Thursday, August 18, 2011

Come, Let us Puke Together!

Let us bow our heads and puke together.

In an interview with Jennifer Grant author of Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter, entitled "Adoption is Not a 'Ministry''  Jennifer challenges interracial adoption, and why it’s more than a “missionary” project....yet she speaks of being "called by God."

The publisher describes the book thusly:
Following the invisible thread of connection between people who are seemingly intended to become family, journalist Jennifer Grant shares the deeply personal, often humorous story of adopting a fifteen-month-old girl from Guatemala when she was already the mother of three very young children.
Her family's journey is captured in stories that will encourage not only adoptive families but those who are curious about adoption or whose lives have been indirectly touched by it. Love You More explores universal themes such as parenthood, marriage, miscarriage, infertility, connection, destiny, true self, failure and stumbling, and redemption.
Note that she believes this child was 'intended' for her! I find that the most arrogant thought anyone could possibly have.  You mean to tell me that God intended for a child to be born to parents unable to raise him or her, becoming an orphan, and "languish" in an orphanage fifteen months, just to be there  for YOU!  Her original parents died or suffer a major loss for YOU!? Are you kidding me?

"Adoption is wonderful for growing a family" she says. And indeed reviewers have said of her book: "Love You More is a wonderful book describing the journey of a family being completed by the adoption of  their little girl from Guatemala." But she believes it is not the best way to address global issues of poverty. Yet she did it and now preaches this. HUH?

And, not only did she adopt, because she was 'called by God' to do so, but how odd that God - in His infinite wisdom - would have called this American woman and her husband to ignore the 120, 000+/- children in US foster care who can never be reunited with their original families and who could be adopted, and instead to adopt from Guatemala, a nation plagues with crime and impunity, kidnappings and child trafficking!  Odd, eh?  Do you think "God" just didn't know, like the agencies that handled these adoptions?

Love you More, the title of her book nauseated me from the moment I heard it. I found it offensive, albeit unintended. Is love or  adoption a competition?  Does she love her child more than she loves her husband, or are they not just different kinds of love?

As a mother of three, how do her other children feel about that title, I wonder? Did it hit them in the gut as it did me and make me squirm with discomfort? Do they wonder exactly what that title implies and what the whole book says about them and their relationship with their mother? Why is this one child singled out for an entire book?

Is she implying she loves her daughter more than her daughter loves her or that she loves her adopted daughter more than her daughter's other mother does or could have? I don't get measuring love in terms of more or less.

If anyone has read the book and cares to share, please do so. (Though I will NOT allow this blog to become an advertisement for the book, so please save your praise for anywhere other than here.)

Meanwhile, excuse me while I will reach for a barf bucket to rid myself of the bile created by this woman's eagerness to exploit her daughter's image and life in order to pat her self on the back for saying that patting oneself of the back for adopting should NOT be the motivation for adopting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Forever Family" Spanks Adopted Daughter to Death

In Feb, 2010, following the fundamentalist book "To Train up a Child," Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz believed God to spare the rod, you spoil the child. The killed seven-year-old Lydia and caused seriously harmed 11-year-old Zaraiah. The eight surviving children have been removed. 

The book teaches you can train your child just as you train a horse. And punishment must cause pain!

Lydia was beaten to death with a plumbing supply line, which is recommended by Michael and Debi Pearl of No Greater Joy Ministries, the author of the above-named book.

Lydia was beaten for seven consecutive hours on the day she died.  She died of rhabdomyolsis, a condition related to kidney and heart failure from toxins released when muscle tissue breaks down. Lydia’s muscles broke down as a result of repeated beatings over time, though her death was proceeded by an especially long “discipline” session. Lydia had mispronounced a word.

Zaraiah asked the Schatz's in court why they adopted, if it was just to murder them?

Lydia is remembered as a vivacious little girl, adopted from Liberia. People who knew her say she had the most heart-warming smile. She was one of three children the Schatz's adopted from Liberia.
“Select your instrument according to the child’s size,” writes Tennessee pastor Michael Pearl in his Christian parenting book called “To Train Up a Child“, a book available for sale on

“For the under one year old, a little, ten to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (stripped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. Sometimes alternatives have to be sought. A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative.”

I cannot find any current status on the Schatz's court case.

SUGGESTION: Go to Amazon and write a review of the book hey followed that advocates these horrendous beatings: To Train up a Child. 

You can also ask Michael Pearl a question here.  I asked what his educational background is either as a biblical scholar or a child rearing professional since I tried to find that information unsuccessfully online.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Guatemala news reporting Aneyeli to be Returned

She Anyeli Lissette Rodriguez Hernandez, age 6, will be repatriated to Guatemala in the next two months, then found to have been given up for adoption illegally.
This, after learning of the resolution in favor of the motion filed by Loyda Rodriguez, mother of the child, in seeking the annulment of the adoption process of Abigail Karen Monahan, a false name with which the child was brought to the United States for delivery to an American family.
Anyeli was kidnapped when he was two years, November 5, 2006 when he played in the courtyard of his house in Colonia Villa Hermosa, San Miguel Petapa and an unknown entered and took her, said Claudia Cruz, deputy director of the Survivor Foundation.

I will believe it when it happens and do not trust ANY newspaper to get it right and accurately. If this were true US papers would report it as well.... 

