Ugandan Adoptee Reunion

From an article in Intercountry Adoptee Voices by Jessica Davis. She is an American adoptive mother of a Ugandan daughter, who successfully returned to her daughter back to her Ugandan family. She is also a co-founder of Kugatta which brings families together who are impacted by Ugandan intercountry adoption.

Jessica writes – Every year I think I will not cry and it will not hurt as deeply as it once did. But each time I see all what was almost permanently taken from Namata, the pain returns just as deep (if not deeper) than the first time when I realized what I had participated in — and what needed to be done. I still have extended family members who refuse to admit that reuniting her with her Ugandan family was the RIGHT and JUST thing to do.

There are many people that believe it is okay to take children from LOVING families if these families are poor, living in the “wrong” country, practicing the “wrong” religion, or for a number of other irrational reasons. It is incredible how much money, time and resources contributes to the separation of families who should never be separated in the first place.

I will never stop speaking out against the wrongs being perpetuated within the intercountry adoption system. I won’t stop fighting for those that have been exploited by this system and I will certainly never forget the amazing little girl that came into my life and taught me to do better. As much as I miss her, my heartache pales in comparison to the joy I feel seeing her home with her family and thriving.

We did everything “right”. We used a highly rated adoption agency, followed all of the proper protocols and procedures and reported everything that was wrong as we discovered it. In fact, even though it has been proven our adoption agency was corrupt, Namata’s paperwork was fabricated, the Ugandan judge was bribed, the embassy interview showed Namata’s mother did not understand what adoption was and we were not told this at the time, our adoption of Namata from Uganda was and still is considered LEGAL. What does this tell you about intercountry adoption?

Namata didn’t get to go home because it was the right and just thing to do. Serena’s rights being violated and Namata’s best interests ignored were irrelevant by those that should have cared. The reason Namata got to go home and be reunited with her family was because Adam and I refused to accept that this was all okay or “for the better”.

Rarely do I hear anyone express concern for these injustices or what has been lost, rather people use good intentions gone awry to ignore these realities and press on as if nothing wrong has occurred.

If people won’t listen or can’t understand the problem at hand, maybe they will SEE it when they look at this family and realize all that was almost lost and there was literally NO reason for it at all.

Jessica did her research.  Due to her findings, Jessica appealed to the authorities for an investigation into the American adoption agency, European Adoptions Consultants, Inc. (EAC) that had facilitated this adoption (I wrote about them in yesterday’s blog). As a result of that investigation, EAC was debarred and as of August 2019, one of their employees pled guilty to federal charges of visa fraud, wire fraud and bribing Ugandan judges and other officials in order to facilitate illegal adoptions abroad.

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 . . .

Ro Razavi

My favorite thing to do while driving to my weekly grocery shopping each week is to listen to the Classic Rock Cafe on 93.1 out of Perryville MO hosted by Zav. At the end of his shift, he went on a proud parent rant about his son, Ro Razavi.

I am always surprised at how many people have adoption somewhere in their families. Zav adopted Ro Razavi from Vietnam when he was 6 years old. His adoptive father’s pride on how this young man has shined so brightly as a golfer was obvious. He is a junior in an O’Fallon Missouri high school, maintaining a 3.38 GPA.

The reason for Zav’s happy rant was that his son has just signed a 4 year golfing scholarship at Chaminade University in Honolulu Hawaii.

Ro has competed on the Varsity golf team at Liberty High School since his freshman year and will be the top player on the squad this upcoming year. Ro also plays a steady schedule of Gateway PGA Jr tour events and has accumulated 27 junior tour wins and was awarded the 2018 Gateway Jr Tour Player of the Year honors.

Ro is an extremely hard worker and is constantly striving to improve both his golf game and in the classroom working diligently on his academics. He also has great leadership skills and is a great listener. While playing golf at the collegiate, he intends to pursue a degree in Business and Marketing.

