pregnancy Counselling)

Petition calls on province to cover transfer fees after Island adoption centre closes – again

‘Choices clients weren’t told the ship was sinking,’ says would-be parent

Jill Bentley always dreamed of having an adopted child, even back when she was a kid herself.

“My friends and I would play house and I wanted to be the mom with adopted kids,” said Bentley. “I guess I always knew it would play a part in my life, and now that I waited too long to have biological kids, so this is my only option.”

She was in the process of adopting a child from India when Vancouver Island’s only adoption agency, Choices Adoption and Pregnancy Counselling, closed its doors in October – for a second time.

RELATED: Victoria adoption centre closes despite effort to save it; B.C. left with two agencies

Now, her dreams have been placed on pause.

Clients like Bentley had renewed hope when Choices re-opened after being on the verge of closing in April, due to a severe decline in international adoptions.

Under a new board of directors made up of former clients, Bentley felt reassured that the $16,000 she had spent would pay off. But the adoption agency couldn’t stay afloat longer than a few months.

“Simply put, we are out of money and time to fix this,” said an Oct. 18 statement on the Choices Facebook page. “Despite our efforts to work towards the development of a new business model and the implementation of drastic cost-cutting measures, we came to the difficult conclusion that the agency could no longer continue to operate.”

The statement says they believed the agency could be restructured to meet the challenges of inter-country adoption based on the information they had at the time. They realized their dire situation when the new board treasurer announced their financial analysis at a meeting on Sept. 11.

ALSO READ: Adoptive parents share stories at Yukon child welfare conference

Now, there are two remaining adoption agencies in the province – Sunrise Family Services in North Vancouver and Adoption Centre of BC in Kelowna. Bentley says the Ministry of Children and Family Development told her the cost to transfer her files to Sunrise will cost another $4,000.

“Why wasn’t there an audit to figure out if the agency could be financially viable before they re-opened?” said Bentley. “It makes me angry that from Sept. 11 to Oct. 18, Choices clients weren’t told that the ship was sinking.”

Kelly, another hopeful client, has paid $11,000. Her last name has been removed due to concerns about speaking out against the Ministry.

“I’m upset that the previous board passed on a losing cause to the new board,” said Kelly. “I think we’re all in a worse situation now than when Choices first announced their closure back in April.”

Kelly has two biological kids, ages 3 and 17. She admits that the need isn’t as dire for her, but she is worried about other clients. She’s in line for the India program as well but has yet to hear back from the agency overseas as communication has now been disrupted.

READ MORE: B.C. couple one of many left in limbo after Victoria adoption agency shutters

Victoria Mitchell, vice-chair of the new board, wasn’t available for comment. Mitchell, who placed her son into adoption through Choices, played a significant role to save the agency this spring.

“My personal apologies [for] the delay,” said Mitchell through the Choices page on Facebook. “I assure you that we, the board are doing our utmost, to support this transition and will continue to do so. We kindly ask for your patience during this difficult time, as we have no staff support, and are therefore operating in a volunteer capacity.”

Meanwhile, the Provincial Director of Adoptions Renaa Bacey said in a letter to Choices that her staff will begin reviewing and assessing client files to determine the next steps.

Bentley started a petition calling for the Provincial Director of Adoption’s Office to cover the transfer fees for Choices clients. The petition has been signed by more than 600 people as of Nov. 14. The petition can be found at bit.ly/choicesclientstransferfees.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com


@iaaronguillen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: City of Colwood hosts a ‘heartwarming start’ to the holidays

Colwood Christmas Light Up Celebration sees surge in attendance

B.C. Transit saves $300,000, scores 28 used fareboxes idle in California

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Trauma sufferers support group takes shape on West Shore

Aaron’s Society open to more peer support groups with certified trauma practitioners

Hundreds of students gather at Government House to decorate Christmas Trees

The annual tradition let Grade 2 and 3 students help celebrate for the holidays

Tenants above Wellburns uncertain after ‘nightmare’ sewage flood ousts them indefinitely

Tenants evacuated after sewage flooded basement of century-old building

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Camosun College for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Coachwerks Restorations come together to care for car

POLL: Will you be donating to charities over the holiday season?

Many here in Victoria joined others around the world to take part… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 3

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Oscar Hickes: Longest running hockey tournament on Vancouver Island cancelled

Patrick Murray, one of the organizers for the tournament, broke the sad news on social media.

Most Read