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Black-market babies search Greek records for birthright

Date: 1996-09-01

Houston Chronicle
Black-market babies search Greek records for birthright
By NIKOS KONSTANDARAS
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece - Forty-one years ago a frightened Greek child of 5, stolen from her mother, landed in America to begin a new life.

Raised in an orphanage and by foster parents and told her mother had died in childbirth, young Amalia Balch and dozens of other children that October were herded aboard an airplane in Greece.

When the plane landed in New York City, adults streamed on board to claim the children they knew only by photographs, the kids they had adopted by proxy.

""I remember being very sick, and a plane full of children . . . and being very scared," she said.

Today, at age 45, Amalia Balch still doesn't know if she was a black-market baby, if her adoptive parents paid money for her. She hasn't pressed the point, but she suspects they did.

Over the past 10 years and five trips to the country of her birth, she has learned some truths about her roots. First she learned that she was stolen from her unmarried mother at birth.

SOBBING MOM WILL GO TO PRISON FOR SON'S DEATH

Date: 1996-08-30

By Chip Parkinson, Staff Writer

A judge was visibly affected by the tender pleas of the defendant's child, but Darlene Bright went to prison anyway.

The mother of two shuffled out of Judge Pat Brian's courtroom Thursday, sobbing and cupping her face in her hands. She faces up to five years behind bars and a $5,000 fine.Bright, 34, was originally charged with murder, a first-degree felony, in the death of her adopted son, Kameron. Bright told police the boy had fallen from a bunk bed in her family's West Valley home two years ago.

Several doctors said the child's skull could not have been cracked so severely from such a short fall - opinions the judge pointed to repeatedly during the sentencing.

"The court is convinced this 3-year-old child received some extremely lethal punishment" that night, Brian said.

Kory Bright, 10, asked for mercy for his mother.

"My mom is a good mom to me and my brother. I love her very much. Please don't take her away from me," he said to the judge, who listened intently.

Brian acknowledged the child's words but said he was bound by good reason and the law.

ANSWERS RAISE MORE QUESTIONS

Date: 1996-08-10

Akron Beacon Journal (OH)

ANSWERS RAISE MORE QUESTIONS
ADOPTED TEEN SEES HER LIFE IN NEWS OF STOLEN CHILD. TO UNDERSTAND HERSELF, SHE LOOKS TO SALVADORAN PAST

Author: JIM QUINN, Beacon Journal staff writer

Judy Weideman was numb with joy when she put down the telephone. She had spent nine months trying to adopt a child, but it was still stunning when she got that call confirming that she would be able to adopt the 5-year-old girl waiting for her in an orphanage in San Salvador.

She wandered through her house until she passed a mirror and saw her dazed expression. "I'm a mom," she told her reflection.

"I'm a mom. I'm a mom!" she said, repeating the words gleefully as she danced through her house. It was Feb. 22, 1983, just two months before this single art teacher would welcome her new daughter, Jane, into the home they still share in Cuyahoga Falls.

Judy Weideman started reliving that warm memory a week ago, when something happened that triggered a less pleasant memory for Jane.

The fall of a family man

Date: 1996-08-05

The fall of a family man
As governments crack down on the sexual tourism of paedophiles, a Nobel prize-winning scientist who "adopted" boys from Pacific islands is to stand trial on charges of sexual abuse. But is he the victim of a witchhunt?

MONDAY 05 AUGUST 1996

Daniel Carleton Gajdusek is one of the great scientific minds of the 20th century, the man who made possible giant leaps in the understanding of illnesses such as Aids and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), the so-called human form of mad cow disease. He was hailed as a philanthropist of boundless generosity who "adopted" more than 50 children, mainly boys, from impoverished Pacific islands, caring for them in his own homes in the United States and paying for their education.
Now the illustrious career of Dr Gajdusek, 72, a Nobel Laureate, is in tatters, forever tarnished by allegations of child abuse and perverted sexual practice. And if found guilty in October, he will have been largely damned by his own pen.

El Salvador's Stolen Children Face a War's Darkest Secret

Date: 1996-08-05

By LARRY ROHTER

He was only 5 when he saw his mother and younger brother killed and the soldiers took him away to their base in a helicopter. She was just 6 when she was separated from her parents during a bombing raid and delivered to an orphanage here.

