Board Minutes

Among the information we received from the ODJFS, were some of BBAS’s own“Board Minutes” from 1998  to 2002 (We would receive some more minutes for 2002 and 2003 with the 2004 recertification). 

These are mostly one-page summaries of what “business” was discussed at monthly “Board Meetings” that were “held” with various “Board Members” in “attendance.” The “members” changed as time went on, with some of the later names unfamiliar to us.

As you might guess from the sarcastic quote marks, we wonder about the veracity of these. Do they accurately reflect the meetings? Did the meetings indeed even actually take place?

Call us old-fashioned, but we have this idea that minutes of a board of any entity that has one, whether they have to make those minutes public or not, usually have to include some indication as to who took them. Like a signature of the recorder, for one.

These, for the most part, do not. There is certainly nothing in the minutes of each meeting that suggests the board approved or even reviewed the minutes of the previous meeting.

Some of the language of the later minutes, in fact, suggests Denise took them herself (note where people start “advising” of everything, and the oddly similar language used in two separate years regarding fee increases). There’s a reason people who head up organizations do not also normally get allowed to take the minutes of that organization’s board — it has something to do with conflict of interest.

And if Denise took them herself, can we even be sure she didn’t just make them up? Certainly, with her clerical background she’s probably taken minutes at least a few times and would easily know how to write a realistic-sounding document.

One sometimes hopes that she did. For if these minutes accurately reflect what BBAS’s board does at their meetings, they are one of the most incompetent, apathetic such ensembles ever constituted.

To begin with, boards usually vote on things like approving their organization’s annual budget. At least that. Or, God forbid, resignations from the board or other changes in its composition!

And when you vote on something, the common practice is for the minutes to record who voted which way.

These don’t, because it doesn’t seem like anyone ever voted on anything ... in fact, it seems like everything happens through some sort of mysterious consensus, as almost no board members besides Denise (and Attorney Rick Marco, present at almost every meeting despite not officially being a member of the board and “not involved much in the business.”) are mentioned as offering some sort of proposal or making a pertinent comment. BBAS’s board doesn’t even pay lip service to being a rubber-stamp outfit.

If you think we’re just talking trash, this is what BBAS’s own administrative policies and procedures (which, again, they had to file with the state) say about the matter. Under “Responsibilities of the Board of Directors,” it reads:

8.    The secretary of the Board of Directors will be responsible for keeping minutes of all Board of Directors meetings and the above will be kept in the Board of Directors’ manual at the agency location. It will further be the responsibility of the secretary to make sure that the minutes of all Board of Directors’ meetings contain the following:

a) Dates of all meetings;

b) Names of all Board members present;

c) Complete account of all topics discussed; any decisions made by the board and any votes taken by the board.

These are pretty much what Ohio dictates in its regulations. a) and b) seem to have been well taken care of by whoever took most of these minutes, as well as the former half of c); but the rest is sort of, uh, debatable.

Even beyond that, the gap between what we now know was going on in the real world of Building Blocks and what the board seems to think is important is yawning. Especially when it came to Cyril’s death, which didn’t even make the radar.

One is really tempted to wonder if Denise borrowed her board from John Rigas, of Adelphia Communications infamy.

It puts BBAS in yet another quandary. If these minutes are horribly sanitized versions of real events, or outright fabrications, then Denise is at the very least keeping her board in the dark to an extent that would be comical if the results hadn’t been so tragic in some cases; and at the very worst she’s submitting false documents to the state (surprise, surprise).

We have reproduced the minutes here, adding our usual notes and observations about what was omitted about BBAS’s real state of affairs and paraphrasing some more pedestrian passages.

There seems to be no particular rhyme or reason to why these minutes were included in the file, other than what ODHS/JFS seemed to want at that particular time. So it’s not our fault if they seem to be an almost random assortment.

At the very least, they offer a rare glimpse inside the black box of the internal workings of adoption agencies, something most parents don’t or won’t care to know. For that reason we invite the entire adoption community to take a look.

February 15, 1998.  Board Members in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Jr., Reverend David Shortt, Michael Piccolo (Kimberly’s husband), Sandra Harding and “non-board member” Attorney Rick Marco, Jr who was “reviewing” the meeting.

Topics Discussed:

Job descriptions for the ODHS paperwork, fee schedules decided upon, rate of pay for each member.  Michael Piccolo was billed as “treasurer” who “looked over the proposed monthly budget and thought the proposal was sufficient.” 

