Wednesday, June 30, 2010

USDOS: Kazakhstan Adoption Alert


Adoption Alert

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

June 29, 2010

In May 2010, the Kazakhstani Embassy in Washington and Consulate General in New York stopped accepting new intercountry adoption dossiers. The Kazakhstani government said this policy on new adoption cases will remain in effect until the Hague Adoption Convention (the Convention) enters into force for Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has indicated that it intends to enact its implementing legislation by September 2010. Kazakhstan will then need to issue Convention regulations before the Convention enters into force, so it is unclear when new adoptions will be processed there.

The Kazakhstani government has informed the Department of State that it will continue to process any cases for which the Kazakhstani Embassy or Consulate General had sent the prospective adoptive parents’ dossiers to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by May 25, 2010. These will be considered transition (“non-Hague” or Form I-600) cases; the policy on new cases will not affect the processing of these adoptions. For more information, you may wish to check the Kazakhstani Embassy’s adoption Web pages.

At this time, prospective adoptive parents should not attempt to initiate any new adoptions in Kazakhstan. The Kazakhstani government will not process any new “non-Hague” or Form I-600 cases. Additionally, since the Convention has not entered into force for Kazakhstan, USCIS cannot process a Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, where the applicants indicate their intention to adopt a child from Kazakhstan.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PEAR's Response to "The Baby Business"

The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism asked a number of experts, practitioners, and advocates in international adoption to respond to “The Baby Business,” Democracy Journal, Summer 2010 by E. J. Graff. You may read all the responses .

This is PEAR's response:

It is an unfortunate truth that international adoption is plagued by corruption. We appreciate E.J. Graff’s coverage of the issues leading to corrupt practices and her well-thought-out solutions. Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR) appreciates the opportunity to share our comments. As an organization dedicated to reforming adoption law and policy, we would like to focus our comments on the eight proposed improvements to international adoption.

Our current system of adoption policy and regulation is too often reactionary rather than preventative, increasing the risk of corruption and adoption failure. PEAR believes that by requiring federal licensing/accreditation and oversight of agencies; criminalizing the purchase and sale of children for adoption; and severely curtailing fees by limiting to them to true costs for services and eliminating mandatory donations, international adoption has the best chance of becoming ethical and transparent.

1. Prohibition against cash transfers.

PEAR agrees that prohibiting cash transactions in payment for adoption-related services can go a long way to eliminating corrupt practices. Eliminating cash transactions and requiring receipts for all payments as well as requiring adopting parents to provide a sworn accounting during their I600 process would help clean up corruption on the foreign side of the adoption process. Untraceable sums can delay or prevent investigative bodies from connecting the perpetrators to any child-trafficking crime.

2. Hold U.S. adoption agencies accountable for all their overseas partners’ actions.

PEAR believes that adoption agencies need to be responsible for the actions of their overseas providers whether they are “supervised” or “unsupervised” under U.S. State Department regulations.

That all agencies do not thoroughly investigate documents submitted by independent parties, which can identify irregular documentation, promote the reunification of children with their families of origin, and eventually prevent the improper separation of children from their families, is unconscionable.

Fraudulent documentation—either declaring an identified child as an unknown abandoned child, or with falsified birth parent information—has been proven in Vietnam1, Cambodia2, India3, Guatemala4, Nepal5, Samoa6, Ethiopia7, and China8. Adoptees are doubly victimized by these practices. First, they denied their natural right to be raised by their willing and capable birth families; second, they are robbed of the opportunity to find or know their birth family and medical histories due to the obliteration of their identities.

3. Third, limit and track adoptions’ overseas fees in more detail.

PEAR also believes that changes need to be made where there are mandatory donations required of adopting families. First, we disapprove of mandatory donations. We believe that mandatory fees create a dependency upon international adoption and encourage corruption in how children enter the adoption system. We also believe that these mandatory donations are unethical in that countries are charging a fee and being relieved of the financial obligation of raising parentless children. It is a win-win situation for the governments that often provides little benefit to the children residing in institutional care. However, as a realistic response to the existence of these fees, where these fees exist as part of a foreign government’s adoption law (such as in China), we believe that all “mandatory” donations should be payable through an NGO or government entity with full accountability for the disbursement of these funds.

Without any transparency about how much money goes directly to foreign governments and/or orphanages, PEAR is concerned that it becomes impossible to discover what percentage of adoption fees ever reaches its intended destination. It is imperative that there is complete transparency with all adoption fees, and that agencies disclose exactly where all adoption fees are spent.

4. Fourth, limit and track how much agencies can pay their overseas partners, workers, and independent contractors.

PEAR believes that fee transparency would prevent overcharging of clients. Financial gain from the large amount of untraceable in-country payments is the source of many “paper orphans.” Since these sums can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, far in excess of normal fees to child-welfare workers, corruption often soon follows. It is very difficult for those who are paid a pittance in difficult circumstances to resist the temptation of large amounts of cash, but child-welfare workers should not be motivated by profit to steal, purchase, or solicit children for placement.

5. Fifth, earmark some small amount of federal funds for CoA investigations.

PEAR believes that accrediting bodies need to be appropriately funded so they may thoroughly investigate agencies, their in-country partners, and the complaints submitted. They need to have funding beyond the application fees and adoption lobby support to do so. Otherwise, regulations are meaningless.

6. Sixth, inform the American public about individual adoption agencies’ records.
Pre-adoptive parents can be either unaware of the corruption in international adoption or in denial about it even when documented by media or other adoptive parents. Parents are hindered by the lack of unbiased and publicly provided information about the records and histories of agencies, their employees, and in-country partners. PEAR believes that the U.S. State Department should provide information about each agency’s history of orphan visa denials.

In addition, the State Department should require accrediting bodies (The Council on Accreditation and The Colorado Department of Human Services) to reveal the status of all accreditation applications. Currently, only approved and denied agencies are reported, not new, pending, or withdrawn applications. An agency’s application for accreditation can be pending for months or years, indicating potential issues, but this information is not publicly available.

Furthermore, under current COA practices, previously filed complaints are disregarded when reviewing a new accreditation application of a previously denied agency. This is counterproductive. Families need the ability to see the status of all applications so that they can file or re-file their complaints.