Update on Aleyni: Kidnapped and Adopted

The Monahans of Missouri who maintain custody of Aleyni who was kidnapped from her Guatemalan mother, have hired a slick, high profile Public Relations firm, Peter Mirijanian Public Affairs, in addition to their attorney.

Their PR spokesperson issued this very polished statement saying the Monahans "will continue to advocate for the safety and best interests of their legally adopted child. They remain committed to protecting their daughter from additional trauma as they pursue the truth of her past through appropriate legal channels."

Another family who adopted from Guatemala around the same time and knows the Monhans said that he child's birth mother are in a "devastating" situation.

"On the one hand you feel for the mother in Guatemala. She should have her child. And on the other hand, I can't imagine if I were in that situation. It would be like a death," Harmoning said. "I would pay my life away to move the birth mother up here before I would let my child go. She's my baby."

That sounds so sweet until you realize that the mother of this child has other children. Do you bring them all here?  Why not go there?

And note how she frame her argument by denigrating Aneyli's mother to "birth mother." No one would ever dream of calling Jaycee Duggard's mother her birth mother!   Manipulative language that shows her underlying distaste and feeling of superiority over the poor REAL, natural mother.


Interpol said in an email this week it could not comment on whether the agency had been contacted about the case.

The U.S. State Department referred questions about the court ruling and its repercussions to the Justice Department, which also declined comment.

Boo Hiss.


Guatemala police briefly detained a judge on charges he fraudulently assisted the adoption of another girl. But he was released for lack of evidence.

Human rights activist Norma Cruz and a U.N.-created agency that investigates adoptions both said the judge, Mario Peralta Castaneda, helped process the Monahan adoption, among others.

We can hope:

Heidi Cox, a lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas, who handles international adoptions, said there may be little the Monahans can do.

All other kidnapped children are returned. Such as the case of CARLINA WHITE snatched from a hospital at 9 days old in 1987. She was abducted by a nurse who raised her as her child.

This is the longest stranger abduction reunion case. Read it here.

Children adopted by a non-custodial parent are also always ordered returned!  The only difference in this case is that there was an allegedly legal adoption subsequent to the kidnapping. The crime was laundered through an adoption agency and the end custodians were unaware initially. SO WHAT??

If you buy a stolen car and don't know its stolen you don't get to keep it! This is a human being. She is someone else's child!! She has a family who loves her!

The behavior of the Monhans to have ignored this as long as the could and now lawyer up and hire a PR firm is classic behavior as descried in this article. They will do absolutely nothing but hide unless forced to. As long as Interpol and the State Dept do nothing, they are safe!

The only fly in the ointment is the press that the case has already engendered. "Karen Abagail" as they call Aneyli, will KNOW the truth!  She likely will have some mixed emotions, to say the least, about their role in keeping her from a family who wanted her. But I guess they're counting on BUYING her affection and loyalty....and, sadly, it just might work!

The stolen children the Smolins adopted from India allegedly "chose" to stay in the US and reap the rewards of the "better life" after to their credit, the Smolins pursued a search for the truth under the blanket of cover-ups and lies offered them by their "reputable" - and unidentified -  adoption agency.  Their mother is reportedly "allowed" to visit them here. What has not been reported is who pays for those visits.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Morals and Ethics in (Domestic) Adoption Part IV

Theresa Erickson, 43,  a California lawyer who specializes in reproductive law is the latest of three women to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for taking part in what federal prosecutors called a "baby-selling ring" that charged a dozen couples more than $100,000 to adopt babies born from surrogate pregnancies. Full story here.

Here's how their scheme worked: 

Erickson along with a Maryland-based lawyer who also specializes in reproductive law and a Las Vegas woman, recruited women to travel to Ukraine to be implanted with embryos created from the sperm and egg of donors. The surrogates were sent to Ukraine to have the embryos implanted because no American fertility doctor would perform such a procedure without documents proving that an agreement existed between the woman and the "intended parents."

Once the gestational carrier, or surrogate, reached the second trimester of pregnancy, prosecutors claimed the defendants would "shop" the babies by falsely telling couples that a couple who had intended to adopt the baby backed out of the deal.

The new couple that agreed to adopt the unborn baby would have to pay more than $100,000 in fees. Women who agreed to carry the babies to term were paid from $38,000 to $45,000, court documents said.
The law is designed to prevent profit-making from the sale of parental rights. By falsely declaring the unborn baby was the result of a legitimate surrogacy arrangement, prosecutors said the defendants obtained pre-birth judgments that named the adoptive parents on the babies' birth certificates.

The couples who adopted the babies did not believe they were breaking the law and will not have their parental rights taken away.   Think of a drug bust in which the druggies get to keep the stash!

Not only do they get to keep the babies, they get reimbursed some of the fees!! 

And the children have no family history - but after all, they're just commodities.

Morals and Ethics in (International) Adoption Part III

EJ Graff in The Nation, Aug 9, 2011, "That Was the Last Time We Ever Saw These Children"
writes a very fair and balanced investigative report that tells both sides of allegation that children in Sierra Leone were stolen and wound up adopted by Americans.

The people who ran the orphanage claim the families were clearly explained that their children would be adopted and now want money. The families claim they were told their children would receive food, medical care and an education. Mothers visited and breast fed their infants in care. Fathers, uncles and siblings visited and stayed all day.  They claim no one mentioned adoption. As I have reported in my book and articles, the word adoption as we know it does not exist in most of Africa while temporary care is common.

