IAG’s James Harding Pleads Guilty to Ethiopian Adoption Fraud

James Harding, the program director for the adoption agency International Adoption Guides (IAG), has pled guilty to fraud and bribery charges regarding Ethiopian adoptions in 2008 and 2009.

The Justice Department’s press release is available here. Harding admitted that he and the others submitted false documents to the State Department, paid bribes to Ethiopian officials, and provided fraudulent documents about children’s eligibility for adoption.

Harding is the second of four indicted IAG staff members to admit guilt to these charges. Last fall, Alisa Bivens (IAG Ethiopian program director in the US) pled guilty and is awaiting sentencing. I wrote about it here. The trial of IAG’s executive director, Mary Mooney, is scheduled to begin jury selection on January 14. More information is available here.

The fourth staff member is Haile Mekonnen (the IAG program director in Ethiopia); he remains, apparently, in Ethiopia.

While this guilty plea cannot make up for the traumas and losses of the families here in the US and in Ethiopia, it is enormously significant. May it be a sign of movement toward much better transparency and integrity in adoption, for children and families around the world.


My thanks to Adoption News and Events for posting/sharing this information.

6 thoughts on “IAG’s James Harding Pleads Guilty to Ethiopian Adoption Fraud

  1. Pingback: Mary Mooney Pleads Guilty in IAG Adoption Fraud Case | Light of Day Stories

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  3. Maureen, thanks for keeping on top of this case. You have my gratitude because my 9th grader, who was adopted from Cambodia in infancy, read the DOJ release over my shoulder and we had the first-ever conversation in which she raised the questions that nag at her.

    And now we (her parents) know what she worries about and much more about what she understands, fears and hopes. It’s not all rainbows and puppies…but it’s out in the open. Transparency is a beginning.

  4. Thank you so much for following this story. We adopted from Kazakhstan using World Partners and we adopted from Ethiopia using IAG (2010). Both agencies were run by Jim Harding. My heart is sick over this.

  5. Sickened and relieved at the same time. Challenging to reconcile the two intense feelings as a jumble of anger, deep sadness, and an unknowable future beckons. Thank you Maureen for keeping us updated. Onward.

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