CENTERVILLE, Utah — State officials have placed the license of an adoption agency based in Centerville on conditional status after several months of investigation revealed numerous violations, many relating to transparency and fees.
The Department of Human Services placed the license of Heart and Soul Adoptions, Inc. on conditional status October 6, according to a Notice of Agency Action from the department.
“The Department of Human Services Office of Licensing issued a Notice of Agency Action and conditional penalty on the Heart and Soul Adoptions license following a lengthy investigation into their practices over the past several months,” stated Heather Barnum, a spokeswoman for Utah DHS. “The conditions we have issued are verified, fair and are intended to protect health and safety of children and clients while allowing Heart and Soul to come back into compliance and offer a desired service to families and birth parents.”
The Notice of Agency Action lists several violations, which include incomplete fee disclosures as well as payments that exceeded fee statement totals but lacked receipts and supporting documentation for how those fees were calculated.
There was also “no evidence of any refunds issued to the adoptive families except in instances where the adoptive family sought legal action.”
Other issues involved insufficient receipts and itemization for birth mother expenses, which the agency said means that the actual and reasonable costs involved “cannot be determined.”
File audits also revealed times when, “adoptive families were charged for the travel of persons other than the birth parent or directly affected persons.”
In addition to other issues with itemization and receipts, the notice stated that some of the birth mothers were receiving Medicaid at the time they applied with the agency, however “adoptive parents were charged medical expenses in excess of $4,000 for the birth mothers, with no itemization disclosures or refunds offered.”
The agency also noted that in multiple files there was no evidence the agency had checked the putative father registries to determine whether an adoptive child’s birth father had registered.
In order to have the license removed from conditional status the agency would need to meet several conditions, which are outlined in the notice embedded below. Those conditions include notifying all existing and potential birth mothers and adoptive parents dating back to 2014 of the action as well as posting the notice on their website and social media pages.
As of November 12, there was no mention of the notice on Heart and Soul’s website.
The agency would also need to make “good faith efforts to come into compliance with all rules and statutes.”
In the meantime the agency cannot do any new recruitment and all new referrals must be declined.
Any work for existing or remaining clients would need to be carried out in compliance with the rules the agency has previously been violating.
Barnum said while they are grateful for adoption opportunities for children, adoption must be carried out in a transparent and ethical way.
“It is important to note that adoption is a wonderful thing for the child, the adoptive parents and the birth parents; however, adoption must be transparent and comply with ethical laws of the state in order to protect all parties and the integrity of their rights,” she stated.