Florida DCF
Florida DCF: “There is no clear policy on… allegations of human trafficking or harvesting.”
Last week, the Florida Department of Children and Families sent their multiple investigations into the adoption agency Celebrate Children International to the Florida Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for review. After filing a public records request with the OIG, they sent me seven pages of information the same day. Florida’s public records laws are the best in the country– the sunshine state is no joke! Last year, on November 30, 2010, DCF spokesperson Carrie Hoeppner filed a request with the OIG. Here’s what it said (red highlights are my own): “Management review is being requested by DCF Central Region...
A State Investigation of the State Investigations into CCI?
Carrie Hoeppner, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Children and Families, has been dealing with my numerous public records requests since January 2009. She’s  somehow managed to be professional and helpful, no matter how much I ask for. Last week, I contacted DCF to inquire about the standing of Celebrate Children International’s operating license in Ethiopia. When we finally caught up by phone, there seemed to be three interesting developments of note: 1. Sue Hedberg sent an email to the Florida Department of Children and Families, dated July 16, 2011, saying CCI was facing “difficulty due to closure of orphanages”...
Under Threat of Lawsuit, Celebrate Children International becomes “Celebrate Children”
Another surprise in the latest batch of public records from the Florida Department of Children and Families: Celebrate Children International, Incorporated has shortened their name to “Celebrate Children” after another nonprofit, Children International, Incorporated, threatened them with a lawsuit. Here’s what the note in the  state of Florida’s licensing file says: “2011 Update: Celebrate Children International is currently being sued by Children International regarding infringement of name usage… 5/1/2011 Update: CCI submitted an email from their legal representative indicating that Children International is no longer seeking to have CCI change their name. Instead, Children International has agreed to allow CCI...
More surprises in latest batch of Celebrate Children International documents
The Florida Department of Children and Families provided 323 pages of new documents to me, containing the latest licensing information on the adoption agency Celebrate Children International. I’ve only begun sifting through everything, but this passage immediately jumped out at me from page 8. It’s information excerpted from a financial audit into CCI, performed by an independent Orlando-based firm. Apparently, it looks the agency was being sued to the tune of $425,000, stemming from the circumstances of a 2007 Guatemalan adoption. I have a good idea what this might be in relation to. More to come, as I make my...
6/29/11: Downloadable agency documents, “Adoption Blessings Worldwide” (part four)
Here’s the last set of documents from the Florida Department of Children and Families, related to Adoption Blessings Worldwide. Excerpt from documents Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part ten (.pdf, 113 pages) Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part eleven (.pdf, 111 pages) Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part twelve (.pdf, 94 pages) Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part thirteen (.pdf, 64 pages)  ...
Documents: Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part three
Here’s a third set of documents from Florida Department of Children and Families, related to Adoption Blessings Worldwide. Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part seven (.pdf, 93 pages) Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part eight (.pdf, 108 pages) Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part nine (.pdf, 108 pages)...
Documents: Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part two
Here’s another three bundles of documents about the now-defunct adoption agency Adoption Blessings Worldwide. The redacted data was provided to me by the Florida Department of Children and Families,  but DCF apparently forgot to redact some important personal information (bank account numbers, social security numbers). I’ve gone through these documents and blacked out financial information as well as social security numbers. DOWNLOADABLE DOCUMENTS: Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part four (.pdf, 79 pages) Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part five (.pdf, 55 pages) Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part six (.pdf, 63 pages)  ...
Documents: Adoption Blessings Worldwide
Excerpt from documents released by Florida Department of Children and Families Two adoption agencies are in my book “Finding Fernanda:” both Celebrate Children International (based in Florida) and the now-defunct  Adoption Blessings Worldwide (based in Georgia, but previously also based in Florida under the name Tedi Bear Adoptions). During my research, I filed public records requests with the state of Florida for records about Adoption Blessings Worldwide. Here’s the first batch. DOWNLOADABLE DOCUMENTS: Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part one (108 pages, .pdf) Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part two (67 pages, .pdf) Adoption Blessings Worldwide, part three (90 pages, .pdf)      ...
Documents: Adoptions by Shepherd’s Care
Last week, I mentioned the Florida adoption agency whose license may be revoked by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Adoptions by Shepherd’s Care (ASC). After reading the article about Adoptions by Shepherd’s Care in the Florida Sun-Sentinel, I filed a Freedom of Information Act Request with Florida DCF on June 6, 2011 asking for documents related to ASC. Since another journalist had already requested the documents, they’d already been redacted, and DCF was able to turn the request around in just six days. Thanks, Florida DCF! Out of 21 different documents, I’m posting three that seem to contain...
DCF Moves to Close Florida Adoption Agency
  Florida DCF has moved to shut down a Florida adoption agency, Adoption by Shepherd Care. They say, according to a new article by Megan O’Matz in the Florida Sun-Sentinel, that one of the reasons is “pressuring a birth mother into giving up her infant twin sons.” The Sun-Sentinel obtained records about the adoption agency from Florida DCF (which I would assume were probably handed over via Freedom of Information Act request!) O’Matz’s piece quotes DCF department spokesman Mark Riordan saying, “DCF isn’t going to tolerate coercive behavior by these agencies, ever.” The agency Adoption by Shepherd Care (ASC) works in both...