Each member expressed the desire to assure the non-profit status would be fulfilled and any extra finances would be allocated for the orphanage and caretakers in question.

This after Linda Saridakis had brought this up to Denise on Feb. 3, a mere 12 days previous!

Kimberly Piccolo would be slated as the “Employers Director” and had clerical duties foisted upon her.

Regarding recruiting clients, the board decided “for the time being, that the web site will be maintained and further advertising would take place via cable channel and newspaper articles at a later date.”

Despite their brevity, these are the only “Board Minutes” that actually look like official minutes from an actual meeting.  Listed is the length of time the board meeting took (2 hours, 45 minutes), whom the minutes were taken by — Sandra Harding — and that the board agreed to meet on Monday, February 23, 1998 at 7 p.m.

February 23, 1998 Board Members in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Jr, Reverend David Shortt, Michael Piccolo, Sandra Harding.

Topics Discussed: It was merely stated that each member had reviewed the ODHS rules and the policies and procedures reviewed yet again.  The members felt that no further reviews were necessary and decided to call it a night.

March 10, 1998 Board Members in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Jr, Reverend David Shortt, Michael Piccolo and Sandra Harding.

Topics Discussed: OHDS requirements, the Administrative Policies and Procedures, Fee Schedule, Summary of Policies, Recruitment Plan, Agency Functions, Religious and Discharge Plans.

The members agreed that all changes were beneficial to the proper functioning of the agency.

Regarding fees: 

The fee schedule was discussed in reference to the assurance that fees that were not in use via payroll, debts, etc were to go to purchase video equipment for the orphanages in the 13 regions for the coordinators to videotape children.

A portion of these fees probably went to a big-screen satellite TV system I saw in the Hubbards' former home on my visit in May 1999.  I don’t recall hearing about “the coordinators” getting video equipment in Perm, Volgograd, Izhevsk or Vladivostok that year!

They then awaited the meeting with Linda Saridakis to discuss their certification qualifications.

March 12, 1998 Board Members in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Jr, Michael Piccolo, Sandra Harding and Father David Shortt.

Topics Discussed:  

More ODHS Policies and Procedures, the Recruitment Plan, Discharge Policy, ODHS letter they received on 3/13/98 discussing revisions.  It was decided that it would be necessary to correct and revise the document for the ODHS.  There was some discussion about the “missing item” being Denise and Kimberly Piccolos fingerprint checks from the BCII which were held up due to “improper usage of fingerprint cards.” Kimberly Piccolo was “approved” as Director and Denise and Kimberly would proceed “with the necessary procedures to complete and facilitate all paperwork … for the agency to become licensed.”

The board minutes for most of the rest of 1998 are not included.

December 18, 1998 Board Members in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Jr, Reverend David Shortt, Michael Piccolo, Sandra Harding and Rick Marco.

Topics Discussed:  

Newspaper research continuing by contacting newspapers in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Virginia.  The next step would be to “identify advertising possibilities based on price and demographics.”

Denise graciously recommended fees should be lowered for “medical and/or surgical special needs children.” The Board agreed this was a good thing.

The budget was mentioned as being “very low, but next year’s budget should improve.”  They discussed the need to increase fees to “ensure quality assistance to adoptive families.”  The budget was approved for 1999 — WITH NO DETAILS OR DEBATE MENTIONED IN THESE MINUTES.

Discussed the fact that each Board Member had not had the opportunity to read Lois Melina’s Raising Adopted Children a MUST READ for adoptive parents.  After each member had read the book, a decision would be made to purchase the book in bulk.

This defies credulity.  These people were on the board of an adoption agency.  At least two of the people listed as being in attendance were adoptive parents.  Yet, they had to READ A BOOK about adoption? Does this make them “qualified adoption professionals?” 

Wendy Stamper comes in, but was only hired:

... to assist with the returning of phone calls and the mass mailings. 

Wendy’s role at BBAS escalated.  When she left, she was, “Russian Program Coordinator” ... a far cry from answering telephone calls and client relations. Her title  changed so much in the last few years, it’s hard to qualify exactly what she did and whom she answered to (actually, like every other real BBAS employee she answers to Denise; but the degree of autonomy she enjoys in her duties remains unclear). 

At January’s meeting, a discussion of an additional phone line and fax machine at the Director’s office to assist in public relations and advertising …

The file then skips to the minutes of April 19, 1999.

