About Maureen McCauley

I'm the creator of Light of Day Stories, a place where I examine international adoption issues and support adoptees owning their own stories and controlling their own narrative. My other sites include "Lions Roaring, Far From Home," a soon-to-be-published anthology featuring essays by Ethiopian adoptees.

Hundreds of Korean Adoptees Petition for an Investigation Into Their Adoptions

The Danish Korean Rights Group (DKRG), an adoptee-centered organization based in Denmark, has petitioned the government of South Korea to investigate adoptions for fraud, and to ensure that agencies do not destroy adoptees’ documents.

Korean adoptee Peter Møller of the DKRG spoke recently in Seoul. This is an excerpt.

“Today I have handed in 232 new application to the (Truth and Reconciliation) Commission. 163 from Denmark and 69 from countries other than Denmark, from adoptees placed around the world, including the USA, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium…

We add to this declarations of support from adoptees placed by adoption agencies other than Holt and KSS, and adoptive parents…

I have received many inquiries from all over the world, and most adoptees are very worried…adoptees are afraid that the adoption agencies will destroy and dispose of our original documents to prevent the truth about adoption from South Korea from being known.

DKRG has had reasonable grounds to suspect that falsification of adoptees’ documents has occurred to enable overseas adoption…An example:

The adoptee Ms. Stephens from the US writes to me: ‘I was told by the social worker, Mrs. Kim (KSS), that most likely the name provided as my mother’s was a false name, probably changed by a KSS employee. In making me an “orphan,” KSS erased my mother’s identity from my records, making it impossible for me to find her. It is my belief that my mother wants me to find her as she wrote letters to my father and sent him photos of me. My father died before I could meet him.’

I am standing here with a letter from one of the adoption agencies, and this letter proves that this is precisely what happened. Let me read it out loud to you. This is a letter to an adopted person:

‘First of all, I would like to apologize for the mistake in your adoption file written in English. It says you were transferred from Namkwang Children’s Home in Pusan to KSS for international adoption. In fact, it was made up just for adoption procedure, and now I would like to share your adoption background as written in the original paper,’ quote Ms. Lee, KSS…

DKRG has decided to write a letter to the President of Korea, in which we urgently request the Korean government and authorities to protect the adoptees’ original documents and protect the adoptees from reprisals.”

Møller’s full statement is here.

Zoom Meeting with Mike Davis, Deported Ethiopian Adoptee: Rescheduling

UPDATE: Unfortunately we need to reschedule this Zoom meeting. probably until September. We really appreciate the concern and support for Mike and his family. Please feel free to send me a message (via the Contact page) if you have any questions. Thank you.

POSTPONED:

Please register for this Zoom (info is below) and share widely! Thank you.

Join us Sunday July 31 at 9am pdt for a Zoom with Mike Davis, an Ethiopian adoptee who was deported to Ethiopia in 2005. Mike’s wife Laura, who lives in the U.S., and perhaps one of their sons, will also be with us.

Mike is almost 60 years old. Born in Addis Ababa in 1962, he was adopted when he was around 8 years old by a U.S. Army officer who was stationed in Ethiopia. In 1976, when Mike was 14, he and his dad returned to the U.S., with the legal approval of both Ethiopia and the United States. Mike grew up on military bases, and believed that America was his forever home. He had several small businesses, such as pizza place and a gas station. He married and had children. About 30 years ago, he got in some legal trouble, and accepted the consequences. He has had no trouble with the law since. Nonetheless, because he had less than excellent legal representation and could not prove citizenship, he was deported.

Yes: the U.S. government deports people who were legally brought as children to the United States for the purpose of adoption. The U.S. deports people who had no choice or agency in their immigration, and who arrived here with the legal sanction of both the United States and their country of origin. The U.S. deports people who were adopted to so-called “forever families,” people who had no means of responsibility for the processing of their citizenship, and then returns them to countries where they have no family, friends, language, or other connections.

Mike’s beloved dad passed away in 2012, and he could not, to his great sorrow, attend the funeral. His sons have grown up without him, and his wife has worked hard to support the family and to encourage Mike. He has grandchildren he has never met.

