Friday, June 27, 2014

OWAS 90-day Hague accreditation suspension - substantiated complaints and adverse actions.

OWAS (One World Adoption Services) recently had their COA accreditation suspended for 90 days (as of 6/25/14).   They have been facilitating adoptions in DRC.  Below is the information about the complaints that were substantiated and for which action was taken against OWAS.  The link to the original report (which all information found in this post was found) can be found here:  http://coanet.org/programs/hague-accreditation-and-approval/monitoring-and-oversight/.  Then, follow link at bottom to the report: Substantiated Complaints and Adverse Actions.  Lots of concerning behaviors here which I believe are widespread throughout agencies and organizations which facilitate adoptions in DRC, especially referrals being given before investigations and proper documentation are completed and money given to motivate government officials.  It is encouraging that action can be taken against agencies that are acting unethically in DRC. 



Complaint filed 2/23/13

Money requested by agency's in-country attorney that was meant to "motivate public officials to act on the complainant's behalf acknowledging that it was common in the Democratic Republic of Congo to pay to get anything done."  No abandonment report before referral.  Abandonment reported to official 5 months after arrival to orphanage.   


Nature of the Substantiated Violations:
96.35(a) An agency employee forwarded a
prospective adoptive parent a request from the agency’s in- country attorney to send $2000 in order to motivate public officials to act on the complainant’s behalf acknowledging that it was common in the Democratic Republic of Congo to pay to get anything done. Forwarding the request for money and condoning payment of money to bring about a likely favorable outcome constitutes egregious unethical conduct. 

96.35(a) ) The agency represented to a prospective adoptive family that the child they were referred was eligible for intercountry adoption. However, the agency failed to obtain the Certificate of Abandonment
prior to the referral. Additionally, the child arrived at the orphanage reportedly having been abandoned, but the abandonment was not reported to the authorities for approximately five (5) months, thus failing to determine if there were family members willing to care for the child. The agency’s failure to obtain the proper relinquishment documentation prior to the referral and to report the “abandonment” in a timely manner constitutes egregious unethical conduct and is not in the best interests of children.



Complaint filed 2/14/14

Agency employee providing documentation believed to contain false information knowing it would be submitted to a governmental office.  Agency made accepting complaints challenging.  Agency issued referral before obtaining Certificate of Indigence or Parental Authorization.  "The agency's failure to obtain the proper relinquishment documentation prior to referral constitutes egregious unethical conduct and is not in the best interests of children"


Nature of the Substantiated Violations:
96.35(a) An agency employee provided the prospective adoptive parent a Certificate of Indigence which she believed contained false information knowing the document would be submitted to a governmental office for official use. This conduct constitutes egregious unethical conduct.

96.41(b) & 96.41(c) The agency failed to accept the complainant’s complaint because it was not written on its official form. Requirements that limit a complainant’s ability to make formal complaints violate the regulations. Additionally, the agency failed to advise the complainants to resubmit their complaint expressly stating the connection to the Convention, IAA, or regulations and to respond to the complaint within 30 days.
96.35(a) The agency represented to a prospective adoptive family that the children they were referred were eligible for intercountry adoption. However, the agency failed to obtain the Certificate of Indigence or Parental Authorization prior to issuing a referral. The agency’s failure to obtain the proper relinquishment documentation prior to the referral constitutes egregious unethical conduct and is not in the best interests of children.


Complaint filed 4/16/2012

No official documentation provided regarding abandonment or relinquishment BEFORE referral "constitutes egregious unethical conduct and is not in the best interests of children".  

Nature of the Substantiated Violations:
96. 35 (a) The agency represented to a prospective adoptive family that the children they were referred were eligible for intercountry adoption. However, prior to the referral, the agency failed to obtain official
documentation evidencing a birthparent’s relinquishment or abandonment or documentation that the guardian had legal custody and could relinquish the children for adoption. The agency’s failure to obtain the proper relinquishment documentation prior to the referral constitutes egregious unethical conduct and is not in the best interests of children. 
Addendum July 28, 2014:  OWAS had their Hague accreditation suspended for 90 days. They have never been COA accredited. The title has been changed to reflect this.

3 comments:

Jess said...

This was a long time coming for OW, I am only surprised it took this long. Given that we used them for our adoption, I can honestly say that they deserve their suspension, and honestly, deserve more.

Mary Hoyt said...

Hooray!!! Great news. Hoping this leads to significant changes.

Sarah said...

Here's a fabulous post on the importance of ethics in adoption... and how PAPs often research the wrong things:


http://caralitchfield.blogspot.com/2014/08/bittersweet.html

This PAP didn't get the kid home! Saw the light BEFORE she'd acquired however many kids she wanted!!