April 19, 1999 Board Members in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Jr, Kimberly Piccolo, Michael Piccolo, Michael Harding, Reverend David Shortt

Who is Michael Harding?  Denise’s brother and Sandra Harding’s son?  

It’s also interesting that right before she’s about to leave the agency, Kim Piccolo, the director who is supposed to attend every meeting of the board, finally does so. Not that she seems to have had anything to offer.

All adoptive applicants were “approved by the board.”

Surprise surprise. Would these adoptive applicants have been us?

There’s also this odd bit:

Wendy and Elena continue to work and have increased their knowledge of the adoption process 100%.

“Elena” — was this the woman who worked with Dennis Gornostaev from his office in Chagrin Falls? 

When it came time to send Cyril’s signed and notarized petition to adopt, we received an email from BBAS stating that it had to be sent to Dennis Gornostaev, “C/O Elena.”  We were not aware that Dennis Gornostaev’s staff were involved with BBAS, nor had anybody at BBAS told us of any relationship.

Denise Hubbard has located two countries which she feels are feasible to begin obtaining information and researching facilitators. These countries are: Bulgaria and Guatemala. The Board has approved these two countries pending further research into their court system, country requirements and also the locating of facilitators to assist our families. 

Denise has agreed to furnish as much information as possible to the Board regarding Bulgaria and Guatemala at the next meeting.

Bulgaria and Guatemala, it seems, were indeed set up at the very same time, possibly through Rudy Rivera, an adoption attorney in St. Louis who is BBAS’s attorney for Guatemala. This was the same month Candace O’Brien, the immigration attorney, was arrested in Munich, Germany for doing adoptions from Bulgaria. Had Rudy Rivera connected Denise with Valeri Kamenov once Candace was out of the picture? Or she him?

Candace and Rudy still have a relationship — she was a guest on his Internet radio program, “Ask the Lawyer,” in 2001. Were BBAS’s Bulgarian and Guatemalan programs set up that rapidly — without thorough research into everything about the adoption process for both countries?

If so, this is NO WAY to establish adoption programs in a foreign country. We are still uncertain if Denise walked into Bulgaria, blinded by the quick female referrals she was to receive from Burgas and Kurjali via the Kamenovs.  As you have read, BBAS’s relationship with Mr. Kamenov was a good one — and a costly one to the clients that were led astray by Denise’s promises of healthy children and quick timeframes.

May 17, 1999: Board Members in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Jr, Kimberly Piccolo, Michael Piccolo, Sandra Harding, Reverend David Shortt.

Topics Discussed:

It was in this document that we learned Kimberly Piccolo was leaving due to the fact that her husband Michael had taken employment out of state. BBAS would be without a legally-mandated college-educated “Director” for a few months.

Bulgaria and Guatemala became certified BBAS programs: 

Denise Hubbard has been able to locate information on Bulgaria and Guatemala and has even been able to find facilitators for both countries! She has requested approval of a visit to Bulgaria and Guatemala during the middle week of June to meet all parties involved in Bulgarian and Guatemalan adoptions and visit orphanages in both countries. The Board unanimously approved such a trip and agreed with Denise that it was essential to meet all parties involved and visit the orphanages and view the children BEFORE we send our adoptive parents to Bulgaria and Guatemala. It has also been agreed that our attorney Rick Marco would accompany Denise on these visits.

Rick Marco is formally introduced as having some input on Bulgaria and Guatemala.  Denise was “able to find facilitators for both countries!” How convenient that the Bulgarian facilitators’ American contact was incarcerated in Munich, cutting off their supply of American clients for the kids they were moving for Kurjali, Buzovgrad and Burgas. 

A month later, Bulgaria would be mentioned in a “BBAS Electronic Newsletter” promising a four-month timeframe and healthy kids. The first Bulgaria clients were the ones to have been promised the moon, sky and stars about their timeline, i.e., just like us.

Denise and Richard J. Marco, Jr. did make their first trip to Bulgaria in June as mentioned here. They traveled with the Ryders who were adopting two unrelated children from Kurjali. This would also account for any “trip expenditures” in BBAS budget for that time.

June 26, 1999  Board Members in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Jr, Kimberly Piccolo, Michael Piccolo, Sandra Harding, Michael Harding, Reverend David Shortt, Richard J. Marco Jr.