Mike is one of the writers whose essay is included in our book, Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees. The Ethiopian adoption community, and many other folks, want to help Mike. The co-editors of Lions Roaring, Aselefech Evans and Kassaye Berhanu MacDonald, Ethiopian adoptees themselves, are a pivotal part of this effort.

Mike Davis, in Addis, 2021 via Also-Known-As interview

Our Zoom conversation with Mike and his family will take place on Sunday July 31 at 9am pacific time. (Please double check your time zone!)

Here is the link to sign up for the Zoom conversation:


Sunday, July 31, 2022 09:00 Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcpfuuupj8qGtdnFk7HXtVEdFL7KIZ20X48

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

We hope to raise awareness about adoptee deportation, and its unfair, devastating effect on adopted people and on their families. We will also be fundraising for Mike’s legal, medical, and living expenses.

Please join us.

On Grief and the Gut

In the adoption community, I’ve heard often about stomach and gut challenges related to adoption. Many adoptees deal with food hoarding, or with sensory issues around texture, or with eating disorders. Always consult a doctor or other medical professional, of course—I am neither of those.

I have though written about the gut-brain connection, and its possible link to relinquishment and adoption: The Link Among the Brain, the Gut, Adoption, and Trauma. Research increasingly shows a connection among what we have experienced, how we feel, and how we eat. Sometimes the feelings are subconscious, sometimes they are rooted in trauma, and sometimes they rise to the surface, whether on traumaverseries or seemingly without a rationale.

Here’s a good article from Time about grief and the gut: “How Grief Upsets Your Gut Health.” While the article focuses around a person whose mother died, there is a resonance with adoption, where children “lose” their mothers, sometimes by death though more often by poverty, social stigma, addiction, illness, colonialism, economic inequities, patriarchy, or other reason. In any case, it is a substantial loss. It is grief. It is real, even in the cases where children are adopted at birth. From the Time article: “It’s challenging to solely examine bereavement, because grief includes other emotions such as anger, sadness, and denial. When these feelings linger, they can contribute to mental health concerns like anxiety and depression. These conditions’ ebbs and flows have been linked to the bacteria residing in the gut.”

Disturbed gut microbiomes (the community of bacteria/microorganisms living in our gut) can result in feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness, as well as an overall loss of well-being. The article mentions dietary changes, probiotics, de-stressing, and breathing techniques as a few strategies to improve the “gut-brain axis.”

Food for thought.

Jayme Hansen Named to IAAME Board

Jayme Hansen, who has a tremendous range of professional international work experience as well as the lived experience of being a Korean adoptee to the United States, was recently named to the Board of the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity. (IAAME).

According to Inter Country Adoption News:

“Congratulations to Jayme Hansen!! Jayme is our ICAV USA Director and has just been voted in as a Board member of the USA Accrediting Entity, IAAME for a 2 year term. This is the org in the USA who accredits all adoption agencies on behalf of the Dept of State who hold overall responsibility for intercountry adoption. We have been saying to the Dept of State for years now that Lived Experience needs to inform all policy, practice and legislation – so it’s awesome to see they have actively sought lived experience at this level in their key organisation!

Jayme comes in with a wealth of NGO experience and has sat on numerous NGO boards and has done volunteer work for 28 years. IAAME is designated as an Accrediting Entity (AE), under the authority of the Secretary, and as allowed by 22 CFR 96.7(a) to Accredit agencies and Approve persons to provide intercountry adoption services in the United States.

IAAME is a 501(c)(3) organization operated by staff with extensive experience in providing child welfare services, administering child welfare standards, contracting, licensing, monitoring, and both domestic and intercountry adoption services. More information can be found at: https://www.iaame.net/

As best I know, Jayme Hansen is the first international adoptee to serve on the board of IAAME. I was not able to find a list of IAAME Board members. Jayme brings an enormous amount of experience, from his U.S. military service to his work as a chief financial officer in multiple countries. He also has extensive volunteer service, including with efforts to disseminate DNA tests to Korean adoptees. We wish him great success in his new position with IAAME.

