Originally published August 3, 2005

Nobody is forgotten. Nothing is forgotten.
Nikto ne zabyt – Nichto ne zabyto
….Olga Bergolts

Since 1996 at least 15 children adopted from Russia by USians have died at the hands of their Forever Parents.

“Experts” like to say that these kinds of deaths are “rare,” yet no other national or ethnic cohort of children placed internationally with US parents have sustained such abuse. The Daily Bastardette will discuss the Russian situation in other posts, but for now, here are the stories of these children who have found their Forever Homes not with loving adoptive parents but in the grave.

DAVID POLREIS, JR, (birth name unknown) age 2, Greeley, Colorado. Died February 9, 1996; beaten and cut over 90% of his body. Adoptive mother Renee Polreis, 42, claimed David beat himself to death with a wooden spoon due to RAD. Husband, David Polreis, Sr. , a vice president of Con-Agra, was out of town at the time of the attack and was not implicated. Renee Polreis was convicted of child abuse resulting in death and sentenced to 18 years in prison. In 2000 her sentence was reduced; she was paroled in 2005 and remains on intensive supervised parole.

David was adopted from Tula; in US 6 months. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: Rainbow House International, Belen, New Mexico. Second adoption for Polreis; first was bi-racial boy.

Denver Westword, October 10, 1996, “Terrible Two”
Denver Westword March 27, 1997, “Psychological War”
Denver Westword, May 22, 1997, “Little Boy Lost”
(cannot link directly. Google for articles)

LOGAN HIGGINBOTHAM (birth name unknown) age 3, Shelburne, Vermont. Died November 25, 1998 of massive head injuries. Adoptive mother Laura Higginbotham, 33, claimed Logan fell and hit her head on the floor of an upstairs bedroom. The medical examiner was unable to determine if death was an accident or homicide. Three years later police reopened the case with other medical experts and concluded that Logan’s head had been intentionally slammed into a wall. In 2004, Laura Higginbotham pled no contest to a charge of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 1 year in prison. She will remain on parole until her older daughter, Layne also adopted from Russia is 18, According to an unsuccessful lawsuit filed in 2002 to force the state to pay for expert testimony, the combined annual income of Higginbaum and her husband was $72,984 (she grossed $5,264/mo with monthly expenses of $6.725) Higginbotham divorced and remarried. She remains in Shelburne with her new husband, adopted daughter and an infant daughter, presumably biological.

Logan was adopted from Smolensk; in US 7 months. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: European Adoption Consultants, Strongsville, Ohio.

VIKTOR MATTHEY, born Viktor Sergeivich Tulimov, age 6, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Died October 31, 2000 of cardiac arrest due to hypothermia after adoptive parents Robert and Brenda Matthey locked him overnight in a damp unheated pump room; also suffered over 40 cuts, scrapes, bruises and untreated fractures. Robert Matthey admitted beating Viktor with an aluminum baseball bat, a belt, 2 whips, and his open hand. Jury acquitted the couple on evidence tampering charges; deadlocked on manslaughter charges, but convicted them of lesser abuse charges. Both sentenced concurrently to 10 years in prison for confining Viktor to the pump room, 10 years for inflicting excessive corporal punishment and 7 years for failing to provide medical care. The Mattheys have 4 biological sons. Viktor was adopted with his younger twin brothers, now in the process of being adopted by Robert Matthey’s mother who testified against the couple at their trial. Robert Matthey was a $25,000/yr auto mechanic; his wife was a stay-at-home mom and home schooler. The couplewere scheduled for retrial on manslaughter charges, though I haven’t seen further news on that. They were both parolled in November 2008.

Viktor was adopted from Amur Region, Siberia; in US 10 months. Home Study and Post-Adoption Follow-up: Hawthorne, New Jersey Bethany Christian Services, social worker: Lori Phelan. Adoption Agency: Adoption Alliance, Denver, Colorado.

Newark Star-Ledger, October 28, 2001, “The Short Life of Viktor Alexander Matthey”
Newark Star Ledger, May 10, 2007, “Mattheys sentenced to 4 years for Viktor’s death”
Viktor’s Hope

LUKE EVANS, (birth name unknown) age 1.5, Lowell, Indiana. Died November 30, 2001 of massive head injuries, shaken baby syndrome, and poor nutrition. He may have been developmentally delayed.Adoptive mother Natalie Fabian Evans, 33, claimed she couldn’t wake Luke in the morning, and took him to the bathtub where she planned to place him in water to “stimulate him.” Says he “may” have bumped his head on the tub. Local prosecutors took over a year to file charges because they wanted to be sure about the medical evidence. On June 30, 2006 Fabian Evans was found not guilty of murder, battery and neglect of a dependent after a doctor for the defense convinced a jury that Luke could have had “bleeding in his brain for days prior to the day” he was found unresponsive in his crib. Luke was adopted with an unrelated boy from his orphanage who was living at the time of Luke’s death, with a relative of Natalie Evans.’ Her husband Steven was not charged. In 2003 Natalie filed for divorce which wasn’t granted until June 2006.

Luke was Adopted from Inozemtsevo; in US 6 months. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: Small World International/Charity, New York City.

Selected Resources:
NW Times, June 30, 1996 Natalie Evans Testifies in Her Murder Trial

JACOB LINDORFF, (birth name unknown) age 5, Gloucester Twp., New Jersey. Died December 14, 2001 of blunt force trauma to head. Also suffered from 2nd degree burns on feet, hemorrhaging in 1 eye; bruises, and seizures. Adoptive mother Heather Lindorff, 36, was found guilty of 2nd degree endangering, aggravated assault and sentenced to 6 years. She claimed the injuries were accidents and begged judge not to separate her from her family. Adoptive father, James, 54, sentenced to 4 years probation and 400 hours of community service for child abuse. Couple also adopted 3 bio-sisters from Russia, Jacob was one of a fraternal twins; placed with the Lindorffs only 18 months after the sisters arrived. The remaining children were placed with Heather Lindorff’s mother, Mildred Culllinan. In May 2004, Heather Lindorff was released on appeal bond and ordered not to visit children without supervision. That same month DYFS learned that children were back living with Lindorffs. Medical examinations found four children were malnourished, abused, and neglected. Heather Lindorff is serving out her sentence and will be released no later than June 2010. In September 2007, James Lindorff and Mildred Cullinan were charged in a murder-for-hire plot to kill a witness. On August 7, 2008, after a negotiated plea, he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. Mildren Cullinan pled quilty to 90 days in jail after pleading down to hindering an investigation.

Jacob was adopted from Pskov Oblast; in US 6 weeks. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: Open Door, Thomasville, Georgia.

SELECTED RESOURCES:, April 2, 2004, “Heather Lindorff Gets 6 Years”
Philadelphia Inquirer, June 1, 2006, “Revocation of Bail Sought in Death of Adopted 5-Year Old (paid archives), September 1, 2007, “2 Charged in Murder or Hire Plot”

(birth name unknown) age 2 years, 7 months, PrinceWilliamCounty, Virginia. Died August 11, 2003 of mechanical asphyxia due to compression against an adult: lack of blood and oxygen. Adoptive mother Patrice Lynn Hagmann, 35, claimed Jessica was prone to tantrums that lasted as long as three hours and beat her head in crib. Autopsy indicated Jessica weighed only 27 pounds when she died . She was covered with bruises including five ‘purplish’ bruises near her right eye, seven on her forehead, two on her scalp, and one each on both cheeks; also a healing lesion on one palm and bruises on her upper body, leg back one on her abdominal area. Hagmann’s defense argued that she used “holding therapy” to “calm.” Jessica. The book, Help for the Helpless Child.* was seized from home by police. Adoptive father Glenn Hagmann not implicated in death. The couple had a biological son, 3, who at the time of the trial was living with Patrice’s mother. In December 2003 Hagmann took an Alford plea (pleading no contest, without acknowledging guilt). Prosecutors recommended 14 years in prison, In January 2004 the court sentenced her to five years for each charge, suspended dependent on five years probation.

Jessica was adopted from Moscow. Time in US: 8 months. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: unknown,. (NOTE: agency representative was present in courtroom for sentencing but neither agency nor rep was identified by press).

*I have not found this title, but did find Help for the Hopeless Child: A Guide for Families with Special Discussion for Addressing and Treating the Post-Institutionalized Child) by Ron Federici, which I believe is the correct title.

Manassas Journal Messenger, January 21, 2004, County Mother to be Sentenced in Death of Child

(born Nikita Khoryakovont), age 2, Braintree, Massachusetts. Died August 15, 2002 of severe trauma to the head. Adoptive mother Natalia Higier, 47 claimed he fell out of his crib or hit his head on the kitchen floor, but doctors said injuries were consistent with falling out of a 3-story building. Jacob had a bilateral skull fracture, a massive stroke on the right side of his brain, a smaller stroke on left side, brain swelling and detached retinas. Later Higier said she was tossing him in the air when he hit his head on the coffee table. Husband not charged; couple now divorced. Higier pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail, with 18 months balance of sentence suspended for 4 years; also required to attend anger management classes. The Higiers had a history of domestic violence and restraining orders against each other.

Zachary was adopted from Orenburg Region. Time in US: unknown. Home Study: Adoption Resource Associates, Cambridge, Massachusetts; social worker: Laura Nemeyer. Adoption Agency: Frank Adoption Center, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Quincy Patriot-Ledger, August 16, 2003, “Mom called Unconcerned About Son”
August 31, 2004, “Mom Sentenced in Adopted Son’s Death”
(cannot link directly. Google for articles)

MARIA ANASTASIA BENNETT, (birth name unknown) age 2, (right) Lancaster, Ohio. Died October 23, 2002 of Shaken Baby Syndrome. She died at Columbus Children’s Hospital four days after her adoptive mother Susan Jane Bennett, 41 claimed that she tripped while carrying Maria from the bathroom to a bedroom, dropping her backwards causing her head to hit floor. Medical evidence indicated fatal head wounds and eye injuries could not be caused by such a drop. Bennett pled no contest to 1 count of reckless homicide. She originally faced 8 years in prison. Prosecutors recommended 4 years, but said they would not oppose probation after 2 years served. Bennett was sentenced to 3 years. Bennett, adopted another child, Sarah, a year earlier from the same orphanage. At last report, Sarah is in the custody of Bennett’s relatives. Bennett, a single mother, was a software programmer for an insurance company and had no prior record.

Maria was adopted from Ussurisk near Vladivostok in US for 9 months. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: Focus on Children, Wellsville, Utah.

Selected Resources:
Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, November 8, 2003, “Mom Sentenced in Child’s Death (not online)

LIAM DMITRY THOMPSON, born Dmitry Sergeyevich Ishlankulov, age 3, Galloway, Ohio. Died October 16, 2003 at Columbus Doctors Hospital West of scalding and neglect. Five days earlier, adoptive father, Gary Allen Thompson, put Liam in a bathtub of 140 degree water causing 2nd and 3rd degree burns; skin peeled off legs. Instead of seeking treatment Thompson put him on a crib mattress in an unheated basement. Adoptive mother, LPN Amy Lyna Thompson, whose diary revealed she didn’t like Liam or his adopted sister, failed to notice the seriousness of burns for 2 days, then treated him with Tylenol and Vaseline. Liam was taken to the hospital only when he went into respitory failure. Autopsy revealed severe burns on both legs, right arm, back, and buttocks; bruises on neck, right side of upper lip, right eye, both cheeks and forehead. The official cause of death is listed as “thermal injuries.”Amy Thompson pled guilty to child endangering and involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 14 years in prison and is still incarcerated. Gary Thompson pled guilty to murder and was sentenced to 15-life. Amy Thompson’s daughter from her previous marriagewas last reported in foster care; the Thompsons’ biological son lives with relatives; and the daughter they adopted with Liam, has been adopted by a local couple.

Liam was adopted from Blagoveshchensk; in US 5 months. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: Tree of Life. Portland, Oregon. (Tree of Life also placed a 5-year old Romanian orphan with William Peckenpaugh who was later convicted of
33 charges including 9 counts of sodomy and 3 counts of sexual abuse against the boy)

Selected Resources:
Columbus Dispatch,
December 3, 2003, “Father Peads Guilty to Burning, Killing Son

ALEX PAVLIS, born Alex Geiko, age 6, Schaumburg, Illinois. Died December 19, 2003 of severe beating. Adoptive mother Irma Pavlis admitted to punching Alex hard in the stomach and slapping him. She said he was mentally unstable and suicidal; defense lawyer argued his behavior which included banging his head in walls and urinating and defecating through the house were caused by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which the Pavlis’ were unaware of when they adopted Alex. Husband Dino Pavlis was not charged. Irma Pavlis sentenced to 12 years for involuntary manslaughter, paroled out of state in March 2008. Alex was adopted with his younger sister last reported in foster care.

Alex was adopted from Yeysk; in US 6 weeks. Home Study: Mt. Vernon, Illinois Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services. Adoption Agency: independent adoption.