Topics Discussed: Denise Hubbard and Rick Marco have pronounced the trips to Bulgaria and Guatemala a success. Denise was very impressed with the orphanages and the health of the children. She met with many people, including orphanage directors and the facilitators in both countries. Denise did, however, discover that the Bulgarian orphanages were in desperate need of supplies. She has vowed to contact our clients, past, present and future, to ask for donations for the Bulgarian orphanages. This will be done via the bi-monthly newsletter.

We will cut Denise some slack on this. We do know she met with the various orphanage directors that the Kamenovs were working closely with. It didn’t take a genius, however to figure out that orphanages are in desperate need of supplies. Daniel and I were among the “present clients” who donated to the “Save the Bulgarian Orphanages” fund.

This was very, very interesting regarding yet another variance that Denise had to file with the ODHS:

The Board discussed the replacement of Kimberly Piccolo as the Director and has filed a waiver with ODHS pertaining to the replacement. The waiver requests that Denise Hubbard be made Director of Building Blocks Adoption Service. The waiver was approved by ODHS and states that Denise Hubbard is the “Director of International Adoptions” for Building Blocks.

It was also stated that they would be looking for Michael Piccolo’s replacement as “Treasurer” which they had six months to fill. Yet they never seem to have done so, nor created any sort of equivalent position with responsibility for the organization’s finances. Such as they are.

July 21, 1999 Board Members in attendance:  Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard Jr, Sandra Harding, Michael Harding

Again with Michael Harding!  We noticed that the Piccolos (for obvious reasons) and The Rev. David Shortt, (for reasons unknown) were not to be mentioned in future board minutes. Had our good man of the cloth learned something that made him want to back away from BBAS?  

Note, too, that neither Shortt’s nor the Piccolos’ resignation from the board was ever explictly noted, much less accepted.

Topics Discussed: Denise has informed the Board that response to her newsletter requesting donations for the orphanages in Bulgaria has been overwhelming. Building Blocks has received baby clothes, blankets, medicines, diapers, formula, toys, etc from many of our dear friends, past and present clients. Building Blocks has also received monetary donations to help allay the shipping costs to Bulgaria. 

Building Blocks has begun to advertise our programs in Bulgaria and Guatemala. We have two clients interested in Bulgaria at the present time. We will continue to advertise our two new programs in the hopes that more families will adopt through these two countries.

The beginning of the photolistings?

The Board continues to search for a Treasurer and also a Director of Business Relations.

August 21, 1999 Board Members in attendance: Paul Bicksler, Suzanne K. Meler, Sandra Harding, Denise Hubbard, Michelle Colon

Board has changed due to staff and Board restructuring.

Ain’t that the truth!  Names we were listed that had not been seen previously:  Paul Bicksler (former client; runs  Bicksler Electric, retail appliance and TV sales, commercial and residential wiring ... in other words, a real businessman); Suzanne K. Meler, another BBAS client who completed an adoption in July 1998 and who posted a glowing review of BBAS right afterwards (later, the only person whose departure from the board is even acknowledged; and Michelle Colon, writer of the glowing recommendation letter for Denise. (The “restructuring” may be the only reference to The Rev. Shortt’s departure, whatever the underlying reason. The fact that it is glossed over to the extent that it is makes us wonder if it was an amicable parting).

Bicksler, by the way, was listed as BBAS’s secretary on some of its filings with the state around the end of this year. So these minutes are at least officially his responsibility.

More interestingly, here’s his family’s testimonial from BBAS’s website:

After a total radical hysterectomy my husband and I decided to build our family through adoption. We contacted Building Blocks Adoption and met with Denise Hubbard, the Executive Director of Building Blocks. Denise has the knowledge of all the places, countries ,the  children in need and the customs of the country, I was amazed with Denise and her care for the children in need of families. We owe Denise and her agency so much. She has a wonderful agency that is so truthful and amazing. I would never think of any other agency that could be so wonderful. We had such a wonderful experience working with Denise and Building Blocks. I must say our lives have changed forever in the best ways. Our son has brought us laughter, joy and promise and has given us more then one can ever know. He has taught us to slow down and treasure our time because life is short and before we know it he will be grown, married and on his own.  We believe if you have room in your heart to love, you must consider adoption.  All children are gifts from God and even though our son was not by chance, but choice and whether a child becomes part of your life by chance or choice every child deserves a forever caring family.

There is, of course, no mention there of his status as an officer and trustee of BBAS, which any sense of ethics would require be disclosed.

