For eighth year in a rows, Pound Pup Legacy has asked its readers to choose the worst person or organization in Adoptionland as the
recipient of the Demons of Adoption Award. Today we announce this year's recipient.
Something was very wrong with this picture. Abuse in adoptive families and re-homing often are the result of bad screening practices and insufficient preparation of prospective adopters, if not the result of withholding information about the conditions of the child, important to make a proper decision whether to go forward with an adoption. Coerced relinquishment often is the result of having no well-defined protocols to guide the adoption process. Child trafficking is often the result of working with unreliable partners in sending countries and the profit motif that can easily become the driving factor behind the adoption process.
Members of Congress should worry about these issues and provide regulation that curtail what is wrong in Adoptionland. Unfortunately they much rather look the other way and sail on the feel-good sentiments that surround adoption.
The Angels in Adoption Award gala is mostly an adoption agency's love fest, organized with congressional allure It openly shows the intimate embrace of special interest groups and federal government, more so than in any other field of business.
Congress is often said to be ruled by special interests, but nowhere is the intimate embrace of politics and business so blatant as in the field of adoption.
There are no congressional awards for members of the petrochemical or financial industry, nor is there a defense contractor of the year award. When it comes to these branches of business, members of congress at least presume to maintain a certain distance.
Adoption is an entirely different matter. Members of Congress don't view it as a business, after all, as defined by law, no children are being sold. And even if viewed as a business, it dwarfs in comparison to Wall Street, the oil industry, insurance, and the pharmaceutical industry.
For members of congress the political value of adoption is not economical, but sentimental. Members of congress like to present themselves in favor of adoption, because it superficially shows a virtuous side, something as much needed to get elected as having well filled campaign coffers.
For members of the adoption industry, adoption certainly has economic value. Their livelihood depends on it. Of course the industry likes to present itself as virtuous and charitable, but at the end of the day salaries need to be paid and the cost of doing business needs to be recouped.
The Angels of Adoption Awards shamelessly shows the exchange of sentimental political capital for the economic and religious interests of the adoption industry. Members of Congress get the opportunity to demonstrate their virtuous side, and the industry gets Congress's seal of approval,and minimal federal oversight.
This cynical trade of feel good sentiments for economic and religious interests made us start the Demons of Adoption Awards, seven years ago.
As a parody of the Angels of Adoption Awards it only highlights the worst. Just like no agency or attorney is as angelical as Members of Congress want us to believe, neither are the demons of adoption exceptionally evil. For every nominee there are several others equally guilty of unethical practices.
The Demons of Adoption Awards shine a light on the darkest corners of Adoptionland, but they don't tell us much about the overall darkness of the adoption industry.
Business methods, used by the worst agencies of our time, are the same as those used by "demons of adoption" a century ago. Coerced relinquishment, fraudulent paperwork, the use of jurisdictional mazes, illegal payments, all of that is not a recent invention; it has been part and parcel of the adoption business since its inception.
This year's recipient of the Demons of Adoption Award is a good example of being among the worst in an industry that thrives on bad practices.
In that case Adoption by Gentle Care placed a boy with an Indiana couple, in November 2007, knowing that the paternity of the child was not established. Benjamin Wyrembek, the father of the child contested the adoption and after a long court battle, the adoption was dismissed.
As a result, the child was officially in custody of Adoption by Gentle Care, which was ordered to show the child to his father on February 8, 2010. The agency failed to comply with the court order and through it's executive director John Cameron was held in contempt on July 2, 2010.
The Indiana couple appealed all the way up to the US Supreme Court, but eventually October 30, 2010, the boy was handed over to his father.
Adoption by Gentle Care quickly dismissed executive director John Cameron, who was replaced by Trina Saunders. This change of leadership however didn't change the way Adoption by Gentle Care operated.
In March 2014, Adoption by Gentle Care was involved in the placement of Camden, the son of Carri Stearns. Carri Stearns found herself in a crisis situation after getting pregnant as the result of a one-night-stand. Her partner wasn't exactly pleased and told her to choose between the baby and their life together.
Carri Stearns contacted Adoption by Gentle Care days before she was due, to discuss the placement of the child. Adoption by Gentle Care was very eager to assist in the placement and their counseling was geared to only one option, to make sure the child was being placed for adoption.
In the process Adoption by Gentle Care ignored all red flags. The mother was financially capable of raising the child, she herself wanted the child, and she had proven to be a good mother for her other children.
When the issue of paternity came up, the agency coached Carri Stearns to list the father as "unknown" on the birth certificate, even though the father was known.
