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Embattled Utah adoption center loses its license

Published February 21, 2014 5:52 pm

American Fork agency • State attorneys will discuss what to do with open cases.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Utah business that has been at the center of numerous disputed adoptions has lost its license to operate in the state.

The Adoption Center of Choice did not respond to a Thursday deadline to appeal the state Office of Licensing's plan to revoke its license, said Liz Sollis, spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Human Services. That means the American Fork-based adoption agency is no longer permitted to engage in child-placing activities.

If owner James C. Webb were to try and restart an adoption service, he would have to begin from scratch and meet all state licensing requirements, Sollis said.

On Friday, the center's website was working but its publicly listed telephone number connected to a rapid busy signal. Another telephone number for the agency also was out of service. Telephone calls to attorneys who have represented the agency recently were not returned.

Posts from its Twitter and Facebook accounts were last made at the end of January.

Sollis said state attorneys would likely be meeting next week to determine next steps, including what to do with any open adoption cases that were in process through the agency.

The agency received a conditional license in September because of numerous operating deficiencies and was told by the state it could not open any new adoption cases for six months or until it met state requirements.

Among problems cited by the state were the agency's failure to inform all parties in instances where there was a potential conflict of interest because it was representing both birth mothers and adoptive parents and requiring clients to pay fees to a marketing service also owned by Webb.

In a response subsequently posted on its website, the agency said it had not billed clients for Blue Sky Marketing Services since February 2013.

In February, the state informed the center that it planned to revoke its license for violating that order and failing to fix numerous problems, including improperlydocumenting expenses paid on behalf of birth mothers and failing to show how those expenses were consistent with fees charged to prospective adoptive parents.

The agency has been given seven corrective action notices since August 2004; six were issued in 2010 or later. In September 2012, it was placed under a corrective action plan because of documentation problems in its case files. That probation period was extended in January 2013 and again in September 2013.

In 2012, the agency made international headlines after a married father successfully sued to have his daughter returned to him. Terry Achane's then wife, pregnant with their first child, fled to Utah while Achane was in the midst of a military assignment transfer from Texas to South Carolina. The child was born in Utah in March 2011 and Achane learned only months later what happened.

The center, founded in 1995, has been involved in at least five other disputed adoptions that led to rulings by the Utah Supreme Court or Utah Court of Appeals. All involved unmarried fathers, none of whom were able to stop the adoptions of their biological children.

The Adoption Center of Choice also has tangled with prospective adoptive parents who allege in lawsuits the agency misled them about adoption opportunities or fees it charged. Last year, it filed several lawsuits against prospective adoptive parents it claimed promised to pay fees but didn't.

brooke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @Brooke4Trib

 

 


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