We also suggest that Congress amend the current regulations to allow public record of the reasons for denial of Hague accreditation. Under the current regulations, reasons for denial are kept confidential between the agency and the accrediting body. Prospective adoptive parents adopting from non-Hague countries and the public are kept in the dark as to the reasons for denial and often misled by denied agencies concerning the denials. It is impossible for prospective clients to make informed decisions about agency selection without having full information concerning the agency.

7. Seventh, enable the State Department to heighten the scrutiny of, or suspend accepting, an individual adoption agency’s visa applications from a particular country, whether that country is “Hague” or not.

The State Department should be expressly authorized by Congress to investigate adoptions by specific agencies, facilitators, or orphanages that have shown patterns of problems. The State Department should be able to restrict or eliminate orphan visas from agencies, facilitators, or orphanages known to have produced fraudulent documentation for visa applications. Problems or patterns should be publicly reported so that prospective parents can make informed choices. If adoption agency personnel or contractors have been associated with trafficking or other criminal behavior involving adoptee identity issues, the State Department should be required to inform U.S. citizens who used their services, even if the findings come many years after the adoptions took place.

Lastly, we believe that all immigrant orphan visas, not just Hague country visas, should go through State Department investigation prior to a family traveling overseas. We recognize that this limitation is in place because there is no agreement between the sending country and the U.S. which authorizes the State Department to investigate. We suggest that the U.S. enter into bilateral agreements with all non-Hague countries authorizing the State Department to investigate orphan status and visa eligibility prior to the adoption being finalized in-country.

8. Eighth, criminalize the purchase of children for international adoption.

PEAR believes that one of the most important steps to help eliminate corruption is to criminalize the purchase of children for international adoption. It seems intuitive that purchase of children for any purpose would be illegal, yet the trafficking or purchase of children for adoption in a non-Hague adoption is not illegal under current U.S. law. This oversight in U.S. laws must be corrected, and meaningful punishment instituted for individuals and organizations involved in such reprehensible behavior.

In addition, practices of soliciting children for adoption and tricking or coercing birth families into relinquishment should be criminalized. In the culture of some placing countries—particularly in Pacific Island9 and African nations10 —parents may not understand that adoption means the permanent legal severing of ties with their child.

In PEAR’s opinion, Lauryn Galindo11 in Cambodia, Scott & Karen Banks12 in Samoa, and others have received ludicrously light or negligible sentences after conviction of crimes connected to the trafficking of children. If potential adoption-trafficking charges were more severe—and were enforced by the courts—we believe that agencies and their facilitators would be less likely to be lured by greed or misguided intentions and would have to abide by higher ethical standards.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

1 U.S. Embassy Hanoi, Summary of Irregularities in Adoptions in Vietnam (April 25 2008).

2 United States of America vs Lauryn Galindo, Plea Agreement (June 23, 2004).

3 Rory Callinan, Stolen Children (Time August 21, 2008).

Asha Krishnakumar, The Adoption Market (Frontline, India, May 21, 2005).

4 Victoria Corderi, To Catch a Baby Broker (NBC Dateline, January 20, 2008).

Juan Carlos Llorca, US couple almost adopted stolen Guatemalan baby (AP July 31 2008).

Juan Carlos Llorca, To save adopted girl, Calif. couple gives her up (AP, November 22, 2008).

5 UNICEF and Terre des homes Foundation, Adopting: The Rights of the Child (2008).

6 Kirsten Stewart, U.S. families stunned and angry (Salt Lake Tribune, June 17, 2007).

Lisa Rosetta, Dreams of parents in two worlds shattered by scandal (Salt Lake Tribune. June 6, 2007).

7 John Nicol, Canadian parents raise concerns (CBC News, March 19, 2009).

Von Andrea Rexer, Kindergeld (Profil, January 19, 2009).

8 Barbara Demick, Chinese babies stolen by officials for foreign adoption (Los Angeles Times, September 20, 2009).

Peter S. Goodman, Stealing Babies for Adoption (Washington Post, March 12, 2006).

Barbara Demick, A family in China made babies their business (LA Times, January, 24, 2010).

Jimmy Wang, China's Kidnapped Children (New York Times, April 4 2009).

9 Jini L. Roby and Stephanie Matsumura, If I Give You My Child, Aren’t We Family? A Study of Birthmothers Participating in Marshall Islands - U.S. Adoptions (Adoption Quarterly Volume 5, Issue 4 June 2002).

Galvin Law, International Adoption–The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; A South Pacific Perspective, Samoa – The “Sending State". A Brief Outline of Customary Child Adoption Practices in Samoa (September 1, 2005).

10 Katharine Houreld, Africa adoptions clouded by uncertainty and confusion (South Coast Today, March 9, 2008).

Nadene Ghouri, Liberia: Children for Sale (BBC Crossing Continents, November, 13, 2008).

11 U.S. Department of Justice, Hawaiian resident sentenced to 18 months in prison in Cambodian adoption conspiracy (United States Attorney, Western District of Washington, November 19, 2004).

12 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Defendants sentenced in Samoan adoption scam (Feb 25, 2009).

Brett L. Tolman and Brett Parkinson, Sentencing Memorandum (United States District Court, District of Utah, Northern Division, Case No. 1:07-CR-19 DS, Feb, 24,2009).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Joint Statement by United States, Russia on Intercountry Adoption

Joint Statement by United States, Russia on Intercountry Adoption
U.S., Russia work toward entry into force of bilateral agreement

Office of the Press Secretary
June 24, 2010


We are convinced that all children have the right to grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding. Many children throughout the world are deprived of this natural right.

Every year, tens of thousands of children find loving parents through adoptions, including international adoptions. We honor those who have the generosity to welcome adopted children, in particular from other countries, into their families.

However, tragic incidents involving children adopted between our countries caused by the adoptive parents underscore the importance of ensuring reliable protections for the rights, safety, and well-being of adopted children. We are committed to doing everything in our power to achieve this.

In this regard, we have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to conclude a legally binding bilateral agreement on cooperation in the field of intercountry adoption. At our direction, experts from the United States and Russia have already been actively working on a draft, and they have informed us that they have made considerable progress in fulfilling this difficult task.

