What we know

One World Adoption Services is getting a lot of press these days. (See my brave friend Cara’s recent posts: http://caralitchfield.blogspot.com/2013/11/a-mothers-prayer.html and http://caralitchfield.blogspot.com/2014/01/looking-up-part-one.html)

In response, their director, Susan Manning, has penned on her interpretation of the adoption requirements set forth by US Immigration. http://www.oneworldadoptions.org/blog/misconceptions-in-international-adoption-part-1/

I would love to take a few moments to respond:

While OWAS is able to cite the law on what the term orphan means for the purposes of adoption (as defined by USCIS), as shown by Cara’s story, our story, and at least 20 other families that I have spoken with directly, the staff of the OWAS orphanage routinely falsify documents to make the children that live in the orphanage meet the definition of orphan so that they can be adopted. For example, as in Cara’s case, they indicated that children were abandoned on the street, when in fact, the children are living at the orphanage with their biological mother, and in our case (and many many others) they say that fathers are unknown when they are known by everyone but the adoptive parents. Last year, the former director of the OWAS orphanage that said she routinely indicated that fathers were unknown because she knew that’s what USCIS needed to see to approve adoptions. This is what we know.

As Susan told me when I met with her in August 2012, the staff of OWAS in Georgia do absolutely nothing to verify the documents they receive from DRC are true. Even after receiving multiple complaints other families in 2012 of falsified documents, they never did an audit of the children living in the orphanage. This is what we know.

While Susan encourages her clients to ask her caseworkers for more information, many of us have experienced serious deception by caseworkers. We’ve been told that no information is available only to have documents show up later. We’ve been told that children have no family to later discover large extended families. We’ve been given ages of children that were clearly lies – even the children themselves instructed to lie about their ages to make them seem more adoptable. This is what we know.

And while Susan may not be lying when she says that visas are always granted for her clients, that ignores the issue. Just because a visa is issued doesn’t mean the child is an orphan or, more importantly, that adoption is in the best interests of the child. The US Embassy can only do so much. They don’t have the capacity to travel a country three times the size of Texas to track down family members and get the full story. Moreover, they aren’t making a decision about whether adoption is best. To hide behind the excuse that if a visa was granted, then the adoption is not corrupt, is disingenuous and dangerous.

And, we all know people who had visas issued in cases where fraud was involved. The US Embassy does its best, but the orphanages and adoption agencies are in a much better position to ensure that the children they refer are truly in need of adoption.

But you all know all that. If you’ve been around long enough, you know the evils that many adoption agencies facilitate in the name of “saving orphans.” If you watched 48 Hours on CBS last night, you know that people who facilitated adoptions of stolen babies in Guatemala are now facilitating adoptions in DRC.

Why doesn’t this change? More to come…