Hundreds of would-be parents waiting to adopt children may have just had their dreams shattered.
The Independent Adoption Center, which had branches across the U.S. — including in the Bay area — abruptly filed for bankruptcy this week and shut down business operations.
Rebecca LeClair and her husband are among the hopeful parents that spent thousands of dollars but remain childless for now. The LeClairs were waiting for Wyatt Lee LeClair to be born in May.
"We got contacted a few months ago with this birth mother, and then the 22nd of December, a few days before Christmas, she notified us and the agency that she wanted to commit to placing the child with us," LeClair said. "I was Cloud 9 on Christmas Day, and now... square one."
All that planning and preparation didn't prepare the LeClairs for an email she got from the adoption agency this week stating the company filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy and were closing immediately.
"I've lost all contact with them," LeClair said. "The only contacts we had was through the agency. We don't have personal cell phones, communications or anything."
LeClair said the most information she has received from the agency was an email stating: "The court will notify you of the case, shortly after the bankruptcy is filed and you will have the opportunity to file a Proof of Claim for any refunds you believe are due to you."
But the LeClairs said they don't care about the $14,000 spent so far during the adoption process. They have invested their hearts in making their family whole and now continue to wait to see what will happen.
"At least with the agency we thought, well if something falls through we'll just push it back on our list," LeClair said. "Well now there's no list. This falls through we're done. I mean we just can't keep searching for birth mothers and paying out the expenses."
Rebecca LeClair has taken her cause to Facebook and quickly discovered that she's not alone.
Forty people have reached out to her here who're in the same situation here in Florida. And she says that number jumps to more than 500 across the country. Hundreds of familes with a home, but no child to give it to now.
The Independent Adoption Agency did not respond to multiple emails for this story but there is a statement on its website saying there are fewer potential birth parents for people wanting to adopt. The company also said via its website that it just could not remain viable financially.