We will work together so that entry into force of this agreement as soon as possible would create an even stronger legal basis for adoption in the interests of children and families of both our countries.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Media: From Guatemala to Ethiopia

From Guatemala to Ethiopia: Shifts in Intercountry Adoption Leaves Ethiopia Vulnerable for Child Sales and Other Unethical Practices

Socmag (SW&SNetwork)
June 8, 2010

Karen Smith Rotabi, Richmond, Virginia (USA)
Excerpt, see full article:

"Ethiopia is estimated to have one of the largest populations of “orphaned” children in the world. Most recent statistics place that number at approximately five million (Ethiopian Ministry of Health, 2008). Caution must be taken when touting this number, though, as it includes both single and double orphans. This means that a large percentage of children included in this number actually have one living birth parent, thus placement in intercountry adoption might not be in their best interest, nor even appropriate to consider. In addition, the vast majority of these children are over the age of five and thus less considered less “adoptable” by those preferring an infant or toddler.

Unfortunately, Ethiopia has emerged as one of the most active “sending nations” in the world in 2009-2010 and the nation is not truly prepared. Problems regarding ensuring ethical practice in ICA will require careful consideration in the nation, specifically the prevention of child sales and theft. While there has been discussion about Ethiopia signing the Hague Convention, and in-country deliberations are taking place to assess what legal and systems changes are required for the Hague ratification to be possible, progress to date has been slow. A concern is that publicity about scandalous ICA practices might drive demand for reform rather than a more proactive or positive initiative that can be developed thoughtfully by the Ethiopian government. The question is, how long will it take and how many abuses of children’s rights will occur before appropriate action is taken?"

Editor's Note:The Social Work & Society Online News Magazine (SocMag) is a free access online only magazine that aims at establishing a political and socially critical information platform for international news in the realm of all professional fields of social services as well as social movements and NGOs. It offers a broad presentation of news, social reports, essays, country notes and commentaries referring to contemporary and controversial debates.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

PEAR has added Missouri to the State Directories of Adoption Resources

The Missouri Directory of Adoption Resources for use pre- or post-adoption has been released from our third series of Midwest states. You can freely download the pdf at

Each directory is divided into 4 sections:

Health contains Early Intervention information and licensed practitioner listings. Each listing has a designation for specialty or service. See the index at the beginning of each document for definitions. Residential Treatment Centers are included here.

Education contains tutoring, remediation, specialized schools & interventions by non-licensed practitioners.

Bureaucracy contains information about (details vary by state):
•Apostilles & Authentications
•Better Business Bureau
•Criminal background checks
•Recognition of foreign birth, delayed certificate of birth, and/or readoption
•Filing complaints
•Hague Convention information (due diligence and complaints)
•Licensed agency list or checks
•License checks for health professionals
•Medicaid waiver
•State statutes on adoption
•Social Security offices/how to obtain card
•State adoption subsidy
•Vital records (birth, marriage & divorce cert.)

Support contains state-based support groups, web-support, and organizations. Respite care is also included here.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

USCIS UPDATE: Haiti, Special Processes for Children Brought in Under Humanitarian Parole

The USCIS has created a special webpage for families who brought children to the US under the Special Humanitarian Parole Program. The webpage contains directions for obtaining US citizenship based on three catagories of DHS parole and is meant to help clarify the process for adopting/adoptive families. Please visit the USCIS website for further information:

or use this Tiny Url:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

MEDIA: Russia's Medvedev to sign international adoption accord

The Christian Science Monitor has reported the following:

When Russian President Medvedev visits Washington this week, he will sign a new agreement on international adoption.

By Fred Weir, Correspondent / June 22, 2010


"Moscow When Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits Washington this week, he and US President Barack Obama are expected to shake hands on a nearly completed US-Russia adoption accord that will stave off some Russian calls for a ban on foreign adoptions.

The terms under which an American family can adopt a child from one of Russia's brimming orphanages has created almost as many bilateral headaches in recent years as big strategic issues like arms control or NATO expansion. Experts say the accord may well lay the worst controversies to rest."

Access full article here:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues


June 18, 2010

A U.S. interagency team met with its Russian counterpart in Washington, D.C. June 14 – 17 for the third round of discussions about an adoption agreement. This most recent round of negotiations ended after four days of positive and productive talks that reflected the continuing commitment of both sides to the common goal of increasing safeguards for adoption between Russia and the United States. The U.S. delegation was led by the Managing Director of the State Department Office of Overseas Citizen Services, and also included representatives from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the State Department Office of the Legal Adviser, and the Bureaus of the Consular and European Affairs. The Russian side was led by the Ministry of Education and Science’s Director of Government and Children’s Welfare.

There has been no official change in the status of on-going intercountry adoptions originating from Russia, but prospective adoptive parents should be aware that in some parts of Russia, adoptions may continue to be slowed down or delayed.

If you have completed an adoption in Russia and have an immigrant visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow:
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is continuing to schedule and issue immigrant visas for adopted children using normal processing procedures. Contact the Embassy at to schedule an appointment. Please also stay in close touch with your adoption service provider.

If you have a court appointment to finalize your child’s adoption in Russia:
Many adoption cases are continuing to move forward in the courts. We have heard of cases in which a court appointment has been postponed. If your court appointment is postponed by the court, please provide this information to us by email at and Neither the Department of State and nor the U.S. Embassy have the authority to intervene with the Russian courts on any individual case and cannot provide a letter for use in the courts. Adoption service providers and/or legal representatives in Russia may be able to make inquiries about your case on your behalf with Russian courts.

If you do not yet have a court date to finalize an adoption in Russia, but are in the process of adopting from Russia:
Please stay in close contact with your adoption service provider, and check the website regularly for current information about intercountry adoption from Russia.

The Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues has established a special e-mail box for inquiries or comments about adoptions from Russia. Prospective adoptive parents and others with concerns about adoptions from Russia may send their questions to Prospective adoptive parents may also provide complete contact information for themselves, including full address, phone number, and e-mail information, the name of their adoption service provider (if available) and details about the child they are planning to adopt.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

MEDIA: When Adopted Can't Adapt

PEAR originally posted the full text of this article on our blog June 19, 2010. On Tuesday, June 22, we received a take down demand from the author Katie Pickert. Although we believe that our posting was fair use as it was published as part of our educational series, Crisis in Adoption, we are respecting the wishes of Ms. Pickert and TIME and have removed the article.

The remains of the blog entry:

PEAR is posting this article in light of our series Crisis in Adoption. It is our hope that the current media attention will lead to better pre-adoption education and post adoption services and supports. We also sincerely hope that the attention being given to this issue will lead to improvements in the care given to traumatized children worldwide.

