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 In December 2016, the State Department debarred EAC, and their Hague accreditation status was revoked.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 . . .

Exploitation

I’m reading this morning about the surrogacy baby factories in India in the current issue of Time magazine. I personally know of more than one family who has acquired their child using surrogacy. I’m not a fan. Learning about the in utero mother baby bond has done it for me. Separating the baby from its gestational mother creates trauma in the child.

Both India and Africa are hot beds in the trade of women’s bodies to create babies for their intended families. There is also surrogacy in the United States. Always it is a matter of poverty and money.

One poor woman writes – she went to the clinic to live out her pregnancy because she was worried that being pregnant while divorced would subject her to malicious rumors. “If I tell anyone, they think that I am going to give away my own child. They don’t understand that I am simply giving my womb on rent.” Still, as far as that baby in her womb is concerned – it IS her own child.

I do have sympathy and compassion for the poor women who turn to surrogacy as their only method of creating revenue. This is a difficult situation. Without a doubt, commercial surrogacy takes advantage of low income women. I do not believe that making only Altruistic Surrogacy legal is the answer as it does not address the poverty that drives woman to provide their wombs in service to prospective parents. It will likely only drive the practice underground. A 9 month long commitment is a huge demand on any woman’s life.

Legal protection is needed – for both the surrogates and the intended parents. There needs to be medical insurance for the surrogates and a minimum amount of compensation for the time they are devoting. Don’t get me wrong – I still do not favor surrogacy. However, I am being realistic about the financial circumstances that drive a woman to agree to this. Banning the procedure will not work any better than it has worked for banning alcohol or illicit drugs. One needs to look at the source of what is motivating the behavior – poverty and desperation.

Sital Kalantry is a clinical professor at Cornell Law School and has written extensively about surrogacy. She worries about the lack of informed consent and notes that many of the women are unable to read the contracts, which are written in English, and they sign them using a thumbprint. The clinic highlighted in the Time magazine article has a C-Section rate of 70%. It probably is safer for the fetus than a vaginal birth but it is definitely more convenient for the doctor (your blog author raises her hand that she has had 2 C-Sections – these were said to avoid transmission of the hepC virus she co-exists with). And it is more convenient for the intended parents because they know when to pick up their baby.

A ban on commercial surrogacy in India will only send the practice underground. The conditions for the surrogates will be worse and it will still be in effect unregulated. Underground the surrogates will have no protections whatsoever. An example is China – despite commercial surrogacy being banned there – it is estimated that more than 10,000 children a year are still being born through that process.

You can read the entire Time magazine article here – India’s Ban on Commercial Surrogacy.

The Quiet Work Behind The Scenes

Not long ago, I posted that my favorite “everything adoption” Facebook group had closed down. Thankfully, it was very brief and re-opened with new administrators. I think the long time ones had simply grown weary because it is a very active group and it can seem like the same issues over and over but in truth, everyone’s story is unique. Today, I would like to share the testimonial of a woman for whom joining the group made a difference in her choices and decisions. Like her, I didn’t see anything wrong with adoption when I first joined the group because it was so much a part of my life since birth. Not that I was adopted but both of my parents were. And each of my sisters gave up a baby for adoption (both of whom I am very happy to say I “know” at least somewhat in person today).

Here’s what the woman had to say of this amazing group of passionate, dedicated and loving people –

Hi there,

Just wanted to say that this group does matter. My husband and I naively thought that adoption was our answer to “completing our family.”

I grew up in a community where foster kids were adopted into families and everyone would cheer about the parents completing their families. It was normal to watch growing up. I honestly had never heard of anything negative when it came to adoption.

We have 2 boys. I was always told I couldn’t have children. It’s still shocking to think that I have 2 children now. We are incredibly blessed.

My pregnancies were both extremely high risk and my husband didn’t want us to try to go for our final, 3rd baby since he was worried about mine and the baby’s safety. We were going to adopt from India and even got as far as a home study. I’m happy to say we will now be trying for #3 with approval from our OB in a year instead of going through with the adoption.

I joined this group, sat and read, and really listened. I showed him posts speaking against adoption. About the trauma people have endured from adoption. How children adopted from other countries lost their entire culture and identity, and we both have agreed because of this group, how morally we would not be able to sleep at night if we went through with the adoption.

I’m not going to lie, at first I got defensive reading things. Like oh, I’m a good mom that wouldn’t happen, or that would never be us though. We would be different. I am a great mom to my boys, but taking a child away from their birth parents, guardian, or the only people they know would not make me a good example for my children.

This is me not looking for praise, but admitting that I was wrong. This is me owning my mistakes and looking deeply at myself, and what was my own selfish wants. This is me saying thank you to this group and that your voices do matter. They did for our family. I now know better, can do better, and be a better example for my boys. Thank you.

Good Intentions, Broken Promises

I can’t even begin to count all of the sad stories I have read about open adoptions that don’t stay open. So many original mothers, who surrendered their baby for one reason or another, with expectations of continued contact, at the least photos and updates, who discover too late that they’ve been dismissed by the adoptive parents.

Here’s today’s story –

Her son is 4 and a half. She gave him up for adoption at birth to what she believed were the perfect adoptive parents. They promised her they’d keep her updated with pictures, texts, phone calls, etc. She just wanted to remain a part of her son’s life at a distance. She didn’t want to steal their thunder. She just wanted to know something about her son as he grows up but always intended to respect the adoptive parent’s relationship. The adoptive parents agreed to that expectation of the original mother.