Topics Discussed: The board discussed the possibility of changing representatives and moving forward with travel plans to do so.

The first hint of Amrex. Was it Denise herself who had trolled Dr. Downing’s site as “Christine Belges” in October 1999 asking about Amrex? The loss of referrals from Volgograd was clearly already taking its toll on Dennis Gornostaev and Denise Hubbard’s working relationship.

September 21, 1999:  Board Members in attendance: Paul Bicksler, Suzanne K. Meler, Sandra Harding, Denise Hubbard, Michelle Colon, Attorney Richard J. Marco, Jr.

Topics Discussed: All trips to Bulgaria were productive with the purchasing of diapers, formula, baby foods, etc.

The list of “needs” that has been used since the dawn of time whenever BBAS hits its clients up for donations for the poor orphans.

The Guatemala trip will be in November-December. The Weber family has decided to pay for Denise’s trip to assist them with the adoption procedure in Guatemala.

Oh yes. We recall that one. It was written up in the November 1999 “BBAS Electronic Newsletter” that was sent out to everyone while we were in Perm. It was a real tearjerker account.

Amrex, Inc. has been contacted to assist in the facilitation of the adoption in Russia for our adoptive couples.

Did they know what they were signing on with? Did Amrex?

That they had already signed on with Amrex at this point confirms our suspicion that she had ulterior motives in asking us to register our adoption with the Amrex-connected ICAR registry . Seven years later, Amrex crashed and burned.

October 26, 1999 Board Members in attendance: Suzanne K. Meler, Sandra Harding, Denise Hubbard, Michelle Colon, Attorney Richard J. Marco, Jr.

Topics Discussed: “After comparing several insurance agencies, the cost of insurance is still unaffordable at the present time. We will postpone obtaining insurance until the middle of 2000.

Discussed five different books on adoption an chose one to purchase. The book is entitiled Raising Adopted Children by Lois Melina. Each Board Member will have an opportunity to read the book before we commit to purchasing in bulk for our clients.

The STUPIDITY of the above!  Recall that they had discussed reading this very same book on the Board Meeting of Dec. 18, 1998.  

After running an ADOPTION AGENCY for a year and a half, one would think that this issue would have been fully explained and understood and the book read by then.  These people were on the board of an adoption agency!  Incredible! How unqualified is this bunch?

Board Members agree to raise the application fee to $150.


That $150 Application Fee had already been raised to $200 by Aug. 21, 1999, the date I printed out from their website the information about their Bulgarian program. It had their fees listed on the website!  

In fact, when we had signed up in March 1999, the fee was already $150.  

Another financial dodge by the leaders of the Blocks. Another great moment in non-profit oversight (and we do mean oversight) by the board.

Assuming, once again, that this was actually discussed at the meeting. Or that the meeting actually took place.

Board discussed hiring Elena and bringing her to the U.S. from Russia for help with translation of documents, education of clients on Russian culture and interpreting phone conference calling with Russian liasions.

Elena again. Which country exactly was Elena living in? The U. S.? Russia? 

Was this the same Elena mentioned above?  

If she was the same Elena associated with Dennis Gornostaev, his days and by extension hers already were numbered with BBAS, which makes this particularly (yet so typically) two-faced.

Next meeting a discussion on lowering fees for the Ukrainian program and various forms of advertising.

NOTHING is mentioned about helping “God’s Orphaned Children” or doing “Adoptions Because We Care.  They HAD to lower the Ukrainian fees to be competitive — every other agency and the independents were priced at least $4,000 lower than BBAS.  And how much were they really spending on ADVERTISING?

November 21, 1999 Board Members in attendance: Paul Bicksler, Suzanne K. Meler, Sandra Harding, Denise Hubbard, Michelle Colon.

Topics Discussed: Changes coming up for Russian adoptions and travel to Bulgaria coming soon.

Four days later, in a far-off hotel in Perm, Russia, a BIG change was going to come to their Russian program.

Denise and Wendy travel to Bulgaria in December to hand out Christmas gifts.

Denise and Wendy’s Christmas trip to Bulgaria would be quite a fruitful one for the soon-to-be Anguel Case.

December 23, 1999 Board Members in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Suzanne K. Meler, Sandra Harding, Michelle Colon, Attorney Richard J. Marco, Jr.

When we first got our pile of paper from ODJFS, and realized that board minutes were included, we were most interested in this particular period for reasons that should be obvious by now.