TIME Magazine
When Adopted Can't Adapt,9171,1997439,00.html

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sierra Leone: Adoptive Mother Speaks Out

This posting was on the Yahoo group Global_Adoption_Triad, and PEAR has been given permission by the author, Judi Mosley, to post it here. Members of PEAR's board have known Judi for many years and consider her one of our major inspirations. Her daughter Camryn, adopted from Cambodia, was trafficked by Lauryn Galindo, and Camryn's victim statement can be found here: additional information can be found at, http://video. and here at our Cambodia blog:

One of Judi's daughters from Vietnam was also the victim of the facilitator Mai Ly LaTrace, who tried to sue Judi and Carrie West for defamation after they spoke the truth about their experiences LaTrace lost the case and was ordered to pay costs, but she promptly declared bankruptcy.

Judi has been a tireless advocate for ethical adoptions for many years, and frequently posted on many adoption related Yahoo Groups, including Global Adoption Triad and Adoption Agency Research...yet she was often attacked by prospective and adoptive parents whose fear of the consequences of the truth caused them to be blind to it.

PEAR is asking families who adopted from Sierra Leone in 1998 to contact us and we can put you in touch with the Mosely family or other individuals and organizations working to assist original families in receiving word about their children. Should anyone wish to contact the Mosely family, please send all correspondence to PEAR via and we will forward it to Judi.

My name, for those of you who do not know me, is Judith Mosley and I decided to leave the "adoption circuit of groups" as I found that I had told my stories over & over again, about the corruption, the lies, and the infamous story of my Cambodian daughter who was trafficked, and the story which we went public with, including TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines. I had critics & supporters, people who agreed with what we did, and those who vehemently opposed. I eventually did what was right in my heart, and made contact with the birth family, and so the story was told ....I took my daughter back to Cambodia to reconnect with her birth family. The rest is history, and I wouldn't do it any differently now, than I did then.

I was glad to leave the world, not on this group, but many others, who simply would not believe or accept, that THEIR child could have been stolen, coerced or trafficked for them to adopt, not from China, India, Nepal,Guatemala, Vietnam, Ethiopia and the many other developing countries that were popular to adopt from.

There was often flagrant disrespect for the birth families, with adoptive families believing, amongst other things, they were giving the child a better life, their sense of entitlement, offensive, brash & ignorant. I was so much happier not to have my life, imposed on by such short sighted people, who not once, ever took off their rose tinted glasses, and refused to ever take their heads out of the sand, to acknowledge corruption, trafficking and the huge amounts of money that encouraged such action, their disdain for birth families simply repulsed me. Some even believed that the birth parents deserved no respect because "what sort of parent who give their child away?". And so I departed the adoption world merry-go-round.

Imagine my surprise, two weeks ago, I was reading a media report post by Ethica on Facebook. More often than not, I jump past these posts, but this one caught my eye, it was a Sierra Leone. We adopted our son from there when he was 4 years old, in 1998.

I read to the end of the story, and that is when my world stopped, and I felt like I had just been pulled under water, everything was silent, as I sat and stared at the screen in disbelief, re-reading the last two paragraphs over and over again, as if it would somehow change what I was reading:

"It's been nearly 15 years since Sulaiman Suma last saw his 4½-year-old daughter Mabinty and 3½-year-old son Sulaiman. Both are now young adults believed to be living in the United States.

"We want our children who were sold to these white people," Suma said. "We want to know whether they are alive or dead."


Sulaiman Suma is our son, who we adopted from Sierra Leone. Sulaiman Abdulai Suma, this very man, is his birth father, and if you read the story from the link, you will see that this man has NEVER given up on finding his son. Sadly, the other mother who is looking for her children in the article, Adama & Mustafa, were adopted the same time as my son, and I KNOW where these children are, but this is NOT my story to tell, and never will be.

My immediate reaction was to contact a few close friends, who understand all of these things only too well. I was put in touch with PEAR ( who were a great help, who listened, supported, and gave suggestions, and continue to be involved.

Deep inside me however, I was very unsettled, and my heart began to go in another direction altogether. I set about finding the writer of the news article, Carley Petesch in Johannesburg, and am now in contact with her...........she is fascinated by my story, and even more so, the million to one chance of one man in Sierra Leone, giving his name to her for her story, and one woman sitting in Guam, reading that article, quite by chance, who has the son that this man is looking for.

One suggestion is that I contacted the adoption agency we used MAPS, along with the State Department and ask for both of their assistance. MAPS has declined any help, due to privacy laws and protection of the adoptive families in a blanket general statement to the story.

Some are worried about my son's privacy. This I mulled over for a few days, and decided that "privacy" accomplishes nothing, and if a story has to be told, it can't be told in bits & pieces with paragraphs & chapters missing - the story either has to be told, or not at all. Privacy covers up way to many peoples crimes & mistakes, and I couldn't live with myself, knowing that I would just be another one ducking for cover, under the umbrella of privacy.... especially when I know so much.

At the end of the day, we can give this one family in Sierra Leone, a silent movie, in photographs (of the son who they NEVER gave permission to leave the country, let alone, vanish with no further knowledge, and be adopted) of the missing years, somehow try to make a huge wrong, just a little right, by giving them as much as we can in photographs, news finally, that their son wasn't killed, but is safe, has grown, has learnt, and thrived in the years that he has been gone.

Thank God this man never gave up on his son, and thank God, I now have the power in me, after reading his plea, to give him, all these thousands of miles away, some peace, some answers and some news.

We are in the early stages of this monumental journey, to make amends, to yet another family, from a developing country, who had their child taken from them, to provide, me as an adoptive parent, with the child they wanted.

At this juncture, it leaves me with one question, that none of us will probably ever know the answer to - just how MANY children and birth families has this happened to?

........ .my guess is more than we could ever imagine possible or even comprehend.

kind regards,

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ten Steps to Researching US Adoption Agencies

Since there is no one place to go to research an adoption agency, PEAR has assembled a Guide to Researching US Adoption Agencies. Obtaining and interpreting information from several sources is required to get a full picture of the current status of an adoption agency.

Freely download the 3-page PDF here or find the guide at and select the Choosing an Agency button from the left.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

International Adoption Doctor Directory Updated

The revised directory can be freely downloaded from PEAR's website at

Six new providers have been added, including one in Montana.