CCI Records, Released by DCF August 2, 2010
Here’s a set of emails from Celebrate Children International assistant director Angela Vance. DOWNLOADABLE DOCUMENTS CCI Records, Angela Vance emails (125 pages)  ...
CCI Records, Released by DCF June 15, 2010
Here’s another batch of emails, burned onto a CD and snail-mailed to me by the Florida Department of Children and Families on June 15, 2010. There are also documents related to two more investigations undertaken by Florida DCF into Celebrate Children International. Investigation #3 began after a complaint was phoned into DCF on November 7, 2008 from a CCI client worried about her adoption of a Chinese child. Investigation #4 began on October 14, 2009 when a CCI client adopting three children from Ethiopia grew concerned about the veracity of the children’s histories. This investigation is broken into three sections,...
CCI Records, Released September 2, 2010 by DCF
  On February 2, 2010, I filed another Freedom of Information Act Request with the Florida Department of Children and Families, asking for the licensing file on Celebrate Children International. On February 9, DCF sent me a 37-page .pdf with copies of CCI’s license from their founding in 2003 up until 2009. There were also some random notes and what appear to be complaints mixed in, at the end of the document bundle. Downloadable Documents Licensing File, Celebrate Children International (37 pages) Yet there were components that seemed to me missing. I interviewed a former CCI employee (and neighbor of...
CCI Records, Released by DCF Jan-March 2010
These records were released to me, batch by batch, between January 29, 2010 and March 5, 2010   DOWNLOADABLE DOCUMENTS Celebrate Children International, “Sue Emails,” Part One Celebrate Children International, “Sue Emails,” Part Two Celebrate Children International, “Sue Emails,” Part Three Celebrate Children International, “Sue Emails,” Part Four Celebrate Children International, “Sue Emails,” Part Five Celebrate Children International, “Sue Emails,” Part Six...
CCI Records, Released by DCF May 25, 2010
DOWNLOADABLE DOCUMENTS: COMPLAINT FILES Documented Complaints, Celebrate Children International, 2004 (3 pages) Documented Complaints, Celebrate Children International, 2005 (3 pages) Documented Complaints, Celebrate Children International, 2006 (16 pages) Documented Complaints, Celebrate Children International, 2008 part one (2 pages) Documented Complaints, Celebrate Children International, 2008 part two (7 pages) DOWNLOADABLE DOCUMENTS: INVESTIGATION FILES Documented Investigation #1, Celebrate Children International (191 pages) Documented Investigation #2, Celebrate Children International (173 pages) DOWNLOADABLE DOCUMENTS: LICENSING FILES Licensing Files, Celebrate Children International, 2003-2009 (35 pages) DOWNLOADABLE DOCUMENTS: EMAIL FILES Miscellaneous Emails on File, Celebrate Children International (10 pages)   The summary statement below was sent...
CCI Records, Released by DCF May 10, 2010
This set of documents was released to me on May 10, 2010 by the Florida Department of Children and Families, in response to a public records request (also known as a FOIA, or Freedom of Information Act) I filed with them. The bundles contain various documents, including email between Sue Hedberg, the director of Celebrate Children International, and her business partners in Guatemala. There’s also correspondence between CCI and clients. Names of CCI clients have been redacted by the Florida Department of Children and Families. Here’s a sample page: Translation: Sue Hedberg <sue@celebratechildren.org> wrote: “But she’s already ___’s girl, right?...
CCI Records, Released by DCF January 29, 2009
  The Florida Department of Children and Families released this set of documents to me on January 29, 2009, in response to a public records request (also known as a FOIA, or Freedom of Information Act) I filed with them. My first request  was made on January 9, 2009. Since then, DCF has sent me various batches of records.  Because another journalist from the Seminole Chronicle had also recently requested records on Celebrate Children International (CCI) at the time, this set was already redacted and ready to go. You can check out the Seminole Chronicle piece on Celebrate Children International here. The .pdf’s...
April 2011: Florida DCF in the News
“One Jacksonville Child Care Provider Who Tangled with DCF Has Three Centers in Six Years,” reports the Florida Times-Union, on April 4, 2011. “Most of Jacksonville’s child-care providers rarely get a bad report from the Florida Department of Children and Families for how they keep children healthy and safe. The average number of violations for the last 2½ years for child-care centers is almost 16 per center. But 57 centers have had 30 or more violations. Under a law that went into effect in July 2008, DCF must follow a specific matrix before suspending or revoking a license. And it can be...
March 2011: Florida DCF in the News
“Lawsuit: Adoption Agency Didn’t Say Kids Were Abused,” reports MiamiHerald.com, on March 30, 2011. “Filed Tuesday, the lawsuit seeks money to care for the children, plus damages for pain and suffering. It says the agency failed to keep track of JD and WD, as they are named in the lawsuit, or advise the new parents of abuse… “ “Lawsuit Alleges Foster Child Abuse,” reports WJXT Jacksonville, on March 29, 2011. “…The adoptive parents said their two children were physically, sexually and mentally abused while in foster care…” “‘Acid attack’ Couple Could Face Death Penalty if Convicted of Murdering Adopted Daughter,”...
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