FOIA Files
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...
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...
Sue Hedberg of Celebrate Children International and “Florida Trend”
    The piece “Whose Standards?” by Amy Keller was published in Florida Trend, November 1, 2010. Click here to read the whole article, which focuses on lapses in regulation, and Celebrate Children International. For this piece, Keller asked me some questions about CCI, and also interviewed Sue Hedberg via email (among what I’m sure was lots of other reporting!) I was surprised to find her interview with Hedberg in a batch of documents given to me by Florida Department for Children and Families, as they were fulfilling one of my FOIA requests. I’m not sure why they had this email interview...
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...
Filing Public Records Requests in Guatemala
Finally, my package of public records arrived in the post from Guatemala! Special thanks to Associated Press Guatemala City correspondent Juan Carlos Llorca for his time and energy in picking ‘em up and shipping them to the States. Yup, I’m such a public records dork that I photographed the files before opening… And here they are: So what, exactly, are they? Basically, these are official Organismo Judicial copies of legal transactions that were filed by various Guatemalan adoption lawyers whose business practices I’m curious about. Specifically: Saul Vinicio Garcia Rivera Carmen Esmerelda Pantaleon Pacheco Javier Oswoldo Villatoro Morales Maria Cristina...
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