Debra Parris, a staff member of the adoption agency European Adoption Consultants, was sentenced November 4 “to a year and a day in prison for bribing Ugandan officials and lying to Polish authorities about the adoption of a girl, who was later raped,” according to Cleveland.com.
The full Cleveland article is here.
The judge said Parris’s healthcare needs caused him to sentence her to less than the recommended sentence of three years. He also ordered Parris to pay a $10,000 fine and $118,197 in restitution to 42 families. He allowed her to self-report to prison by Jan. 9, unless the Bureau of Prisons directs her otherwise.
Among the victims of Parris’s crimes was adoptive parent Jessica Davis. Upon learning that her adopted daughter from Uganda had a loving family and had been fraudulently placed by European Adoption Consultants, Davis and her husband returned the child to her Ugandan mother. You can read more about the family here.
At the sentencing, according to Cleveland,com, “Davis gave a tearful statement during Friday’s hearing, conducted via Zoom. She pleaded with the judge to give a harsh sentence to send a message to adoptions agencies that fraud can’t be tolerated.
‘I waited for this moment for a long time, specifically for Debra,” Davis said. “You caused a lot of people pain and suffering.'”
Jessica Davis and her family took action that many adoptive parents would not, and they handled their adoption with integrity when they returned the child. The Ugandan child is, by all reports, thriving back home with her family.
Also from the Cleveland article, “Parris in November pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiring to commit fraud. Two others— Cole and former agency employee Robin Longoria— also pleaded guilty in the case. Cole, who also had serious health issues, was sentenced to three months in prison. Longoria was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, similar to Parris.”
European Adoption Consultants caused unconscionable damage to children and their families. While some justice is served with the guilty pleas and in the sentencings of the agency staffers, I wonder what restitution the Ugandan and Polish children could receive. The case of the Polish child is horrifying.
Jessica Davis wrote this on CNN in 2017:
“The travesty in this injustice is beyond words. I must be clear in the following statement: My race, country of origin, wealth (though small, it’s greater than that of the vast majority of people in the world), my access to “things,” my religion – none of these privileges entitles me to the children of the poor, voiceless and underprivileged.
If anything, I believe these privileges should come with a responsibility to do more, to stand up against such injustices. We can’t let other families be ripped apart to grow our own families!”