They knew her situation, which was that she was single mom with 3 children to support. She had zero family to help her. She simply couldn’t afford another baby. Her son’s father (she also has a daughter by him) is from India. She knew he’d never be a part of his son’s life, as he isn’t even involved with his daughter.

Within a month of giving them her son, they stopped all communication. They won’t respond to any of her texts.

She is beside herself and doesn’t know what to do. She signed 50 pages of documents at the hospital, in a tiny room with 15 other people present as witnessed. They rushed her to sign the papers without giving her any time to read what she was signing first. They even had a taxi waiting outside for her and told her she needed to hurry up. She doesn’t have no clue what she signed.

She is at a loss as to what she can do now. Her son will be 5 in May. He has black hair, black eyes and beautiful golden skin. He doesn’t look anything like his adoptive parents, so it is likely he’s going to ask questions. She doesn’t want to step on any toes or ruin anyone’s relationship.

She just wants them to keep up their end of the deal. She admits that giving him up was the hardest decision she ever made. She only wants to be able to see his pictures. See how he’s doing in pre-Kindergarten. She just wants to know her son is alright.

She adds – “I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink. I don’t party. I’m a trauma bay RN and at the time, single mom struggling to feed my 3 kids and keep a home for them. I refused an abortion. I wanted my son to live a good life and accomplish something. I’m now engaged to a wonderful man that knows my struggle.”

This is a cautionary tale for any woman who is pregnant and contemplating giving her baby up for adoption because she has a set of prospective adoptive parents promising they will keep her updated. I’ve seen too many of these stories of the adoptive parents then closing communication. This woman ends her story with “How I wish I could go back in time and change my decision.”

Adoptee Citizenship Act

I didn’t realize this was a problem until tonight.  The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 awarded citizenship retroactively to what advocates estimated were more than 100,000 international adoptees under 18 who were already in the country when it went into effect in February 2001.  Today, children who are adopted from abroad by US citizens generally receive automatic citizenship, and adoption agencies and embassies are better at informing parents about any follow-up they need to do.

There are estimated to still be tens of thousands of people who were adopted internationally by American parents between the 1950s and 1980s but never naturalized.  They are in effect stateless.  They are also potentially deportable to countries they don’t even remember.

The Adoptee Citizenship Act is proposed federal legislation that would grant citizenship to anyone who was adopted by a U.S. citizen regardless of when they turned 18. It would also allow those who have been deported to return to the United States. U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (MO), Mazie Hirono (HI), Susan Collins (ME), and Amy Klobuchar (MN) introduced the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2019.  A Virtual Rally will take place on Twitter on Wednesday, September 23rd at 2pm EST because HR2731 has still not passed the House.  #Citizenship4Adoptees

Widespread adoption of children abroad by US citizens began in South Korea in the 1950s after the Korean War and then spread to other countries. It was initially less regulated than it is now.  Advocates estimate there could be up to 18,000 from South Korea alone in this situation, along with an undetermined number from countries such as Venezuela, Germany, India, Guatemala, Vietnam and Iran.

Growing up, they were able to obtain Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses. Before the 1990s and early 2000s ushered in a stricter era of screening, many even received US passports, served in the US military and voted — unaware that they were not citizens.

Marginalizing Adoptee Voices

This meme by a PRO-adoption group is meant to diminish the reality of adoptees by suggesting their lives could have been worse.  Maybe their lives could have been worse but that does not mean they have to be grateful for what they lost.

This is an apples to oranges comparison –  like saying the kid with the broken legs at the hospital can’t complain because the kid next door has cancer.  We can be grateful things aren’t worse for us but that does not mean we are grateful for the wounds we suffer either.

Its not a competition. They are two separate, traumatic situations. Comparing unlike situations does not serve either of them.

The person who originally posted this meme is an adoptive parent who is attempting to co-opt the adoptee experience by starting a propaganda campaign in support of adoption.  You would NOT believe how MANY adoption related groups are listed at Facebook.  This group Adoption & Samfund Ungdom is Danish (I am 25%).

Here is a blurb in English from their page –

“Finally a Facebook page on adoptees who are glad they are adopted. I am thankful to God for all the good things I have in my life, including simple things like food, clothes, shelter and good health and I teach my adoptive children to be thankful to God (NOT thankful to me) for these too. I am happy there are many adoptees who are quite normal unlike the crazy businessman Arun Dohle who makes huge money out of adoptees.”

I would wish to note here that Arun Dohle was adopted by a German couple from an Indian orphanage.  Like many adoptees, he started to search for his roots in his late teens. The Indian orphanage did not want to provide access to his file. Arun addressed his issue through the Indian Courts.  It took him 17 years to finally obtain access to the desired information.  It should NOT have to be so hard.

My own mom tried to get her adoption file from the state of Tennessee and was rejected in the early 1990s.  I finally received her full file in 2017 after her death (not that she had to die to get this – she was never informed that the law in Tennessee was changed in the late 1990s that would have allowed her to receive it – more the tragedy really).

I simply want to make this clear.  An adoptee can be grateful for their blessings and still have deep traumatic wounds from the realities of their adoption.  I seriously have a problem with making adoption about God, even though I have a deep spirituality that connects me to my own creator.