This directory is arranged alphabetically by state and city within each state. The clinics listed in this directory have at least one MD,DO or NP in its practice and have experience with international adoption medicine.

Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR) does not officially endorse any listing in this directory. The contents are provided for informational purposes only as a community service.

PEAR has no means of certifying the competence or quality of practice of any practitioner. PEAR makes no representations, warranties, guarantees or promises on behalf of or for those listed, and does not assume liability or responsibility for any service or product provided.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Moldovan Parliament Passes New International Adoption Law

The Moldovan Parliament passed a new law regarding the Legal Status of Adoption on May 28, 2010. It awaits signature by the President and then will be published in the Official Monitor. At that time, text of the new law will be available and the US Embassy website is expected to be updated. Six months after the publish date in the Official Monitor, the new law will enter into force. Agencies estimate that this will be January 2011.

PEAR will publish the text of the new law when it becomes available.

The main elements of the new law are expected to include the following:

• The children will be placed and remain on the Register for a period of two years. Children with certain medical conditions (that will be described in the text of the law) may qualify for a reduction to twelve months on the Register after review from a medical commission.

• A prosecutor will represent the children in court.

• Prospective families may be asked additional questions in the court than in the past.

Adoptions in progress are continuing. Instead of only one or two different judges presiding over adoption cases, now a greater number of judges are presiding over adoption cases, randomly selected by computer.

Moldova remains open to US adoptions.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

MEDIA: The Baby Business

EJ Graff's newest article on international adoption has been been published by the Democracy Journal and is available online. The article is entitled The Baby Business and addresses ongoing concerns with corruption and ethics in intercountry adoption. Ms. Graff has invited PEAR to officially comment on the article. Our comments on the eight proposed solutions to the problems plaguing international adoption will be published early next week.

We encourage all members of the triad to take a look at the article and participate in the discussion.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

PEAR adds Illinois to the State Directories of Adoption Resources

June 10, 2010

PEAR has added Illinois to our list of completed State Directories of Adoption Resources. The Directories are available for download (FREE) below or at our website:

PEAR State Directories of Adoption Resources
State Specific Guides to Health, Education, Bureaucracy and Support for Adoptive Parents:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Media: India - Mother fights to meet son 11 years after his kidnap

Mother fights to meet son 11 years after his kidnap
June 6, 2010

AN INDIAN mother faces a heart-wrenching court battle in Holland to gain access to her 12-year-old son, whom she alleges was kidnapped as a baby then adopted by an unsuspecting Dutch couple.

Nagarani Kathirvel’s nightmare began in 1999 on a hot October night in the coastal city of Chennai, when she and her husband decided to sleep outside their slum hut with their three young children to keep cool.

She was awoken by an uneasy maternal instinct that something was wrong. There was no electricity and in the pitch black she could feel that her youngest child, 18-month-old Sateesh, had disappeared from the sleeping mat.

The family searched frantically for the baby, hoping he had simply crawled off. But Sateesh could not be found. For years Kathirvel kept her son’s name on the family ration card, believing that one day he would return.

Then in May 2005, there was a breakthrough: the local police busted a child-trafficking ring linked to an adoption agency, Malaysian Social Services, that had a licence to offer children for adoption abroad.

In the course of their investigation, the police discovered photographs of Chennai children who had been kidnapped. They contacted Kathirvel and she identified one as her son, allowing the authorities to trace him to the Netherlands.

India’s Central Bureau for Investigation took up the case, as did Against Child Trafficking (ACT), an organisation registered in Holland. It is feared there may be several similar stories, as Malaysian Social Services arranged more than 350 overseas adoptions.

Arun Dohle, a German working for ACT, broke the news to Sateesh’s adoptive Dutch parents that the child they thought they had adopted legally 11 years ago may have been stolen from his family.

“They were immediately receptive to the idea of contact with the biological parents and they were very upset with the adoption agency,” he said.

Sateesh is now called Rohit Shivam, and had been enjoying a happy childhood in the town of Almere, after being adopted by the Bissesar family, ethnic Hindus with roots in the former Dutch colony of Suriname. They paid £13,700 for the adoption.

At first, the Bissesars were co-operative and sent a picture of the boy to his biological parents. But after advice from a Dutch adoption expert they became fearful that the child could be taken away, and refused to take a DNA test.

Rohit, who speaks only Dutch, is also afraid of being forced to return. An initial court hearing earlier this year concluded that: “The child is at the moment not prepared to co-operate with DNA testing ... He fears that his biological parents can claim him back at a certain point.”

Last week Kathirvel said that she was fighting for a DNA test and to at least have visiting rights and contact with her son. “I don’t feel any anger towards the Dutch couple,” she said. “But I would like him to know both sets of parents, and I want to tell him that his biological parents did everything to find him.”

Kathirvel is due in court in the Dutch town of Zwolle-Lelystad on June 15, where her lawyer, Esther Schoneveld, will argue for yearly visits and regular updates on the child’s development. Schoneveld said a reunion at this stage was unlikely.

“This is a very sad story and there will be no winners, no matter what the court decides,” she said. “It is tragic for everyone involved.”

Statement from Against Child Trafficking concerning this case:

ACT (Against Child Trafficking) is helping parents of missing children who have been adopted by foreigners without the parents consent, to go to court and defy the odds of this child trade. Criminal cases must be brought to justice. In the mean time, the parents must be enabled to show to their children that no matter what obstacles, they never gave up on them and want to reconnect.

In this particular case, ACT has been assisting these parents for five years, together with Sujato Mody of the Chennai based Malarchi Women’s Resource Centre. ACT/Malarchi found them lawyers in India and in the Netherlands and now face the challenge of bringing them to the Netherlands to appear in court. The parents will be accompanied by Sujata Mody on their travel.

The adoption industry is rich and powerful and their victims are not in the same position. Please consider helping to empower these parents and to show that indeed together we can make a difference.

Thank You!
Roelie Post
Arun Dohle

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Legislative Update: Families for Orphans Act

In PEAR's continued efforts to alert the public and members of Congress about the problems associated with pending Families for Orphans legislation (HR 3070), we participated with numerous concerned organizations and individuals in a mailing to members of the House of Representatives sitting on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs:

June 1, 2010

Dear Representative,

We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to express our opposition to the Families for Orphans Act, H.R. 3070, and to support the concerns expressed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and officials from the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development regarding the unintended consequences this legislation will have on developing countries, U.S. programs working with orphans and vulnerable children, and children and their families around the world.

