Tampa Bay Area family adopts child despite Adoption Center shut-down

Family now part of class-action lawsuit
Posted at 6:01 PM, Feb 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-05 18:01:50-05

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Today, Wyatt is teething and learning to walk; normal activities for a 9-month old boy.

But it wasn't that long ago that his future was in doubt: the Independent Adoption Center, a national organization that had coordinated hundreds of adoptions over three decades, had suddenly, without warning, closed in January of 2017.

Rebecca LeClair of Wimauma was scheduled to adopt Wyatt in May of 2017.

"The stress of all this, the birth mom started having contractions in mid-January," explains Rebecca LeClair. "It was very serious. In the two weeks leading up to his birth she was in the hospital about 3 times."

"We were basically told from our medical staff that reviewed her medical records to be prepared for a baby born as early as 28 weeks," adds LeClair.

Thankfully baby Wyatt was born healthy, and the LeClairs were still able to jump through all the legal hoops to adopt him thanks in part to a local adoption counselor.

"To have an agency close unexpectedly can really be devastating and leave families unsure of what to do next," says Audra Coons, a social worker and co-founder of Foundations for Growth.

Knowing that Rebecca and Corey LeClair were scrambling to get their paperwork in order after the sudden closing of IAC, Coons jumped in to help, helping conduct legally-required "home studies" and promising to do family counseling, as well as helping with legal paperwork.

"With Rebecca and Corey they were just, from the time that I met them, they were go-getters. They knew what they wanted. You could tell their main motivation was to build their family," Coons tells ABC Action News.

"We're here to guide them, hold their hand through the process," adds Coons.

Thanks to Foundations for Growth, the LeClairs were able to bring Wyatt into their Wimauma home on Mother's Day, 2017, and officially adopted him in time for Thanksgiving.

As nice as it all sounds today, Rebecca LeClair says she would definitely do things differently if she could have.

For starters, the LeClairs are now part of a multi-million dollar class-action lawsuit against IAC and their insurance company to get back the cost of their fees they paid.

They also think it might have been better just to do the work themselves.

"If we knew what we know now we would have never signed with an agency," LeClair says to ABC Action News. "You don't need an agency. It's just some agencies pack everything together so you have one go-to person."

Instead, says Leclair, she would have done what she ended up having to do in the first place: find a birth mother on their own, find an adoption attorney on their own, and find an adoption counselor, like Coons, on their own.

If you're interested in learning more about Foundations for Growth, you can go to their website by clicking HERE, or calling 813-773-5767.