Another One Bites The Dust

Not since Georgia Tann’s Memphis Branch of the Tennessee Children’s Home has an adoption agency operated so brazenly and been allowed to continue selling children as government officials turned a blind eye to reports of malfeasance.

A federal grand jury today charged Margaret Cole, Robin Langoria, and other employees of European Adoption Consultants (EAC) with fraud, money laundering and bribery in connections with adoptions from Uganda and Poland.

EAC had been granted accreditation under the Hague Convention for Inter-Country Adoptions by the Council on Accreditation. That accreditation is considered a sort of gold standard in the realm of international adoption agencies: it involves a substantial amount of time and work and fees to receive.

In 2015, EAC had a complaint lodged against it for a case in China. In December 2016, the State Department debarred EAC, and their Hague accreditation status was revoked. The IAMME website (IAMME became the sole Hague Convention accreditor in 2018) states this: “Nature of the Substantiated Violations: The Department of State temporarily debarred adoption service provider, European Adoption Consultants, Inc. (EAC) from accreditation on December 16, 2016, for a period of three years. As a result of this temporary debarment, EAC’s accreditation has been cancelled and it must immediately cease to provide all adoption services in connection with intercountry adoptions.

The Department found substantial evidence that the agency is out of compliance with the standards in subpart F of the accreditation regulations, and evidence of a pattern of serious, willful, or grossly negligent failure to comply with the standards and of aggravating circumstances indicating that continued accreditation of EAC would not be in the best interests of the children and families concerned.”

The FBI raided EAC in 2017, and the agency closed. Cole had founded EAC in 1991. EAC had worked in adoptions in Bulgaria, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Honduras, India, Panama, Tanzania, and Ukraine, in addition to Uganda and Poland.

According to federal court records, 574 named defendants got away with $200 million selling 8000 children over 40 years. Yet the State Dept continues to present a campaign against human trafficking, but does not include adoption trafficking. The State Dept does not define adoptions as force fraud and coercion as they do for human trafficking. They never connect their own dots. The problem is that adoption trafficking isn’t illegal. Only trafficking for sex or slavery. Agencies like EAC knew this as well as how hard it is to prosecute cases – and plenty of adoptive parents just didn’t care either as long as they got the kids they wanted.

It’s so sad that the department of state has been aware of this type of corruption, orphans are being “created” through fraud and deception for the purpose of adoption, and for years and years this has been happening. The US authorities have looked the other way. Factual complaints have been filed on case after case, there has been investigation after investigation, authors have researched and books have been published, outlining the crimes and those involved, many articles have been written and testimony given, the news is given coverage with major networks, and yet still, charges towards those involved fail to achieve justice.

There is still no accountability for those who have lied, coerced, and trafficked children for the purpose of adoption. The agencies and the identities of directors and staff, as well as those they chose to work with in another country, are no secret to the US authorities, both federal and state. Yet, most all of these people walk free and live their lives with ease. But for the children and first mothers involved, some will face irreparable physical damage, and emotional trauma forever. For the adoptive families, emotional and financial damage continues.

One person noted that they knew this had happened to an innocent mother and her children in Guatemala. And also to her own family around 2006,..and here we are,…still talking about it. Nothing seems to ever change when evil intent is afoot. With international, transracial adoptions everything is cleansed and purified. Any wrong doing is raised to a level of calm speculation and cool logic. The horror of it all never dwells on the harm done to the victims. At worst, some will admired the shape of the argument, never shuddering at the distortion caused by the criminal mind. The end justifies the means . . .

Almost Never Acceptable

It’s very hard to understand why ANYONE would choose to take another mom’s (or dad’s) child either through adoption or by becoming a foster caregiver. The only acceptable path I see is true kinship, when their parents are dead, ie they are orphans (both of my parents were adoptees and I thought they were orphans when I was a child – I was totally ignorant that biological family existed and was living lives unknown to me). Other than that, no possible excuse.

So here are some questions for adoptive parents and foster caregivers to contemplate: How do you not see what an absolutely horrible thing this is to do? Have we as humans become so blind that we see taking another mother’s child as a good thing? Where is the accountability for adoptive parents and foster caregivers since they are contributors to this huge problem of family separation? Why are we constantly talking about the best interest of the child and not the best interest of the family? Do adults who lose their children not count as well?

