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Independent Adoption Center bankruptcy leaves family in limbo

Lisa and Jason Curra of Mount Sinai discuss

Lisa and Jason Curra of Mount Sinai discuss the Independent Adoption Center declaring bankruptcy. The couple said they worked with the agency for nearly two years to qualify to adopt a child before it suddenly closed.

A week ago, Lisa Curra was waiting for a call that she would be a mother.

Now, she’s waiting for any information at all — the agency she and her husband Jason were working with, Independent Adoption Center, abruptly shut down on Jan. 31, leaving thousands of families nationwide out of money, personal documents and answers.

The Curras said they paid the agency $18,000 in fees and handed over their original birth certificates, marriage license and other personal documents. They received an email Jan. 30 notifying them of the closure and have heard little else, they said.

“I thought there was a mistake, that sometimes was wrong,” Lisa Curra, 40, of Mount Sinai said. “There was no guidance, nothing. It was just like what do we do?”

IAC worked in eight states, including New York, and facilitated more than 4,000 adoptions, the company said in a news release. The company was known for its work with open adoptions and its inclusive policies that allowed LGBT and other marginalized couples adopt children.

Thousands of families were working with the California-based company when it closed after 34 years of business, advocates familiar with the company said. A representative did not return a call seeking comment.

“We have come to the end of a rope and are declaring bankruptcy ... the many efforts we implemented were ultimately unsuccessful. We therefore cannot sustain the agency any longer,” IAC board president Greg Kuhl said in a statement posted on the company’s website.

The Curras were among 18 families on Long Island working with IAC, the state office of Children and Family Services said.

Lisa Curra said they went to IAC three years ago after they struggled to have their own child.

She said the family spent a year and a half going through the vetting process, which includes background checks, home visits and state licensing. Once approved, they were told it could take as long as a year and a half to be matched with a birth family. Curra said that time frame was up in the fall.

“The idea they were going through bankruptcy didn’t even cross my mind,” she said. “We just thought they had taken on more clients.”

The Curras were disappointed but grateful to be among those notified, she said. About 800 families had been left out of the original notification process, the company posted on its website Wednesday.

The notification included a list of contacts for state licensing agencies, other adoption agencies and adoption attorneys. The company also said the court would appoint a trustee to handle the estate and clients would be contacted by the court if they are owed money.

Nina Rumbold, a Bronxville-based attorney, said her office had been fielding calls from distressed clients looking for help navigating the closure. Her office had previously handled a few cases for the agency, she said.

“This is highly unusual for a domestic agency,” Rumbold said. “Sometimes international agencies are a little shakier but for a nationwide domestic agency to close over night? It’s pretty dramatic.”

In the meantime, Curra said she’s trying to be as productive as she can, placing calls to adoption resources, state officials and her local representatives. She’s found solace in a Facebook group with 900 other affected families while they all wait for information.

“No one knows what to expect,” she said. “It’s a waiting game. ”

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