Since 1999, Americans have adopted a total of 5,578 Vietnamese children, making Vietnam the third most popular East Asian adoption destination after South Korea (19,370) and China (71,632), Department of State figures show. But for decades, the overseas adoption process in Vietnam has been colored by stories of fraud, deception and human trafficking.

Vietnamese adoptions plummeted to zero by 2011, according to the US Department of State. This was the result of a US ban on Vietnamese adoptions in 2008, stemming from concerns that documents were being altered, mothers coerced into giving up their children, and children being put up for adoption without their parents’ knowledge. This young man would have been adopted in approx 2005 or 2006, so before the ban.

On September 16 2014, the US and Vietnam lifted the ban, allowing adoptions of children with special needs, those who are five and older and those who are part of a sibling group, according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

3,300 Vietnamese children who were part of 1975’s Operation Babylift, which sent orphans from war-torn Vietnam to western families in Europe, Australia and the United States. While touted as a humanitarian campaign, the operation had its critics, who alleged that the US-led effort was a public relations stunt designed to re-brand America’s sullied image after a protracted war. Questions emerged about whether many of the orphans were really orphans at all, or children unwillingly plucked from the homes of Vietnamese families, who felt forced to relinquish them.

There have been camps for Vietnamese adoptees at Estes Park CO (sponsored by Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families) that had been held each summer before the pandemic to allow these children to have contact with others like them. It appears that in person camps will be returning for the summer of 2022.

Heritage Camps have a focus of supporting transcultural/transracial adoptive families. We connect adoptive families with authentic cultural experiences, providing positive representations that affirm the inherent worth of a child’s birth culture through fun, age-appropriate, interactive activities, and cultural/racial “mirrors” — camp counselors and presenters from adoptees’ birth cultures.

Messed Up Perspectives

“My door is open for your baby (even at 3 a.m. I’ll take your baby so this doesn’t have to be a choice)(and I won’t say your name) I will even go to a different state to save your baby. Just message me if you don’t want your baby…

I look at the news. I recently saw the negligence suffered by a 4-Month-old boy. The baby passed away from lack of nutrition and dehydration. They also found worms in his diaper… another baby was rescued from a plastic Walmart bag… many babies dying… one child’s death due to negligence is too much!

For anyone who has a baby or is pregnant with one who doesn’t want the baby because you are too far along to get an abortion… my door is always open! Before you decide that the only option is to throw your baby in the trash, don’t do it! Bring that baby to my door. I promise, no questions will be asked or judgments passed. I’ll give you my address and my family will welcome your baby with open arms.

Note: leave the birth notice sheet so I can register your baby as my baby

Also hospitals, police stations and firefighters are other options. Leave the baby in the right hands and get away. No charges will be filed. Strength is to ask for help. The strength is to put another one before yourself. There’s help.

This is a safe place for your baby.

Okay, so let’s break down what isn’t right about the thinking here.

First, this isn’t a way to promote yourself to adopt a baby.

Second, if you found a baby or a woman left her baby on your door step you have to call the police. You will get in trouble with the law if you don’t. Especially going to a different state with the baby that’s kidnapping.

Third, you will not adopt the baby. The baby will go into foster care and the police will investigate the situation. Not every baby was abandoned by their mom or mom doesn’t want her baby. Sometimes babies are kidnapped or mom is in danger. Sometimes they find dad to take the baby because he might not know he has a child.

Fourth, infanticide is very different. Women who kill their babies often have mental health issues and disassociate from their pregnancy. These women wouldn’t necessarily leave their babies at a fire station or your home.

Fifth, I see a lot of these posts focus on the person writing it, not the baby or mom. Safe haven laws don’t exist for people to adopt. Safe haven doesn’t mean no questions asked or adoption. It doesn’t mean no charges filed or the parents will not be found. Safe haven isn’t a way for a hopeful adoptive parent to adopt. Asking a woman to list your husband as the father or register her baby to you is fraud.

The Story of Haitian Adoptions

God’s Littlest Angels, an orphanage in Pétionville, Haiti

Since the subject has come up, I thought I would look into this.  The January 12 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti’s capitol set off an international adoption bonanza in which some safeguards meant to protect children were ignored.