Graff goes on to report:
Sometimes these welfare centers do genuinely care for children in need. But sometimes, when humanitarian aid is one of the main sources of money flowing into an economy, people have been known to open an "orphanage" not to help children but in order to attract, and skim off, this revenue stream. An institution of that sort might solicit international donations to feed children—donations that are absurdly large compared with local incomes, and easy to embezzle. In some cases, such people have realized that by offering a child for adoption, they can get not just hundreds but thousands of dollars or euros, enough to pay off bureaucrats for the necessary paperwork and still make them wealthy by local standards. Such fake orphanages have been documented in a number of Africancountries, as well as in Cambodia, Nepal, and Vietnam.

Some of the US agencies "naively trust that their foreign partners share their own humanitarian mission. Some, over time, begin turning a blind eye to local methods so long as adoptable babies and toddlers arrive regularly enough to pay the overhead. Even the best ones cannot monitor local actions day in and day out, especially during a civil war. And, as I have reported elsewhere, U.S. laws and regulations pertaining to this global trade are inadequate" reports Graff.

Documents have been produced because of the families insistent inquiries and demanding criminal perosecution, and they are clearly forgeries and claim living parents are dead. Again, the foreign orphan reps claim that families lied to get their chidlren in - to get them educated etc. 

So it's they said / they said, right? Except....the adoptive parents report being fed lies!

Graff concludes:
Gbla and HANCI may or may not have lied about the child welfare center's purpose. The families may or may not have misunderstood whatever they were told, conceivably believing that their children would come home after being educated in America. But even if HANCI fully briefed the families on adoption, and even if everything else happened precisely as Gbla says it did, HANCI and the Ministry of Social Welfare still separated families that might otherwise have lived together again. Inviting families to send their children to the United States could violate the "best interests of the child" guideline that underlies the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, the document that codifies international agreement on minimum standards for intercountry adoption. The convention says that nations must take "appropriate measures to enable the child to remain in the care of his or her family of origin."
Even taking HANCI's version of events at face value, the Makeni children had homes before they were given false histories and shipped away to the United States. Their adoptive families paid thousands of dollars in placement fees, some of which was supposed to go to fund humanitarian aid, and some of which surely went to cover expenses. But even allowing for expenses, these thousands of dollars were vast sums in an extremely poor country suffering a civil war. We don't know what happened to all of the money. We do know that some people lost their children.
These incidents are not isolated or anomalies. Children are stolen to meet a demand for adoption in China, Guatemala, and elsewhere. Corruption is ROUTINE in international adoption and continues today despite the Hague.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ethics and Morality in Adoption, Part II

This is the second post on the ethics and morality of adoption s spurred by the case of Aneyli who was kidnapped from Guatemala and subsequently adopted by an American family refusing to return her, which appears here.

Ethica has issued a position on the case which while entitled "Not a time to rejoice" claims to take no position on the child's life in the balance. It concludes:
What we forget is that although this case is extraordinary in its outcome (with its ultimate end still to come), it is not extraordinary in and of itself.  Unethical adoptions characterized by outright fraud and more subtle coercion happen on a daily basis around the world.  Until we stand up and demand sweeping changes in adoption, this will not change.
And really, the bottom line is this: in this case, and in thousands like it, there is a child, and she is no longer living with the loving family that intended to raise her.  She was adopted by people who love her and intended to raise her, too.  In the balance swings the child, her entire life experience shaped not by her parents, but by those who stand to profit from the very experiences that cause her trauma.  While we are so quick to judge the families in fraudulent international adoptions, it would behoove us to scrutinize the actors who have gained financially in the process of moving a child from one family to another.
 I fully concur, but add one more thought (thank you Etta): 

These child trafficking rings would not exist
without the Western demand for babies.  
If we are to root out the immoral and unethical as well as the illegal, we need to each ask ourselves if we are part of the solution or part of the problem. 

Every time someone chooses to spend tens of thousands of dollars to adopt a child instead of choosing to provide care for one of the 120,000 children in foster care, they are risking aiding and abetting child traffickers and they are impeding the chances of a family from within the child's nation of birth from adopting because such families who would adopt, cannot compete financially.

Every time someone chooses to spend tens of thousands of dollars to take one child from his or her nation, culture, language, they are leaving behind the rest of his family, siblings and often extended family (if not a parent) in the same impoverished conditions, instead of choosing to spend those same dollars to feed a village, build a school, or provide medical supplies.

Let's tell it like it is and stop rewarding such choices with tax benefits and accolades, pretending these to be acts of altruism, while telling young mothers they are selfish to cherish their own flesh and blood because other seek it!  

Adoption is intended to find homes for children in need not to snatch wanted children or to coerce them from loving, caring, capable mothers for greed, profit or to fill a demand.