Chicago, April 14, 2005, “Pavlis Trial: Defendant’s Video Statement Shown” (cannot link directly. Google for articles)
ABC News,
May 17, 2005, “Boy’s Death May Halt US Adoptions”

DENNIS GENE MERRYMAN, born Denis Uritsky, age 8, Harford County, Maryland. Died January 22, 2005 of cardiac arrest brought on by starvation; weighed 37 pounds, 2 pounds less than when doctors examined him in October 2000. Medical examiner could find no underlying conditions and ruled death a homicide. Adoptive father Samuel Merryman, 37, and adoptive mother Donna Merryman, 42, arrested on August 3, 2005 and charged with manslaughter, 1st degree child abuse resulting in death, and reckless endangerment. Samuel Merryman’s parents posted a property bond of $50,000 for each. Merryman’s mother, Olivia, claims that despite cororner’s findings, Dennis suffered from cystic fibrosis, digestive problems and “may have had other problems.” Samuel and Donna Merryman are born again Christians, Sunday School teachers, and home schoolers. They have 2 biological children, and Donna Merryman has a daughter from a previous marriage. On February 25, 2008 the couple pled guilty to 1st degree child abuse resulting in death; 4 child abuses charges relating to two of their daughters were dropped in the plea bargain agreement. When asked by the judge if they were pleading guilty because they were guilty, the answered “yes.” The Merrymans have been under house arrest and have supervised visits with other children. On April 17, 2008 they were each sentenced to 22 years in prison and are currently incarcerated.

Dennis was adopted from Ochery in the Perm Region with 1 older biological brother and 2 older biological sisters, all with medical problems discovered after adoptions; in the US nearly 5 years.
Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: Adoptions Forever (closed)

Baltimore Sun,
February 26, 2008, “Harford Couple Plead Guilty”
Baltimore Sun,
April 18, 2008, “Prison for child’s death”

NINA HILT, born Viktoria Bazhenova, age 2.5, Wake Forest, North Carolina. Died July 2, 2005 on visit to Manassas, Virginia from blows to the abdominal area. Adoptive mother, Peggy Sue Hilt, 33, told investigators she was “enraged and angered” at Nina, shook her, dropped her on floor, kicked her in the stomach, then picked her up, put her in bed and continued to strike her with a closed right fist on her back and stomach. Nina’s sister adopted from Ukraine in an independent adoption through Cathy Harris, Nataliya Oksana, was put into protective custody and later placed in the custody of an aunt. Peggy Sue Hilt was held without bond in Prince William County, Virginia until trial; husband Christopher Hilt was not charged. a Functional alcoholic, Hilt had workedas a dental assistant; her husband was a computer consultant. On May 25, 2006, Hilt was sentenced to 35 years in prison with 10 years suspended; will serve 21-22 years due to time served awaiting trial. Christopher Hilt plans to divorce his wife and is expected to regain custody of Nataliya. In April 2008 Peggy Sue Hilt was featured in the WE-TV documentary Women Behind Bars.

Nina was adopted from Siberia; in US 1.5 years (approx) Home Study: A Loving Family, Alexandra, Virginia (no longer operating). Post Placement Report (2005): A Child’s Hope, Raleigh, North Carolina. Adoption Agency: Adoptions International, Dallas, Texas owned by adoption lawyer Jody Hall.

Charlotte News & Observer,
July 14, 2005, “Slain Girl was Second Couple Adopted” (cannot link directly. Google for article)

WRAL-TV, Raleigh, July 28, 2005, Community Gather to Remember Russian Child Allegedly Beaten By Adoptive Mother (cannot link directly. Google for article)

Washington Post, May 26, “Mother Sentenced to 25 Years” (cannot link directly. Google for article)

WE-TV: Peggy Sue Hilt’s Blog (and links to Hilt segment)

Hilt Family webpage

ISSAC JONATHAN DYKSTRA, (birth name unknown), age 21 months, Iowa City, Died August 14, 2005 , the day after he was hospitalized for injuries reportedly incurred from an accidental fall a few days earlier. On August 7, 2008, after a nearly 3-year investigation, adoptive father, Brian Dykstra, 31, was charged with 2nd degree murder. He plead Not Guilty on October 2 and is currently free on $15,000 bond. Adoptive mother, Dr. Lisa Dykstra, now an Assistant Professor of Spanish at ClemsonUniversity is not implicated and wasn’t charged.

On August 13, 2005, Brian Dykstra called 911 saying Isaac was having a ‘little seizure” and difficulty breathing from what “might be related to a head injury” Isaac was recovering from club foot surgery and Dykstra claimed the baby had fallen a few days earlier after the cast was removed, but had shown no signs of injury. According to police, Isaac had massive brain swelling, severe bleeding inside the skull, and retinal swelling in both eyes. He also had severe bruising on his torso and legs. The description is consistent with shaken baby syndrome, not a fall on the floor.

Isaac was adopted from Krasnoyarsk. In US: 3 months. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: unknown

Dykstra is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on April 29 and the trial set to start on May 10, 2010.

Selected Resources:
Iowa City Police News Release, August 8, 2008: Former IC Man Charged for Death of Adopted Child

Iowa City Press-Citizen, October 3, 2008: Witnesses Listed in Infant Death Trial

NICOLI (KOLYA) EMELYANTSEV, (birth name unknown) age 14 months, Tooele, Utah. Died March 7, 2008 from a “significant skull fracture” caused by blunt force trauma. Adoptive mother, Kimberly Emelyantsev 33, charged with murder. Called 911 saying Kolya was barely breathing after fall from a chair. Adoptive father, Fyodor Emelylantsev, 31, a Russian citizen, under investigation for suspicion of child abuse by malnutrition involving 4-year old, Luka, adopted from Russia in December. Kolya had Down Syndrome as does Luka and F. Emelylantsev’s biological 10-year old daughter. F. Emelylantsev reportedly holds an MA in genetics, is trained to work with the disabled and is an RN working at a local nursing home. Kolya’s parents voluntarily relinquished their rights, visited him in an orphanage weekly and wanted regular updates on him from adoptive family. On June 6, K. Emelylantsev, pled guilty to a lowered charge of 2nd degree felony child abuse homicide. She admitted to dropping Kolya on the floor “more than once.” The county prosecutor says that no intent to kill the baby could be shown. Abuse charges against the couple in Luka’s case were dismissed due to lack of evidence. On October 10, 2008 K. Emelylantsev’s was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. During her post-conviction psychiatric evaluation she admitted grabbing Kolya by an arm and leg and repeatedly slamming him in the floor. According to defense attorney, Kimberley suffered from a “”depressive disorder” after the adoption, and her husband Fyodor refused to participate in “an extraordinary familial situation.” She says she never wanted to adopt Kolya, but was afraid to say no to Fyodor and afraid of what the neighbors would think if she didn’t go through with the adoption plan. K. Emelyantse is a parlegal and wanted to attend law school.

Kolya was adopted from the Moscow Region; in US less than 1 month. Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: About a Child, DesMoines, Iowa (Russian press reports adoption was independent).

March 14, 2008, Dead, Another Starving
Truveo, “
US Baby Death Puts Russian Adoption in Doubt”
Salt Lake City Tribune, October 11, 2008, “Mother Must Serve Up to 15 Years for Death of Adopted Son”

CHASE HARRISON, born Dmitry Yakolev, age 21 months, Purcellville, Virgina. Died July 8, 2008 in Herndon, Virginia after adoptive father Miles Harrison, 49, left him in SUV for “several hours,” in 91 degree heat. Temperature inside anywhere between 131-172,. Harrison was supposed to take the boy to daycare, but “forgot” about him and left him in the car all day while he was at work. Chase was found after a co-worker reported seeing something in SUV (windows are tinted). Harrison is the managing relocation director at Project Solutions Group. He collapsed at the scene and was hospitalized. He has been charged with manslaughter and faces up to 10 years in prison. Wife Carol, 45 questioned, but not implicated. According to the July 12 edition of the Russian language paper Gazetta, attempts to place Dima in Russia were unsuccessful because he had “a series of serious diseases.”

Chase was adopted from the Pechora City Children’s Home, Psov area; in the US 3 months.

Home Study
: Adoption Connections, Falls Church, Virginia. Social Worker: Christine Hessinger. Adoption Agency: European Adoption Consultants, Strongsville, Ohio. EAC also placed Logan Higginbotham. (see above) According to RBC News and Gazetta (Russian language papers) the Russian Education and Science Ministry’s adoption commission has banned EAC from working in the Russian Federation for failure to inform Russian authorities immediately of Chase’s death, a breach of Russian law. The July 14 edition of The Moscow Times reported that it was only under investigated.

Washington Post,
July 10, 2008, “VA Toddler Dies After Father Leaves him SUV”
Fairfax Times,
July 10, 2008, “Father Charged After Son Dies in Unattended Car in Herndon”
July 11, 2008, “Russia Bans 3 Adoption Agencies Following Baby’s Death in US”
RBC News,
uly 11, 20008, “Россия запретит усыновление международным организациям”
uly 12 2009, “Россия отсекла усыновителей”
Moscow Times,
July 14, 2008, “Two Agencies Barred After Boy’s Death”
Fairfax Times,
July 22, 2008, “Purcellville Toddler Remembered”
Washington Post,
July 23, 2008, “Father Indicted in Toddler’s Death in Hot SUV”

Nathaniel Michael Craver (birth name: Ivan Skorobogatov), age 7, Dillsburg/Carroll Township, Pennsylvania. Died August 25, 2009 at Penn State Hershey Medical Center after being taken off life support. The autopsy revealed Vanya suffered 80 external injuries, including 20 to the head. Old injuries, including fractures to his forehead and old blood beneath his scalp were found. The coroner also found evidence of malnourishment and “severe failure to thrive.” Adopters Michael and Nanette Craver say that Vanya caused injuries to himself.

On August 19, the Cravers claim Vanya fell and hit his head on a wood stove in their home, but seemed OK. Next day he was found unresponsive in his urine soaked bed and taken to the ER. Michael Craver’s mother told investigators that on Memorial Day 2009 she was shocked to see Vanya’s eyes swollen shut and was told by her son that the boy rubbed and scratched his eyes and wouldn’t leave them alone. She also reported that Vanya would shake when he thought he would get in trouble over something. An adoptive aunt reported that in August 2009 Nathaniel’s eyes were swollen shut and the left side of his face was swollen. There are no records of medical treatment for any of the injuries Vanya supposedly suffered at his own hand.

On February 26, 2010, Michael J. Craver, 45 and Nanette L. (Korkuch) Craver, 54 were arrested and charged with criminal homicide, conspiracy, and child endangerment. They are currently held in the York County Prison without bond. Authorities said they made no connection between the death and Vanya’s Russian adoptee status and were surprised when Russia TV crews showed up at his office. In May 2010, York County Senior deputy prosecutor Jennifer Russell, citing Vanya’s age and the state’s contention that his death constituted torture, said she would seek the death penalty. On June 14, the Cravers pled not guilty to all charges. No trial date has been set.

Additional information: Sometime in 2008 , the Cravers briefly lost physical custody of Vanya and his twin sister Elizabeth (now in care) while York County Children and Youth Services investigated alleged negligence and poor conditions in the home. (no details) The children were returned and pulled out of public school to be home schooled. (Another report says they were already being home schooled).

In 2003, Vanya and his twin sister Dasha (now known as Elizabeth) were adopted from Dom Rebyonka #9 in Troiotsk, Chelyabinsk region. In US 6 years (approx). Home Study: unknown. Adoption Agency: Lutheran Social Services of the South, Austin, Texas. (accredited in Russia 2001-5/20/2005. Never re-accredited and closed Russian program). Post-Placement: unknown.

Selected resources:
Harrisburg Patriot-News, February 27, 2010. “York County parents charged in death of their son, 7”
York Dispatch, March 4, 2010. “Prosecutor: Local boy’s death sparks international attention”
York Dispatch, March 5, 2010. “Carroll Twp. couple charged in child’s death”


Other Russian adoptees have survived brutal treatment from their Forever Parents. Though no one has yet completely documented the number of cases, here is one survivor:

KELSEY HYRE, age 2, Akron Ohio. Permanently paralyzed September 26, 2002. Spine severed after her adoptive father Gerald Hyre slammed her on the floor. Adoptive mother, Bonnie Hyre, who was at work at the time, took her to hospital when she came home. Ms. Hyre had previously suspected her husband of abusing both Kelsey and her adoptive brother Nathan, 3, and taken photos of other injuries, discussed suspicions with co-workers, but after husband’s arrested she destroyed pictures and did nothing. Gerald Hyre sentenced to 16 years for felonious assault and child abuse. Bonnie Hyre sentenced to 2 years for permitting child abuse and evidence tampering and is now out of jail. Kelsey has been adopted by another couple and is reportedly responding well. Nathan was placed with Bonnie Hyre’s mother, but Bonnie Hyre now has custody.

Kelsey and Nathan were probably adopted from Blagoveshchensk. Home Study: A Child is Waiting, Akron, Ohio (Also see my Stephpanie Bennett blogs for ACW other activities). Adoption Agency: Building Blocks Adoption Services, Medina, Ohio.

Nikto ne zabyt – Nichto ne zabyto


Thanks Dan and Elizabeth Case for their assistance in preparing this piece. For more information on Russian adoptions and abuse in the US please go to their website Beware of an Experiment in Literary Investigation

Thanks, also to Niels Hoogveen from Pound Pup Legacy, especially for information on the Jessica Albina Hagmann case.


James Marsh’s ChildLaw blog

“Adoptee Deaths are Rare, Experts Say,” Chicago Tribune, May 26, 2004 (now in paid archives but found here.

Also see my blogs on Masha Allen


If readers have more information about these cases please post them
in the “comments” section.

