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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hawaii adoption agencies merging

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer

Two Hawai'i nonprofit agencies are joining forces to overcome economic challenges and expand their reach in intercountry adoption programs.

Child & Family Service, operating since 1899, and Hawaii International Child, open since 1975, will announce their affiliation today.

The affiliation will allow both organizations to expand and cut costs, said Howard Garval, CEO of Child & Family Service.

Garval said each agency brings programs to the merger that the other doesn't have, and together they will be the largest intercountry adoption agency in Hawai'i, offering services for adoptions from the United States and five foreign countries.

Child & Family Service offers an array of services for families, including adoption, which is one of its smallest programs. CFS facilitates about 100 to 150 adoptions a year.

Hawaii International Child is a small organization that does adoptions and works with the state Department of Human Services in the foster care program. HIC does about 35 to 100 adoptions a year.

Garval calls the affiliation a creative solution for nonprofit groups in these challenging economic times.

"We're expanding our capacity to many more countries where there are thousands and thousands of children who could benefit from a forever family," he said. "One of the advantages of this affiliation is we're going to reduce duplication of costs."

One cost is for accreditation, which can run into the thousands of dollars, he said.

The two organizations have been exploring the idea for about a year.

"We'll have a very dominant market share of intercountry adoption in Hawai'i so that's a real positive as well," he said.

Each agency will retain its name and separate nonprofit status. HIC, which has a stronger brand name, will become a subsidiary under CFS, Garval said.

Kristine Altwies, CEO for HIC, said the affiliation would bring stability and a strong corporate structure to the nonprofit that has six staff members.

Clients for either agency won't notice any change but the quality of service will be enhanced, Altwies said. For clients that like a small intimate agency, HIC can still offer that, but if clients want the backing of a bigger organization, HIC will be able to give them that, too, she said.

Under the new arrangement, clients will be able to look to adoptions in Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Africa, as well as the United States, Altwies said.

She said the change and opportunity provided by this affiliation is exciting.

"I feel this is a rare win-win because we'll be able to provide more services and we'll have the resources of a huge organization at our disposal,"Altwies said.