We object to the bill for the specific following reasons:

1. Instead of building on the success of offices that are already working for children worldwide, the bill needlessly duplicates the Orphans Assistance Act (Public Law 109-95) in some areas and conflicts with the mandate in others to the detriment of children and their families. The Families for Orphans Act calls for the establishment of a separate Office of Orphan Policy, Diplomacy and Development within the State Department. Establishing such an office would be entirely duplicative, not to mention harmful to the successful on-going coordination between U.S. government agencies supporting orphans and vulnerable children and adoption.
During a hearing with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operation, and Related Programs on February 24, 2010, Secretary Clinton stated, “We have a children’s office in the State Department. It would be my preference that we sort of build that up because I want it embedded. I don’t want it to be – I don’t want this to be an add-on.”1
A more effective route than creating a new office would be to fund the existing P.L. 109-95 Secretariat (Orphans and Vulnerable Children office) which, despite being unfunded, has been doing a heroic job over the past five months of coordinating all U.S. agency efforts on behalf of orphans and vulnerable children, both in Haiti and in countries in which the U.S. operates around the world.

2. The bill would impose expensive and impossible-to-achieve requirements on poor countries. This not only burdens already over-burdened countries with red tape, it puts the future of working programs already in place like child survival, maternal health and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in jeopardy.
In order to receive foreign aid, the legislation requires all UN member states to submit census data every two years on all children living without parental care – including all children living in dormitories, orphanages, hospitals, boarding schools, etc. Especially for developing countries with little infrastructure, these standards are impossible to achieve and would likely cost billions of dollars – money that could instead be going to strengthen families to help them better care for their children. And not only does noncompliance endanger foreign aid received through this program, but the ambiguity of the legislation means that other foreign aid from programs like PEPFAR and child survival are also endangered.

3. Finally, the legislation disregards internationally agreed-upon definitions of orphan and greatly expands the definition to include children living in orphanages and other facilities who might still have family. Most children living in orphanages in developing countries are there because their families are too poor to take sufficient care of them – not because these children don’t have families. We would rather see the U.S. focus on strengthening families through microcredit, health programs, education, and other support systems so that families can stay together, instead of breaking open the pool of children eligible for international adoption.

In addition to Secretary Clinton’s remarks during her hearings, representatives from the Department of State and USAID, including those from the P.L. 109-95 Secretariat, met with Senator Mary Landrieu, the lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate, and Senator John Kerry to express similar concerns regarding the legislation and the negative implications it would have on existing structures working to support both international adoption and orphans and vulnerable children. We encourage you to contact Gary Newton, USG Special Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in the P.L. 109-95 Secretariat, for more information specifically on their concerns and their recommendations for strengthening the U.S. government’s support for vulnerable children and families worldwide.

We are all motivated to assist orphans and vulnerable children in crisis around the world and thank you for your dedication to these too-often overlooked kids. Yet this bill is not the solution they need. We strongly urge you to decline to consider the Families for Orphans Act and instead fully fund existing mechanisms, such as the P.L. 109-95 Secretariat , that are doing good work on behalf of orphans and vulnerable children around the world.


American Adoption Congress
The Episcopal Church
Global Action for Children
Global AIDS Alliance
Holt International Children’s Services
Mothers Acting Up
Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church & Society
Karen Smith Rotabi, PhD, LMSW, MPH Richmond, VA
Victor Groza, Grace F. Brody Professor of Parent-Child Studies Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH

1 Full transcript available from the Department of State:

Please consider joining all of us in expressing your concerns to members of the US House of Representatives House Committee on Foreign Affairs (contact information available:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

MEDIA: Sierra Leone Parents Seek Answers In Adoption Case

PEAR has been contacted by a family who believes that their adopted child is one of the children in this article. The family is exploring options for contact with the child's family. If you believe that your adopted child may also be one of the children and would like to contact this family, please let us know and we will put you in touch.

Sierra Leone Parents Seek Children Adopted By Americans In Late 1990s, Saying No Consent Given

(AP) FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) - Balia Kamara's mother sent her to a center in northern Sierra Leone so the 5-year-old could receive an education and food, and stay out of harm's way during the West African country's brutal civil war.

The mother visited Balia at the Help A Needy Child International center, known as HANCI, regularly for two years until 1998, when the children there were taken to Sierra Leone's capital for medical examinations. They never returned.

Parents of about 30 children at the center say they only later learned that the children had been adopted by Americans and sent abroad without permission.

"We were reluctant to hand over the child," recalled Balia's mother, Mariama Jabbie, in an interview with The Associated Press. "When they told us that they were going to educate her up to college level, we decided to hand her over. That was how they were able to entice us to do so."
In 2004, the center's director and two of his employees were arrested and charged with conspiracy to violate adoption laws. Those charges against them though ultimately were dropped and the case disbanded, according to court records.

Now more than a decade after the children disappeared, Sierra Leone's government said late Wednesday it is setting up a national commission of inquiry to re-examine the case of the HANCI children following years of pressure from their biological parents.

The American agency that facilitated the children's adoptions maintains it has no knowledge of any wrongdoing on the part of their staff in the West African nation.

Last month, the children's biological parents stormed the office of Sierra Leone's social welfare minister, demanding the government help them find a way to communicate with their children. A spokesman for the parents, Kassim Kargbo, said they had traveled from villages in the north nearly 100 miles from the capital.

The parents also published an open letter to President Ernest Bai Koroma in a local newspaper. They asked Sierra Leone's government to reopen the case against those who ran the HANCI center where the children were staying.

Sierra Leone is not the only country where there has been controversy over whether parents have given sufficient consent for adoptions. Guatemala suspended international adoptions for nearly two years after the discovery that some babies were being sold.

In Argentina, the government confirmed that hundreds of children were taken from dissidents and raised by military families or others that supported the ruling military junta in the 1970s and early 1980s. El Salvador has worked to reunite children who were also separated from their families during that country's civil war and adopted by foreign families.

The HANCI adoption case in Sierra Leone began amid the country's devastating decade-long war that ended in 2002, a conflict dramatized in the film "Blood Diamond."