(updated July 5, 2010)


  1. On June 16,1996 ,CBS’s 60 Minutes ran a story about a 7 year old boy named Alex,who was adopted as an infant from Ukraine, sent back by his adoptive parents to die in his original orphanage, because his family refused to pay for ongoing medical services for a condition he developed after his adoption. Alex , a US citizen at the time, was shown dying in his orphanage bed with Ed Bradley, the 60 Minutes correspondence, holding his hand while he died. The family who adopted Alex was named Peter Brooks, a MA lawyer and his wife, Cathy Brooks.
    They flew to Ukraine to adopt a baby boy that was personally hand picked for them by a prominent EE MD.This baby boy was only a few days old.The Brooks didn’t want to spend the estimated 3 week stay ,at that time. This lawyer paid a Ukraine woman , a perfect stranger, in the apartment building where they stayed, to look after the baby and not to tell anyone they left the country. The baby ,as a result of being hidden with this woman, developed an infection, but didn’t take him to the MD,because it would be known that the Brook’s flew home and left Ukraine during the adoption. The woman called the Brooks a few days before they were to sign the adoption papers, telling them the adoption papers had to be signed and the baby was sick. They flew back to Ukraine, signed the papers and found out when they took the baby back to MA, he developed a viral infection that attacked the brain. The child did end up with an irreversible brain disorder and this could have been prevented had the Brooks stayed in EE, took the baby at the first sign of getting sick. The Brooks ended up sending this boy ,at age 7 ,back to the Ukraine orphanage, as a US citizen, to die alone .60 minutes got wind of this case and sent Ed Bradley, not only to cover this story, but to make sure someone was holding this boys hand while he died. Ed Bradley watched him died and was a witness to his death

  2. In regards to Peg Hilt, the unlicensed facilitator who help Peg adopt her first child from Ukraine ,stated that Peg Hilt was supposed to adopt 2 Russian girls at the same time,during her second adoption attempt. Due to paperwork problems with the other Russian toddler, Peg Hilt was only allowed to adopt Nina and the other girl remained behind. I guess that child can call herself lucky, because she could have met the same fate as Nina. If only Nina’s case could have had paperwork problems…
    Date: Sun, 10 Jul 2005 14:06:18 -0700 (PDT)
    “Cathy Harris” [email protected]
    Subject: Re: Peg Hilt . CH Family # 255
    Yes, I just heard about this today and I am in complete shock.I met this girl in person at one of our annual adoption reunions and she was such a sweet girl who showed a lot of love to her Ukrainian child. After her adoption she continued to travel to Ukraine (4-5 times) visiting orphanages and friends, and helping ($$$) Ukrainian children. When my sister was there adopting her last Ukrainian child, Peggy was there and they went to Yalta together. My sister raved about how nice Peggy was, and she is also in shock today after hearing this news.
    I don’t understand this .. How could anyone want to hurt a baby like this? This poor child, imagine how scared she was and how much pain she must have been in during their drive to VA.

    About your questions.. Will this effect adoptions in UA and RU.. I would think yes to some extent it will.. (And should) If a family like this could adopt TWO children from TWO different countries and are able to do something this terrible to the child, I don’t blame RU and UA for being upset. I am upset!!.. I worry for the Ukrainian child and what will happen to her. She is only 4.5 years old and knows no other mother other than Peggy. I wonder was she beat and abused. I am so sick over this today and like I mentioned above, completely in SHOCK because knowing this girl personally, I would have never dreamed that she could do something this horrible. I just thank God that she wasn’t able to adopt the 2nd Russian child that she was suppose to get while she was there adopting Nina. Because I remember Peggy emailing me after she finalized this RU adoption telling me that she was suppose to get TWO BABY GIRLS and only was able to get one because the other one had paper-work problems. THANK GOD otherwise there would be another small child involved in this nightmare.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention and letting me know about it. I appreciate it very much, although now I am completly heartbroken.


  3. Marley G,
    Great work. Here’s a standing ovation for you .Your advocacy and dedication to everyone involved in the adoption triad is admirable. Keep up the controversial but very important fight for adoptee rights. Adoption issues aren’t always pretty and pretending the dark and ugly side of adoption doesn’t exist ,does more harm than good.

  4. if american prisons can have cable tv, air conditioning, and computers, then maybe the u.s. gov’t could cough up a little $$$ for pre and post adoptive training (and foster care). these institutionalized children are hard to handle and some well meaning people who’ve had no training – CRACK.

  5. Now don’t blame it all on the families. The adoption agencies have some responsibility in it too. Shouldn’t they make sure that PAP’s are educated. Yes, educating means telling them the ugly side of adoption too. But alas that won’t happen because it would scare people off and they would lose money.

  6. Thanks for the unwavering gaze.
    I hope the fact that you’ve focused on these tragedies will help prevent others from looking away.


  7. I say close the Russian adoption program down for good. US citizens don’t deserve to adopt these kids. Stay home and adopt in your home state. Russia should get their act together and stop the massive export of their citizens.

    • Well, if Russians weren’t so eager to sell their babies for a bottle of Vodka this stuff wouldn’t happen. As it stands, there have been 15 deaths of adopted Russian children (which is too many for me, and reading these stories HORRIFIED me. I don’t know why someone capable of such cruelty would want, or be allowed, to adopt a child. I know VERY good people who find it practically impossible to adopt-another reason US looks to other, less strict countries who are all too eager to accept US dollars for their babies-in the US), anyway, that is 15 kids out of 65,000 adoptions. That’s less that 1/10000th of a percent. That’s extremely low, and considering the number of successful adoptions, preventing them would likely lead to all those successful adoptions of kids dying in Russia anyway from simple neglect or crime during childhood.

  8. LOL ! I see your blog was deleted at and you have been banned from posting at that
    What a bunch of hypocrisy and bullshit ! This proves these stupid IA PAPS can’t take the truth. also supports the adoption agency industry, because it is their high priced, misleading ads that keeps the money rolling into
    Your intelligent explanation of why you created your blog and what BN stands for, obviously did not process with Jensboy, the moderator who banned you. Too many thoughts and words for her to process at the same time. LOL !

  9. Story from Montreal:
    Sept 23/04 Boyfriend accused of beating 4-year-old to death in discipline attempt
    La Press – The young boy, Sasha, an adoptee from a Russian orphanage, was being looked after by the adoptive mother’s boyfriend, Eric Grenier, while she worked at a day-care center. According to evidence, Grenier believed the child needed discipline and had frequently spanked him. The day after one such spanking, the mother returned home to find the child dead in bed, covered with 72 bruises. He appeared to have suffered a violent blow to the abdomen. The Montreal trial is expected to last 4 weeks.


    Verdict reached in child-murder case
    Last updated Oct 21 2004 02:00 PM EDT
    CBC News

    A jury has convicted Eric Grenier of second degree murder in the death of his former girlfriend’s four-year-old son.

    After three days of deliberation, jurors reached a verdict Thursday at the Montreal courthouse that will result in a life sentence.

    The case dates back two years to October 2002 when Grenier was alone with Sasha Vallé. The jury accepted the prosecution’s evidence that he pummeled the child out of frustration, severing a vein in the boy’s abdomen.

    An autopsy revealed Sasha went into shock and bled to death.

    Grenier’s mother plans to appeal

    Grenier displayed no emotion as the verdict was announced, although he blinked his eyes frequently.

    The jury rejected evidence from the defence lawyer, who testified the timing of the blow made the child’s mother a viable suspect.

    Outside the courtroom Grenier’s mother, Louise Auclair, said justice was not done.

    “I know my son is not guilty and I’m going to fight to the end to prove it. Yes, I’m going to appeal,” Auclair said.

    Compelling evidence against Grenier

    Crown prosecutor Pierre Poulin said the jury made the right decision by convicting Grenier. He said evidence has always pointed to his guilt.

    “To convince 12 strangers to convict a person of murder, you need strong credible evidence,” Poulin said.

    Although Grenier will be sentenced to life in prison, the judge will decide next week how long he will have to remain behind bars before becoming eligible for parole.

  10. Another article from 2002

    Children starved, doctors to testify
    PROVO — Prosecutors say they plan to have several doctors testify during a hearing in January that a Saratoga Springs couple were starving their two adopted Russian children.
    Teresa and Reed Hansen appeared in 4th District Court Tuesday to request that the state reveal its evidence against them in a preliminary hearing, scheduled for Jan. 17.
    Both parents are charged with two second-degree felony counts of child abuse/neglect and one class A misdemeanor count of child abuse.


  11. More charges for child porn convict
    Pictures of adopted Russian girl showed up on porn sites
    Wednesday, June 1, 2005 Posted: 10:58 PM EDT (0258 GMT)

    (CNN) — An adoptive father serving a 15-year sentence in federal prison for producing Internet pornography depicting his preteen daughter now faces 11 state charges, the district attorney’s office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said Wednesday.

    Conviction on all counts could result in a life sentence, said the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office.

    The man’s name is being withheld to protect the girl’s identity. The Pittsburgh engineer was convicted in 2003 on federal charges of producing and possessing child pornography involving the girl.

    The Russian-born, blond-haired child was 5 when he adopted her as a single parent. He was 45.

    Now about 11, she was adopted by a family in another state and is living under a new name, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan for the Western District of Pennsylvania told reporters last month.

    The girl was the focus of an intense search by Canadian police beginning in 2003.

    It ended a few weeks ago when word came that the girl had been rescued by federal agents in the United States and that her father was in prison.

    Police have said more than 200 sexually explicit photos of the girl remain on the Web and are traded by pedophiles.

    The 11 new charges the man faces are: child rape, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, sex abuse of a child, sex abuse photography, unlawful restraint, incest, obscenity, corruption of a minor, and indecent assault

    He is to be arraigned June 23, said the district attorney’s office in Pittsburgh.

    Police in Orlando, Florida, became involved in late April when their counterparts in Toronto, Ontario, tipped off by European authorities, released a photo of a room where the girl was allegedly abused.

    Because the Toronto authorities were unable to show the underage victim, they digitally removed her from the photos, but left intact the rooms and other surroundings for public scrutiny,

    Someone recognized the bedspread in a photo as one used in Walt Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter in Orlando.

    Investigators believe the photos indicate the father took the girl to Orlando in June 2001.

    Buchanan, the U.S. attorney, said FBI agents were carrying out a search warrant for child pornography on the man’s Pittsburgh home in 2003 when they discovered the child.

  12. The secret world of adoption disruption. There is a very active underground network of fellow adoptive patens. This world is the secret world of Yahoo Disruption Groups and there are several. These groups are usually private and discuss how to get rid of your kids after you get them home and discover they aren’t what you thought you’d be getting. Parents, if you can call them real parents, advertise their children available for adoption by sending messages thorough the Yahoo disruption group. These parents have no SW or lawyer involved. No screening at all. For all you know, I could be a pedophile or two online, posing as an interested PAP. Here is a sample of a recent tread. The lingo is also shocking. Words like re-homing are created to mask the disruption to what it really is: parents who adopted one too many children and find out in as little as one month, they made a mistake. Give them away and adopt again. Adopted children who misbehave are oaten given away ,more than once.This is an all too familiar pattern.

    From : [email protected]
    Reply-To : [email protected]
    Sent : Thursday, June 30, 2005 3:35 AM
    To : [email protected]
    Subject : [Adopt_Disrupted_Kids] Digest Number 185

    | | | Inbox

    There are 10 messages in this issue.

    Topics in this digest:

    1. questions
    From: “leeann” [email protected]
    2. trying again
    From: “LeeAnn Walter” [email protected]
    3. Re: questions
    From: Ana [email protected]
    4. Re: questions
    From: “Linda Litschi” [email protected]
    5. Re: trying again
    From: “Sea” [email protected]
    6. Little Girl Needs Home
    From: Charles Allan [email protected]
    7. another question
    From: “LeeAnn Walter” [email protected]
    8. Re: another question
    From: “Patricia Bell” [email protected]
    9. Re: another question
    From: Lucy Mom to 7 [email protected]
    10. Re: another question
    From: Jay Hawk [email protected]


    Message: 1
    Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 13:24:32 -0000
    From: “leeann” [email protected]
    Subject: questions

    I have a close friend going through a very difficult time with older
    children she has adopted. Unfortunantly she does not have computer
    access so I told her I would get on and see what I could find out. She
    already has children in her home and things are just not mixing very
    well. She feels the new children would be better in a different
    situation where there is no comeptition and where the mother is not
    stretched so thin for time and energy. She did not realize the new
    children would be so needy because they were a little older. They are
    actually more needy and demading than the younger children. These new
    children show some mild signs of attachment issues. But that would be
    expected I would think. They have not been in her home very long.
    Under a year. But she feels it is best for all involved to disrupt.

    She is wanting to know if disrupting by doing a private family to
    family adoption will cause her any problems. She knows not to go
    through the public system. She has already found a family and they are
    actually doing repite care for her with the children already. They just
    want to make it a perminant situation. They are in the same state.
    Any help would be very appreciated.

    Thank you.


    Message: 2
    Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 09:13:18 -0500
    From: “LeeAnn Walter” [email protected]
    Subject: trying again

    I posted a message an hour ago but have not seen it come through yet so I am
    trying again. I have a close friend who wants to disrupt an already finalized
    adoption. She has found a family for the children and they are doing respite
    for her right now but they want to make it permanent. This would be a private
    lawyer adoption. My friend is wondering if there will be any ramifications for
    her later on if she should chose to adopt again or in any other way. What needs
    to be done in a situation like this? The children she is disrupting were just
    not getting along well with the children that were already in the home. It was
    one of those situations where she did not get full information on the children
    until after the adoption was final. This was an international adoption. She
    lives in the same state as the family wanting to take the children. Thank you
    for any help.

