A grand jury indictment recently accused four employees of the adoption agency International Adoption Guides (IAG) of adoption fraud conspiracy. The purpose of the conspiracy? “To unjustly enrich themselves and obtain and retain business in Ethiopia through deceit, craft, trickery, and dishonest means, circumventing the laws of the United States and Ethiopia governing intercountry adoption and making corrupt payments to Ethiopian officials to secure a business advantage.”
The IAG website is down now, for “scheduled maintenance.”
The indictment specifically names James Harding, Mary Mooney, Alisa Bevins, and Haile Ayalneh Mekonnen as committing fraud via intercountry adoption. It also refers to Clients A through G (adoptive families); Child 1 through 7; Employee A and B; Orphanage 1, 2, and 3; Ethiopian Official 1; and Ethiopian Government School 1. The school was for deaf children, and IGA apparently procured several children from that school, while paying for the Ethiopian Official’s graduate education.
What did all these people do, between 2006 and 2011, according to the indictment?
- Fraudulently procured adoption decrees
- Misrepresented relevant information relating to the adoption of children
- Fraudulently signed off on adoption contracts
- Misrepresented to the US State Department and the US Department of Homeland Security that the children had been lawfully adopted
- Submitted counterfeit forms (Form 171-H) so that adoptions would be processed more quickly
- Instructed prospective adoptive parents not to talk about their adoptions during the process
- Made corrupt payments, gifts, and gratuities to Ethiopian officials
Of course, what they also appear to have done was destroy families, here in the US and in Ethiopia, not through adoption so much as trafficking.
The indictment includes a paper trail of IAG emails, some specifically talking about bribes, forgeries, and fraud. One of the more poignant email lines: “Again, the family must not find out about this.”
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Finally, the truth is out. What a great news! I’m happy the fact that those corrupt people who disguise themselves to be the instrument to serve the poor, are now caught for their wicked, corrupt actions.
The indictment is chilling. From what reads like Haile proactively harvesting children in Addis to IAG ordering up children who were deaf/HoH by age and gender — and ripping apart intact families in the process. Heck, they even, effectively, marketed children who were deaf/HoH on their website, getting “2 dozen” leads in the process.
These people have ice water running through their veins.
Anyone wondering what I’m wondering? That is: How was this agency identified for investigation?
What led to prosecutions of US citizens for similar offenses in Cambodia & Samoa: Adoptive parents hearing directly from their children that they had been trafficked.
If anyone has any insights on what started the US Attorney digging around IAG, I’d be interested.
Alex, I think some IAG families have been very vocal — and persistent — advocates for bringing these people to justice. Some of the APs have fought very hard for a long time on behalf of their children and first families.