Rebels burned villages, raped women and turned kidnapped children into drugged teenage fi ghters.Tensofthousandsofciviliansdiedandcountlessotherswereleftmutilatedafterrebels cut off body parts with machetes. The U.S. State Department says 134 children were adopted between 1999 and 2003, the year after the war ended.

Abu Bakarr, who is now the coordinator for the birth parents of the adopted children, said that the HANCI center in Makeni refused to return the children to their parents in 1998. Those who ran HANCI said reducing the number of children at the center would affect its funding, Bakarr said.

HANCI ultimately contacted Maine Adoption Placement Services (MAPS) to foster U.S. adoptions, and MAPS says it placed 29 of the 33 children from the home with adoptive parents in the U.S. HANCI maintains the parents gave informed consent. It said the agreements also were taken to Makeni's magistrate court for clearance

"It was made clear to the parents that all the children kept at the center were for adoption," HANCI said in a statement released late last year. "Each parent completed and signed a document to the effect."

When reached by The Associated Press, Maine Adoption Placement Services' chief executive officer said she stood by earlier statements about the case.

"MAPS has no knowledge of any wrongdoing on the part of our Sierra Leone staff and are cooperating fully with the investigation," Stephanie Mitchell said.

The legal process for the adoptions was approved at the time by Sierra Leone's government, as well as by the U.S. State Department, she said. "We've heard nothing officially from anyone from Sierra Leone for years," she added.

But the children's birth parents say that adoption was never mentioned, nor was a trip out of the country. For years they never knew what had become of the children and feared they may have been killed during the war. Not until 2004 did they learn they were adopted by Americans, Bakarr said.

"I only thumb-printed the form to the effect that the center was going to take care of my two children," said Pa Brima Kargbo, whose 6-year-old daughter Adama and 3-year-old son Mustapha were placed at the center. "Now we want to see our children whether they are dead or alive, even if it is for two days."

Chuck Johnson, the acting CEO of the National Council for Adoption, said Sierra Leone requires annual post-adoption reports until the child reaches the age of 18.

Mitchell said MAPS has been diligent in sending annual post-placement reports, along with photos of the adopted kids, to authorities in Sierra Leone as required.

"We can produce copies of those," she said. "We've been very rigorous."

While Sierra Leone is opening a national commission of inquiry, it is highly unlikely to bring the closure the birth parents are seeking. Mitchell said if the government requests contact be established between the adoptive families and birth families: "I think they would have the right to say no."

Johnson doubts the U.S. would try to enforce anything beyond the post-adoption report requirement.

"It would be up to the agency to try and convince adoptive families to do more than initially required of them," he said.

It's been nearly 15 years since Sulaiman Suma last saw his 4-year-old daughter Mabinty and 3-year-old son Sulaiman. Both are now young adults believed to be living in the United States.
"We want our children who were sold to these white people," Suma said. "We want to know whether they are alive or dead."
Carley Petesch reported from Johannesburg. Associated Press Writer David Crary in New York contributed to this report.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Voices of the Adoption Triad: Elizabeth Meunzler, Adoptive Parent

Voices of the Triad: Adoptive Parent, Elizabeth Muenzler discusses her family's experience after the airing of 48 Hours segment on FOC and corrupted Samoan adoptions. The Muenzler case was previously published on PEAR's blog on March 16, 2009

Many thanks to Gina and the PEAR Board for letting me once again address this group. (I previously wrote on the blog after the Focus on Children sentencing in early 2009.) I was offered this space again, many months ago after our story first aired on 48 Hours on December 12, 2009, to discuss our Samoan adoption with the agency Focus on Children. Quite frankly, the aftermath of the story was a very traumatic time for me and I’m just now getting to the point where I can talk about it. So I appreciate their patience in allowing me now to address the group, as we gear up for the initial re-air of the show over the summer and then its entry into syndication.

Needless to say, I have unfortunately learned that you can’t believe everything you see on those TV news shows, as much of the “truth”--due to the edits of overzealous producers in search of drama and ratings--gets left on the cutting-room floor. Statements are taken completely out of context, and in some cases things are made to fit into the agenda they have already decided upon, despite being inaccurate.

I can state this now because all of the above happened to us. For example, there was no “police car chase, with lights roaring and sirens blaring” on our way to the airport. Our police “escort” was a friend of Dan Wakefield’s, who was off-duty as a police officer. It was framed at the time for us that the two buddies were going to hang out together after we left—only much later, after we heard the story of what really happened, did we put two and two together and realize he was probably a “police escort.” in case anything went wrong for Focus at the airport. And yes, we left in the middle of the night, but we were not whisked away—all flights out of Samoa to New Zealand leave in the middle of the night. All of the “facts” related to these scenarios above were greatly skewed by 48 Hours to make me look like I knew what Focus was doing on the island when we were there. And that was NOT the case.

With the assistance of our attorney, we communicated our dismay to the 48 Hours’ producers after the show aired, and while a few things will be changed in the upcoming version this summer, most will remain the same. As a result, the decision to work with 48 Hours will always be a great regret of my life. Not only were we grossly let down by our agency and the U.S. justice system, we were also let down by the media, simply because we were trying to tell the truth about this horrific travesty of justice.

After the story aired, I was vilified, demonized, and threatened. Not only were horrible things posted about me on the 48 Hours website, but my home and work were called by people who said horrible and vile things to me. I was labeled a kidnapper and a thief and called unspeakable things. There were threats against me, threats by people to come throw me in jail themselves with their personal posse, and threats to pay for lawyers to take my daughter away.
This was just as traumatic, in hindsight, as the day the State Department visited our house to tell us of the truly despicable acts by our agency.

In spite of what was portrayed in the story, I do not regret the decisions we have made since we learned about what our agency did (other than working with 48 Hours). As soon as we learned of the situation almost 5 years ago, we began to reach out to our daughter’s Birth Mother in Samoa with letters and pictures. These packages were delivered by the State Department representatives as they continued their investigation and continued to make trips to Samoa for the next several years.

In fact, we’ve been told by State Department reps that we were the FIRST family to communicate—other than the Nybergs, who returned their daughter to her Samoan family upon learning about the ordeal. To this day, we are one of only a handful of the families in the U.S. of the 100+ kids involved in this case who has had any communication at all with Samoan Birth Parents. The U.S. Families who adopted our daughter’s Samoan siblings and cousins have all been in contact with each other and the extended Birth Family members. We hope to have a “family reunion” at some point on this side of the ocean, so the kids can have a relationship going forward. None of this outreach was described in the story.

