Monday, August 11, 2008


I am really surprised at the number of prospective adoptive parents being shoved into the darkness of adoption. I didn't think that any agency could be this big. This one is. Commonwealth has been emailing all of its prospective adoptive parents. Some of them are domestic and some of them are international adoption. I do know that some of the international adoptive parents are being sent to Gladney. Some of the adoptive parents are not even on the lists as they were told in emails from this agency. Many of them are being told that there will be extra expenditures and extra money needed. You can read all the complaints here at Adoption Agency Ratings. There are threats out there if any of these adoptive parents speak out against the agency that they will be sued. For each article out there that is negative, it will be a $5,000 per time offense. Here is the story in the Tucson paper about the agency closing.

Adoption firm closing in Tucson, elsewhere

Guatemala, Vietnam, Nepal ban adoptions by Americans
Published: 08.05.2008
The recession is affecting all types of families - even those looking to adopt.
One less adoption option exists in Tucson, due to the closing of Commonwealth Adoptions International Inc., 1585 E. River Road.
"The board has made a decision to phase out," President Marina Mayhew said on Tuesday.
She said no new families are being accepted as clients, but those already in the adoption process, which includes about five to 10 in Tucson, will still be served.
"We will make every effort to fulfill their needs," she said. "I want to emphasize we are a very ethical organization. We are still a licensed agency and we are still here working."
Concerned clients can call the main office at 327-7574.
Commonwealth is slowly closing down offices in Florida, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
A Colorado office closed earlier this year, an agency worker in Florida said.
Mayhew said the decision stemmed from the increased difficulty of international adoptions and perpetually increasing costs.
She added it would not be feasible for the organization to continue with domestic adoptions only.
"Foreign countries are creating more and more adoption restrictions," she said. "It's become more and more lengthy and more difficult to adopt children."
She said increasing distrust, eroding foreign relations and the falling value of the dollar are adding to the mix.
"Recession and the cost of everything is making it difficult," she said. "It's hard economic times for this country."
When the agency opened in Tucson 15 years ago, Mayhew said it was a kinder, easier time.
"Referrals would be immediate," she said. "Now they keep getting longer and more difficult. We had more children than families. Now we have more families than children."
She said some countries, including Guatemala, Nepal and Vietnam, have stopped allowing children to be adopted by Americans. Others, such as Russia and Ukraine, are making it "extremely difficult," she added.

This agency has been denied Hague Accreditation three times. Marina Mayhew has been a big time advocate of the Hague Convention. It would be interesting to know why they didn't receive it. She has worked in Kazakhstan in order to help get it opened back up to allow Americans to adopt.

According to a news report out of Colorado, they had been planning on shutting down their Colorado office. This was at the end of February of 2008. Of course, they couldn't be contacted for comment in this article. I snooped further and found this tidbit.

These are the reasons why they have been denied accreditation:
  1. This was a clear oversight/misunderstanding on their part. They believe our CEO (Marina Mayhew) is the chairman of the board for CAII and that is not correct. The chairman of the board is James Sellers. Marina is not on the board at all. We have a policy that states our board members and officers are not compensated and that is true - they made a mistake here.
  2. There was a conflict in one of our policies with our contract regarding fees. We simply need to augment our policy to reflect make them consistent.
  3. Budget - they noticed an inconsistency in the budget regarding compensation - but that is because some of our staff has agreed to change their compensation as of the past 60 days. We are unsure why this was sufficient to deny us nevertheless we will send a narrative explaining that is the case.
  4. There is a complete misreading/misinterpretation of a section of our contract. We are bewildered by this response and will clarify its intent and reword the contract so that intent is interpreted appropriately.
  5. COA is saying that we have not notified them about closing our Colorado office. We, indeed did notify them on February 27, 2008. We still have our license and are operating currently to complete current home study families and thus had not notified them of the closure because we are, in fact, still operating.
There is an interesting time line. I have heard that they have been denied Hague Accreditation two and three times. Actually its more than that. They received the above reasons on May 8th. They appealed on May 14th, May 30th, June 12th, and July 2nd. Interesting she asks that the adoptive parents to write their Senators and other legislators on their behalf. Why? I don't understand either since the COA is not regulated by the state or federal governments.

According to their 2006 IRS Form 990, Marina Mayhew was the president/CEO of the agency and its board. Granted Mr. James Sellars is the chairman of the board, her husband, James Mayhew is one of the directors. Their program expenses were $8,183,334. Their office expenses were $946,778. There were only two paid officers, Marina Mayhew who earned $143,249 and Judith Dakin who earned $75,060 as Secretary/Treasurer. After reviewing other adoption agency IRS Form 990's, I think one of the issues was that nepotism was not addressed on their tax forms. No the COA was not wrong on this issue of Marina being on the board. She is president of the board. Come on give me a break here. She is a paid member of the board as well as the CEO of the board.

Inconsistencies in the budget and fees is a major issue for adoptive parents. So are they charging different prices for different sets of adoptive parents? After reviewing their 990 again, I discovered that they had $5,071,479 in adoption coordination fees and expenses. Seriously what are these? I have never seen that on any tax form. I even checked Gladney's 990 and saw nothing on it whatsoever. Who got this money? Was it the agency or was it the orphanages in the various countries? It makes one question their ethics.

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