The current Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett adopted John Peter, now age 13, was adopted by her in 2010 when he was 3 years old, after the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  Ibram X. Kendi tweeted, “Some White colonizers ‘adopted’ Black children. They ‘civilized’ these ‘savage’ children in the ‘superior’ ways of White people, while using them as props in their lifelong pictures of denial, while cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity. And whether this is Barrett or not is not the point. It is a belief too many White people have: if they have or adopt a child of color, then they can’t be racist.”

John Lee Brougher from the NextGen America PAC tweeted, “As an adoptee, I need to know more about the circumstances of how Amy Coney Barrett came to adopt her children, and the treatment of them since. Transracial adoption is fraught with trauma and potential for harm.”  And I really hoped that Trump would have picked the judge from Florida that was on the short list for diversity reasons but I knew he didn’t care one whit about diversity.  He does care about the Evangelicals (many of whom promote international adoptions) and their desire for ultra-conservative judges.  From that perspective, of course Coney Barrett was a given and that has proven out.  A group of Evangelicals were reported in the Oval office the morning before the official announcement.

The Obama administration responded to BOTH the crisis and to the pleas of prospective adoptive parents and the lawmakers assisting them, by lifting visa requirements for children in the process of being adopted by Americans.

Although initially planned as a short-term, small-scale evacuation, the rescue effort quickly evolved into a baby lift unlike anything since the Vietnam War. It went on for months; fell briefly under the cloud of scandal involving 10 Baptist missionaries who improperly took custody of 33 children; ignited tensions between the United States and child protection organizations; and swept up about 1,150 Haitian children, more than were adopted by American families in the previous three years, according to interviews with government officials, adoption agencies and child advocacy groups.

Under humanitarian parole, adoptions were expedited regardless of whether children were in peril, and without the screening required to make sure they had not been improperly separated from their relatives or placed in homes that could not adequately care for them.

Some Haitian orphanages were nearly emptied, even though they had not been affected by the quake or licensed to handle adoptions. Children were released without legal documents showing they were orphans and without regard for evidence suggesting fraud. In at least one case, two siblings were evacuated even though American authorities had determined through DNA tests that the man who had given them to an orphanage was not a relative.

I’m sure there will be more about these circumstances in the coming days.  To inform yourself about the matter, you can read about the free for all Haitian adoptions after the 2010 earthquake in the New York Times – “After Haiti Quake, the Chaos of U.S. Adoptions“.

Adoption Fraud In Today’s World

If ever anyone wondered about money being the driving force in adoptions, fraud continues to happen in our modern times.  It is not just the Georgia Tann scandal of the 1950s that affects my own family.

A government official in Arizona is being charged in an international adoption fraud scheme that involves human smuggling, the sale of children and communications fraud involving more than one state here in the US.  The activity was uncovered when concerned hospital workers called the human trafficking tip line.

The alleged criminal transported more than 40 pregnant Marshallese women into Utah over the last three years.  He is also an adoption lawyer by profession, licensed in Utah and Arizona. He helped pregnant women travel from the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific Ocean to Arizona for the sole purpose of relinquishing their children after birth and placing them for adoption.  The women then return to the Marshall Islands.

This activity violates an agreement called the Compact of Free Association enacted in the early 2000s between the U.S. and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which bars Marshallese citizens from entering the US if their travel is solely for the purpose of giving their baby up for adoption. Unregulated international adoptions exploit the biological mothers’ cultural understanding of what they are participating in.  Many women from the Marshall Islands are willing to allow their children to be adopted by US citizens with the intention that their children will benefit from better education opportunities.  They expect their child to return to them as an adult.

An adoption through the alleged criminal’s adoption practice costs the prospective adoptive couple $30,000 to $40,000.  Sadly, a quick google search reveals that a huge variety of fraud schemes utilizing adoption continues to flourish in our modern times.