    [This message contained attachments]


    Message: 3
    Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 08:01:38 -0700 (PDT)
    From: Ana [email protected]
    Subject: Re: questions

    Her best option is to contact an adoption attorney, as they can better advise
    her of the costs, options, and ramifications of her actions. If you tell me
    what state she is in (and the general area – county, city) I will look for some
    attorneys in her area through MH to give her some info and then it will be up to
    her to interview and consult with them as to the particulars of her situation.

    Let me know, you can reach me privately at [email protected]


    leeann [email protected] wrote:
    I have a close friend going through a very difficult time with older
    children she has adopted. Unfortunantly she does not have computer
    access so I told her I would get on and see what I could find out. She
    already has children in her home and things are just not mixing very
    well. She feels the new children would be better in a different
    situation where there is no comeptition and where the mother is not
    stretched so thin for time and energy. She did not realize the new
    children would be so needy because they were a little older. They are
    actually more needy and demading than the younger children. These new
    children show some mild signs of attachment issues. But that would be
    expected I would think. They have not been in her home very long.
    Under a year. But she feels it is best for all involved to disrupt.

    She is wanting to know if disrupting by doing a private family to
    family adoption will cause her any problems. She knows not to go
    through the public system. She has already found a family and they are
    actually doing repite care for her with the children already. They just
    want to make it a perminant situation. They are in the same state.
    Any help would be very appreciated.

    Thank you.



    Adoption attorney Adopt Adoption agency Seeking


    Visit your group “Adopt_Disrupted_Kids” on the web.

    To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
    [email protected]

    Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.



    “We are what we repeatedly do,
    Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”
    — Aristotle

    Do You Yahoo!?
    Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around

    [This message contained attachments]


    Message: 4
    Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 11:34:49 -0400
    From: “Linda Litschi” [email protected]
    Subject: Re: questions

    [This message is not in displayable format]


    Message: 5
    Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 12:07:51 -0400
    From: “Sea” [email protected]
    Subject: Re: trying again

    Dear LeeAnn:
    Your first message was received at 9:24 EST on the List. You may have to check
    your yahoo. address if you set your
    account to mail messages to your yahoo account.
    Easy to forget…
    Kind regards,
    —– Original Message —–
    From: LeeAnn Walter
    To: [email protected]
    Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 10:13 AM
    Subject: [Adopt_Disrupted_Kids] trying again

    I posted a message an hour ago but have not seen it come through yet so I am
    trying again. I have a close friend who wants to disrupt an already finalized
    adoption. She has found a family for the children and they are doing respite
    for her right now but they want to make it permanent. This would be a private
    lawyer adoption. My friend is wondering if there will be any ramifications for
    her later on if she should chose to adopt again or in any other way. What needs
    to be done in a situation like this? The children she is disrupting were just
    not getting along well with the children that were already in the home. It was
    one of those situations where she did not get full information on the children
    until after the adoption was final. This was an international adoption. She
    lives in the same state as the family wanting to take the children. Thank you
    for any help.




    a.. Visit your group “Adopt_Disrupted_Kids” on the web.

    b.. To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
    [email protected]

    c.. Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.


    [This message contained attachments]


    Message: 6
    Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 10:40:00 -0700 (PDT)
    From: Charles Allan [email protected]
    Subject: Little Girl Needs Home

    Hi Group,

    Here is a situation for a family, preferably Jewish:

    “Jane” needs a home.

    Born prematurely, at 27 weeks gestation, “Jane” is now a beautiful two-year old.
    She has a shunt because of hydrocephaly, and has delays in both gross and fine
    motor development due to her prematurity: she needs assistance standing, but is
    expected to eventually walk. She has a limited vocabulary, but it is expected
    to improve with speech therapy. Jane also gets feeding therapy, occupational
    therapy, physical therapy, and is on medication to prevent seizures. Her
    parents, who have an older child, simply feel overwhelmed and unable to provide
    Jane with all her needs. Phone number for Jewish Children’s Adoption Network
    is (303) 573-8113. You can join this Network for a nominal fee. Their address
    is P.O. Box 147016, Denver, CO 80214-7016. The organization also has some
    frozen embryos available to Jewish families.
    The e-mail address is: [email protected]

    [This message contained attachments]


    Message: 7
    Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 13:53:37 -0500
    From: “LeeAnn Walter” [email protected]
    Subject: another question

    It is best for the disrupting famliy to make contact with the lawyer first or
    the family interested in adopting? Will they use the same lawyer?

    Lee Ann

    [This message contained attachments]


    Message: 8
    Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 14:21:37 -0500
    From: “Patricia Bell” [email protected]: Re: another question

    They should be able to use the same attorney, we did. We got stuck with ALL of
    the attorney fees. That is something that really needs to be settled before
    things go too much further.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: LeeAnn Walter
    To: [email protected]
    Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 1:53 PM
    Subject: [Adopt_Disrupted_Kids] another question

    It is best for the disrupting famliy to make contact with the lawyer first or
    the family interested in adopting? Will they use the same lawyer?

    Lee Ann




    a.. Visit your group “Adopt_Disrupted_Kids” on the web.

    b.. To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
    [email protected]

    c.. Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.


    [This message contained attachments]


    Message: 9
    Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 17:34:39 -0400
    From: Lucy Mom to 7 [email protected]
    Subject: Re: another question

    In our adoptions the lawyer was shared. And all the fee’s where shared.

    Cyber Blessings,
    Lucy Mom to 7 wonderful Blessings.
    “When you step to the edge of light you have known,
    and are about to step out into darkness, faith is knowing one of two things
    will happen; there will be something to stand on or you will be taught to fly.”


    Message: 10
    Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2005 17:27:57 -0700 (PDT)
    From: Jay Hawk [email protected]
    Subject: Re: another question

    In most states they cannot use the same lawyer.

    — LeeAnn Walter [email protected] wrote:

    > It is best for the disrupting famliy to make contact
    > with the lawyer first or the family interested in
    > adopting? Will they use the same lawyer?
    > Lee Ann

    Do you Yahoo!?
    Read only the mail you want – Yahoo! Mail SpamGuard.




    Yahoo! Groups Links

    To visit your group on the web, go to:

    To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
    [email protected]

    Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

  13. I am sure there are children everywhere looking for a permanent home.We, as American are just trying to get our children home.We, as American have helped your government out financially and emotionally with the adoption of atleast 60,000 a year.I love the Russian people and there is not a day that goes by that I do not pray for you and your
    people.One big reason is because one Russian woman knew I could care for her child better then she could.I will never forget her and my daughter is healthy,smart and will never forget her Russian heritage.
    We,as Americans are apathitic to you and your people.But our hearts lay with the orphaned children who are kept in an orphanage from their Forever families because of this “Uncalled for”freeze your Russian government will not lift.
    My prayers are with you as with the children awaiting their parents
    Kimber Best
    [email protected]

  14. When senior citizens adopt.
    Another disturbing trend in international adoption is couples or singles who begin the adoption process well into their 50’s and even 60’s. Sadly, some countries have very lax adoption requirement and will sell their children to anyone ,as long as they are still able to breathe. These selfish adopters seek adoptions in foreign lands,because they know that any rational PG woman in the USA knows better than to place their child with someone who has one foot in the grave. These old timers usually have grown adopted or bio children in their late 20’s to late 40’s and one would think they would be satisfied in being a grand parent.That’s not good enough for the senior adopter, so they begin to add to their empty nest as fast as they can . My question is who will raise these kids, as these old geezers are closer to death, with each and every passing day? Do they adopt these kids in hoping to have someone care for them in their older years? Why are these senor adopters being approved for home studies? They really should be filling out applications for future nursing home admissions. Below is a sample post from a 60 year old PAP:

    Date: Sat Apr 23, 2005 10:05 pm
    Subject: New roejohn1966
    Send Email

    Hi , My name is Roe , and I would love to join your group.
    My husband and I are in the process of adopting our 4 th daughter. She
    is from Guatemala and is 8 years old. We have 2 daughters from
    Colombia, angela 27 and maria 23 . Maria has a baby 6 mo.old. Then
    there is Gabby she is from Mexico and is 11-1/2 yrs. old. We are so
    happy and so greatful for our children. My husband is almost 62 and I
    am 60,prob. the oldest couple in this group. Blessings,Roe

  15. So typical for adoptive parents of internationally adopted children. Somehow, birth mothers aren’t important because they couldn’t parent their kids. Birth fathers are non existent, especially to single mothers. Nannies and caretakers are wonderful,even thought they are hired help. God also makes it possible for adoptive Mommies and children to be together beaus it’s God’s will. I guess God shits on birth mothers ,since his plan for her must be to lose the most precious thing in life. I guess it’s good to be an adoptive mother because God blesses them and their lucky,chosen child. Read the below post by a Holt adoptive mother of Korean children. Heaven help those kids ! Read below.


    Joined: 22 Dec 2003
    Posts: 15
    Location: The Buckeye State!
    Posted: Tue Aug 09, 2005 1:05 pm Post subject:


    My daughter started getting the questions asked of her last year when she started kindergarten and daycare. We had always discussed the adoption through books since she was very little. I also talk about how we are together because God anwsers prayers and had plans for us to be Mommy and daughter. I tell her about how much her nannies loved her and helped Mommy until I could bring her home. I also took the opportunity to explain how a baby grows in a tummy when her Aunt was pregnant. I explained everybody grows in a tummy but sometimes the person who’s tummy they are in cannot do the important mommy things. She will usually then chime in and name some of the things I do, like kiss her goodnight, help her brush her hair, take her to the movies, etc. I don’t build up the birth mother was a wonderful lady who loved her very much because I really don’t know what she was like or the circumstances she faced. I try to tell her that there are many reasons why birthparents cannot care for babies and we talk about all these reasons. I know some adopted parents want to paint a beautiful picture of the birthmother, but I would rather my daughter come up with her own take on it. I do not want her grieving for a fictional character she built up in her mind, but to understand that many families come together and are formed through adoption and that what is important is the love the family has for each other and she is right where God wants her to be. My daughter has also been asked about why she doesn’t have a daddy too since I am a single parent. I think this question bothers her more than the other. She will usually tell her friends, “Mommy has to find the right boy, then get married.” If her little sister is standing around she will promptly add, “Then they will kiss on the lips!” Both are really subjects that you can kind of feel out as you go. I really think it depends on the the child as to how you explain it all. My youngest could care less whether she was adopted or not. She doesn’t care as long as she knows she is the baby of the family!

    Back to top

  16. Don’t you love this? AnotherHolt adoptive mom calls her child’s Korean birth father a SPERM DONAR ! Is this Holt’s philosophy?

    Terry in OR

    Joined: 10 Nov 2003
    Posts: 125
    Location: Oregon
    Posted: Thu Aug 11, 2005 11:53 am Post subject:

    It is very easy to be critical of other people. It seems Momma G is weaving a very careful and caring life story for her daughter. She may have absolutely no birth parent information and she may be taking into consideration that there may have not been birth parents that were caring or wanted the child. She is not saying that the birth parents are unimportant.

    As to the birth father being the little girl’s daddy, consider what does it mean to be a dad or daddy. Any man can be a birth father. To be a dad, you need to be more than someone who helped create a child. A father or daddy is someone who is there for the child. Was this child’s birth father there for her?

    Momma G is going on what she does know. I don’t think it can be said that she is fearful or intimidated by the fact that her child has birth parents…especially from just a few bb sentances. Also, her social worker and agency would have already covered these issues either one on one or in classes. To tell her daughter that her birth parents were wonderful people who loved her very much might be wrong in her circumstances.

    It is tragic that your friend’s daughter was taken away from the birthmother. One might ask how this was known and why was it permitted that the child be adopted instead of given back to the birth mother.

    As for my own daughter, her father was just a sperm donor. He is her birth father and that is it. I am thankful for his part in creating my daughter but he in no way shape or form is a daddy for her because he would not take responsibility for having created her. That meant in my child’s culture that her birth mother could not keep her.

    Other children are products of other tragic circumstances. Would you have a child’s father or mother built up and then the child finds in adulthood that s/he was the product of rape/incest, that the mother was a drug user who didn’t want a child or treated her child badly? That would be setting a child up for a lot of hurt.

    I think the goal in teaching our children about their birth circumstances is to be as truthful and as positive as that truth allows us to be.

    Terry in OR
    Terry in OR

  17. This post was about the tragedy of children being adopted by unsuitable people who murdered them. Yet more of the posts are concerned with validating adoptive parents, whether they can spell or not, than with the unspeakable horror of these children’s lives and deaths.

    I would have thought more people would argue for more careful home studies and psychological screening for people who take other people’s children to raise.

    That really is the crucial issue here. We have systems for removing children from natural parents who are unsuitable, and often do it more zealously than necessary to feed the adoption industry. What we need is some control on those who take these children. It cannot have been sufficient, if these people were able to take children to murder.

  18. Here’s a case of a “throw away baby just newly adopted from Guatemala. How sick is this? These people just placed with newly adopted son in state foster care and they might adopt again? This is from

    Junior Member Join Date: Aug 2005
    Posts: 1

    Has This Happened To Anyone Else?


