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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Margaret Cole of European Adoption Consultants Pleads Guilty to Fraud in International Adoption

Margaret Cole of European Adoption Consultants, a now closed adoption agency in Ohio, admitted February 4, 2022, that she was guilty in the case of a child adopted fraudulently from Poland. Cole was expected to go to trial next week on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and of making false statements to Polish authorities. Two other agency staffers (Debra Parris and Robin Longoria) had already admitted guilt and will be sentenced in March. Cole will be sentenced in May.

The U.S. Justice Department issued a press release about the case. They note that “According to court documents, Margaret Cole, 74, of Strongsville, Ohio, admitted to conspiring with Debra Parris and others to deceive authorities regarding the adoption of a child from Poland.  When Cole learned that clients of the adoption agency determined they could not care for one of the two Polish children they were set to adopt, Cole and her co-conspirators took steps to transfer the Polish child to Parris’s relatives, who were not eligible for intercountry adoption.

Cole, Parris and others agreed to defraud U.S. authorities to conceal their improper transfer of the Polish child.  Following the adoption, the child was injured and hospitalized while living with Parris’s relatives. (See my note below: the child was horrifically abused.) Thereafter, Cole made a false statement to the Polish authority responsible for intercountry adoptions about the transfer of the child that, among other things, concealed the role of Cole and others in arranging the transfer of the child to Parris’s relatives.”

Last November, Debra Parris pleaded guilty to fraud in adoption from Poland and Uganda. The staffers of European Adoption Consultants had been indicted for fraud and other charges by the U.S. Justice Department last August. Cole’s trial was to begin this week. Instead, she pleaded guilty to the charge involving a child from Poland.

Sentencing for Parris will be on March 9, 2022. Cole is scheduled to be sentenced on May 27.

I hope they receive maximum sentences. I wish that the children and the families were able to receive justice as well. May they heal from this tragic crime.

Content warning: Child abuse

The child adopted from Poland was placed with John and Georgiana Tufts. John Tufts is the son of Debra Parris. John Tufts initially said he was innocent of horrific child abuse. In 2019, he was convicted. He was sentenced to 48 years in jail. I deeply grieve for that child, and for all the children and families that we do not know about who were deeply harmed by those who worked in this adoption agency.