Sunday, April 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: More safeguards needed for adoptions

The abrupt closure of a private adoption agency left six Tampa Bay families heartbroken and many questions lingering about why existing regulations left them so vulnerable. Independent Adoption Center filed for bankruptcy last month, an unforeseen but not especially uncommon occurrence in the adoption industry. Florida legislators should respond to this sad episode with stronger financial protections for people who have made great sacrifices in hopes of having a family.

The Times' Christopher O'Donnell reported that IAC, which operated an office in Tampa, emailed families Jan. 31 that it was out of business — and broke. Some clients said on Facebook that IAC was still accepting their payments just two weeks before, yet now the money is gone. With $650,000 in debts but just $57,000 in assets reported in the bankruptcy filing, most of the 1,800 families left in the lurch will never be made whole. And IAC was not a short-lived shop. It had been in business 34 years and finalized more than 4,000 adoptions.

Still, it joined at least three other firms around the country that have closed in the last few years, leaving similar stories of despair. Couples often turn to adoption after expensive fertility treatments have failed. They take out second mortgages, forgo vacations and drain savings accounts. Local couples reported payments of $12,000, $14,000 and $16,000 to IAC they believed would lead to a baby. Now, there's no money and no baby.

Even given the uncertainty of an adoption, there has to be a way to better safeguard hopeful couples' money. Some costs are known, such as the birth mother's health care expenses, evaluations by social workers and court fees. Agencies should automatically put that money in escrow, not use it to cover overhead and salaries. That's how law firms and trustees are required to operate, and lawmakers could use that model to craft sensible protections without overregulating what is a personal and often fluid process. Just as important, couples should take precautions themselves. Adoption attorneys recommend signing up only with agencies that have low up-front fees, and using more than one agency to increase the chance of a successful match. Check with the state Department of Children and Families for complaints against the agency, and hire a lawyer to protect your interests throughout the process.

For generations, adoption has been a salvation for children and a godsend for eager would-be parents. But it's also a process with more demand than supply. For that reason, people who entrust their money and hopes with private adoption agencies should have some assurance that their money is safe, and that they can recover a portion of it even when things go wrong. The failure of IAC is evidence that would-be parents need more safeguards.

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Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

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Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

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Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18