The case worker, having learned her lesson from the case of Dusten Brown (baby Veronica) asked if Carri had any Native American blood. When she answered truthfully that she did, the case worker responds: “Carri, you can’t say that. If we name Native American blood, then this adoption won’t happen. He’ll go to foster care.”
Apparently the fear of the child going into foster care was enough for Carri Stearns to lie, something Adoption by Gentle Care apparently found entirely acceptable.
Three days after the initial intake and only counseling session, Carri gave birth to her son Camden by means of a c-section. Four days later, she signed off on the adoption.
During the relinquishment she had to testify that she was of "sound mind and body". In such testimony one must state that they are not under any mind altering substances and are making this decision of their own free will, independently of any coercion of duress. At the time Carri was still under doctor’s prescription for Vicodin and Dilaudid, but was advised by Adoption by Gentle care worker to say "no" to the question whether she was using any medication.
Three days after the relinquishment, reality what has transpired set in and Carri came to the conclusion she had made a terrible mistake.
Adoption by Gentle Care refused to revoke the consent and pushed through with the placement of Camden. However, the family chosen to adopt the boy, returned him to the agency and he has been in foster care ever since.
Adoption by Gentle Care, with this case proved to be anything but gentle, and it seems all they cared about is the quick placement of children. They didn't seem to care about proper procedures, proper counseling and it wasn't even beyond them to instruct someone to lie.
We believe our readers made an excellent choice by declaring Adoption by Gentle Care this year's Demon of Adoption, and with sadness realize next year we will most likely have another recipient just as deserving.
Now that autumn has started, the Congressional Angels in Adoption have been awarded and National Adoption Awareness months is not far from the horizon, it is time for us to start the nominations for Pound Pup Legacy's Annual Demons of Adoption Awards.
With such an impressive line-up of villains, comes a daunting task to come up with an equally deserving candidate for 2014.
We invite our readers to nominate and decide who eventually has the dubious honor of actually receiving PPL's 2014 Demons of Adoption Award.
You, our reader, can make your voice heard. Who should receive the most critical recognition in Adoptionland? Until October 10 the nomination process will be open. After that date PPL will post a poll where readers may vote for the nominees.
Earlier this year, the US Department of State published its annual statistics on inter-country adoption. Again a significant decline in the number of children adopted from abroad could be noted. The year 2012 had already been a low-water mark with 8668 inter-country adoptions. In 2013, the number went down even further, to 7094.
Over the years the church and its daughter organization LDS Family Services had been involved in various dubious adoptions, showing a lack of respect for the rights or unmarried parents. On top of that, LDS Family Services has been the least transparent adoption agency in the world. Unlike other adoption agencies, it is registered as a church and therefore it is not required to submit any financial information to the Internal Revenue Service.
LDS Family Services resembled the type of hush-hush operation one would have expected during the 1950s and 1960s, an anachronistic organization out of touch with the societal make-up of the 21 century.
Since 1995, the month of November has been designated as Adoption Awareness Month. We at Pound Pup Legacy try to contribute to this commemoration, by raising awareness for abuse in adoptive homes, disrupted adoptions, violated parental rights, child trafficking for adoption, and other horrors in adoption.
The start of Adoption Awareness Month also means the announcement of the recipient of the Demons of Adoption Award. Started in 2007, as a critique on the Congressional Angels in Adoption AwardsTM, the Demons of Adoption Awards have become an annual tradition, continued now for seven years in a row.
In September we asked our readers to nominate candidates, and many worthy contenders were added. In October we launched a ballot to collect the votes for each nominee. From the start, it was a very close race between two nominees: Raymond Godwin et al., and Children in Families First (CHIFF) - with the remaining entries trailing far behind.
The Angels in Adoption have never been awarded with much scrutiny into candidates. Silly, but otherwise benign, was the award by then Senator of Kansas Sam Brownback for his "precious wife" Mary Brownback, with whom he had adopted a child from Guatemala and one from China.
Much more seriously, Jerry Sandusky received an award out of the hands of Rick Santorum, a decision that needed to be reverted back in 2011, when it became clear Sandusky had molested several boys, including his own adopted son.
Senator Chuck Grassley, awarded Damien and Allonna Stovall with an Angel in AdoptionTM, in 2012. Six months later, the couple was charged with beating their adopted children with belts and wooden spoons, although those charges were later dropped.
In 2007, Representative Patrick Murphy determined an award should be given to Steven G. Dubin, whom at the time was under investigation for fraudulent adoption practices, and whose membership of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys was suspended, only three months after being lauded as an Angel in Adoption. Dubin was eventually disbarred in the State of Pennsylvania, October 31, 2012.
