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.”