“Regrettably, in many cases, the emphasis has changed from the desire to provide a needy child with a home, to that of providing a needy parent with a child. As a result, a whole industry has grown, generating millions of dollars of revenues each year . . .”
The Special Rapporteur, United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, 2003.
"Over the past 30 years, the number of families from wealthy countries wanting to adopt children from other countries has grown substantially. At the same time, lack of regulation and oversight, particularly in the countries of origin, coupled with the potential for financial gain, has spurred the growth of an industry around adoption, where profit, rather than the best interests of children, takes centre stage. Abuses include the sale and abduction of children, coercion of parents, and bribery."
UNICEF's position on Inter-country adoption

"If ... the best interests of the child is to be the determining factor in child custody cases ... persons seeking babies to adopt might profitably frequent grocery stores and snatch babies from carts when the parent is looking the other way. Then, if custody proceedings can be delayed long enough, they can assert that they have a nicer home, a superior education, a better job or whatever, and that the best interests of the child are with the baby snatchers. Children of parents living in public housing or other conditions deemed less affluent and children of single parents might be considered particularly fair game." 
Justice James Heiple, Illinois Supreme Court in the "Baby Richard" case.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Morals, Ethics and Adoption

Adoption is parenting the child of another. It is seen as a noble thing to do because of the assumption that every child needs care and adoption provides that care in a loving, nurturing, family setting for a child who is orphaned or has no family willing and able to properly care for him or her. So far, so good.

But is it equally noble or altruistic to take a child as yours KNOWING full well that he or she has a parent who is capable, willing, and LONGS to maintain custody?  To take that child and fight to keep him or her from his family of origins, his full siblings because you have "fallen in love" with said child?

Does anything justify such behavior - such as "We have a bigger house, can send the child to better schools" Or how about "We didn't know her mother wanted her" or "We didn't know she's been kidnapped."  Do any of these make it OK?

Take this moral / ethics quiz:

1. As you are leaving the store, you count your change and realize that the cashier gives you change for a ten when you gave her a five. What is the RIGHT thing to do? What do you do?

2. You sit down on the bus and discover a briefcase on the seat next to you. You look inside and there is ten thousand dollars in cash and nothing else. Do you report it to the bus company to see if anyone reported loosing it, or keep it? What is the RIGHT thing to do? What would you want someone to do if it was your money?

3. You find a dog with no collar or tag. You take him home, fall in love with the adorable critter who jumps in your lap and laps your face.  A week later, you see a LOST DOG sign on a pole. Do you would return the dog or keep it?  Which is the RIGHT thing to do? Which would you want someone to do if it was your dog? What if it was a child?  YOUR child?!? 

4.  If you legally adopt a child and then discover the child was kidnapped and her mother is frantic, what do you do? Do you ignore all attempts at mediation and hope that you government will do the same? Is it Ok if those who maintain control of the child because you did not actually steal or kidnap him or her? 

5. You want a child and promise the mother you'll let her visit if you can adopt her baby. Once you have the child, you decide not to allow the visits? Is that ethical? Is it fraud?

Do we live a "finders keepers/losers weepers" world? 
Or, do we believe in, and practice, the Golden Rule??

Does the end justify the means if the end is a more affluent lifestyle with swimming pools and piano lessons at the loss of all familial ties?

Surely it cannot be OK simply because the child has bonded to his her captors like any kidnap victim would - because if that were true we would not have expected - much less demanded - the return of Jaycee Lee Duggrad, Elizabeth Smart or any other kidnapped child, especially if said child has been snatched from the hospital nursery and was loved and cared for by someone who simply couldn't have a child of their own and now had become the "only parent the child ever knew".

I share with you three current cases:

Peri. Carla Moquin was defrauded into surrendering her middle daughter, Peri, into what was purported to be an extensively open adoption.  Carla and the adoptive couple, Susan and Demyn, appeared on a Discovery Channel show about their open arrangement. Shortly after the adoption, Susan reduced visits from monthly to annually, with NO CONTACT in between!  It turned out that Susan and Demyn never filed the contact agreement and told the agency now that they never intended to. She was willing to allow annual visits and Carla was not to introduce her other two girls to Peri as her sisters....Long story short, Carla is now working to overturn the adoption on grounds that her relinquishment was gained fraudulently with unkept promises of openness.

Is is right to expect promises to be kept? Is it OK to say anything to get a child you really want? Did Susan and Demyn have every right, once they were the legal parents to change whatever they agreed to before?  

Abrazo Adoption contributed to Carla's Bring Peri Home legal fund stating: they they encourage other adoption agencies to do so because: "Broken adoption promises hurt everyone." 

Full story and links to donate to help bring this child home to her mother and siblings is here. I have sent $100 and ask you to pay it forward and send what you would want someone to send to help YOU if it was YOUR child!

Anyeli Liseth Hernandez Rodriguez was kidnapped right out of mother's arms in Guatemala when the child was 2.  The child spent the next two years in the clutches of baby traffickers and eventually wound up - after two name changes and forged papers...she wound up adopted by a US couple, the Monahans of Missouri. Her story is here. KJ Dell Antonia, writing for Slate, believes there is a gray area. In an attempt to justify the Monahan's actions, Antonia says:
As for Anyali, the Guatemalan child now known as Karen Abigail (whose story is far from finished), her adoptive parents have been accused of knowing for years that their daughter was at least suspected of being stolen from her mother. If that's true, it sounds unforgivable. But consider that, according to journalist Erin Siegal, whose forthcoming book Finding Fernanda chronicles another case of a stolen Guatemalan child, Anyali's adoptive mother was told that if she pursued the question of why Anyali's DNA did not match that of the woman she'd been told was Anyali's birth mother, the man who had custody of Anyali might simply "dump the girl 'somewhere where nobody could find her.'" At this moment, Anyali's adoptive mother may be kidnapping her. At that moment, she might have saved her. It wouldn't excuse years of ignoring ugly evidence about Anyali's birth family, but it does suggest that things aren't black and white.

