Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kyrgyzstan Adoption Disaster
From Another Perspective

Childless in a Land of Orphans

My wife and I made our home in Kyrgyzstan, a land with few straight roads. We’ve been trying to adopt one of the many orphans in this enchanted land since 2007, but a string of curves threw us off our path.

We returned to California and found an adoption agency to speed up the process. Preparatory home-study documents were tedious. An $18,000 fee to finalize adoption overseas seemed hideous.

$18,000 in addition to thousands for traveling, for diplomatic fees, processing charges, orphanage gifts, etc. etc. put the final tab above $30,000. Obviously, we needed to know what the mysterious $18,000 covered. Wrong question. The agency did not want anyone asking! We returned to Kyrgyzstan without paying, because we have been in Central Asia long enough to know that unexplained fees often perpetuate corruption and darken the eyes of local officials.

Of course we did not want to assume that our friendly, Christian agency would partake in such criminality, but avoiding normal questions about exorbitant fees did raise red flags about their intentions. Back in Kyrgyzstan we learned that our adoption agency’s local worker had been accused of corruption. She had a reputation in Kyrgyzstan for helping Americans buy babies. Her actions were corrupting the process and making it nearly impossible for non-Americans to adopt. Since we are “local” she considered us insiders, and told us personally that she was bribing officials and making fake adoption documents. We immediately informed the agency back in California that their representative was accused of paying fees under the table. We thought they would be thankful for the information. Instead they responded by ending their relationship with us, and keeping their other American clients from interacting with us.

Non-Americans trying to adopt have accused Americans of paying for children. Such American activities put a price on children and place babies into the baby-trade or “market.” Increased prices increase demand.  Demand creates more orphans, unnatural orphans.  Those refusing to pay or unable to pay are pushed out of the market. In Kyrgyzstan, the losers are childless Kyrgyz families - families who are legally granted first priority. We found ourselves lumped with these Kyrgyz couples, because we would not pay $8000. If we had, the representative from our American agency would have opened the way for us.

We also found a sector of society that produces babies for market: mothers who give their babies to the booming baby business. We have witnesses who say orphanage directors pay these mothers to release their child into the adoption cycle.

If I had not lived in Kyrgyzstan or if I had no contact with non-Americans trying to adopt, I probably would have assumed the $18000 from California (or the $8000 from Bishkek) was an official fee. I would have assumed my friendly Christian agency was working on my behalf and on behalf of the children in Kyrgyzstan.

We met one American Christian volunteer in an orphanage here. She told us that she was transferring funds from the agency in California to the aforementioned corrupt representative in Kyrgyzstan. The California agency gave the volunteer over $100,000 to pass on to the local representative who then moved the money to a government official, $8,000 for each child-to-family match. Innocent American parents are never told this price. They assume their friendly agency is providing a just and right way to help the needy. The American Christian volunteer was offered no contract and given no receipts for the $1000s she was transferring. When she was warned about the criminality of her activities, she quickly returned the remaining money back to California.

Once Bishkek's corrupt government official was paid $8000, she opened the door for adoption.

A stream of nice American parents continued adopting desperately needy babies long after accusations and charges became public in Kyrgyzstan. My wife and I stood on the side with hundreds of childless Kyrgyz couples, who were told to wait until more babies became available. We watched many elated couples take their new babies home.

Honest Kyrgyz government officials and human rights organizations became aware of the child-trafficking-guised-as-adoption within their country. The government threatened to shut down international adoptions so they could sort out the confusion. At least one American adoption agency ignored the warnings and continued “business as usual,” dragging more unsuspecting families into a nightmarish dead-end. Why would adoption agencies ignore the warnings? American adoption agencies have experience from previous bans on Romanian, Guatemalan, and Cambodian adoptions. They knew exactly where the process was going, but still they took more paying families on board.

Now Kyrgyz adoptions have also been halted and sixty-five American families are stuck in a heart-wrenching political stalemate. Countless Kyrgyz couples and families from other countries, and untold babies are also choking in the horror.

The sixty-five American families could be investigating their own agencies before accusing Kyrgyz officials. One wise individual properly said, “Remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Kyrgyzstan needs help, but not from those funding the corruption.

A lot of wonderful folks have been duped by friendly, caring, religious agencies. I even think the agencies hire sincere employees who do care about the babies and families, but have no idea what their directors are doing. It is the perfect scam: set up an adoption agency, hire sympathetic employees, organize an illegal contract, and hire an in-country representative who “knows the system.” Then entice one of the most patient and non-assuming sectors of society - families wanting to adopt. Unsuspecting employees provide the perfect smokescreen between families and director. I would have fallen for the heist if I had not been exposed to all the tears and complaints from Central Asia.

Of the $18,000, we found where $8,000 goes. What about the remaining $10,000? We don’t know what happens to it, but we have sources from California and from Kyrgyzstan telling us that the American adoption agencies signed a very costly contract with a renegade government official, who has since been removed. Every businessman knows the cost of that pricey, illegal contract needs to be recovered.

The sixty-five American families seem to be blaming corrupt Kyrgyz officials for postponing their adoption. That is understandable, but a few brave Kyrgyz are already risking their lives to expose those corrupt officials. And the American embassy is working tirelessly here for the 65 families. But is anyone accusing the directors of the American adoption agencies, or do these businessmen get off free? Unfortunately, Americans still find ways to finance the corruption, even after Guatemalan, Cambodian, and Romanian adoption scandals were exposed.

I am sad that Kyrgyz children, adoptive parents, and Kyrgyz families are victims who suffer dramatically, while the adoption agencies who created the immense problem pocket the money and get off unaccused.

Follow by Email