Adoption Agency License Revoked.
The Utah Department of Human Services has revoked the license of Heart & Soul Adoptions. Heart & Soul is an adoption agency in located in Centerville, Utah. The revocation is effective January 31, 2018.
Heart & Soul had been operating in a conditional status in October 2017. The Department found that Heart & Soul violated of the conditions of continued operation.
The Department concluded that the “lack of transparency in billing practices and insufficient record keeping practices that may lead to harm or fraud.”
Utah requires adoption agencies to “identify the services associated with each fee, and specify both the average cost for that service for the preceding two fiscal years, and the maximum fee that may be charged for each service.”
8. File audits conducted on a random sampling of files dating from 2014 to the present revealed incomplete fee disclosures lacking itemization and specificity necessary for adoptive parents to fully understand the allocation of the fees they were required to pay. Many of the disclosure statements did not outline the average costs as required by Administrative Rule.
Birth Mother Expenses.
Agencies are also required to maintain an itemized accounting of the actual expenditures
made on behalf of a birth mother.
13. None of the files that were audited contained completed itemization of actual expenses and none listed any alternative payment sources.
14. File audits revealed that some of the birth mother applications disclosed they were receiving Medicaid at the time of the application with the agency; others showed Medicaid approval at a later date and retroactive coverage; yet adoptive parents were charged medical expenses in all excess of $4,000.00 for the birth mothers, with no itemization disclosures or refunds offered.
16. File audits revealed that birth mothers signed expense forms that were not individually itemized and lacked sufficient information for the birth mother to verify which goods and services they actually received, yet several were compensated with large sums of money in potential violation of 76-7-203(3).
Potential for Misuse of Funds.
The Department did not find that there was any actual financial fraud. However, the Department did find that H&S failed to keep proper records of birth mother medical and living expenses. As a result, the Department concluded that there was a “potential” for the misuse of funds.
Lack of documentation described in this Notice, particularly in violations 14 [birth mother medical expenses] and 16 [birth mother living expenses] are indicative of the potential for adoptive parents to be defrauded for medical expenses and birth mothers being offered or given money with the intent to induce or encourage a person to sell or dispose of a child; which is in violation of Utah Code Ann. 76-7-203(3)(a) and (b).
Refunds & Documents.
Clients who have prepaid for services should contact the agency for refunds. Clients should also contact the agency to obtain their home studies and other original documents.
How to Choose and Adoption Agency
Our best wishes go out to all those impacted by these events. They highlight the importance of knowing what matters in choosing an adoption agency. View my article on that subject.