However, a comment to that story claims otherwise;
there is correspondence between the Monahans and their adoption agency in Miami (Celebrate Children International) that they knew pre-adoption that there was not a DNA match between the little girl and the woman giving her for adoption, meaning she had been kidnapped.  The Monahans talked with the agency about "burying" the DNA results or having her records falsified to show her as "abandoned" which was done.  See
website "findingfernanda" for details.
Tim and Jennifer Monahan are complicit in keeping a kidnapped child and should be prosecuted if they resist returning the child to her birth family.
- There is no "only family" here. Anyeli was with her mother for two years and with the Monhans for two years.

- The Monhans brought Anyeli to their home in December of 2008.  They knew since at least May 2009 that her mother claimed she had been kidnapped and her DNA has been flasified. There was chatter on many Guiatemala adoption forums and email lists, websites abotu stolen chidlren that featured this child, AND they were contacted by Norma Cruz of the Suriviros foundation in Guatemala bu refused to cooperate.

- The attorney the Monahans used for the adoption, Susana Luarca, went to prison for this case about 6 months ago 

- Kidnappings do not get ignored. Even parental kidnappings after divorce when a child has spent a LIFETIME with a parent who illegally snatched him or her, they are returned.

Vilma Ramirez - an immigrant from El Salvador.  Vilma's friend, Blanca Mirarchi was watching Vilma's fourth child and suggested Vilma consider adoption, a decision she now regrets. Mirachi found Kelley Grant and her husband who promised Vilma an open adoption. Vilma signed papers she didn't understand but thought she would maintain visitation as would her other children. The adoption process was to be finalized with within a 45 day period in which Vilma had an opportunity to change her mind. The Grants, however, came and took Vilam's daughter from Mirachi's residence while Vilma was at work, Vilma has been threatened with being deported if she pursues her attempts at overturning the adoption or even seeking visitation.

Where is the morality?

How do you keep a child from a family who wants him or her and is able and willing to provide for them? How do you justify lies in order to steal a child via adoption?

See Part II here.

Bring Anyeli Liseth Hernandez Rodriguez Home!

Guatemala mother searched 5 years for adopted girl

Loyda Rodriguez Morales felt someone tug at her daughter as she tried to enter her simple home with three young children in tow. She turned to see a woman whisk the 2-year-old away in a waiting taxi.

After nearly five years of searching, posting fliers, being turned away at orphanages and even staging a hunger strike, 

Rodriguez now holds what's believed to be an unprecedented Guatemalan court order declaring the child stolen and ordering the U.S. couple who eventually adopted her to give her back.

If U.S. authorities intervene to return the child, now 6, as the Guatemalan court has asked, it would be a first for any international adoption case, experts say.

A construction-paper sign taped Friday to the door of the girl's U.S. address, a two-story suburban Kansas City home, read: "Please respect our families (sic) privacy during this difficult and confusing time. We ask that you not trespass on our property for the sake of our children. Thank you."

The U.S. State Department referred all questions about the court ruling to the Justice Department, which would not comment on the case.

Rodriguez, 26, cried when she saw the July 29 court order made public this past week. She's already planning how to fix up her daughter's bedroom.

"I want it with a lot of decorations. I'm going to buy dolls and clothes so she's not lacking anything," she told The Associated Press. "If she wants to sleep alone, she'll have her room. If not, she can be with her brothers."

U.S. officials might simply try to ignore the order, said David Smolin, a law professor at the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama, and an expert in international adoption.

Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the Virginia-based National Council For Adoption, said he has never heard of the U.S. carrying out a foreign court order to return adopted children to their home country.

But the leading advocate in the Guatemala case said the U.S. government is obligated under international treaties to return victims of human trafficking or irregular adoptions that have occurred within five years.

The girl left the country on Dec. 9, 2008, according to court records.

"We're within the margin of time," said Norma Cruz, director of the Survivors Foundation, a human rights group that filed the court case for Rodriguez. "We don't have to contact the (adoption) family. The judge's order says authorities have to find the child, wherever she is."

The foundation doesn't allege the U.S. couple knew the girl they adopted had been kidnapped, only that the girl was snatched by a child trafficking ring and put up for adoption with a new name. The couple was identified in the court ruling as Timothy James Monahan and Jennifer Lyn Vanhorn Monahan of Liberty, Missouri.

Guatemala's quick adoptions once made this Central American nation of 13 million people a top source of children for the U.S., leading or ranking second only to China with about 4,000 adoptions a year. But the Guatemalan government suspended adoptions in late 2007 after widespread cases of fraud, including falsified paperwork, fake birth certificates and charges of baby theft — though they still allowed many already in process.

The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, a U.N.-created agency prosecuting organized crime cases in Guatemala, has reviewed more than 3,000 adoptions completed or in process and found nearly 100 grave irregularities.

The U.S. still does not allow adoptions from Guatemala, though the State Department is currently assisting with 397 children whose adoptions were in process at the time of the ban.

The court ruling signed by Judge Angelica Noemi Tellez Hernandez canceled the girl's passport and ordered her returned in two months, asking the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala for help in locating the child. The court says it will file an order with the international police agency, Interpol, if she is not returned.