I wrote recently about a new accrediting entity, the Center for Excellence in Adoption Services, being designated along with IAAME to accredit adoption agencies under The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. I realize that adoptee citizenship is not the precise bailiwick of accrediting entities, though adoption agencies surely have a substantive role in promoting citizenship for all international adoptees, and should be on the frontlines demanding that deported adoptees be allowed back into the U.S. I continue to believe that citizenship for all international adoptees to the United States should be paramount in any and all international adoption work.

A “Lions Roaring” Update: Zoom with Mike Davis, A Deported Ethiopian Adoptee

We will soon announce the pre-order and publication date of “Lions Roaring far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees,” and we will soon be hosting a Zoom for a deported Ethiopian adoptee, now almost 60 years old.

“Lions Roaring” is the first anthology entirely by Ethiopian adoptees. The funds from the sales of the book will be used for Ethiopian adoptees. We are creating an account for the revenue and will distribute it to Ethiopian adoptees for DNA tests, travel costs to and from Ethiopia, translation services, and more.

One of our writers is Mike Davis, whose adoptive father was a U.S. Army officer. Mike grew up on Army bases with his dad. Mike went on to get married, have children, and build several small businesses. He got in some trouble, and completed the sentence he was given—he got in no further trouble after that. However, years after, he was deported, as a result of not being able to prove citizenship. Inept lawyers and a difficult legal system added to the adversity. In 2005, at the age of 43, Mike was deported to Ethiopia, where he had no family, no job, no connections.

He is now almost 60. It is time for him to come back to his family in the United States.

Mike Davis, deported Ethiopian adoptee. Let’s work to bring him home.

Many folks, including Mike’s wife and children, have been working hard to bring him back home to the United States. He was not able to attend his beloved father’s funeral, and he has yet to see his grandchildren in person. It is past time to bring Mike, and all deported international adoptees, back home. They came to the U.S. with the legal sanction of both the U.S. and the country of origin, and with the understanding that the U.S. was a safe and permanent home for them. Our government has failed to honor that understanding of adoption, and that is a shameful reality.

We will soon be hosting a Zoom talk with Mike and his wife, so that more folks can learn about his situation, and also to raise funds for his legal costs and other expenses. More details will be available soon. We hope that you will join us.

For updates on the anthology (including publication date) and Zooms, please visit and “Like” the Lions Roaring Far From Home Anthology Facebook page.

Postscript: I’ve written numerous times over the years about the need for Citizenship for All Adoptees. You can get more information at Adoptee Rights Law, Adoptees For Justice, and Alliance for Adoptee Citizenship. If anyone wants to donate directly to Mike, please email me at Maureen@LightofDayStories.com.

US State Department Announces New Hague Convention Accrediting Entity

Citizenship for all international adoptees should take precedence. That said, the US State Department today announced that the Center for Excellence in Adoption Services (CEAS) has been designated as an accrediting entity for purposes of The Hague Convention on Inter Country Adoption.

CEAS will join the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME) as a Hague accreditor of Adoption Service Providers under The Hague Convention. IAAME was designated as an accrediting entity for another five years as of June 2, 2022. There are around 280 agencies currently accredited by IAAME. That number includes agencies that have multiple locations: one agency might have several offices in a state or in different states.

The CEAS website does not yet specify that they are an accredited entity under the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000. It does, though, list their current staff and Board of Directors, all of whom had an affiliation with the Council on Accreditation.

in 2006, COA was the first entity designated by the US State Department. They withdrew as an accrediting entity in 2017. The State Department’s announcement of COA’s decision is here.

The National Council for Adoption wrote about COA’s decision here, during a time when NCFA disagreed with the way that State was handling international adoption.

Much of the controversy then concerned how regulations were being implemented, with some advocates feeling the regulations were cumbersome and unnecessary, and other advocates arguing that the fraud and corruption in international adoption desperately needed better oversight. Many countries (Guatemala, Ethiopia, South Korea, China, and others) have decreased the numbers or completely stopped placing children for international adoption.