    Hi everyone. My husband and I went last week to pick up our baby. We hadn’t traveled before this. We requested a healthy baby boy and all the health reports and the staff reports said he was. But when we went down to pick him up we found out differently. We had expected delays but not to this extent.
    When we picked him up we noticed that his eyes were going back and forth left to right and he would stare out of the corner of his eyes to the right. The Embassy Neurologist said he had Nystagmus. He also said our baby was functioning at a 4-5 month level (he’s 8months old). We couldn’t get him to look at us hardly ever. He was in his own little world. Like Austic. I cried so much while we were in Guatemala. Now that we are home our children are helping to lift my spirits somewhat. We decided not take him. He is in the states being fostered. Our agency will call us this week with options. I don’t know if we should try again for a healthier baby or not. I didn’t know it would be such a risk. I thought if they say he’s healthy that he will be. There’s no way the Doctors and staff couldn’t see his problems. We feel like we’ve been scammed. Has this happened to anybody else?

  19. More Guatemala adoption madness from
    It seems to me these adopters don’t deserve those children at all. If they’re not perfect, they will throw the kids away. Who needs disposable diapers, when you have disposable kids. Close Guatemala down forever.
    Yesterday, 06:34 PM
    Member Join Date: Jan 2005
    Posts: 54

    I NEED SOME GUIDENCE!!! (long)


    My husbend and I accepted a referral of a baby boy (he’ll be 1 on the 31st of this month.) the beginning of July. We knew he was special needs but not to the extent that it now seems. He has developemental delays…low muscle tone, so he just started to sit up unassisted. No big deal to us really, we were told we could do some PT and he would catch right up.He also has a smaller head circumference but it is in proportionate to his body. Well, we had his medicals reveiwed and his videos and the Dr. here in our state are VERY concerned. They see many red flags and said it is quite possible that he will end up with cerebral palsy and may even be mentally handicapped. The agency of course cannot give us any guarentees but they still say that they truely believe he will be fine with PT. We don’t know what to do! We were so excited and started getting everything ready. We’ve sent him things and told our family and friends. But we don’t think we can handle his needs if they are what the Dr.s here think. Like I said PT would be fine but if he truely has some brain damage that has caused mental retardation I know that we are not prepared for that…emotionally or financially. I don’t know what to do! My heart is just breaking!!!!!!!! Please try and give me some insight on what you think.

  20. Failed Ukraine adoption attempt through Florida facilitator, Cathy Harris. BEWARE.

    Journal of Hasselbrack’s Ukrainian Adoption Attempt

    Sunday, June 16, 2002

    It’s 4:15 pm in Kyiv, and we just arrived at the tourist hotel courtesy of V-man. He was not at all like I expected: short, bald except for some monk’s scraps, a little pudgy, baggy brown pants that would not stay on if it wasn’t for his suspenders…

    At customs, we were in the “wrong” line – it was moving very slowly. There was an American man in front of us with two men not American, and a sign on the window said something about officials use this line, and I almost asked him if we could use this line, but no one seemed very “official” so I didn’t. I think Bill and I tried to speak as little as possible, not knowing what was ahead of us, and not wanting people to know we were Americans, especially with the amount of money we had with us.

    A foreign couple, not sure what country, were in the line next to us and we both got up to the window at the same time. There was a discrepancy with the woman’s visa/passport – her birthday was not the same on both documents. He told her this in Russian (probably, as opposed to Ukrainian) and when she didn’t understand him, he said, “You speak English?” and she said “Yes,” and he showed/told her the problem. She said, in English, “Please, we’re here to adopt a child.” They were taken out of line, and from what I learned about Ukraine, they probably were not allowed in. We never did see them at the AC.

    We made a huge mistake in customs, getting in the “red” line (as opposed to the “green” line for those carrying less than $1,000), but the official did not have us fill out a declaration and we thought what we’d done on the plane was all we needed, and he waived us through after learning we were there to adopt, even though we did disclose all the money we had and he looked through our gift bag, which consisted of toys, medicine and clothes for the orphanage where we’d get our children.

    Oblivious, we were in the main area and looking for V-man, having no earthly idea what he looked like. He, of course, had our passport pictures, so he could recognize us, and we had his cell number. We called him after a few minutes, and he was running about 15 minutes late. In the meantime, we were approached by quite a few people offering us rides. I tried not to speak, but Bill used his Ukrainian. This began the little giggles he’d get whenever he tried the local language on the locals (even though the real local language is Russian ).

    So, back to V-man. We waited for him outside, and he came right up to us and told us okay, let’s go to the car. I was like, ummm, is this the person we’re waiting for? Bill introduced himself, and I waited for V-man to say who he was, then told him who I was. His car was like something out of a movie – old as the hills, brown, caked with mud. He had a yellow ceramic cooking pot and some Tupperware-like containers he had to clear out of the back seat for me. His trunk, inside, was even muddy, and it was very nicely lined with newspaper, but before he put our bags in, he crumpled up and removed all the “protective” paper. Bill’s door lock was nothing but the screw, and V-man even had a Club, and an ornate mosaic inlaid tip on his stick shift.

    In the car, he gave us the low-down; mainly, nothing we didn’t already know. When he asked if we had any questions, I asked if Mrs. Kunko [she runs the AC – Adoption Center] was in a good mood. It was all very jovial.

    Approaching the tourist hotel, it looked sort of depressing. All the cars were like V-man’s, and the building is dark. There was a sign at check-in saying “no hot water from 6/6 to 6/26” in English, and saying there was a 5% discount. However, V-man paid for the room, we have no idea how much, and took us upstairs.

    Once we got inside our rooms, Bill and I each sat on a twin bed, and V-man said, “Okay, now you pay.” We gave him our money for one child, plus the $500 Cathy orphanage donation. I asked if we should give him the money for a second child in the same region and he said no, we’d just wait and see what happens. Bill counted out the money (we had it paperclipped in thousands) while V began tearing off and crumpling up the airport stickers from our bags. He put the wad of money in his shirt pocket without counting it, and said he’d be back at 5:00 with G-man.

    Bill took a quick, cold shower with no curtain and a hand-held wand. The tub sits very high up and is a soap-scum blue. The two twin beds have bedspreads that I believe are actually upholstery, and are the brown color chocolate turns when it’s old and dry. A woman – like a chamber-maid – let us into the room and then plugged in our refrigerator and T.V. There’s also a green phone that Bill has to get a picture of. It’s hilarious. Every once in a while (we’ve been in the room now for 30 minutes) we hear the street dogs barking.

    It’s 8:20 pm and we’re finally ready to fall asleep to the sounds of traffic. V brought G over and he talked to us for an hour about his past families. He loved the Vances. Since we had brought their gift with us, it was even better (for us!) Then, G took us to change a $100 into gryvna and we bought bottled water and a juice for tomorrow morning, then to the Ukrainian “fast food” restaurant/bar in the hotel. He helped us order food (cafeteria-style), though one young girl there was quite proficient in English. We got Cokes, and they were U.S. child size. We also got pea soup with croutons, fried eggplant, and stuffed grape leaves. Everything else was fish (the Borscht was sold out) and fish had been served on both our flights.

    G left us, and we ate then went to the hotel’s computer room to email Bill’s mom, then back to our room, when I remembered that I’d meant to tell G that I needed a blow drier. We put our money belts back on and were once again leaving the hotel (this time without a translator) and the maid was out at her desk (not altogether sure what she really does), so Bill tried to ask her in Ukrainian where we could buy a… then he mimed the hair-drying part. She had us go into her room, got one out of a box, said (we think in Russian) that we could borrow it and tomorrow buy one across the street. We were leaving when she stopped us and pointed to a table with a hot plate and a large pot of hot water. We thought she was asking us if we wanted tea, but then she showed us a big jug and a water basin. She’d meant hot water for us to bathe in. We said, “oh,” but didn’t take any.

    Five minutes later, when Bill is trying to duct tape the water knob down (only the cold water knob was working) so I could use two hands to “shower,” she knocks on our door with the jug of water and the plastic tub. I used it, mixing it in the tub with cold water so it was very warm. Bill had already showered, so he missed out, but I told him that when he returned the stuff to her to tell her, “You rock, sister!” and to give her a high-five.

    Well, Bill’s officially asleep, and I’ve been up for 30 hours, so… here’s to tomorrow!

    Monday, June 17

    Well, we’re dressed in our finest. G told Bill yesterday he did not have to wear the tie, so he isn’t. I’m in heels, and know we’ll be taking the Metro, but I’m quite used to it after commuting for 7 years.

    [At some point, either the day before or this morning, we debated with G whether to bring the poem Bill wrote and had translated into Ukrainian for Mrs. K. We had two framed copies of it. G thought that it was premature, but we ended up bringing one copy with us just in case to the AC that morning.]

    Tuesday, June 18

    Yesterday was insane. We met G in the lobby at 8:20 and said we hadn’t eaten. I was sort of surprised that he was in jeans and a t-shirt. He said maybe we’d get something at one of the metro stops. We ended up each getting a banana, 1 g. a piece (with 5.3 g. to a dollar, so about 20 cents), and eating while we walked.

    At the first metro stop, G motioned for me to get on, then I turn around and Bill is nowhere to be seen. Then G yells that Bill must hurry, so I jump off, and just then, the doors close. Bill had just made it up the stairs. Thinking he was getting off to a slow start in the morning, G said, “Bill is not yet everything.”

    We had shared a small bottle of orange Fanta in the hotel that morning, but by the time we hiked to the AC from the metro, we were parched. I went downstairs to the bathroom, but could not make myself go, hovering over this porcelain hole cover. We were told we’d be third, and waited in the hall until 10:15, then went in to see Mrs. K.

    G have her the gifts we’d brought for her grandson: a toy space shuttle (explaining that Bill works for NASA), a shuttle patch with the name of a Ukrainian and an American on it, and astronaut freeze-dried ice cream. He also gave her the picture the McDonald’s sent with us (one of them he’d picked out), with Russian on the back about who the child was. Whenever someone would go into her office, she’d show them the shuttle and open it up and tell them Bill works for NASA. Everyone would smile and accommodate her, but they really could not have cared less.

    We were told we’d have “fresh” (new) Tatyana as our psychologist, but got Valentina, instead. G did all the talking. No young girls, read us diagnoses, etc. Most pictures were of infants, but their birthdays would be ’93 or ’95… very outdated information.

    We picked out two children – a 4 y.o. boy at the Bila Tserkva children’s house who had C.P., and a 2 y.o. girl at the B.T. baby house – forget her diagnosis – delays I think. Since we’d heard from the Vances that the director there was corrupt, and we had gifts for them from the Vances, anyway, we made sure to look at books for B.T. right away.

    So, we then went across the street to the infamous Chinese place where it seems everyone who has ever adopted a child from Ukraine has eaten. It is very small, cafeteria-style. We ate while Olga typed our referrals. It was 11:20. Then, about 11:45 G says that we are to buy 3 people at the AC lunch from there and he will get it to go. That way, they will process our stuff faster, since it was coming up on their dinner hour.

    He bought 3 hot meals, 3 roll type things, and 3 Cokes. We waited downstairs (the AC is about 3 or 4 flights up), and at 12:45 he came down with the paperwork and said a car (a mini-van) was meeting us at the hotel at 1:30. We packed, got the mini-van at 1:40, went to G’s apartment (we waited while he went in to drop off 2 of our 4 bags), and got to the inspector’s office around 3:30. We got permission to go to both houses, and went to the children’s house at 4:30. The director told us the boy we had come to see had been adopted, but there was another boy (Vadim), 4.5 years old, so she began telling us his history: 3rd live birth out of ten pregnancies to an alcoholic mother, heart operation, operation for curvature of spine… I almost asked they not bring him in, and then he appeared at the door, small but cute as could be.

    We played with him, gave him some animal crackers we had with us, got more info from a medical person there and found out it was not his spine but his neck that had been operated on. He was born with a wry neck, and for about the first 14 mos. of his life when he lived with his mother before he was taken away, his head only went to the right side, and he had a bad heart, so he didn’t have a good start. As a result, he was delayed to about a 3 year old, but he spoke and knew what people were saying to him (in Russian), though when asked what colors things were, he’d decided that everything was blue. Also, his eyes were slightly asymmetrical.

    We wanted to see him today, but in the van G called and found out that the AC did not have his paperwork, so he would not be available for a year from when it was re-submitted. We’re hoping they can find it. They looked for his name in their computer, and it didn’t come up.

    It was 5:40 and we’d be staying in a rented flat. We went by the baby house, and learned that the girl we had a referral to was on holiday in Spain, but it was too late to see any other available kids anyway, so G dropped off the Vance’s donation and bought a large bag of bananas with money they’d had us bring. He also picked up two cow horns. He said they ‘d been thrown out when all the rest of the cow had been sold, and that if you burn them and put the ashes in water while you’re fishing, it attracts fish.

    We took the van to the flat of a family who’s friends of G’s, two adults (the woman is Galina and the boy, about 16, is Misha) to get the key to the other flat. We got there at 7:00, and I was so tired I just about passed out on the couch. They had us sit down for hot tea and little chocolate biscuits (cookies), but it was really hot in the apartment, and I felt faint. Galina and Misha went with us to the flat and cleaned it, and G helped Bill set up the pull-out couch. Also, G had stopped for food for us… no food since Chinese… and it was bread, hard cheese, and yogurt.