Smolin said this is the first case he knows of a foreign judge ordering an American family to return an adopted child to her native country. He adopted two children from India who he later discovered were stolen, a situation he resolved by allowing the birth parents regular visits.

"This is the scenario that has made everybody afraid for years, the knock on the door from the reporter or whoever," Smolin said.

Anyeli Liseth Hernandez Rodriguez was born Oct. 1, 2004, the second child of Rodriguez, a housewife, and her bricklayer husband, Dayner Orlando Hernandez, who came as teenagers to Guatemala City looking for work. The girl disappeared Nov. 3, 2006, as Rodriguez was distracted while opening the door to their house in a working class suburb, San Miguel Petapa.

They reported their daughter missing to various local and federal law enforcement, including authorities in charge of human rights violations and missing children, according to documents of the U.N.-backed corruption commission.

Rodriguez said she searched for more than a year on her own and was repeatedly refused court permission to search foster homes where kids awaited adoption.

She found Cruz and the Survivors Foundation through a court employee in January 2008, and the two women staged a short hunger strike when they were still denied access of government adoption records, Rodriguez said. Once they were given access, it still took nearly a year to find a photo that resembled her daughter at the National Adoptions Council, where Rodriguez sifted through records with her brother for four straight days in March 2009.

"I felt like my heart was going to leap out. I knew it was her," she said.

Rodriguez submitted to a DNA test that established her as the mother, the corruption commission says.
But the girl was already in the United States, according to court records.

Anyeli's identity had been changed in early 2007 by Felicita Antonia Lopez Garcia, a woman claiming to be her mother, who changed the child's name to Karen Abigail and offered her for adoption, according to the court order. 

Lopez left the girl with an adoption agency, the Spring Association, several months later after she failed a DNA test, according to the corruption commission. The adoption agency had the girl declared abandoned and put her up for adoption in 2008.

In December of that year, the girl left the country with the Monahans, named in her Guatemalan passport as Karen Abigail Monahan Vanhorn and listed as being born Jan. 14, 2005.

Prosecutors for the corruption commission used Rodriguez's case to bring charges against lawyers and brokers with the Spring Association for alleged human trafficking for illegal adoptions and for using false documents. They include the lawyer who notarized the Monahans' adoption, according to the court order.

Cruz said she has two other cases involving illegal international adoptions in the works.

The home at the address given for the Monahans in the court order is a spacious house on a large, wooded lot with a carriage driveway and an orange soccer ball on the porch.

Earlier in the week, a woman came to the door and told an AP reporter she couldn't talk because she was on the phone. No one answered repeated calls for comment until the sign appeared Friday.
Rodriguez said she just wants her daughter back.

"They made a mistake taking my baby," Rodriguez said. "Perhaps they didn't know she was stolen."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

“Swing: The Search for my Father, Louis Prima” by Alan Gerstel

Just a Gigilo / I Ain’t Got Nobody

Review of “Swing: The Search for my Father, Louis Prima” by Alan Gerstel

Just a Gigolo, Everywhere I Go and I Aint Got Nobody are perhaps two of Louis Prima’s best known songs. They also would have made an excellent title for the memoir of his illegitimate adopted out son as the former describes his five-time married father, Louis Prima, who was known to have his way with the women and the later, sadly, describes his wanna-be mother who gave up everything to chase a dream to be a singer.  The former is idolized by Alan, who he credits him with his musical talent and stage-presence. The later not.

Swing, is a long and engagingly well-written book that will be of interest to Prima fans and adoptees who have searched or are in the process. The 313 pages read quickly, and despite a bit of redundancy and some details that could have been edited out, and the absence of a Table of Contents, is for the most part interesting, entertaining and appealing, and is interspersed with a tale of his mother’s life pieced together by informants with “gaps filled in.”

Born in 1943, Alan’s complicated search took place pre-Internet. But the final break through in tracking his mother from maiden to married name came by simply tracing her phone listing and seeing the same number issues to someone with the same first and middle name at the same address.  A clever tactic that took close to a decade, bribes and a couple of PIs to think of it!

What struck me the most, however, were the great lengths Alan went to to protect his adoptive mother from being hurt by his interest in his origins. He idolized her despite describing her as having “smothered” him with love, and despite his adoptive parents having bought him in what he calls a “gray market” adoption, while casting his natural mother as the villain for being the recipient.

His disdain for the woman who bore began, however, long before he learned of the financial transactions that transpired. Having been told he was adopted when he was five along with how much they loved him and chose him “from all the babies” at the hospital, it was never spoken of again. 

As a teen, Alan dreamt repeatedly of knocking on the door of “an attractive but matronly woman” and announcing: “I’m your son. I want you to see what you threw away. I want you to eat your heart out because I am successful, and popular, and happy. And you…you gave me away when you should have kept me and loved me.”  He always woke from the dream, he says, “feeling furious, frustrated, and filled with self-loathing.”

It is not surprising having had these strong feelings that upon learning of her death before he ever had a chance to meet her, he needed to utilize his “method acting” skills to “look stunned, saddened, and nearly in tears.” When he learned she had committed suicide he said: “I felt also that suicide didn’t seem out of character for someone who would get pregnant and skipped out…” Perhaps not just out of character but appropriate.

