Abbotsford adoption agency closes doors after 25 years

Hopes Adoption Services in Abbotsford is forced to shut down, due to financial hardship. About 180 families are affected.

Carmyn and Mike Brandner are among the families affected by the closure of Hope Adoption Services in Abbotsford.

Carmyn and Mike Brandner are among the families affected by the closure of Hope Adoption Services in Abbotsford.

Carmyn and Mike Brandner were upset last Thursday to receive notice that the agency through which they had adopted two children, and were awaiting a third, was closing.

The couple is among about 180 families affected by the announcement from Hope Adoption Services of Abbotsford that it is shutting down after 25 years.

They had adopted two daughters through the agency, and were three years into a five-year wait for a baby from China.

“We were, and still are, completely heartbroken (about the closure) … We have such a close relationship with everyone at Hope … It’s because of them we have a family,” Carmyn said.

The couple are now concerned with what might happen with their pending adoption and in having to form trust and relationships with people at a different agency.

“We feel like we’re on our own. We feel like we’re starting all over again,” Carmyn said.

Lorne Welwood, co-founder of Hope Adoption Services, said every effort is being made to ensure the impacted families are supported through the transition. Many will be referred to other agencies.

“We’ll communicate with them on an individual basis as we analyze what needs to be done on their case,” he said. “I think in the next couple of days, the process will be a little clearer.”

Hope Adoption, run from an office at 2975 Gladwin Rd., provided services to men and women facing unplanned pregnancies and to those wanting to adopt, both in Canada and internationally.

However, Welwood said changing times have meant not enough income was coming in to support the monthly costs.

He said the agency required $40,000 to $45,000 each month to break even. In November, only $17,000 was recorded, after months of economic uncertainty.

The decision to shut down was made in consultation with the provincial director of adoption.

“We’ve been at low spots before and have had unexpected recoveries … So we were praying for another recovery, quite frankly, but it didn’t happen this time,” Welwood said.

Money for Hope Adoption was raised through donations and from clients, who were charged fees for such things as home studies and the processing of paperwork.

Welwood said, over the course of an adoption, a couple would pay about $5,000 to $7,000 to the agency, as part of their approximate $30,000 in overall costs.

Societal changes have resulted in fewer domestic adoptions, as more women opt to keep their babies or terminate their pregnancies. He said there are currently only about 50 babies adopted in B.C. each year.

Foreign governments have also tightened regulations, resulting in longer waits and fewer adoptions being approved.

Welwood said it was a difficult decision to shut Hope Adoption’s doors, given the close relationship staff had formed with clients since he and his wife, Ann, opened the agency in 1986.

“It’s been really hard,” he said.

The agency will be working closely with the adoption services unit of the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Families affected are asked to call 250-387-3660 or visit the website hopeadopt.org