We still wish we could say we were genuinely surprised that NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING is mentioned about Cyril’s death during this meeting. 

NOTHING. Nothing about the baby’s ill health with caused his death or the conditions which accelerated his demise. NOTHING about how BBAS would respond to it and what they might or might not do for the Cases.

I repeat: NOTHING.  What a lowlife, scheming, uncaring and underhanded organization.

Amrex was established and first clients have been referred.

Some unhappily and some unknowingly.

Cynthia Marco, Richard J. Marco’s wife, is mentioned as:

 ... completing her file to ensure the correct procedure of hiring her as Agency Director by January 13, 2000.

And within the year, she would be fired.

There is also actually a mention of Mary Hutchison’s complaint to the ODHS and BBAS taking Linda Saridakis’s required corrective measures.

The Board of Directors reviews the last year’s budget in reference to funds. The budget is very low, but the next year’s budget should improve. The need to increase fees was discussed to ensure quality assistance to adoptive families.

That fee increase would ensure that the Hubbard McMansion in Medina Township would be completed on time and ready to be moved in to in July 2000.  The only “quality assistance to adoptive families” the agency could have given their clients was LOWERING their fees not raising them.  Or did Denise have to purchase more banner ads on various Internet adoption sites on top of completing it?

January 3, 2000  Board Members in attendance:  Denise Hubbard, Paul Bicksler, Suzanne K. Meler, Sandra Harding, Michelle Colon.

Topics Discussed: The trip to Guatemala went well.  Weber Family happy. 

The Board approved the financial records for 1999 and approved the new budget for 2000. Attorney Richard J. Marco, Jr. acting as the accountant for Building Blocks will complete the financial review prior to May 1, 2000.

Amrex, Inc. has been is working well and soon the first families will be sent to Russia.

The following board minutes were submitted by BBAS as part of their recertification application in in 2002. Only three were required for the file; the rest were inspected on-site. Why these particular ones, we have no idea.

December 19, 2000  Board Members in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Jr, Sandra Harding, Richard J. Marco, Jr. and Suzanne K. Meler.

Tom Rotonda, by now BBAS’s administrative director for a few months, seems to have skipped this one in the grand tradition of his predecessors (assuming, of course, that the board actually ever met). But then later one he starts showing up like a good director.

Board reviewed the current policies and procedures and have advised all looked in compliance. The Board of Directors reviewed last year’s budget in reference to funds. The budget is very low, but the next year’s budget should improve. The Need to increase fees was discussed to ensure quality assistance to adoptive families. Budget approved for 2001.

Why did fees need to be increased again? For what reasons? And why is this the same exact language used in the Oct. 26, 1999 discussion of the increase of fees? And how much of an increase was there?

And how are they so sure they’ll have more money next year? Even at this point in time the economy wasn’t looking too good..

Trip to Bulgaria was very successful. We dropped off 2,000 gifts to children in 10 orphanages and also gave gifts to each caretaker and director. The children were delighted.

This would probably be the last great Christmas in Kurjali, Burgas and Buzovgrad, given what happened in the spring.  

Wonder what “gifts” were given to the orphanage directors? Some greenbacks rolled into newspapers? Perhaps new cell phones, phone cards and the like? Swiss bank accounts as well?

Due to the holiday season, this meeting was cut short, per board request.

The meeting was adjourned and the next meeting has been scheduled for January 16, 2001.

The minutes for that meeting were apparently inspected by ODJFS on site during recertification.

December 18, 2001 Board Members in attendance:  Denise L. Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Jr, Sandra Harding, Thomas Rotunda, Richard J. Marco, Jr and Michele Colon.

Board reviewed the current policies and procedures and have advised all looked in compliance.

The Board of Directors reviewed last year’s budget in reference to funds. As was mentioned at the last meeting, the budget is very low and outgoing expenses have been reduced.It is hopeful that things will pick up after the first of the year and next year’s budget should improve. The Need to increase fees was discussed to ensure quality assistance to adoptive families. Budget approved for 2002.

Denise reported that Debbie’s trip to Bulgaria went well. She stated that we also have had many other families inquiring about escort, so there may be an increased need for that in the future.  She stated that there has been an increase in inquiries about the Guatemalan program since it is possible to complete an adoption from there without travel on the part of the adoptive parents.

Interesting about more families enquiring about escorts! Imagine that! The Russian and Bulgarian kids were probably not moving as fast as they once did, due to their quirky adoption process (two trips, unhealthy kids) and Guatemala was at least a “safe bet” as far as the referral of young babies.

