Tuesday, August 21, 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: Hillsborough Commission candidates should take a stand on transit tax

Editorial: Hillsborough Commission candidates should take a stand on transit tax

It’s no surprise that virtually every candidate running for Hillsborough County Commission has promised to make transportation their top priority. Yet few of them have firmly embraced or opposed a one-cent sales tax increase for transportation that H...
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Editorial: The Catholic Church’s proper response to Pennsylvania scandal

Editorial: The Catholic Church’s proper response to Pennsylvania scandal

Forceful words are coming from the pope’s pen as well as pulpits around Tampa Bay: The sexual abuse of minors, which proliferated for decades within the Roman Catholic Church, were not merely sins but crimes whose repercussions are still being felt b...
Published: 08/20/18
Editorial: Did Rick Scott’s wallet affect his epiphany on rail line?

Editorial: Did Rick Scott’s wallet affect his epiphany on rail line?

Within weeks of taking office in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott made one of the worst decisions of his administration and refused $2.4 billion in federal money for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. Within months of leaving office, the governor...
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Editorial: Hillsborough has a place among growing number of governments suing opioid makers

Editorial: Hillsborough has a place among growing number of governments suing opioid makers

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Published: 08/17/18
Editorial: Here’s what needs to be done to stop algae blooms

Editorial: Here’s what needs to be done to stop algae blooms

The environmental crisis in South Florida has fast become a political crisis. Politicians in both parties are busy blaming one another for the waves of toxic algae blooms spreading out from Lake Okeechobee and beyond, fouling both coasts and damaging...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/20/18
Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

It is real news that the Hillsborough County School District said this week it will accelerate testing for lead in drinking water and release the results after the Tampa Bay Times reported testing would take years and that until we asked families wer...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/16/18

Bumping into GOP cowardice on guns

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Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Vaccinations are safe way to prevent measles

Editorial: Vaccinations are safe way to prevent measles

The revelation that three people in Pinellas County have contracted the measles virus should be a wake-up call to everyone to get vaccinated if they haven’t been — and to implore parents to immunize their kids. Contagious diseases such as measles can...
Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/17/18
Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

A good reputation can vanish overnight, which is why Habitat for Humanity of Hills-borough County made a smart decision by announcing it would seek to buy back 12 mortgages it sold to a Tampa company with a history of flipping properties. The arrange...
Published: 08/14/18
Editorial: Vote — or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

Editorial: Vote — or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

40%of Americans who were eligible to vote for president in 2016 just didn’t bother. That number dwarfs the portion of all eligible voters who cast a ballot for President Donald Trump — 27.6 percent — or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton, 28.8 percent...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/17/18