A better choice is guardianship and not adoption – if there are children who have arrived in your home, who aren’t able to be with their first/birth family. Allowing them their identity and knowledge of their genetic family.

One should feel absolutely sick to their stomach, if they’ve built their own ‘motherhood’ on another woman’s brokenness and loss. How cruel and selfish, to be so focused on your infertility loss, that you failed to see the other humans in your family’s picture.

No one advocates kids being abused. 

Our society needs to be doing something before a crisis sets in. Maybe the parents need support and some intervention but this should occur WAY before it becomes necessary to remove children from their natural home. Maybe those parents didn’t have a good role model, to show them how to parent properly. Without a role model for how it is done, it can really be an impossible task. Maybe if, as a society, we didn’t leave so many parents unsupported, there would be no need for adoptive parents and foster caregivers.

I know that this sounds very utopian. The challenge is actually translating this into the real world solutions. So how would real world people make a difference for families where the children have been separated from their parents for apparently valid reasons involving the child’s welfare? Here are some ideas related to foster care . . .

The social end goal for that situation is reunification of the children with their parents. There are a lot of steps along the way. Weekly urine analysis requirements, parenting classes, drug counseling, therapy, visits/phone calls with kids, parents needing housing, a job, education, showing up to court.

As a foster parent your job should be to walk along side the parents as an additional support to them in their own efforts. You can’t make anyone do anything, but you can support them, encourage them and remind them of the ultimate goal. You can help pay for those weekly urine analysis requirements, if $10 a week is too much. You can help them get signed up for parenting classes, you can drive them to parenting classes. You can help them find a drug program and get started with therapist. You can provide transportation and support after those sessions. You can go to court and support them and advocate for them. You can help them get to visits, or call them instead of waiting for them to call. You can help by providing resources for housing/jobs. Transportation, if needed.

And then after you’ve helped, you’ve taught them a lot about where to access the resources they need. You’ve shown them what they can do for themselves. And now, they may have many of the skills they need to be successful. You’ve lead them to goal by supporting them and making them feel safe that you aren’t only there to take their children away. Now they can find their own way to parenting their children properly.

And the inconvenient truth is this – too many foster parents flat out refuse to spend any time with the children’s parents or even talk to them because they look down on them as inferior and damaged and not worthy of help. Yes, it is true that some children’s parents are not safe, but it is more true that most of these parents simply need some help to be safe.

When A Mother Doesn’t Want Her Child

Today’s adoptee story (not my own story) – Being adopted is having all of your rights stripped from you the minute you take a breath and become declared a human. That was my case. I had what is called a closed adoption.

There are many reasons people put their child up for adoption. Some women are coerced. Some have their children stolen. Some women just don’t want their child. That was me.

My birth mother named me, wrote down all of the non-identifying information about herself, her parents, my birth father, and his parents, and walked away to a fresh new start.

She had the child. She didn’t abort it. Many would agree that makes her a born again saint.

This is where no one wants to admit that the child will probably have many problems. That child was just given your epigenetics. The feelings you had while pregnant are now part of who that child is.

As for my mother, we have to assume things because she never used her words because she would never meet me or speak to me. She made me a living abortion by never having any responsibility or accountability for her actions. I assume she felt shame, guilt, embarrassment, anger, anxiety, and depression.

When my sisters and cousins met me, everyone said how much I looked like my mother and acted like her.

My emotions were torn.

I had always wanted to look and act like my family. Now I do, and the woman that gave birth to me is also the cause of my trauma. I wanted to rip my DNA out of my body.

I had suffered from anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation for most of my life. I had been given Prozac and Zoloft when I was in my mid 20’s. They caused me extreme pain in the back of my head. I came off of them and took an overdose of muscle relaxers one night and ended up in a psych ward over the weekend.

When I met with the doctor, he told me the prescriptions would have killed me had I not stopped taking them. I was having a reaction because of my low blood pressure. I did see a psychologist a few times after that, but it wasn’t any help.

I spent many years thinking I was fine after that. I had also learned not to let anyone really know what I was thinking after that.

I was in what is known as the “fog.” I went on with my life. I worked a lot and drank. I thought if I just stayed ahead of what I felt, I was ok.