He saw his mother as an opportunist after learning that two couples had approached her three weeks before she gave birth with offers to pay her expenses and something for the time she was unable to work.  The adoring parents who raised him had bought him, ran off with him looking over their shoulder in fear she'd try to change her mind,  but were seen as doing no evil.

He describes his natural mother, however, as having seen them as “pigeons” even though they approached her. Three weeks before she delivered, she had made not one attempt at seeking anyone to adopt, or give her any money for, her baby. She likely would have simply left him with the nuns at the hospital.

His father: just a gigolo with a string of what would be today be called “groupies”. His mother, aint got nobody, even to attend her funeral, buried in potters field. Could it be anymore ironic?

In addition to her taking money, the other thing that stuck in his crow was being told that when she turned and left him and someone drew attention to the tear in her eye, she toughened up and said he wasn’t crying for “the kid” but rather for the time the whole pregnancy things had set her back in her career. Maybe it was truly how she felt or maybe it was a 21-year-old raised by a street thug alcoholic father trying to be tough and not show any weakness. Maybe it was her trying so hard to be strong that led to her following in the footsteps of her father’s drinking, and eventually her death. In any event he did shed a tear at her graveside before continuing on to his real goal: his Father!

Besides the fame, it may have been easier for Alan to focus on his male adulterous progenitor with less hostility and blame as Prima had not actually handed him over or accepted any payment. Or, was it because his adoptive mom doted on him – the only child – while his adoptive father made him feel like a piece of merchandise he had bought, spent little time with him, and once in anger said he regretted they hadn’t adopted a girl, expressed disappointment with him, and calling him names eluding to his lower-class roots: “Bum… Beatnick… Truck Driver!”

I was struck by two things. One was Alan's inability to feel any compassion or even pity for his natural mother and the extent to which he felt compelled to protect his adoptive mother from any hurt she might feel knowing of his natural, normal quest for his genealogical roots.  Not a thought that this young woman dealing all alone with a crisis, drank and took her life because she missed him, and regretted loosing him (which I, as a mother who lost a child to adoption, felt for her)...that she drank herself to death to keep the secret she took with her to her death.  Alan, however, preferred to fulfill his youthful dream that she suffered what was due and just dessert for having dumped him...while at the same time professing to be glad she did.

Throughout his minutely detailed search - during which I was one of the many people contacted for help -  he maintained secrecy from his adoptive mother, even after learning that his extended family were critically important to unraveling the complexities of his convoluted beginnings, having known his original mother, at least during the summer of her pregnancy.

I scored it up to classic "male adoptee" whore/madonna mentality and I began to wonder just how common it is for adoptees to feel paralyzed by this fear of hurting their adoptive mother by searching. I knew it was not uncommon, but how common? How many adoptees search in secret or wit till their adoptive parents pass away to begin. Do they regret waiting so long, often missing any possibility of meeting their original parents? Or do most not really care (or not let themselves care) – like Alan, seeking knowledge and facts more than relationship?

So, I conducted some totally unscientific research on Facebook, asking adoptees if they searched in secret? Were afraid to hurt their adoptive parents? Regretting waiting till they died to search?

At first it seemed to fit neatly into BJ Lifton’s classic description of the “good adoptee” who, like Alan, waited in fear….and the “bad adoptee” who threw all caution to the wind or even flaunted a search and reunion.

Betty Sue said she searched without her adoptive parents’ knowledge. “My amom would be VERY upset. She is 88 and is just not worth it to go there. I have HUGE regrets about not searching earlier. I was afraid to upset that apple cart.” At the opposite end of the spectrum is Heidi who: “searched very 'in your face' to my adopters from the get-go. Told them everything I was doing but *shared* nothing. Our relationship was toxic and volatile... I did it that way precisely to hurt their feelings. …. I told them I found her and then withheld all details (which their insecurity drove them to seek over and over) and then, the day before I was flying to meet her in person, I told them I was going. Again, when I got home, didn't share any details... just the fact that it was perfect, she was perfect, and for the first time in my ENTIRE life, I felt right, real, beautiful and worthy... all the things they had worked so hard to prevent me feeling for my whole lifetime.”

But then came Michael, whose answer reveals why so many adoptees keep their searches private. Michael “didn't keep it a secret that I was searching but didn't advertise it either.” Michael, 37, “started asking questions” when he as 18.

“My adoptive mother seemed perturbed, so I put it on the back burner to be taken up at a later date. When I was in college away from home, I took up a full fledged search and hired an investigator. After I found my bio mother, my adoptive mother was leery about me pursuing it further and let me know. I have introduced my found bio sister to my adoptive mother but that is the extent of what I share with her. It's not a popular topic between us and I don't talk about my bio relatives with her.… When I rediscovered them again after a long absence under the radar, I virtually kept it a secret from my adoptive mother until my bio mother suddenly died. When I expressed anguish over the death and recounted the time I had spent with her, my adoptive mother cut me off in midsentence. As of the present, the whole issue is one of the past. I still speak to my bio sister but don't talk about it.”

Alexa who “left home as soon as possible” because her adoptive parents were so abusive and her adoptive mother she described as “always so angry and probably crazy. I wanted to find my [original mother] so badly. I didn't really know how to search so I did not find her until I was 30. Since I was not in touch with my A-parents and had not been in years and never planned on being in touch with them again, it had no effect.”

