Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Implosion of the Independent Adoption Center

For the last 24 hours, I have been watching the implosion of the adoption agency that helped create my family.  The Independent Adoption Center, popularly known as IAC, was a pioneer in open adoption as well as in serving LGBTQ families well before that became socially acceptable.  They abruptly closed their doors yesterday, leaving an unknown number of expectant parents and over 500 currently waiting prospective adoptive families in the lurch.

We chose IAC because we thought them the most ethical of the agencies we researched and visited.  I was much more naive in those days.  Now, I am more aware of the ethical issues and corruption involved in all forms of adoption, including domestic open adoption.  I do believe that the social workers at IAC did their best to act in the best interests of the children they placed and of their birth families.  However, the amount of money involved in facilitating adoption is so high that it can't help creating perverse incentives as well as environments where malfeasance can fester.

We don't yet know the exact sequence of events that led to this unfortunate outcome.  Many IAC families and alumni have speculated for years that the place was becoming a Ponzi scheme, with an ever increasing waiting list and ever falling placement numbers.  Many of us were skeptical when they opened a number of new offices across the country, thus increasing overhead.  Many of us questioned the quality of the outreach efforts and relationships formed with expectant parents seeking adoption for their children.  Many of us raised our eyebrows when they doubled their fees in the last two years.  Unfortunately, when concerns were raised to staff and to the board, not much seemed to come of it.

While our first adoption attempt was successful, we eventually gave up on our efforts to adopt a second child.  We had grown disillusioned with the staff turnover and how heavy the case burden seemed to be on each counselor.  It didn't seem like anyone in the adoption triad was getting the kind of support we remembered from out first placement.  It just didn't feel like the same agency anymore.

I am sad for everyone who has suffered due to IAC's closure, and selfishly relieved that we got out when we did.  I am especially angry on behalf of birthparents who were promised lifelong access to counseling.  I hope the agencies and service providers that remain can learn from IAC's mistakes and mismanagement.


  1. I forgot to mention the other issue: the children they placed for adoption. They offered counseling to them as well, and they were a resource if adoptive and birth families lost track of each other. Where are grown kids supposed to go for help and answers, if their adoptive parents don't have any for them?

  2. This is so sad. If there's anything that is more needed in the world than this, I can't think of it.