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.