    Well, the fridge (about dorm room size) had rotten chives in it so they assumed it wasn’t working, and it had a nest of gnats flying around it. It was explained to us that the toilet does not flush unless you fill up the bucket in the tub and put the water in the bowl. Also, there’s a gas contraption in the kitchen (conveniently, by the curtains) on the wall that will give us hot water, so they showed Bill how to use it. We both took showers, nice-n-hot, and got to bed around eleven. I ate 2 pieces of the cheese and half a piece of bread.

    We slept off and on. It gets light as day around 4:30 am, and the sun doesn’t set until after ten.

    This is what happened today, (Tuesday, June 18, the actual day I wrote what happened yesterday).

    We woke up early because of the sun, but didn’t get out of bed until around 9:30, and we showered. Bill ate some of the yogurt from the fridge, and we drank and brushed our teeth with carbonated bottled water (which was warm, since we didn’t think the fridge was working and didn’t put the water in there).

    G met us here at noon since he had to go to the AC this morning and it’s about 1 ½ hours from Kyiv. He told us Vadim is probably hopeless since he’s not in the computer, but his paperwork had most definitely been sent by the orphanage. I insisted we go eat at a restaurant before going to the baby house, so we went to Omagha café and all had borscht (it was good) and very thin pork (ground) fried in an egg batter with a scoop of sticky rice. The pork had a lattice of mayonnaise on it – it came out looking more like a fried dessert. I ate one bite of the pork and had to swallow it with Coke. It was almost entirely fat. G insisted it was “the best.” We’d heard how fatty the meat is, but the fattier, the better. Bill liked it.

    The three year old boy we were there to see was described to us as having C.P., but mostly they focused on his eyes, trying to get us to understand what they meant by “droopy pupils,” making it sound like he’d just need an eye operation in the States and he’d be fine. We were surprised to see him. He was the size of a 12 month old, and had absolutely no comprehension of what was going on around him, and no emotion. He was in his own little world, but the caretakers “oohed and aahed” over him, going “coo, coo” and tickling his tummy, getting him to walk from one end of the crib to the other… It was a very large, communal crib that several children can be placed in at once. He could walk if he held onto the railing, using his right leg and dragging his left.

    We talked to him and touched him, but I guess they could tell we were not interested and then we were told there was a 2 year old girl they could show us if we were interested, but that her mother is an “idiot,” and the girl didn’t talk and they had no hope for her. Other families had seen her and “abandoned” her (their term for not adopting a child you’re shown). I thought she’d be really bad, especially since they built up the boy so much, but Bill wanted to see her to compare her to kids in the U.S.

    Again, shock. She appeared “normal” to us. She was small for a 2 year old, but larger than the boy. They kept him in the crib with her, and paid him all their attention.

    The girl, Nastya / Nastinka (interchangeable nicknames for Anastasia), was shy and had on a large (bulging) poopy diaper (think it was cloth) that no one had bothered to change, even after one lady lifted her up and sniffed her butt. I put a finger in her hand, and after a few seconds, she gripped it. Bill held his finger out and she noticed his hairy arm and began plucking his arm hair. (These kids rarely see men – no men work with the kids in the orphanage, though some orphanages have men in the administration, but it’s rare. The only men they see are those who come to look at them).

    She was so bundled up (she’d been napping) that her hair was dripping wet at her forehead and neck from sweat. (Ukrainians believe in bundling up the kids with many layers, and hats when they’re outside, all year round).

    She smiled when Bill played peek-a-boo, and she looked toward all sounds. One caretaker told her to go to Bill (we presume) and she ran across the crib to him and embraced him while simultaneously crying and screaming her lungs out in his ear. Then she went to another caretaker and stopped crying. I held her for a few minutes, and when we had to leave, she wanted a hug from each of us.

    We were told by her caretakers (but who knows what you can believe) that she’s never been comfortable around men, and Bill was the first man she’d been around that she was not crying the whole time. The problem was, crying was the only sound she ever made in about 20 minutes. No other sound, no matter how slight, whatsoever.

    We took a cab to the regional Inspector’s office to pick up a certified note that they had sent Vadim’s paperwork to the AC in 1999. Then we went back to the children’s house (where Vadim is), and Bill and I waited on the playground while G went in and spoke to them. They told him they would submit new paperwork for Vadim, but it would take a month to make it from the Inspector to the AC, and then Vadim would be available nationally for 14 months, then internationally.

    Our only hope for Vadim is that someone can find his paperwork. We stressed to G how Vadim needs eye surgery, and he has a hernia, and he needs daily therapy (they say it is massage, but who knows what a U.S. doctor would say), so an orphanage is not the best place for him…and if they care about him…and he’s only getting older… But G realizes all this, it’s just that the bureaucracy is a brick wall.

    We took a cab back to the flat, stopping for Coca-Cola Light, water, apple juice, boiled sausage (bologna), ham, bread, chocolate, and fruit. Funny, I wanted mayo – they had Hellman’s, a small jar, but it was almost 5 gryvna (a dollar) and I thought, God, how expensive, and didn’t buy it. I’m in the swing of things, already!

    Tomorrow is G’s anniversary, and he bought his wife a box of white chocolate. He’s going back to Kyiv, and tomorrow morning Misha will meet us at the flat and take us to the orphanage, and Galina (Misha’s mother, who works there) will take us to see Nastya at ten, and G will meet us there at noon. He said if we don’t want her, we’ll go back to Kyiv so we can be at the AC the next morning for another referral, and if we want her, we start adoption.

    I was like, whoa! We can’t make that decision so soon, and we have to get in touch with our American doctor, etc. Then I said, even if we want her we’ll go to another region first to look for our son. G frowned and said we could not adopt in two different regions (news to us), so if we went somewhere else, we could not adopt her. I said, then we need to get referrals to this area at the AC, so he will try to do this when he visits AC tomorrow morning.

    He left, and we ate and tried to get a connection on our WorldPhone to call Dr. Mason.

    Wednesday, June 19, 2002

    Ugh! We’re trying! We reached Mason at 5 am (our time, noon his time) and he told us some ways to evaluate Nastya, but said she sounds severely delayed… in other words, not making any sounds at all is a bad sign.

    Before going to the orphanage, we told Misha we wanted to go to an Internet café, so we took the bus a little out of the way and there was one in a building that looked like it had been abandoned and someone had just put a few computers on the second floor. It was dark and in really bad shape, and the connection was so slow we almost just left, but we emailed Bill’s mother, and Bill pulled up his work’s homepage to show Misha what he does.

    We were allowed to take her outside for an hour, and she’s very pretty and good-natured, but still made no sounds at all that gave us hope she’d ever talk. We threw her up in the air, showed her a stuffed animal and a kid’s book, bounced her on our knees… she smiles, and when she hears noise (like a kid crying on the playground) she looks toward the sound and looks concerned like she’s thinking, but we have no idea what’s going on in her head.

    It’s also hopeless with Vadim. The AC looked as much as they’re going to (if at all). G told us that while he was at the AC that morning that they asked him to buy them some things like trash bags, etc., that cost him (i.e., us) 40 gryvna.

    We went to one last orphanage in this area to see a boy 5 years old, who it turns out is in Spain on holiday (many orphanage kids are sent to Spain in some type of an exchange program where they stay with families who usually end up adopting them). But, we were told there was a 7 year old boy who just began talking at age 6. G was next door at another orphanage and a woman who spoke broken English asked if we wanted to see the 7 year old, and told us he was “very pretty in the face.” Because of our experience with Nastya, we said no, but they’d already told a caretaker to go get him, and she brought him up to us, and the director shuffled him into her office and closed the door. He looked about 5, but was very handsome. A few minutes later the director sent him back downstairs with a small bag of candy. He stopped on the landing and said bye to us in Russian.

    When G got back and found out we’d seen a boy, he asked if we wanted more information on him. I told him no, because we want a boy and a girl, and we’ve exhausted this region, and since we can only adopt from one region (as he’d told us), there would not be a second child here for us.

    Right by the orphanage, there’s an open-air market where women sit on crates with umbrellas over them all day and sell eggs (fresh out of the hen), toilet paper/toiletries, cloths, or whatever. Several men are always playing card games for money on a blanket laid out over the hood of someone’s car. So, today (as our going-away image) we saw two men pull up in a red car (think a car from the 70’s, that’s been used every day since), open the trunk, and begin taking out an animal carcass that was wrapped in a blanket. Leg by leg, then the stomach area with guts hanging out (guess they’re for sale, too).

    We went back to the flat, and G left for Kyiv. A car/drive will meet us at the flat early tomorrow and get us to Kyiv by 9 am for another AC appointment. G talked to the Inspector of the Lugansk region, who said a girl is coming off the registry June 26th, so we will do our best to get a referral to that region so we can see her. He only knows that she is not one of their three invalids, but nothing else of her condition. There’s also a children’s house there for us to find a boy.

    Today, I’ve eaten a banana, a few bites of a soggy potato pancake (that had, ugh! mayo on it that had melted from the heat of the pancake – makes me nauseous thinking of it), and for dinner Misha was told by G to take us to a nice restaurant by our flat and translate for our meal (and we’d pay for his, too), but he didn’t know enough English and something got lost in the translation. Food is ordered by the gram, and what we ordered was miniscule. Bill and Misha each got a small piece of bread, Misha’s with sliced cold cheese, Bill’s with chicken/tomato/mayo/cheese mixture. The chicken Kyiv I ordered never came, , and I had the equivalent of 1 glass of wine and 7 gnocci with a little meat in them in butter sauce. I gave half my pasta to Misha since he’s rail thin and I thought he ordered some for himself, but it never came. My stomach must be the size of a pea.

    Tomorrow when Misha comes to get the money for the 3rd day of the flat (we were supposed to only be there 2 nights so we personally owe $10 or 50 gryvna), we are going to give him an “envelope” – $100 for his family, and a copy of our Ukrainian adoption poem (we had 2 copies framed, but made printouts to put in envelopes with money for people who helped us).

    Thursday, June 20, 2002

    We woke at 6 am to pack and leave the flat. The car came at 7:30 (we gave the money to Misha, and gave him our leftover bologna). The driver is a student at the University in Bila Tserkva, and is driving us to Kyiv, and driving back (a total of 3 hours) for a U.S. $20 bill. We got to the AC right at 9 am, and G was waiting by the black gate for us (the gate leads to the alley where the entrance to the building is). He later told us that while he was waiting for us, a car was stopped in traffic – a really nice car with a fat pig-man in it being driven while counting a large was of U.S. bills.

    We looked through books again. G was told by the ladies at the AC that the girl in Lugansk was not available, which means she’s being saved for either an agency family, or a family on their “list”. So, it once again became a crap shoot. Valentina showed us more kids, age 7 to 10. I kept saying “it’s too old,” hoping G would tell her what I was saying if she didn’t already know, so she’d stop showing us these kids. Finally, I decided to give up and go back home, meaning the US of A. However, Bill was not convinced, and I really could not imagine going back home without at least one child, so we accepted a referral to Khmelnytsky, west of Kyiv, to see a 6 year old.

    When G called the Inspector from a pay phone on the street outside the AC, he was told the boy had stopped thriving, but there were two good boys, one 5 and one 6, so G had to go back to the AC to make sure their paperwork was in. We then get to the train station about 10 blocks from the AC to buy our train tickets for an overnight, and find out Bill left his passport in the luggage that G paid the guard at the AC’s building to keep in his office for us. We went back for the passport (my feet were killing me), ate Chinese food again (at 1:30 – first thing to eat that day – we drank apple juice in the car to Kyiv), and then went back to the train station to buy our tickets. The train will leave at 9 pm and get in to Khmelnytsky at 6 am. Bill and I will be in a private sleeper car, and G will be sharing a sleeper car with 3 strangers (ours is a 2-bed, his is a 4-bed).

    G then commenced a tour of Kyiv, and guess what Bill does not have? His camera! It was really hot and we stopped for ice cream and tried to find cold water but it was all warm (few of the stands have enough refrigeration to have everything be cold) so we settled for orange drink.

    With my blistered feet, we ended up at the street lined with souveniers and bought a few things. I told Bill that if we were “happy” at the end of this trip, we’d come back and buy some more things. On this really long, cobblestone street that goes downhill for about a mile, all lined with people selling things (art, textiles, icons, a LOT of those nesting dolls), we actually ran into another couple from Dr. Mason’s seminar from this past winter. They live in Maryland by Baltimore, and are around our age. They used an agency, and have been in Ukraine since May 22, but they just found a 16 month old boy in Donetsk. Like us, they wanted two (very young – they had 2 rooms set up with cribs). But, they’ve had enough. Their court date is next week. Monday and Friday of next week are holidays in Ukraine.

    That they found a boy that young (they believe his only diagnosis is having one kidney smaller than the other) gives me hope, but also makes me angry – where’s our baby?

    We are not in the 5 gryvna a piece really nice waiting lounge at the train terminal (for those who can afford it). It’s really nice with red mock-leather sofas, a really high domed, painted ceiling, air conditioning, huge gilt chandeliers, and a snack bar. The toilet out in the hall costs 80 kopeks (100 kopeks to a gryvna).

    June 22, 2002

    Once again, I don’t even know where to begin. We went by overnight train to see the boy with the “eye” problem that turned out to be fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), which is very evident in the facial features. We knew the second he walked into the room. The train sleeper car was nice, and we had AC. We got a knock to wake up at 5 am and got off the train at 6 am. In the station the night before, I was standing with two bags while Bill and G went to get other bags out of where the station keeps them for a fee. A guy about 30 years old came up and stood next to me and I had a really strange feeling he was going to grab Bill’s backpack. He kept looking at it and at me. I wondered what I’d do if he grabbed it and ran, so I finally just moved it next to me and stood with my foot between the straps. The second I moved the bag, he left. He resumed standing next to really crappy luggage looking for a new victim.