That same year, Senator Orrin Hatch nominated Larry S Jenkins, a Utah attorney, who is involved in nearly every father's rights violation case over the last 10 years.
When it comes to using laws to lure women into relinquishing children out of state, without notifying fathers, Larry S. Jenkins has found his match. Raymond Godwin has figured out that the adoption statutes of South Carolina make such unsavory inter-state adoptions about as easy as they are in Utah.
Raymond Godwin and his wife Laura have been involved in two of the most contentious adoptions of 2013, known as the baby Veronica case and the baby Deseray case. Both cases revolve around interstate adoptions of Native American children from Oklahoma to South Carolina.
The baby Veronica case has been all over the news, especially since the case went all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States, where a verdict was rendered in favor of the adoptive couple Matt and Melanie Capobianco.
Late September, the Capobiacos, at the time assisted by another of Jim DeMint's Angels in Adoption, attorney James Fletcher Thompson, were able to remove Veronica from the home of her father Dusten Brown, with whom she had lived the last two years.
Baby Deseray was removed from Oklahoma without properly filing the Interstate Custody for the Placement of Children (ICPC) paperwork. As a result, Mike Yeksavich removed himself from the case, and subsequently attempted to halt the adoption of the baby to the Bixlers and demanded her return.
The Baby Deseray case is still in motion. At this time of writing, the girl is in temporary foster care, pending emergency litigation.
No matter how we look at these cases, what we see are multiple placements of the same children, all because an adoption attorney endeavors in, to put it mildly, legally adventurous practices.
Raymond Godwin, may have stayed strictly within the law, with the Baby Veronica case. While there may be difference of opinion on that particular issue, it is indisputable that the trajectory he chose for these two adoptions was legally complex, making it very possible that the adoptions would be contested.
Knowingly starting an adoption procedure that can reasonably be expected to be contested, is immoral. Adoption, when practiced, should increase a child's stability in life, not lower it. Raymond Godwin and his wife Laura knowingly created a situation that was potentially disruptive, and ended up actually being disruptive for two children. For that, they deserve to be recognized as Demons of Adoption.
We would like to thank all our readers for their nominations and for their votes, and it is our hope that the Demons of Adoption Award brings to light the more serious adoption issues that still need to be addressed throughout the year, not just during November, America's National Adoption Month.
This can of course not be the case, as you state in the FAQ section of your website, as well as in the press kit for the year 2013:
CCAI does not lobby on behalf of any individual piece of legislation or government program. CCAI does not take official positions on issues related to adoption and foster care, but rather seeks to provide policymakers with the resources they need to make informed decisions.
The bill is intended to counteract the decline in inter-country since 2004, a trend that has many prospective adopters worried and cuts heavily into the revenues of adoption service providers.
The inter-country adoption lobby has been in full blown panic over this decline for several years now.
Already in 2009, a legislative attempt was made to curb the downward trend by means of the Families for Orphans Act. This effort failed miserably, but now the adoption lobby has regrouped with new blood and fresh money.
A comprehensive history of inter-country adoption has thus far not been written. Some adoption websites give a brief summary of the history of inter-country adoption, and there are several books trying to do the same, but a thorough study into the origins of inter-country adoption is still awaiting scholarly initiative.
In the book Intercountry Adoption: A Multinational Perspective, by Howard Alfstein and Rita James, the following is said about the history of inter-country adoption:
Earlier this year a study was published, analyzing the European Union's reversal in approach towards inter-country adoption from Romania since 2007.
The study sheds some interesting light on the motivations behind this radical shift and serves as a warning when it comes to the politicization of child protection.
Initially we wanted to write a review about this fascinating, albeit very dense study.
However, while researching the topic of the Romanian adoptions early 1990s, we felt compelled to write about a subject only touched upon in this study: the political influence of adoptive parents.
We will use the Romanian adoption crisis as a backdrop for this article, although it should be noted that similar patterns emerged around adoptions from Vietnam, Guatemala, and Ethiopia in more recent times.
This week, Adoptionland has been in turmoil over the publication of a series of articles by Reuters and NBC-news.
The articles portray the drain of the adoption system, the practice of informal re-homing of adoptees who are no longer wanted by their forever family.
Just like it is with every abuse case and every trafficking case found in Adoptionland, the mouth pieces of the adoption industry are quick and ready to down play the situation. The good name of adoption MUST be preserved, at all cost, even if doing so leads to more abuse, more disruptions, more dissolutions, and more child trafficking for adoption purposes.