These minutes were received with the 2004 recertification

January 28, 2002: On the above date Building Blocks Adoption Service, Inc. held a general Board Meeting.  The following board members and employees were in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Tom Rotunda, Gary Hubbard, Rick Marco and Sandi Harding.

Denise advised that incoming applications have still been slow.  She advised that the goal is to have 6 new clients each month.  Seminars are being scheduled for the months of February and March to help facilitate new clients.  The schedule is as follows: February 14, Medina, Ohio; February 24, Dayton, Ohio; March 10, Westlake, Ohio area.

Cha-ching! Always Be Closing! Remember once again the agency director who hated those seminars and said she would never do any herself.

Denise advised that she is currently working on implementing two new programs.  Those new programs are Haiti and Azerbijan.  Both programs should be in place soon, and she will oversea both program, as well as working on the Cambodia program when it opens back up.  She further advised that Wendy is overseeing the Russian and Kazakhstan programs.  Russia has recently gone back to two trips for most regions, so that has meant an increase in scheduling travel for families.  Debbie is overseeing the Bulgaria and Guatemala programs.  The Guatemala program is showing an increased popularity and we currently have more families for that program than ever before.

    How is that last statement compatible with “incoming applications have still been slow”?

Neither Haiti nor Azerbaijan panned out very well. She would wind up giving some clients their money back and as far as we know never completed an adoption there. Azerbaijan went to hell for every American agency long before Denise got anywhere near the place when an American family collaborated with a crooked facilitator to hide a child in violation of the law and a court, a story that got wide play over there but nary a peep in the American media.

Denise informed those present of the upcoming Audit with Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.  This is the usual bi-annual audit.  Linda Saridakis will be in the office on Tuesday, February 12, 2002 to conduct this audit.

She means recertification, of course. The audit is part of that but done separately.

The meeting was adjourned and the next meeting has been scheduled for February 25, 2002


For some reason these minutes were included with both recertifications.

February 25, 2002: Board Members in Attendance: Denise L. Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Jr, Richard J. Marco, Jr, Thomas Rotunda, Sandra Harding and Michele Colon.

Denise advised that corrective action plans were instituted and sent to ODJFS regarding BCII and FBI clearances, copying original documents for files, training issues and audit procedures.

Hmm, one of the corrective action plans she was cited for not having followed originally?

Denise advised that the agency polices and procedures have been revised, effective February 15, 2001. The agency audit is being completed by Laura McDonald, CPA at this time and will be completed the end of March.

Denise advised that the seminar in Medina on February 17 went well. We have received two applications from the seminar and several others are interested. The seminar scheduled for March 24 in Dayton has been postponed, due to a combination of illness and lack of reservations. We are looking at perhaps the end of April to reschedule. Also the seminar scheduled tentative for March 10 has been postponed.

Denise advised that both the Haiti and Azerbijani programs are in place now.

Denise advised that she is looking into additional advertising, without using a photo in the ad, to get our name out there while keeping costs down. She advised that she will run a trial ad of this sort, and if it is successful will look at placing additional ads.”

Oh no! Those ads and seminars! What was the world coming to? Was EAC cutting into her turf that badly? Or had her own misdeeds finally caught up to her? Either way, it was nice reading the above.

The meeting was adjourned and the next meeting has been scheduled for March 25, 2002.

This was the first “new” minutes we got with the 2004 recertification.

October 1, 2002: On the above date Building Blocks Adoption Service, Inc. held a general Board Meeting.  The following board members and employees were in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Michele Colon, Atty Richard Marco.

On this date we discussed the performance reviews of all staff members. 

We discussed financial status and the agency recertification.

Review of Annual Audit, Financial records and Tom’s employment evaluation was made.

What was there to evaluate? “The employee showed outstanding ability and promise in covering for the agency’s real operator and rubber-stamping her decisions.” 

The PSN [Parents Support Network] has grown with more adoptive parents seeking to assist BBAS.

Not that we’ve seen any evidence of that. One wonders how the PSN could have grown given how many people we know Denise has frozen out of her circle by at least not inviting them to the summer picnic (In fact, for the longest time we didn’t know anyone who did get an invite).

Meeting was closed.

Short and sweet this time. Oops, we forgot ... when are we having our next meeting?