    Then, boarding the train, a girl about 20, very small and thin, darted on the train with the 3 of us (she without a ticket), and ended up behind me and in front of Bill, walking down the narrow hall to our room. G was in front of me, and she may not have realized Bill was with us. Bill said she was walking with her legs wide apart (so as not to hit mine while I walked) and holding up a paper. He looked over her shoulder and she had my backpack purse unzipped with her hand in it. Bill yelled NO and grabbed her arm and swung her around, holding her against the wall while I checked my purse, but she hadn’t gotten anything.

    So, we get to the orphanage at 6:30 am and waited until 9:30 to see the director. In the meantime, we talked to a nice, pretty young girl (very tall and thin, as a lot of the younger women are), who was I guess a night nurse. She brought us small cups of gritty instant coffee with sugar and buttered bread with hard cheese. G thought we should give her some of the gifts we brought, and we gave her a small jar candle, a Maryland motif shotglass, a pen, and some other small things. She asked about how we celebrate Thanksgiving (do we have a big bird?) and Christmas (do we eat bird again?).

    Besides the boy with FAS, who the director brought in and had recite a poem, she had 4 other boys come in, all at the same time. None of them were “with it” mentally except a 7 year old who she told us had severe behavior problems. She gave each boy a balloon to blow up, and the 7 year old bit the top off of his, chewed it, spit it out, and got in my face trying to blow up the ruined balloon, spitting on me in the process.

    I told G to tell the director to get all the boys out and she did. We weren’t interested in any of them, and it had been a long trip and now fruitless. She told us that except for the boy with FAS (she thought he was kind and showed promise), none of them were any good anyway. She and G went into her office and called the baby house, but no kids worth seeing – all invalids or severely mentally handicapped (or saved for Mrs. K’s clients, I’m sure). By now, it was 11:30. She’d talked to us for a while, and to G, and cried that we were unable to find children. She even said that she’d save us a good child if we’d come back in a year.

    She told her staff to serve us lunch: a dilly, buttery soup, watery mashed potatoes, sausage with egg batter, and a cold pickled tomato, and to drink, a tea that tasted like smoke from a fire. I ate a little of the soup, and one bite of all else.

    We got tickets back to Kyiv on a different type of train that was much faster and newer, but no sleeper cars – it would only be about 6 hours – but no AC. It was about 100 degrees for 6 hours. We’d bought water, a Coke and a candy bar, and had to eat the candy before we even pulled out because it was liquefying. When we were really thirsty, the drinks were warm or gone.

    The flat we’ll be in for the 3-day weekend is nice, has a gas water heater and the first toilet with a seat we’ve encountered in a week. I fell in the street outside the flat – it was pitch black and of course, as with all roads, many potholes. I stepped in a pothole and went down, scraping my left shin and knee. No blood, but a lot of dirt and the skin was shredded. In the cab I went to squash a mosquito with my fist against the window and missed the bug, but damn, that window was filthy! We passed a TGIFridays, but it’s far from our flat.

    We called our NY contact with our problem of getting the 4.5 year old and he gave us the number of a lawyer in Kyiv who knows people in the Ministry of Education (in charge of orphanages and over the NAC), who may or may not help us, but we can’t contact him until Tuesday, anyway.

    G called us at 11 am and woke us up! We slept the best night ever; about 10 hours. He went with us to a very expensive restaurant with an English/Ukrainian menu. Bill got wings and I got veal in wine sauce, broiled potatoes and vegetables. We both had Caesar salad and Cokes (many refills – they don’t do free refills in this country). All told, it was 228 g (about $40). We walked the Botanical Gardens then bought tea bags/sugar, drinks, meat, a potato salad, chocolate, sweet buns, and yogurt to eat this weekend. Champagne, too.

    G told us where to go tomorrow for shops and cafes. We have clothes drying on the porch and need to wash more tonight. Also, the Internet café here is very nice – the one in Bila Tserkva was in a gutted out building that was crumbling and sad looking (and was only computers – no café 😉

    Yesterday we were very depressed and debated whether or not to call it quits. G is not positive at all, and showed us an article on the train where an American family adopted a girl under one with AIDS. There are so few children available to independent adopters who don’t have the right contacts. Our chances of two kids seem pretty dismal, and we may not even make it out of here with one. When I try to imagine going home with no kids, I feel ill.

    June 24, 2002

    Today we’ve been here a week. We’ve been on our own the last 2 days, what with the holiday. Gotten a lot of sleep. Yesterday my one meal was McDonald’s double cheeseburger, fries and a Coke. I ate a few bites of sweet bun and yogurt for breakfast, but the bun was not all that sweet, and the yogurt is really thick. Also, we have nothing to was the dishes with, and don’t know when they were last washed or have they just been rinsed off. So, we went to the Christiatic (sp?) – the big street that has all the shops and cafes. We bought a pot, sponge and dish soap. In this “mall” we were in, everything is behind a counter and there’s someone at every counter to get you what you need, whether it’s American toilet paper, “expensive” purses and pantyhose, cheap pens, socks, or a kitchen sponge.

    Today, we ate at the Internet café – Bill had an omelet and I had fruit “pancakes” – small crepes with hot “exotic” fruit. Really good. For dinner, we ate TGIFridays – we both wanted pasta for some reason – but our stomach were none too happy afterwards. It’s funny there, because they’ve trained the staff to speak a little English. Also, we tipped since it is an American restaurant, even though tipping is not done in any other restaurants.

    Over the last few days we washed all our laundry. Tomorrow our day begins at 8 am (we’ve been getting up at 11 am), when G gets here, then back to the AC and hopefully a productive meeting with the lawyer.

    June 25, 2002

    It’s 6:50 pm and we’re back on an overnight train – this time for Simferopol. Others in Cathy’s group are getting kids under 2, though we’re not sure of the health. So when we were with Valentina at the AC, I asked how this was possible when we’re being told there aren’t any. She asked who we knew, and we said the Davis’ (not a Cathy family, but one we met through our Dr., who found a 17 mo. old boy, minor diagnosis). Valentina got out the book of all the paperwork of kids people are currently seeing, and they all look very young, although in retrospect, the pictures are typically grossly outdated.

    There are kids in the books we’re being shown who look healthy, but then we are told that their diagnosis is “Downs”. Hmmm… they don’t look like it. Skeptical, we left the AC without a referral because Valentina wanted to see new families. The hall was fairly crowded. But G went back without us at 12:30 and got us a referral to Sim.

    He tried to get in touch with Julia, the woman who facilitated Cathy’s adoptions (her 5 Ukrainian kids are all from Sim) about a flat for us. Then he told us that when the Sim orphanage director (who’s since left) was being investigated, Julia had her computer confiscated by the KGB and she fled to Greece or somewhere. Again, hmmmm…

    June 27, 2002

    We met Alexander (the director) and Taras (the lawyer) at the Simferopol baby house. We were told by Alexander “only boys, and only with Downs”. We asked to see them, skeptical that these are kids being held for others, and then we were told there were two boys NOT with Downs, and a girl. We asked to see them. One boy appeared to be autistic – he was about 2 and would go from object to object, but made no connection with us or his caretakers stationed around the perimeter of the room to catch him as he ran helter skelter. The other boy they said had CP, but he was mentally a vegetable. The girl they said had a cleft palate (lip had been repaired), she’d had leg surgery for a tight ligament, and something mild wrong with her heart.

    Her name is Olya, and she’s really cute. 4.3 years old. We played with her in the hall, then watched her eat lunch with the other kids – about 25 of them, mostly boys. (If you’re reading this wondering why there’s so many kids – it’s typical. Parents who are low on money can write a letter putting their child(ren) in the local orphanage, and it’s good for a year. They need just write another letter every year to keep their kid(s) there, and never relinquish their parental rights to go get the kids whenever they want. Also, I’m sure a lot of the kids were available for adoption, but not by us, for reasons stated throughout this journal).

    We went back after her nap to take pictures of her mouth for Dr. Mason, and then G suggested taking pictures of her legs as well (he’d seen her a few years before with another family). When he took off her shoe (so worn there was a hole in the toe) and her sock (about 5 sizes too big – the heel was up to her calf), her feet were a mess. Her feet looked clubbed to us, and her toes were fused.

    Turns out she has a very rare congenital syndrome called Popliteal Pterigyum that causes everything she has. The only thing it does NOT affect is the brain/mind. She seems very smart, and in some ways presents as the leader of her group. The “pterigyum” part means fusing, and we were told that her eyelids were fused at birth. Some kids with this are born with their legs fused together. For her, it’s the toes. We’ll wait and see what Mason has to say, but it’s not too difficult to guess.

    G said that Taras (the lawyer who holds back good kids to make money off them) wants the money, but there are no more kids for him to sell. About 1 ½ weeks ago, a Cathy family was successful with him, but now he and Alexander are off on vacation, which according to G means for sure, no kids.

    At least we ate two meals today. After dinner, I was full for the first time since being here. We have another 3-day weekend, and at this point Bill feels that we should either adopt Olya or go home – no more searching in such a f**cked up system.

    June 28, 2002

    We hung around Sim, especially the Internet café, but did not go back to see Olya. Mason emailed us info on her condition and it is not good (though it could be worse – in one thing he sent us that’s more for doctors, it said that the “cure” for this condition is abortion, and that some kids are born so bad that they only live a few months).

    We just ate an excellent dinner (the café that’s by Liza’s flat is superb!!!). We had salads (little bowls of layered stuff like meat, potatoes and veggies, with mayo on top), wine, chicken stuffed with ham and cheese. Now I’m full again.

    Bill and I are going back to Kyiv by plane tomorrow. G is afraid to fly, so he’s going by overnight train. V will pick us up at the airport. We left our orphanage donations with Liza – we’re tired of carrying them. She works at the orphanage and is a friend of G. Her flat is really nice. She’s a medical person and is in charge of all the other doctors. Almost everyone, if not everyone, who works at an orphanage, from the director to the doctors to the laundry people, are women. Alexander and Taras are the exceptions. Although we like it here, there’s more to do in Kyiv until Monday, when we’ll be BACK at the AC.

    June 30, 2002

    Yesterday we flew back to Kyiv and V met us. It was sunny and hot in Crimea (Simferopol), and cold and rainy in Kyiv.

    We have decided to change our game plan from going region hopping and hoping someone is on the take, because that’s getting us nowhere. Our feeling now is that the AC truly controls what kids a family is shown. We will not go to any more regions unless it’s a specific referral from the AC, and we’ll hang out and hope someone “abandons” a child they were referred to.

    At least we had a good laugh last night at the Internet café reading about the “Tabasco historian”. Feeling oddly superstitious, today I wore the bra I wore over to Ukraine and have not worn since, and the same pink long-sleeved polo shirt (it was cool then, and it’s cool again). So it is like a new beginning after 2 weeks. We can start over, smarter and more comfortable being here.

    July 2, 2002

    Yesterday, after spending 7 hours at the AC and not getting anywhere – we looked at books for two regions but Valentina would not call them to get updates on kids, just kept saying they were in special invalid houses or not good kids – we decided to stop beating our heads against a wall and to go home.

    There was an older couple at another desk and I caught a glimpse of one of their referrals – a cute blonde girl. They had apparently been to the AC a year ago with no luck and put their names on “the list.” At the same time, Valentina got a phone call saying a child had been “abandoned” – meaning a family had gone to look at him but decided not to adopt him – and did she have any families interested. Well, that was what we were hoping for, so she found his paperwork and showed it to us. He had a cleft lip and palate, but the lip had since been fixed, but not in the picture, which was a baby picture, but he was five years old. It looked more like too much skin, not like a true cleft, but it was a horrible picture. So, G read his diagnoses, and the boy also had a heart condition and Hep B, and he was an overnight train away. We were like, no thank you.

    We met with Mrs. Kunko and she wrote us in her book using both red and black ink pens, for November, saying that G could check in October to see if there are any kids for those on the list. We don’t have much hope.

    We then went out with G to Tequila House and Bill and I each had 2 strawberry margaritas with our food.

    We had an overnight stay in Paris – stayed in a luxury room – and arrived home on July 4th so tired we fell asleep before the fireworks! We learned a lot, are anxious to adopt our children from wherever they may be, and are so thankful we live in the United States!!!

  21. April Viola, LI,NY
    [email protected]

    Clifford Phillips(contact), Guatemala -XXX

    We did our adoptions of our daugher through Clifford Phillips. We chose Cliff being he is American
    and felt out baby-to-be would be taken care of well….were we
    Our daughter cane home at 3 months of age, very
    malnutritioned , bad case of scabbies and diarrhea. The Embassy doctor was appalled at her
    condition and referred my husband (husband went to bring baby home) to a pediatrician to see our
    daughter who
    was also appalled at her condition. She came home at under 7 lbs! My pediatrician stateside found
    her condition to be horrific and wrote a letter to the American Embassy in Guatemala complaining
    the condition of our child…she was given the diagnosis of “failure to thrive.”
    One year later with TLC, our daughter is now 19 lbs.
    and a very happy baby……the only thing that was
    positive about her during our first trip to see her when she was 2 months old, was the fact that she
    was very
    alert and responsive and smiled a lot….had she been
    listless, it would have been a different story.
    I am not saying that Clifford Phillips is a bad person….
    it’s just that the condition of our child never should have been such. Many healthy children have
    come home through him…’s just unfortunate our baby
    was in the condition that she was.
    Another thing that did aggravate me about working with Cliff was at the time of our referral, he
    raised us
    $3,000 more saying he had to hire another attorney to do our relinquishment case(that was not so). I
    didn’t like the fact of working with someone withone anything in writing as I feel that is very
    important to have. He promised when we made our first trip to Guatemala that he would put it in
    writing, and he never did…..had I had that “contract”, he wouldn’t have been able to raise us
    $3,000!!! I really felt that was unethical.