Amilcar Guardado, who is about to turn 22, was raised by military officers on an air force base. Imelda Lainez, now 17, ended up being adopted by a family in the United States, where she was given the name Gina Marie Craig.

Now, both have been reunited with their original families, beneficiaries of a private investigative program that has forced El Salvador to confront one of the darkest secrets of its civil war, which lasted from October 1979 to January 1992.

Some 75,000 people were killed in the war -- most of them by troops trained and financed by the United States -- or disappeared and were presumed dead.

Among those who disappeared were hundreds of children who, parents and human rights groups say, were kidnapped by the Salvadoran military during attacks on peasant settlements suspected of harboring guerrilla fighters or sympathizing with the leftist insurgency.

SOME ADMIT KNOWING OF KIDNAPPINGS

Date: 1996-08-02

Akron Beacon Journal (OH)

SOME ADMIT KNOWING OF KIDNAPPINGS
EMBASSY WORKERS FELT HELPLESS, SOLDIERS FELT JUSTIFIED 'SAVING' KIDS FROM MARXISM.
CLEVELAND PRIEST SAYS HE CONFRONTED U.S. OFFICIALS WHO TURNED A BLIND EYE TO PRACTICE

Author: JIM QUINN, Beacon Journal staff writer

The search for stolen children is leading investigators to Northeast Ohio, where hundreds of families adopted children during the Salvadoran civil war.

"I think parents have a valid reason to be concerned," said Tom Craig, whose adopted daughter Gina was discovered by her biological parents. "It's especially valid in this area because the Cleveland diocese was so involved in El Salvador."

Pat Burns, a spokeswoman for the Kent-based group that arranged local Salvadoran adoptions, said she has already heard from parents alarmed by what happened to the Craigs. "It's taking me some time to absorb all this," Burns said. "I feel certain that the vast majority of parents have nothing to worry about."

LOST AND FOUND SALVADORAN ADOPTEES NOW BEING RECLAIMED

Date: 1996-08-02

Akron Beacon Journal (OH)
Author: JIM QUINN, Beacon Journal staff writer / The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The world exploded twice for the girl with two names.

It happened first in 1984, when a bomb blew up in the Salvadoran sky over Imelda Lainez, sending shrapnel into her 6-year-old body.

It happened again this year, when the girl now called Gina Craig, a 17-year-old from Munroe Falls who had grown up being told her parents were dead, learned she had another name and another family in El Salvador.

Now thousands of American families -- including as many as 500 in Northeast Ohio -- have good reason to wonder whether their adopted children have biological parents searching for them in El Salvador.

DEAD TOT'S FAMILY BLASTS UTAH'S FOSTER-CARE SYSTEM

Date: 1996-07-20

By Mark L. Reece, Staff Writer

The biological mother and aunt of a boy who died two years ago while in the care of his adopted mother decried the state's foster care system Friday. A judge delayed a sentencing hearing to examine additional evidence.

"The system continuously keeps failing," said Donna Ramos, the sister of Vickie Lynn Moghaghab, mother of Kameron Bright.Ramos said foster care officials should have recognized warning signs after several people allegedly reported the family for child abuse.

The 3-year-old died as a result of massive skull injuries at the home of Darlene W. Bright, the boy's legally adoptive mother. West Valley police and investigators presented probable cause evidence to charge Bright with first-degree murder charges and a judge deemed the case triable.

In March, Bright pleaded guilty to a reduced crime of one count of child abuse homicide, a third-degree felony. She faces a possible sentence of zero-to-five years in prison.

El Salvador girl abducted in '84 war rejoins parents

Date: 1996-07-20

The Arizona Daily Star
Author: Associated Press
Dateline: SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador

Early this year, Jose Lainz's family showed up at an office here to plead for help finding their daughter, Imelda, kidnapped by the army in 1984 at the height of El Salvador's civil war.

On Thursday, 12 years of separation ended when the girl - now a 17-year-old American known as Gina Marie Craig - was reunited with her natural parents in their village of Los Cocos, a 90-minute drive east of the capital, San Salvador.

``I feel very good about this reunion, because it's been a long and difficult process,'' said Dr. Robert Kirschner of Physicians for Human Rights, the Boston-based group that performed the DNA testing linking Gina to her family.

``These children have a right to know about their natural families, and the families have a right to know where their children are,'' he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Gina is the first American adoptee to be reunited with a Salvadoran family under a program that has already seen several reunions of Salvadoran families over the past year.