December 5, 2002: On the above date a general board meeting was held by Building Blocks Adoption Service, Inc. The following board and staff members were in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Sue Meler, Michele Colon, Sandi Harding.

Arrangements are being made for the Annual Christmas party at the SUMC.

Does this perhaps include remembering who not to invite? 

Seminar schedule was reviewed and approved.

Keep ropin’ ’em in!

Budget for 2003 was further reviewed by Gary Hubbard and Rick Marco.

A first: Someone other than Denise or Rick is reported as actually having done something at these meetings.

Of course, it’s Denise’s husband, not known for his financial acumen.

And note that Rick is present even though he is not included as a board member present. This should establish that Rick is not a member of BBAS’s board, which makes it all the stranger that he attends so many meetings and does so much compared to the actual board members.

Staff meetings have been scheduled for 2003.  They will be held on the 2 and 4th Thursdays of each months.

We hired Johanna Myers and Kim Lepre to assist with the homestudy and PP needs of the agency.

Now that we got Carla the hell out of here.

Discussion was made reference hiring a full time office manager.

Not that they seem to have done so. Funny that Denise needs help with her specialty.

All agency policies were reviewed and approved for 2003.

Discussed the new office and the flexibility it has ref. conference rooms etc.

The first mention of the new suite at Fortress Marco, 25 Public Square. Wonder if he donated it and took the tax writeoff? Or if he, the family or the firm charge BBAS rent as a way of channeling more of that money to his pocket.

Discussion was made ref. annual audit that is due by April 1.  Since we changed our fiscal year.

Hmm. Interesting. Why would they have done so?

This month we have our Guatemala rep visiting for one month to learn the adoption process and meet the families adopting.  New board members have been assigned in October.

Just like they did with Elena. If we were the “rep” (probably not Rudy Rivera at this point, because he knows all this stuff like the back of his hand), we’d be worried this meant we were being set up to be replaced.

Meeting was closed and will be rescheduled for January 12, 2003

Uh, no, Denise, that’s adjourned. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 12. She makes it sound as if it was recessed. More sloppiness.

October 21, 2003: The following board and staff members were in attendance: Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard, Michele Colon, Sandi Harding, Kelly Hubbard, Wendy Stamper, Atty Richard Marco

On this date we discussed the performance reviews of all staff members.  A note was made that all employees shall remain employed.

Well, given how many of them are related to Denise (see attendance), that was pretty much a foregone conclusion. 

We discussed the current programs, approved the 2004 Budget and financial status, upcoming Audit in 2004 and the agency recertification.  Our financial profile was reviewed and approved.  Further evaluation for 2004 financial status will be made upon completion of government audit.

“Reviewed and approved” ... by whom, exactly? “Approved” usually, when used in minutes, means a vote was taken, even unanimously, to do so. Was one? 

Review of Annual Audit, Personal policies, adoption policies and agency functions along with Financial records and Tom’s upcoming employment evaluation was reviewed and approved.

Before it even takes place. BBAS: Nice work if you can get it (marry a Hubbard and you can too!). 

The PSN has grown with more adoptive parents seeking to assist BBAS.

 Not that they would take the help in any way except selling the agency to unsuspecting future victims.

Meeting was closed.

These are the last ones we got in 2004

December 10, 2003:

On the above date a general board meeting was held by Building Blocks Adoption Service, Inc. The following board and staff members were in attendance:Denise Hubbard, Gary Hubbard,  Kelly Hubbard, Sandi Harding, Karen McFarland

On this date we discussed the termination of Sue Meler as Board President.  Karen reviewed the agency policies, audits and performance evaluations.

“Termination”? Was she actually forced out? It doesn’t seem so, it could be yet another instance of Denise misusing a word but, all the same, she hasn’t seemed to attend a meeting in three years. Better late than never (or, of course, since Denise really runs things, this particular fig leaf had finally worn out). 

We went over the agency functions, policies, countries in which we work, adoption issues, adoptive parent issues, complaints, ODJFS and upcoming certification.  Karen intends to be completely hands on in or to guide and review all issues within the agency.

The first sentence is intriguing. Read between the lines, it could suggest that for the first time the board discussed this website and its impact on BBAS and how they might mitigate that in the future. We’ll have to see. Perhaps it led to the rewriting of their contract.

As for Karen’s role as director, see here. “Hands-on”= letting Denise continue to run things her way and screw everyone over as usual.

Meeting was closed.

Return to BBAS Files’ home