  22. Our Chilean Baby Died by April Viola
    LI,NY [email protected]

    TAA/ Chile/XXX

    Prior to doing our Guatemalan adoption, we were
    involved with TAA; same agency we did our first successful adoption at. Took over a year for us get
    an assignment…and to make a long story short, that
    baby died in Chile.
    We were involved with the agency for 2 1/2 years &
    getting no where & decided to look elsewhere for
    a new source.
    To make a long story short…..we met other couples (this isn’t hearsay….it’s documented)who were
    also involved with this agency….gave the agency money and no child in return. We all got together
    and contacted the Attorney General’s office in NY…they
    were interested after investigating into this, and we
    all signed Affidavits against this agency….it is now an
    ongoing civil case in Supreme Court in NYC.
    This agency has shattered dreams of many and
    my goal is to warn others to stay clear of this agency.
    They are no longer allowed to work with NY families….they have lost their license in the state of NJ
    and there is a Hearing going on in PA where they are based, due to problems with their domestic
    They supposedly have a Guatemala program, too.
    My advice to anyone who reads this….stay away from TAA as they will only break your hearts.
    I am out thousands of dollars and no child……is it right that they keep my money??
    I don’t want to see anyone else lose money trying to
    bring a child into their home and hearts.
    When using an adoption agency, please check it
    out very carefully and thoroughly…also an attorney & a facilitator too….it’s better to be safe than
    I want to see everyones dreams of having a child come true….

  23. Colombian Adoption Nightmare. Avoid Los Ninos in TX.

    We adopted our son from Colombia 5 years ago and had a very negative interaction with the person at Los Ninos who was responsible for Latin American adoptions. The director was not attentive to our problems and in fact was very passive about the whole process. I don’t know if this person still works for them. The reason we had chosen Colombia was because at that time there were only two very short visits required of adoptive parents, and it is difficult for us to get away from work. When we got the call to go and visit, we booked a short stay as instructed. We were ripped off by the manager of the guest house where we were staying, he raised the price by 50% as we were paying the bill, and we were never compensated by Los Ninos, who had guaranteed the price. We also found out when we returned that the Colombian agency had been calling Los Ninos and telling them that we were very difficult people (we’ve no idea why, we just did as we were told, although in retrospect I think the problem was that we hadn’t brought gifts to the orphanage director or translator, because we were never instructed to do so by Los Ninos) and that they didn’t want to work with Los Ninos anymore. The Los Ninos facilitator then started accusing us of being bad parents and not loving our child because we hadn’t planned a longer trip. We were also threatened with being unable to take our son home. We spent an agonizing month until getting the call to go pick up our son, and the whole thing was horribly traumatic, as we knew our agency was not on our side and that at any moment we could lose our child. All ended well but it is inexcusable to treat adoptive parents in this way and to blame us for following their advice, and then to tell a new parent that they are no good, it still is painful to think about it. When we complained to the director, all she said was that there must have been a ‘misunderstanding’. I would not recommend this agency, but on the other hand we do now have a beautiful son that we are very grateful for.

  24. Sara DeSteinle – Facilitator, Guatemala, XXX

    We had a very unhappy and unsuccessful adoption experience using Sara DeSteinle as an independent facilitator in Guatemala.

    Sara had been recommended to us in the fall of l997 by a woman who had successfully adopted two Guatemalan children through her. As things evolved, we had a choice of two baby girls. We were informed that though one baby had had a brief respiratory infection, which Sara emphasized was common among babies, we were assured that this baby had recovered and that both babies were equally healthy. We chose an infant, and on December l9th wired her $7000 (the other $7000 to be paid when the adoption was complete), in order to have her initiate adoption proceedings.

    Shortly after that date, and many times over the next six weeks, we attempted to contact Sara with little success. Specifically for example, we were eager to have her inform us of the attorney to whom we should assign power of attorney, a step we had understood was necessary to get the process moving. We made numerous requests by telephone, by fax, and through Tom’s sister (who speaks fluent Spanish). The requests were left unanswered, however. Tom’s sister would call on our behalf and Sara would seem confused as to who we were. On other occasions, she would suggest that our fax had not been received, or was illegible. Several times she would request that we provide her with a fax of our full names, addresses, etc., information which we had already provided. We began to question her competence, and became increasingly concerned.

    Eventually, Tom’s sister suggested that someone she knew in Guatemala might be willing to call Sara on our behalf. We were able to e-mail this contact, who graciously agreed to make a call to Sara to inquire regarding our baby girl, and to find out what we could do to get the process moving. We got an e-mail response back, informing us that our child had died.

    We were devastated, but our profound sense of loss on receiving this news was made even worse by the way in which we received this information. Sara had not had the decency to call us, or even to fax us to let us know what had happened. We don’t know when the baby died, or how long it would have taken for us to find this out, had it not been for our contact. To add insult to injury, she told our contact that we had been aware of the child’s illness all along, an assertion that is absolutely false. She used the child’s poor health as a reason for her lack of communication, and for not proceeding with the adoption.

    We do NOT blame Sara for our baby’s death. We know the harsh reality that sometimes babies die. But we can’t excuse Sara for being dishonest with us. She had not been forthcoming about the baby’s health.

    At that point, Sara gave us the option of either accepting a new referral through her, or getting a refund of our money. Given what we had been through, we chose to pursue an adoption through another source. On March 2, we told her of our decision. She promised us she would repay us our money.

    It has now been more than nine months since Sara promised to repay us. She has repeatedly given us dates by which she would at least begin making partial payments of our refund. In July, we asked LAPA for help. They kindly agreed to call Sara on our behalf. Sara told LAPA that she would send us a check for $3000 the following day. She also said she would fax a copy of the check to them, to prove she had followed through. We received no money. Just another broken promise.

    In summary, we feel that for us, Sara DeSteinle behaved unethically and dishonestly toward us. We would caution others to consider other options before choosing to work with her. If such an experience could happen to us, it could also happen to others.

    We know of others who have had negative experiences with Sara. We urge them to please share their experiences. Thanks

  25. Bolivia adoption from Los Ninos

    We had a virtually identical experience adopting through Los Ninos in Bolivia in December 1997. We were prepared for problems but expected our agency to be an ally which they certainly weren’t. We ended with a beautiful boy but would NEVER recommend Los Ninos. There were several other adoptive families with us who equally share our frustrations with Los Ninos. We are glad we adopted but wish we’d had an agency that supported us rather than abandoned us.

  26. Uh, isn’t this supposed to be about children murdered by their adoptive parents not AP tales of woe? How about addressing the lack of regulation, education and screening of PAP’s?

  27. Anonymous said…
    Uh, isn’t this supposed to be about children murdered by their adoptive parents not AP tales of woe? How about addressing the lack of regulation, education and screening of PAP’s?

    I happen to think the stories are relevant. Exposes and shows the shady side of international adoption. All the more reason why these programs should be closed down for good. It’s baby selling at its finest. Don’t you agree?

  28. Sure I agree, but read their comments. They are more concerned with the hard times they had getting kids than the kids themselves. Get ’em healthy kids quick and easy and forget about the rest.

  29. I agree with what you said above. These adopting families are greedy, whiny, self serving and most of them deserve to get ripped off by the corrupt agencies and facilitators they hire. The poor kids deserve better. If they aren’t beaten to death or abused, they are being raise by parents who are old enough to be their grandparents. These majority of these kids are sheltered and often home schooled,with little contact with others ,except it it’s church oriented. How these families pass home studies is beyond my understanding. These “sending “countries have to read the stuff these parent are posting online. Maybe the government officials in EE and everywhere else will get wise to the fact that too many kids are dying and being abused. Maybe the US Embassies abroad will stop issuing exit visas for these kids . One can hope for change.

  30. Jesus, these stories broke my heart. My wife and I are beginning the process of adoption and can not imagine lifting a finger to hurt a child. Horrible. Just horrible.

  31. A few years ago, in Evergreen, Colorado psychologists Connell Watkins and Julie Ponder , charged, convicted in accidental death of Candace Newmaker during a “rebirthing” therapy to help her in her attachment disorder/bond with her adoptive mother.

  32. People please find a different hobby than spending time on doing other peoples laundry. I was adopted from Russia and i know plenty of families who adopted. take in consideration the state these children including me was brought in over here. Those children suffer from post-traumatic stress and long term problems aquired from parents conributing too much alcohol and drugs during pregnancy.
    I have done alot of court research on “suppose” criminal adopters. There is too much public does not know to make such irrational conclusions. Remember People media publishes only what will bring them bread to the table. Dont jump into conclusions, please! There are alot of problems in the courtroom that you are not aware of.
    Russians as usual dont communicate with provision of medical documents in certain cases I know that from my self-experience. I had a medical condition that doctor in Moscow told me not to say anything at the moment if I ever wanted to be adopted. Americans are trying to help russian children as their russian parents or government can not provide sufficient help. Americans dont kill russian children, Russia does that on their own. If these kids werent adopted and stayed in the orphanage they would have died anyway by the max age of 25 if not earlier from neglegence or serious illness. After release from the orphanage there is no future, guys get involved in mob activity and get killed, girls begin prostitution right after leaving orphanage or while still in it, and then they get killed. I am glad I got adopted as I do have a future now. And I hope american people keep adopting children from overseas but with caution. make sure you know the whole medical history of a child, bring a doctor with you if possible or show doctor a video that you got from adoption agency. Look for head abinormalities,(thats were prosecutors blame parent for blood force trauma)assists in the head can be from prior injury and not it is activated by slight bumping, make sure it is consistent with rest of the body, pay attention the way child moves. It is not a joke. Make sure that you are ready be dealing with very stubborn personalities, as that is a dominant russian trait. And I wish you luck you doing the right thing and it will pay back later.
    thank you.

  33. Thanks Marley,

    To be truthful, I could hardly stand to read the fate of these kids. People think “adoption” is so easy…everyone tells me “children are adaptable” and it is the adults desires to get themselves a kid that is what counts. What’s really crazy is that the true professionals know what situations are likely to work best for a kid. But inevitably it is the money that “decides” child placement.

    What a tragedy. There must be a better way to care for kids than adopting them out to people in a completely different country who have no concept of what the poor kid has been through and no intention of preserving existing friends and family for the kid.

  34. Hello, years ago when Ed bradley did his story on this little child named Alex, who’s parents Cathy and Peter Brooks abandoned and allowed him to die alone in a filthy orphanage I was a mother and cried throughout the whole story.

    From that moment on I took Alex on as one of my own children in my heart. I never forgot him, and tell my children his story now so that his life will be remembered always. I hope my children will send a legacy of love into this world and a duty to protect all children. I feel that Alex story has been lost and I wish that more information could be found about him so that his adoptive parents will not be able to hide what they did to him.

    If anyone has any information or pictures from about Alex could you please send them to me at my email?

    I have been searching years to find out anything and when I found this blog it gave me hope that his life was not forgotten.

    As a mother of 8 children I can not understand how people can just throw an innocent life away.

    Alex and all of the other children remembered here represent every child, and their lives are equally precious.

    Every Child matters..every child should have our love.

    Thank you so much for writing about this, I can only hope someone out there has more information.

    my emaail is [email protected]

  35. Any case like this can happen even in Switzerland and any case can be overpopularised via media. To raise the prices for healthy children someone spreads such information.
    Everything in the modern world needs promotion: credit bureaus boost info of identity fraud to charge higher fees for “protection”, the same about sun screen manufacturers…

  36. Is it possible for you to phantom that and adoptive parent can actually love their adopted child? Your negativity is very hurtful to those of us that love our children very much. It is very misfortunate that this has happened to these children and it breaks my heart, however can you be a little less one sided and include non adopted children that were killed by their parents as well. Here are a few:

    Not to mention those that never made it out of the womb.

  37. Hi I’m working on a story for ABC News PrimeTime on Russian Adoption Deaths. I’m trying to find the sources of the photographs you have posted under your Russian adoption deaths sections and I’m under a very tight deadline. If you could contact me at [email protected] as soon as possible I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!

  38. I am still in shock over the stories that I just read about those babies. We are trying to adopt from Russia and now am really nerves that ours will be prolonged. Is there not a way that you can have the child examined at your own expense before you finalize the adoption? There has to be specialist in Russia that you can take him/her to. Do they allow that in Russia? Good questions that I will have to ask my agency. God Bless all them babies that have lost their lives at the hands of those that are supposed to be there for them.

  39. The best thing the USA ever did for Russia was stop adopting Russian children. American authorities do a very poor job of protecting American born children and care even less for those both abroad and brought into country allowing them to be repeatedly rehomed without any regulations. There’s no point in bringing a child into a foreign country if they’re just going to suffer abuse, neglect, and even abandonment beyond whatever they endured in their home country. The orphanage will always be a much better place than the grave. Rest in peace dear murdered children. The American system failed you.

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