PEI

Imagine Adoption charges a relief: family

It is great to see charges laid against the original management of Imagine Adoption, says the P.E.I. Adoption Coalition.

Adoption groups and would-be parents are welcoming charges against the original management of Imagine Adoption.

Former general manager Rick Hayhow and founder Susan Hayhow were arrested Thursday. Waterloo Police and the RCMP have charged them with breach of trust, six counts of fraud over $5,000, and three counts of fraud under $5,000. Each is facing one additional charge of fraud over $5,000.

The charges relate to around $420,000 of funds that allegedly were misused for personal vacations, clothing and renovations to the couple's Cambridge, Ont. home.

The Ontario-based international adoption company went bankrupt in 2009, leaving the adoption process of at least 350 families across Canada in limbo. It was restructured with the help of donations from prospective adopters, including at least seven families from P.E.I.

Tammy MacKinnon, spokeswoman for the P.E.I. Adoption Coalition, told CBC News Monday the charges were a long time in coming, but families are relieved people are being held accountable for what happened.

'It doesn't help my family'

Brenton Dickieson and his wife have been trying to adopt a child from Ethiopia through Imagine Adoption. "It was obvious to all of us who were involved that there was severe mismanagement and probably crimes involved. I was pleased that there are charges that resulted," he said.

"Sometimes these things don't always come true the way that you would expect them to and having them face penalties for that is good, but it doesn't help my family. And it doesn't help people who have dreams of adopting internationally."

Dickieson said it's sad that this case has caused so much hurt to hundreds of families across Canada and has damaged international adoptions. He still hopes for an Ethiopian adoption to come through.

There were eight families on P.E.I. trying to arrange adoptions through Imagine at the time of the bankruptcy. Two have had matches arranged through the restructured company. They are the legal guardians of children from Ethiopia, and are waiting to hear when they can bring their children to Canada. Four are still waiting, and two have moved on to work with other agencies.

The Hayhows have been released from custody. They are due to appear in court again May 26.