The pain from adoption is there, whether we admit it or not. You can see it in people’s eyes when you say you’re adopted. They get that I’m sorry look. With so many people aware of the trauma adoption causes, you would think it would change.

As for me, I am doing everything I can now, to fix my epigenetics from my mother.

Being Charitable

What are you actually saying to your adopted child as an adoptive parent about what your motives were ?  There are cases – I suppose – like true orphans.  However, among the thoughts about reforming adoption in general, instead of buying a baby to raise as your own, is the radical idea of helping the mother in danger of losing her child.  Her crime may simply be lacking the financial means to raise that child.

Clearly, if you can plunk out tens of thousands of dollars to obtain another woman’s baby, you could go very far in your ability to charitably help keep a baby and mother together.  Sadly that is not the kind of thinking that motivates most adoptive couples.  Most are self-absorbed, only thinking about what it is they desire, and rarely considering the emotional price and mental anguish someone else (and often more than one someone else – the original mother, the adoptee, any subsequent siblings) will have to bear for you to fulfill your personal desire.

You will be held accountable for every decision you make regarding adoption.

Don’t you think your adoptees will have enough sense to realize that in 9 out of 10 cases you could have helped their parents keep them vs adopting them ? Do you think you’ll never be asked this question or held accountable ? In cases where infertility was the reason for adopting (as most cases actually are), don’t you think these children will have enough sense to realize they were your second choice ?

It is still a rather new perspective and some adoptive parents have been able to own the facts and own their culpability in the messed up institution of adoption.  What is done is done but things could be done better going into the future and that is why the idea of raising awareness and talking about ways that would be more life and family affirming is happening now.

If you do want to understand adoption trauma, then here it is – I have seen this for myself in an adoption triad group with thousands of members (all 3 sides of the adoption equation) – there really are a lot of very angry adoptees.  Ask yourself, why is that, if adoption is such a perfect answer to everyone’s problems ?

For adoptees unfortunate enough to have been the victim of a shady adoption, the truth will probably come out in this modern day and time (much of that kind of story did not come out during Georgia Tann’s illicit 3 decades long scandal from the 1920s up until 1950).  There will be damage that you (as an adoptee) may or may not ever be able to repair.  The damage is deep – and comes out in bits and pieces – and in ways that are not always obviously related to the adoption directly.

 

National Infant Adoption Reform Act

There is more than one effort and while none of them have succeeded completely, awareness means that improvements will continue to progress, or so I do want to believe.

One women’s story –

Losing my son to an unnecessary adoption has been devastating. A part of me died, and my children have been traumatized by being unnecessarily separated. It has given me insight into the billion dollar industry of infant adoption. I have been driven to bring awareness to the injustice of coercive persuasion that exists today. There is no accountability and no consequences when an adoption professional participates in coercion of a mother in crisis. Adoption so often is a permanent decision made by a resourceless, overwhelmed mother facing more often than not temporary crisis. This was my situation.

All I needed was someone to tell me to take my son home from the hospital and to really sit down and eliminate and/or break down the obstacles I felt I was facing. If mothers are given support to not feel she has to make a decision before leaving the hospital is imperative to give the mother time to bond with her child and her hormones time to level off. I have done exactly this with over 50 mothers and showed them that what they were facing was temporary and did not warrant a permanent, lifelong, traumatic separation for both herself and her infant. It has been life-changing for all of them, and they are so very grateful.

No mother should be in contact with any adoption professional prior to the birth of her child. Pre-birth anything creates obligation and focus is taken off the mother and her child and the very special experience of childbirth. Money needs to come out of adoption. It will eliminate adoption fraud, it will eliminate coercive persuasion that paying ‘expenses’ for a pregnant mother in crisis creates. No mother should be able to sign any relinquishment papers until she is 6-8 weeks post partum, and has been cleared of post partum depression. A mother is considered ‘disabled’ for weeks by insurance companies after having a child, yet a mother in crisis is expected to make a permanent lifelong decision hours after going through one of the most wonderfully beautiful and traumatic times in her life. This needs to change. Mother’s need support and families need protection.

To read a proposed bill to reform adoption, go here –

http://www.adoptionbirthmothers.com/adoption/niara-national-infant-adoption-reform-act/