Numbers of international adoptions have declined substantially in recent years. While there were almost 23,000 children adopted internationally in 2004, there were just over 1600 in 2020.

International adoption needs a dramatic overhaul—that’s something of an understatement.

And sure, CEAS may well provide good accreditation services, and sure, those services are probably needed for adoption agencies seeking to place children internationally.

However:

Will this new entity be part of business as usual, without adult international adoptees or international birth parents consulted and respected for their expertise? Will the decision-makers and policy influencers involved in the placement of Black and brown children remain mostly white, especially white adoptive parents?

Will there be a focus on adoption without any lens of white saviorism?

Will there be emphasis on orphan prevention and family preservation first? Will there be respect for authenticity and for genuine efforts to make sure there is not any fraud? (European Adoption Consultants, whose staff has pled guilty to fraud and corruption, was Hague accredited. State announced their debarment in 2016.)

Will there be effort above and beyond the minimum to ensure that every child’s medical and family history is accurate, and, especially, that the child is truly an orphan? So many adult adoptees have found that was not the case for them: they have discovered they were not orphans at all, though that is what they and their adoptive parents had been told.

Will there be any follow-up for international birth parents post-adoption that is equivalent to what US adoptive parents can access?

Much more attention from everyone in the international adoption community should focus on CITIZENSHIP FOR ALL ADOPTEES and on BRINGING DEPORTED ADOPTEES HOME.

This should be the priority of energy and attention, by accrediting entities, organization officers, Congress, adoptive parents, prospective adoptive parents, and others, before the international placement of more children.

Adult adoptees are putting in great emotional labor, as well as time, money, and expertise, in working to get the Adoptee Citizenship Act passed. Other information is available here and here.

If you’re going to promote international adoption, do so only after all international adoptees to the United States have been granted citizenship. To do otherwise is hypocritical and insensitive at best.

Jordan Shelley, Ethiopian Adoptee, Dies in Tragic Car Accident

This has been a heartbreaking day: the horrific shooting in Texas, and now news of the death of Jordan Shelley, a 22-year-old Ethiopian adoptee, here in Seattle.

Jordan’s car had broken down on the Ship Canal Bridge in Seattle’s University District around 4:30am. His car was hit by another car, and Jordan was flung off the bridge, 182 feet above the water. Jordan’s body was found around 9am this morning.

The driver of the car that hit Jordan was arrested for suspicion of drunk driving. He is also 22 years old.

Jordan, along with two younger siblings, was adopted from Ethiopia in 2008 by Teresa and Lanny Shelley, and raised on Whidbey Island, near Seattle. According to this 2018 article, Jordan received a two year full scholarship to the University of Washington, where he was studying to be an anesthesiologist.

According to KIRO-News, Jordan’s mother Teresa Shelley said that “her son lived with purpose and always gave ‘150 percent’ to whatever he was doing. She said his Ethiopian name was Meloawl, which means, ‘What may I do for you?’ “

According to the Whidbey News-Times, Jordan completed his last two years of high school while simultaneously completing his associate’s degree. He wanted to be a doctor so that he could help people like his Ethiopian father, who had died when Jordan was 7 years old.

Deep condolences to all of Jordan’s family and friends. A terrible loss.

Rest in Peace and in power. እግዚያብሔር ይባርክ God bless you.

Margaret Cole of European Adoption Consultants Sentenced to Three Months in Prison for Fraudulent Adoption of Polish Girl

I am heartsick at this outcome. Warning: mention of horrific child abuse.

According to the Cleveland.com website, Margaret Cole, the executive director of European Adoption Consultants, a now-defunct Ohio adoption agency, was sentenced today to three months in prison and a $7500 fine. She will then serve one year on house arrest.

Cole pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud U.S. and Polish adoption authorities and for lying to Polish authorities.