So sad that adoption is so filled with fear, secrets, hiding, lying, insecurities, fear of rejection (something Alan mentions more than once) and anger. Sad that too few adoptive parents have been able to let go of their insecurities enough to allow their adopted offspring to integrate who they began as into who they have become. Hopefully, this is slowly changing, but then so too are more adoptions spanning continents making reconnecting more difficult, often by specific intent.

In the end, Alan meets and is embraced by half siblings on his father's side and has one conversation with a scary ex-con uncle on his mother's side. He never again mentions his adoptive parents who one can only assume died long before he finally had the courage to write and publish the details of his nefarious search and the relatives who conspired to help him.

He pulled it all off and was recognized and welcomed as Louis Prima's son, was embraced by siblings, no longer an only child.

Alan Gerstel's deep psychological honesty adds to adoption literature yet another view inside the life of a man who claims to have been glad he was not raised by the mother who bore him, felt exceedingly loved by the mother who raised him, had a loving wife, and yet never knew happiness till he found kin who looked like him.

I think Alan might agree or understand well the final words sent to me by Michael, the adoptee quoted above, when he says from the time he was old enough to understand that he was born to another: "Being adopted was forefront in my mind as the basis for my identity or lack thereof until the found stage of my search and reunion. Before that, I was a blank slate every time I looked in the mirror."

Yet the public chooses to disallow the depth of the losses adoption separation leaves deeply engrained into the psyche, the lives, and the souls of those it "rescues" and claims instead that it is a win-win when it is clearly a win-loose.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Exciting Decision: Guatemalan Court Orders Return of Child Adopted to US

Wonderful news!!!

Guatemalan Court Revokes Passport for Child Adopted to US Under Name “Karen Abigail”

She was one of the children featured on ThreeDaysforThreeDaughters which I have blogged about.   Now she needs to be brought back home to Guatemala and her family!!

Now, Guatemalan Judge Angelica Noemi Tellez Hernandez ordered a U.S. couple to return their adopted daughter to her birth mother, siding with a human rights group that says the girl was stolen by a child trafficking ring and put up for adoption. The girl was kidnapped in 2006 and taken out of the country under a new name two years later and was last known to be living in Missouri.

Tellez’s ruling also says Guatemala’s government must cancel the passport used to take the girl out of the country. It further orders that if the girl is not returned within two months, Guatemalan authorities should solicit help locating the girl from Interpol, the international police organization.

Nine Guatemalans, including a judge, have been charged in the case. The Survivor's Foundation doesn’t allege the U.S. couple knew the girl had been kidnapped. The court identified the couple as Timothy James Monahan and Jennifer Lyn Vanhorn Monahan of Liberty, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City.

The ruling says the U.S. parents can appeal the ruling in Guatemalan courts and asks the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala to help locate the girl.

Norma Cruz, of the Survivors’ Foundation, said she believes this is the first time a Guatemalan court has ordered a child to be returned on the grounds that an adoption was fraudulent.

I am pleased to see the Guatemalan gvt following up on these cases, albeit far too slowly. This is the second PROVEN case, the first was caught just prior to her leaving Guatemala for the US to be adopted: the child of Ana Escobar, taken at gunpoint! I wrote about these cases here, here, and here.

Ana Escobar and her daughter Esther taken on my visit to Guatemala, 2009 when I visited the Survivor's Foundation.

What is needed now for this child and and several others is for the US gvt to DNA all children suspected of having been kidnapped to conform or deny allegations of such international felony crimes. It is sinful that people could just go on with their lives with a possible kidnap victim in their home and ignore it...and not think it will kick them in the back someday when that child finds out, as they WILL, since there names have been all over Internet all of their lives!

How can people be THAT desperate for a child that they would turn their back on such an egregious avenue to obtain one? How do they sleep at night?

Do they think the "end" - more material possessions - justifies the means?

This is a huge victory that has been years in the making. It is just a first step not just for this one child, but for at least two other children likewise identified as possible victims, living in the US.

Sympathy for the adoptive parents would have been in order in 2006 when they were first told that the acquisition of the child they adopted was questionable...but not now, after they delayed requests to have her DNA tested to confirm or deny that the child had been a victim of a felony. They delayed and delayed, making the child a stranger in her own native land, he native language and her family.

Initially, they were victims themselves. They did not intend to kidnap nor to adopt a kidnapped child. But their reluctance to make it right as soon as their was suspicion, makes them complicit -  accessories after the fact.

What they did is every bit as wrong as the Brazilian family who kept Sean from his father David Goldman. They also did not kidnap the child but they kept him from his father and his native land. It is wrong. it is wrong when it is done TO Americans and it is equally wrong when it is done BY Americans!

I pray the other children likewise kidnapped and living with American families are all returned to their rightful, loving families.
"If ... the best interests of the child is to be the determining factor in child custody cases ... persons seeking babies to adopt might profitably frequent grocery stores and snatch babies from carts when the parent is looking the other way. Then, if custody proceedings can be delayed long enough, they can assert that they have a nicer home, a superior education, a better job or whatever, and that the best interests of the child are with the baby snatchers. Children of parents living in public housing or other conditions deemed less affluent and children of single parents might be considered particularly fair game." -- Justice James Heiple, Illinois Supreme Court in the "Baby Richard" case.

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget