The Twin Falls Times-News today reports that more New Life “missionaries” than previously known were in the Dominican Republic preparing the so-called “orphanage” while Team Silsby was busy gathering up the boodle.

We already knew that Eastside Baptist Church members John Requa and Matt and Lora Crider remained at the “orphanage” while church pastor Paul Thompson, his son Silas Thompson, and member Steve McMullin crossed into Haiti. (I thought I had already posted about Requa and the Criders, but they are in an unfinished blog that I hope to get up soon. Baby Love Child, covers them here.)

Now we learn that Nancy Rodriguez, wife of Paul Rodriguez, Magic Valley Baptist Association director of missions, and four “missionaries” from an unnamed group in Texas were also at the “orphan” hotel. This makes (so far) 17 onsite New Life adoption traffickers recruited by Laura Silsby. According to the News-Times:

The plan had been to gather up orphaned children and take them across the border to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. Eastside members Matt and Lora Crider and John Requa were joined in Haiti’s neighboring country by Nancy Rodriguez – wife of Paul Rodriguez, director of missions for the Magic Valley Baptist Association….

Requa arrived in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 28, with the Criders following the next day. They busied themselves working with another group from Texas to get the hotel that would serve as a temporary building ready for the children.

The Criders and Requa cut bait and returned to the US on Janaury 31, and the unnamed Texans the next day. The article doesn’t say when Nancy Rodriguez arrived and left DR. I have been unable to determine what church the Rodriquezes belong to.

Talk about the sounds of silence!

Paul Rodriguez posted a message (undated) linking MVBA to the prisoners, but he fails to say that his wife was working at the “orphanage” when the arrests happened. The message begins (my emphasis):

It has been too many days now since our people were arrested and are still imprisoned in Haiti. Please do not grow weary...

There is also a picture of the MVBA’s Disaster Relief Team (undated) that appears to be taken back in Twin Falls, not in the middle of an earthquake or any other disaster. Members are not identified, though someone who looks like Paul Rodriguez is the 3rd from the left, last row. I do not know what Nancy Rodriquez looks like. If MVBA sent its relief team to Haiti, I can find no record of it.

It gets more interesting. In addition to today’s article, a search through the Twin Falls Times-News indicates that Paul Rodriguez was referenced three times (and Nancy none) in the paper’s coverage of the arrests of the Eastside Baptist Church members. In none of them did Rodriquez mention that Mrs. Rodriquez was part of the gang. Maybe it has something to do with the crossed T’s and dotted I’s he mentions.

February 7,2010: Fellow Baptist pastors defend Thompson against Haiti charges

Paul Rodriguez, director of Magic Valley Baptist Association, said he’s “very disturbed” that Thompson is being held on the criminal charges.

With Thompson in Port-au-Prince is his 19-year-old son Silas, and Steve McMullin, both of Twin Falls and also members of Eastside Baptist Church.

Paul Thompson is known for working closely with the youth in his church and was concerned about homeless children being on the streets, said Rodriguez, who’s known Thompson for about 20 years. Thompson often encouraged families to accept foster children into their homes.

“This thing about trafficking and kidnapping — not Paul. Not Paul. Without a doubt, he had no intentions of trafficking or kidnapping children. Something arose, something went wrong,” Rodriguez said….

…This should be a lesson learned for other congregations, Sjostrom said. Churches should take the time to study and plan before jumping into relief efforts.

“I think they were foolish in moving so quickly just because of the earthquake,” he said. “I think it was done with the best of intentions, but that isn’t going to cut it. … They should have planned better. There needs to be checks and balances.”

Rodriguez concurred. “This is a lesson that we need to learn very well,” he said. “We need to be more prepared in the future, and make sure that our T’s are crossed and our I’s are dotted.”

February 21, 2010: McMullin welcomed home:

Steve McMullin (right) arrived to the warm embrace of family and friends Saturday at Joslin Field, Magic Valley Regional Airport.

McMullin, a member of Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, arrived to the airport at about noon.

His arrival was announced only to family and friends, said Paul Rodriguez, missions director of the Magic Valley Baptist Association….

…Rodriguez said McMullin didn’t say much about his ordeal, but he had something to say to McMullin.

“I said, ‘Steve, good job. Good job.’ He said, ‘I didn’t do anything.’ But he did,” Rodriguez said. “He handled himself in a very Christian way through all of this.”

After a while the group at the airport broke out singing “Amazing Grace,” Rodriguez said…

…Rodriguez said he did not know when Thompson would arrive from Kansas, where he’s staying with family.

“They want to stay there for a little while. That’s what I heard,” he said.

Really interesting is the February 1, 2010, KMTV news video on the arrests that includes Paul Rodriguez silent on his wife’s involvement with Silslby.

Now what about the Texans? I went back and looked at numerous news reports that referenced Texas in the New Life saga. There are no Texans in the plural. Only Jim Allen.

Allen, who IS from Amarillo, has said nothing about meeting up with any other Texans at the “orphanage” before he went into Haiti and was popped with Team Silsby. He has maintained that he was recruited by his cousin Eastside Pastor Paul Thompson (later detained in Haiti) and had about 48 hours turnaround time on the trip. He says he had no prior knowledge of Silsby and, in fact, met her for the first time at the Miami airport. So far, I’ve seen no reason to question that scenario. His church, the Paramount Baptist Church, makes no mention of a Haiti trip,though it does have a “disaster relief team.” (As much as I’ve written about the churchy folks elsewhere, I’ve never heard of individual church disaster teams until now. I suppose that has something to do with the de-professionalism of the Protestant missionary industry.)

So we now have another mystery. Who are the Texas missionaries and why have they disappeared from the Silsby story? We’d really love to hear more from Nancy Rodriguez, too.

Just how many people were in on this little junket down to Haiti?

Thanks to commenter Robin for finding this article so quickly this morning!

CORREC TION: I was just over at websleuths and someone pointed out I had possibly mislabeled Paul Rodriguez suggesting he and Nancy were in the front row on the far left holding hands. I checked, and by golly, I believe they are correct. My eyes just glazed over them

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  1. Now that we know there was a troupe of missionaries in the Dominican Republic, and since he was in real estate and had a cousin in law, I can imagine that when things went bad, someone who knew someone who knew Jorge got him involved.

    OR Jorge was already helping them line up workers for orphanage, nice DR citizens who would stay there permanently….

  2. Just saw this crossing the wires:

    Orphanage director: Haiti holds 6 US-bound kids

    “PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – A U.S. orphanage director says Haitian authorities are holding six orphans they prevented from leaving the country even though they had the proper documents.

    Jan Bonnema of Children of the Promise orphanage says the youngest, a one-year-old boy, has diarrhea and is dehydrated. She says the children are traumatized.

    Bonnema says Haitian police detained the children and the four women escorting them out of the earthquake-shattered country at Port-au-Prince airport Saturday after a crowd accused the women of child trafficking.

    The women were released after U.S. diplomats intervened, but the children, ages 1 to 5, remained in a government nursery in a tent camp on Monday night.

    Bonnema says she hopes the case is cleared up Tuesday.”

    Here we go again!!

  3. Gary Tuchman of CNN did a piece on this on Anderson Cooper’s AC360 tonight, which included interviews with the women who were detained. They say that these kids had been in the pipeline for adoption and they had documents signed by Prime Minister Bellerive allowing them to take them to the US.

    They went to the airport with the kids, where a crowd of Haitians began to shout at them, accusing them of kidnapping Haitian children. Police were called, they claimed that PM Bellerive’s signature was forged, and they brought the kids, who were about one to three years old, to another orphanage. It was located in a tent, and was not the one where they had lived for several years. It’s a mess, and the mother and aides are distressed, but not in jail. The kids are disoriented, and don’t know anyone there except one of the American aides

    CNN called the PM, but he hasn’t returned their call.

  4. Thanks, merrymico. Here’s the article:

    And here’s one of the comments, by “deesse”:

    “Connecting the dots: Isaac Adrien, the Haitian Middleman for the Idaho 10 is coordinator for Children of Promise. Children of Promise and House of blessings are co-founded by Philip Murphy. According to children of Promise website and statement made by Philip Murphy, these children are not available for adoption.

    The police said the prime minister’s signature was forged. If this turned out to be true, this is the second time this orphanage or someone associated with this orphanage has been caught taking children out of Haiti illegally. All directly or indirectly involved with these cases must be thoroughly investigated.”

    If “deesse” is a reader of this blog, maybe he/she can comment further.

    And from the Feb. 5 article from The Ledger linked in the above comment:

    Murphy did have his own brief problem with accompanying Haitian children out of the country last week. He went to Callebasse on Jan. 16, four days after the earthquake, to determine the damage to the House of Blessings. Although the orphanage was not damaged, Desir told Murphy her three children would be unable to attend school and asked that he take them to the United States.

    Although the children had valid passports and visas, Murphy and the children were stopped by the Department of Homeland Security upon their arrival in Florida, and the children were temporarily detained. Department officials said a letter of entrance had not been properly notarized.

    Keith Rupp, communications director for U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam (R, Bartow), said Putnam’s aides helped put Murphy in touch with the proper authorities, and the children were released four days later. Murphy said they are staying with his sister-in-law in Indianapolis.”

    This Philip Murphy guy, who claims he was “wrongly linked” to the Silsby 10, has been running a parallel operation.

  5. Going back to the Silsby 10 case, I saw this in the comments of a WSJ article:

    “While in the Dominican Republic in December, Silsby registered plans for a proposed orphanage, but not in her name. She used straw buyers, unnamed American citizens living there. (Note that it is not clear that any money actually changed hands.) That means Silsby had opened an avenue for transferring her assets out of the U.S. to be hidden under other people’s names, shielding her from losses in the numerous legal actions she faces here in the U.S. Future earnings from her ‘orphanage’ would also be out of reach of the government and creditors since the straw owners would funnel them to her.

    This makes a lot of sense to me.

  6. I just wast to make my last comment more clear. The orphanage said the PM signature was authentic BUT how would the orphanage know that if the americans were at the airport WAITING for the signed paper?

  7. My understanding was that they had the paperwork. When they showed up at the airport, people started calling them traffickers. So the police investigated. They were concerned that the signature was not authentic, so they took the kids and things are at an impasse until the paperwork is authenticated.
    It is highly possible I misread it.


    That is on the Children of Promise website, note what it states:

    We have attached a report from Phil Murphy on his trip to Haiti. Most of the report is general in nature; specific information regarding COP children will be forthcoming. The report gives important information regarding trips to Haiti for the purposes of assistance. If you or your church is considering putting a team together, please consult this information. It is very important that the contact persons in the report be consulted and contacted before making any plans.

    Please do not bombard the included emails and phone lines with unimportant questions or information. If it is not related to a team going down or materials, please send your questions to Phil Murphy first. He will do my very best to answer what he can. These folks on the ground are exhausted, overwhelmed and over worked. Phil’s contact information is included in the attached report.

    Children of Promise will not be hosting groups going to Haiti. However, we will be happy to refer persons or groups to the leaders in Phil’s report. At present, Children of Promise will only be accepting donations of funds. If you want to donate specific items, as listed in the report, please contact the persons mentioned in Phil’s report.

  9. Children Of Promise update:

    “Haitian official: orphans turned over to US

    Haiti has handed U.S. officials six orphans its police seized over the weekend as they were about to board a plane for the United States, a top Haitian official said Tuesday.

    Social Welfare agency chief Jeanne Bernard Pierre would not say exactly when her office transferred the children to the U.S. Embassy, and officials there did not return calls seeking confirmation.

    A spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who intervened on behalf of the four women trying to escort the orphans out of Haiti, said the children were cleared to depart Haiti by all the required government agencies.

    The spokeswoman, Erikka Knuti, also said she expected the group to leave on Tuesday.

    News of the hand-over followed a Tuesday meeting between U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten and Haiti’s prime minister.”

    Wasn’t there a lot of noise a few weeks ago about no new adoptions being approved in Haiti? There’s nothing I’ve seen about these orphans that says when they were officially approved.

    Thanks to Amy Klobuchar, we probably won’t find out.

  10. Anonymous 3:03 PM — from your link:

    “”I think they could be released this week,” the judge, Bernard Sainvil, told Reuters.”

    “The case will be over this week because we have no criminal grounds to pursue it,” added Sainvil, who spoke after questioning the two Americans, Laura Silsby and Charisa Coulter, in a Port-au-Prince courtroom.

    In his comments to Reuters, Sainvil, who visited the neighboring Dominican Republic as part of his investigation into Silsby and Coulter, said the pair would be freed as soon as he could process the necessary paperwork.

    He gave no further details but said, “We haven’t found anything that could suggest wrongdoing on the part of the Americans.”

    ^&*$&^#$ yeah right.

  11. Wasn’t there a lot of noise a few weeks ago about no new adoptions being approved in Haiti? There’s nothing I’ve seen about these orphans that says when they were officially approved.

    I think you are correct (about new adoptions), however, I think these adoptions were already in the pipeline but held up due to the earthquake.

    Here is a blog from COP. Entries for January 31 and Februar 3 speak of help from DHS and the State Department for clearance of the adopted children.

  12. I just got finished reading comments on the Idaho Statesman and it seems like the good people of Idaho are plenty angry about the embarrasment the Silby 10 has brought to their state. They are angry at the 18 lawmakers that wrpte the letter to Haiti too.

  13. Anonymous 4:25 PM: from your link:

    “wednesday, february 3, 2010

    Note from Marica Roorda
    Out of the 24 children at Children of the Promise that have adoptive families waiting for them, 12 were approved by the State Department in the last 24 hours.”

    It seems to me that, by definition, if they were approved by both the State Dept and the Haitian Government after the earthquake, then they are new adoptions no matter where they were in the “pipeline” when the quake hit. In any case, I don’t think anyone is playing by any consistent rules here other than “get as many babies out as you can”.

    As for the incident at the airport, as haitivox noted, “…what’s most noteworthy is the anger displayed by Haitians toward this group of missionaries, and the general hostility that has developed toward missionaries engaging in orphan support, in the wake of the New Life Children’s Refuge and Laura Silsby debacle.”

  14. Anon Guy:

    I agree with your definition of “new adoptions,” however, our definition probably isn’t the same as those who were in the process of adoption.

    As for the reaction of the Haitians to the Thacker adoption, I believe the Haitian people truly love and care for their country’s children. Maybe they are being awakened to the ugliness that has sometimes occurred in the name of God. It’s good that they are calling into question outsiders’ intentions towards the children.

    I’m sure there are established orphanages in Haiti which care for and love children, however, I have a feeling there may be other institutions that exploit and sell children to the highest bidder.

    If anything good comes out of the Idaho 10 debacle it will be the attention it has focused on international adoptions and the ethics surrounding such.

  15. CNN AC360 doing a piece on the Children of the Promise case aka the Thacker case. Gary Tuchman is reporting, he appears to be drunk or having problems slurring his words…again. The whole thing is a rah-rah for the adopters.

  16. Jorge’s new site is absolutely hysterical. I loved the defense of his prior incarcerations and proclamation of his victimhood. I just could not stop laughing, especially when he compares himself to Martha Stewart, another victim of corrupt legal systems.

    This is a very disturbed man, a pathological liar, a sociopath, a narcissist and someone with serious identity issues. Hey, tomorrow he may transform himself into “Yoram the assassin,” and claim to be the mastermind behind a recent murder in Dubai.

    I truly hope he’s apprehended soon, and lives the rest of his life in a prison in El Salvador.

  17. Yes, I thought Martha Stewart was a nice touch. I wonder if in his spare time Jorge folds fine linen napkins into roses or finds clever crafts to make with cat hair or teabags.

  18. I hope his cellmates make him a colourful poncho. Where he’s going, the teabag option sounds about right.

    The NYT did a great and very funny piece on Puello (World-Americas) dated Feb 23rd. Even his wife isn’t sure who he is..

  19. I have always considered myself to be a fairly intelligent woman, but this story is so convoluted it reminds me of a Chinese puzzle box. I lost track of time, yesterday, following the links. WOW.

  20. NYTimes also has a piece on the Ed Rendell babylift. It is mostly more rah-rah cheerleading, but they do include this paragraph:

    “But for 12 of the children, last month’s airlift transported them from one uncertain predicament to another. As it turns out, those children — between 11 months and 10 years old — were not in the process of being adopted, might not all even be orphans and are living in a juvenile care center here while the authorities determine whether they have relatives in Haiti who are able to take care of them.”

  21. I just wanted to make a few things clear here… I am Phil Murphy’s daughter who also went to Haiti-with Phil – a few days after the earthquake. It troubles me that my father has been linked to this Silsby Group!!! WE DO NOT KNOW THESE PEOPLE! WE HAVE NEVER MET THEM!!!! WE DONT EVEN KNOW HOW WE HAVE BEEN LINKED TO THEM!!!!! My family has lived in Haiti since 1986. They have raised over 40 kids in the House of Blessings. The director of the HOB now is one of the girls we have raised. She is married and has three kids. And yes we did bring those kids out of Haiti because my parents see them as grandkids. My mother delivered all three of them btw! And we want to make sure they are safe… and that thier parents are able to focus and not worry about their kids. One of them was kid knapped a few years ago and we all have not been the same since.Isaac and Steve (translators for the Silsby group), were indeed raised in the House of Blessings as well. They chose to help the Silsby group on their own. WE have nothing to do with that…and Steve and Isaac both know that we are unhappy that they chose to get involoved. I think they were “just trying to help”…. People like Laura Silsby piss me off. You are not going to save the Haitian people by taking children out of good homes!!! May family has worked hard to gain the trust of the Haitian people in Callebasse…people like Laura SIlsby ruin that! You have no idea how disturbed my family is to even know some of the kids that were taken. My parents also do a summer camp each year where many of those kids attend. I think Laura’s heart was bigger than her brains! I do not think she is trafficking kids… I do feel she is impulsive and illogical! Yes, Haiti has MANY needs… but Haiti also has rules that need to be observed. Which my family has done. One other point I would like to make. WE do not do adoptions. Our children are raised as Haitians to live in HAiti. Our main focus is EDUCATION! Also, we ARE NOT BAPTIST!!!! My familys’ hearts are in Haiti…. My brother was born and raised there. WE have only goals to help restore Haiti. NONE of those goals are associated with that Silsby Group! I would appreciate if you would all stop associating us with them! DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE you ASSume! I would expect more from the NEW York TImes!

  22. For Elle85:

    I think there is some confusion between the names of two orphanges.

    Yours is named Children of Promise – which does not do adoptions.

    The orphanage which was reported in the news this past weekend is named Children of the Promise – which does sponsor adoptions.

    Am I correct with that information? And if so, good for you guys that you offer help to the Haitians and their children within their own country.

    Also, if you can answer this, has Isaac given any testimony concerning his encounter with Silsby?

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