We did not hear about the Birth Father, his story, and his involvement with our daughter, until nearly a year AFTER the State Department had initially visited. We learned about everything when we read the indictment and read that she had lived with him, contrary to what we had been told. We immediately wrote him – again through the State Department representatives –and received our one and only letter about 7 months later from him, again through State Department channels.

But, of course, none of this was addressed in the story. We have always felt it was our obligation to start communicating with the Birth Family to help our daughter have a foundation on which to build on for a future relationship, if she so chooses. We have never tried to keep them from her, or keep them from communicating with her. Whether they choose to communicate or not, though, is their decision.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what the real story is in this scandal in relation to our daughter’s history, and I’m not sure we’ll ever really know. Both Birth Parents told different stories to the State Department, and then different versions to 48 Hours. The Birth Mother is upset that the Birth Father says he wants their daughter back, since she says he wasn’t involved in her life. The Birth Mother wants her to stay here. (That interview with her also never aired in the story).

Then, of course, there’s the story from the agency, which, based on what we have pieced together, still has fragments of truth to it. Finally, there’s our “cattle driver friend”—Dan Wakefield--who was on the ground in Samoa with us, who obviously lied directly to our faces, and who took advantage of the fact that we were at his mercy on the island during our stay. Who knows what, if anything, he told us that week had a speck of truth to it?

We were told a wild story while we were there about the families fighting—but it had nothing to do with anyone wanting to keep our daughter, or raise her. I specifically asked this question numerous times and was reassured by government officials, the attorney, and the agency, that was NOT the case. Hindsight is 20/20, and of course now, I can see through the story I was told. But when you’re in a foreign country, at the mercy of your handlers, and told not to be the “ugly American” and go with the flow, it’s quite a different story in the moment. Foreign adoptions from foreign countries aren’t like those in the U.S. Laws aren’t like those in the U.S. Family relationships aren’t like those in the U.S. We’d seen this through our first adoption in Ukraine. So, ultimately, we put our trust in those who were running the show.

I find it very strange that people thought we should have shipped out our daughter on the first plane out upon hearing the news, back to her Birth Parents, when even now we aren’t sure what really happened and what their situation was in Samoa—and to this day, we still don’t know. Our daughter’s Birth Parents were not married, and by the time the story broke, were married to other spouses—our Birth Father even living in Hawaii. Our daughter has no memory of Samoa, her Birth Parents don’t speak English, and to uproot her after years in the U.S. from the only family she has ever known --and to people whose stories keep changing--is not my idea of responsible parenting. In addition, with the PTSD and attachment issues that resulted from her being taken, we feel that to abandon her again would again re-traumatize her and harm her beyond repair.

We recognize now we have an open adoption and will honor that. We are also horrified that this situation happened and will do whatever we can to help facilitate a relationship with our daughter’s Samoan family. But I’m not just going to ship her off to people I don’t even know. Once a more stable relationship has been built, we will be open to visits, most certainly. But people don’t really realize that most of these kids don’t remember their time in Samoa—and they’ve been in the U.S. for 7+ years. Just ripping them away from the only life they have ever known would be cruel—on top of the cruelty that has already been bestowed upon them by the agency.

48 Hours did a great job, though, of making our Birth Father look like a very sad soul—and I know for a fact that he is horribly traumatized by all of this. But we still have conflicting reports about his involvement with our daughter during her time in Samoa. And, most importantly for me, he has done nothing in response to our many letters and regular, ongoing attempts for contact and communication in the more than 4 years since we first reached out to him. This information was conveniently left out of the 48 Hours story. Aside from the one letter he initially sent to us through the State Department almost 3 ½ years ago, we’ve heard nothing from him directly, despite our giving him specific options to mail letters and to communicate with our daughter.

Our phone calls that have been set up with him—including one for filming with 48 Hours that was left out of the story, and others on her birthday and Christmas last year--have constantly been rescheduled. Sometimes he wouldn’t answer the phone at all, which has created more angst for our daughter. In fact, on the suggestion of her psychologist, we don’t even tell our daughter we communicate with him via letters anymore, because she became so upset years ago that he never wrote anything--and still has never written anything--back to her.
Again, it’s not my job to judge anyone, but it is my job to protect my daughter’s best interests. Despite the outrage directed at me after the story, I will always continue to do that. So, we will continue to reach out on a schedule with both Birth Parents regularly. If more contact is requested, we’ll be happy to discuss that.

I know that each and every time the story is aired, more people will continue to judge and attack me. And it pains me that the people most responsible for this travesty continue to get away scot-free while the arrows are all pointed at me. But I stand behind what I have done for my daughter. Now that she’s 8, she knows most of her story; when she’s older we’ll tell her everything related to the situation. Contrary to popular belief, especially from those who demonize me, I do not believe she will hate me for what I have done to try to get justice for her, her Samoan family, and our family, and to protect her best interests, no matter what. I will be able to tell her what happened, and my thoughts on the matter, with love, honesty, and a clear conscience—in spite of 48 Hours version.

Elizabeth Meunzler

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, June 4, 2010

New DOS Appointment in Office of Children's Issues

Tuesday, May 25

Secretary Clinton Designates Special Advisor for International Children’s Issues

Secretary Clinton is pleased to announce the appointment of Ambassador Susan S. Jacobs as Special Advisor to the Office of Children’s Issues. A long time child advocate, Secretary Clinton has created the new foreign policy position to address intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction. In her work on these important issues, Ambassador Jacobs will actively engage with foreign government officials to protect the welfare and interests of children.

Ambassador Jacobs most recently served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. A former United States Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, she also served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Issues in the State Department's Bureau of Legislative Affairs. Her distinguished Foreign Service career has also included tours in Caracas, Tel Aviv, New Delhi, Bucharest, and San Salvador.

Ambassador Jacobs graduated from the University of Michigan and later studied at Georgetown University Law School and the George Washington University. She has received numerous awards, including the Department of State's Meritorious Honor Award, its Superior Honor Award, and the Community Achievement Award in New Delhi.

The Office of Children’s Issues in the State Department provides services to parents, children, and families in intercountry adoption and international family abductions. It serves as the U.S. Central Authority for both the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.

For more information about the Office of Children’s Issues at the State Department, please visit:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.