That sounds almost innocuous, doesn’t it? Here’s what happened: Two Polish sisters were placed by Cole’s adoption agency with a family that wanted only one. Cole and her associate Debra Parris then placed one of the sisters with a relative of Parris, without any vetting or oversight. and without informing either Polish or U.S. authorities. The adoptive father had a domestic violence conviction. He later raped the five-year-old child so badly she needed surgery. He was sentenced to 48 years in jail.

I don’t know how the child is doing, who truly deserves enormous compensation from Cole. The money would not make up for the horrific crime committed against the child, but a three month sentence seems unconscionable.

An FBI investigation also found that Parris and another of Cole’s staffers, Robin Longoria, were guilty of bribing judges in Uganda to place children for adoption who were not orphans nor abandoned. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Cole for the Ugandan fraud, apparently because Cole pled guilty to the Polish adoption charges. Longoria was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. Parris will be sentenced July 7.

Cole pled guilty last February. In sentencing Cole today, the judge said he factored in her age (74) and health issues. The Cleveland.com article said that at least one adoptive father who used Cole’s agency to adopt a son from Russia said Cole “made over 8,000 lives better,” referring to the number of children placed by European Adoption Consultants. Cole herself said “I’m really sorry for what happened but I worked for 24 years to help 8,000 families. The children were the joy of my life.”

A three month sentence and a $7500 fine seems inconsequential and wildly inadequate punishment for the lies and fraud that resulted in a little girl being “brutally raped,” as the Cleveland.com reported.

Heartbreaking.

Postscript: While their website is gone, the LinkedIn description for European Adoption Consultants still says this: “EAC is a Hague accredited, well-respected and ethical agency that has assisted in the placement of more than 8,000 children since 1991. We are one of the top international adoption agencies, offering child adoption services and adoption information for international adoptions through Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Haiti, Honduras, India, Poland, Uganda and Ukraine.” Hague accreditation is the highest standard available for international adoption agencies.

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Remembering Hanna Williams, on the Eleventh Anniversary of Her Death

It’s a chilly, drizzly day here in Seattle, close to 50 degrees F (10 C). That’s what the weather was like 11 years ago today, when Ethiopian adoptee Hanna Williams died outdoors, in her adoptive family’s backyard. The cause of her death was hypothermia and malnutrition, the tragic culmination of the abuse she endured before she died in 2011 at the age of 13.

Her adoptive parents, Larry and Carri Williams, remain in jail after being found guilty, in 2013, for Hanna”s death. I’ve often wondered how Hanna’s siblings are doing, having witnessed the abuse and death of Hanna at the hands of their parents. I wish them well, along with the other Ethiopian adoptee, Immanuel. What scars they all carry.

Hanna would be 24 years old now, had she not died.

We are dedicating our upcoming book, Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees, to Hanna, and to Ethiopian adoptees who have died by suicide. We will use the proceeds from the sale of the book to support adoptees, perhaps to offer DNA testing, or to supplement airfare to Ethiopia, or some other ways to center their needs.

A photo of Ethiopian adoptee Hanna Williams at the orphanage. Hanna is wearing a blue and white striped shirt and has a slight, shy smile.
Hana in Ethiopia, prior to adoption. May she Rest in Peace and in power.

You’re in our hearts, Hanna. We won’t forget you.

Update on “Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees”

We are getting closer to announcing pre-order and publication dates of our book Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees.

Today I did a big final editing run-through with our formatter, checking our commas, and em dashes, and ellipses, and more.

Here’s pic from the first page of the Table of Contents:

The book is in rough chronological order by author age, so these selections are from our younger writers (or were written when the author was a child).

Here’s the last page in the Table of Contents:

These essays and poems listed on the last Table of Contents page are from our “older” writers, those in their 30’s through 50’s. One of the best parts of the anthology is how the writers’ own voices and lived experiences reveal the range of insights from childhood through adulthood.

I am in awe of every single writer, for their willingness to share their stories. Each one is an amazing person. Deep gratitude to you.

More details coming soon!

Please visit and “like” our Facebook page, Lions Roaring Far from Home Anthology. Thanks!