Sunday, July 31, 2011

Falsified Record: More Living Family

I started looking at Ethiopian adoption in the fall of 2007.  I had recently completed an adoption from Guatemala and was watching that program close due to corruption involved in the process there.  It was important for me to find another program and one that I thought would be more ethical and transparent.  I also wanted to find one where the children were well cared for.  Ethiopia seemed perfect.  I researched agencies and finally chose one that had a small Ethiopian program that was geared towards older kids and with a good reputation as far as ethics go.

As my process moved along, I accepted the referral of a little girl who was said to be 5 1/2.  I was reminded by my agency multiple times that she would probably be older but it was hard to know for sure.  Her paperwork said that she'd been relinquished by her grandfather because he was elderly and unable to care for her any longer.  It said that her father was unknown and her mother died when she was one.  

Between referral and court, I was able to send over additional questions for the orphanage staff.  I asked about her mother and was told that she did not seem to be aware that her mother was dead.  

Time passed and we passed court and I traveled to Ethiopia to meet my new daughter.  During our time in Ethiopia, she told me repeatedly that she was 7.  She didn't know her birthday but she was adamant that she was 7.  

We traveled back to the US and started to build our lives together.  Her English got better and better.  We talked about her age and went back and forth as to whether she was 5, 6, or 7.  She continued to maintain that she was 7.  She also started talking a lot about her family in Ethiopia.  She talked about her mom as if she were still alive.

I asked probing questions over time, trying to figure out the story about her mom.  I never could.  Finally, one day I asked her directly, "you know how your adoption paperwork says you were 5 and a half and you said you were 7?  Well, it also said you mom is dead."  She immediately replied, "my mom's not dead."  Okay.

Soon after, I hired a private searcher to investigate my daughter's story.  It took the searcher a day to find her family, including her living mom.  Just one day...

Finding my daughter's family was like lifting a huge weight off my shoulders and off my daughter's shoulders.  I didn't realize how much she had been worrying that she'd been lied to, that maybe her mother really had died and no one had told her.  I had many questions answered by the searcher and more answered when I later traveled to meet my daughter's family.  From everything I've learned, I do not believe the agency I used was involved in falsifying my daughter's story.  I don't even think her first orphanage was involved.  I believe it came from her family, lying to relinquish her, and the local officials who took the story.  

While I don't blame my agency for the actual falsification of my daughter's paperwork, I do blame them for not investigating.  They knew my daughter "didn't seem to be aware that her mom was dead" and they did nothing about it.  It's not like the investigation would have been difficult since, with the paperwork I was given, it only took one day to find my daughter's family.

My daughter's story falls into what many would be classify as benign corruption.  Still, it is corruption.  Without searching, my daughter would have completely lost her true story.  There is nothing that makes that okay for a child that has already lost everything else.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Falsified Record: Suspect total lie, police involvement

We used a large, well respected, "ethical" agency.  Our referral information listed our child as "abandoned" and not other social history information was given. After our adoption was final, our agency offered to attempt to locate the finder or any other available information. We received photos of the "finder", her family, and the location as well as a detailed story describing the events.
Recently we hired a 3rd party searcher and provided him only the police report we received with the adoption. He was unable to locate either the person listed on the police report as the finder or the witnesses listed. Finally we gave him the name and last location of the "finder" our agency provided. He was then able to locate the woman and obtain photos and a detailed story describing the events. And that's when the problem really started. The basic story was the same... "I found the child in this general area". But there are huge discrepancies between the two stories, including major details that are completely contradictory and not things that could have forgotten or messed up easily. At this point, we can only conclude we are being lied to but have no idea what the truth is.
Another interesting point in our child's case: The "finder" is the elderly mother of a police investigator in the region/town our agency's main partner orphanage is in. The letter from the police which sent my child to our agency was written and signed by this Investigator's wife who is a police sergeant in this same town! And this same woman somehow misspelled her own mother-in-law's name and lists her as living in a completely different town then she actually lives in on that same police report!

Falsified Record: Living Family

We adopted a girl in 2006 and were told that she was a true orphan and was abandoned and living in an orphanage. We hired a searcher and found out that she wasn't a true orphan at all, she had living birth family.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why another new blog

We, several moms with kids from Ethiopia, are starting this blog as a place to compile stories of adoptions with ethical problems.  The problems can be "benign" to severe or anywhere in between.  Stories will be posted with names or anonymously, as the sharer of the story prefers.  If you have a story you would like to share, please email it to