IN LANGUAGE OF LOVE, A SALVADORAN REUNION OHIO TEEN-AGER, `DISAPPEARED,' REDISCOVERS HER PARENTS

Date: 1996-07-19

Boston Globe
Author: Steve Fainaru, Globe Staff

LOS COCOS, El Salvador -- In a reunion filled with joyful tears and awkward silences, a 17-year-old Ohio girl who speaks only English yesterday embraced her biological parents, poor Salvadoran farmers who had not seen their daughter since soldiers seized her from a rebel field hospital 12 years ago.

"My daughter! My love!" cried Jose Lainez, as he and his wife Victoria -- along with their six other children -- enveloped their daughter Imelda in the middle of the asphalt lane that splits the mud-and-stick homes of this tiny community.

The girl, a high school senior, is known as Gina Marie Craig in the Akron, Ohio suburb where she grew up. Taken by soldiers when she was 6, she was declared "morally and materially abandoned" by a Salvadoran judge, then adopted by an American couple who believed that her parents had been killed until DNA testing proved otherwise last month.

LIKE `A BABY FARM'

Date: 1996-07-16

Sandy Springs woman banned from arranging adoptions in Georgia is named by British couple as their link to a Guatemalan lawyer some call the `baby bandit.' The couple also charges she gave them a `shopping list' of children.

Kathy Scruggs
The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution

A Fulton County woman banned from brokering private adoptions in Georgia and Florida is in business through a South Carolina storefront and a childless British couple says she led them on an intercontinental odyssey to a notorious Guatemalan lawyer and a "baby farm."

The couple's claims about the Sandy Springs woman, Lya Sorano, are being investigated by Georgia authorities to determine if Sorano has violated the terms under which her licenses to arrange adoptions in Georgia and Florida were revoked seven years ago.

"If we find evidence that she is operating as a child-placing agency in violation of a previous 1989 court order, then she may be in contempt of that order and punished accordingly," Attorney General Mike Bowers said.

`I don't handle adoptions'

Sorano vehemently denies doing anything wrong.

`IMELDA (GINA)' STRUGGLES FOR IDENTITY

Date: 1996-07-15

Boston Globe

`IMELDA (GINA)' STRUGGLES FOR IDENTITY
THEY WERE SEPARATED FROM THEIR FAMILIES A DECADE AGO.
NOW, `DISAPPEARED' SALVADORAN CHILDREN SUCH AS GINA (ABOVE) ARE SURFACING IN THE US.

Author: Steve Fainaru, Globe Staff

AKRON, Ohio -- Resplendent in a white sweater and a gold Nike necklace that was a gift from her boyfriend, Gina got her picture taken at K Mart recently -- a portrait of an American teen-ager. She sent the photo to El Salvador, where it now hangs in the mud-and-sticks dwelling of Jose and Victoria Lainez.

There in a dank, dark room cooled by its dirt floor, Gina is known as Imelda. That was her name before she was snatched from a rebel hospital by Salvadoran soldiers in June 1984, deposited at an orphanage, then adopted by a well-meaning American family that changed her name and raised her in a northeast Ohio suburb.

A COUNTRY AWAKES TO THE REALITY OF IT'S `DISAPPEARED' CHILDREN

Date: 1996-07-14

Boston Globe
Author: Steve Fainaru, Globe Staff

SAN ANTONIO LOS RANCHOS, El Salvador -- Elsy Dubon Romero lost everything but her name one afternoon in 1982. As her mother cowered behind a thorn bush, and her father lay dead, a soldier grabbed the 7-year-old girl by the neck and loaded her onto a helicopter, which rose and disappeared into the blank sky.

Thus began her new life. From an army base, to a Red Cross shelter, she was shuttled finally to an orphanage near San Salvador, the capital. There she grew up, ordered never to talk about what had happened, and told that her family was dead.

Not until 12 years later, by then married and pregnant, did she learn the incredible truth: that her mother, Francisca Romero, was alive, along with five brothers and sisters who she vaguely remembered from a past that had seemed stolen from her.

"It all came back to me when I saw their faces," she said in an interview, quietly sobbing.

DAD GETS CUSTODY OF 19 HAITIAN KIDS

Date: 1996-07-05

News-Sentinel, The (Fort Wayne, IN)

Author: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dateline: SHELBYVILLE

A judge has awarded custody of 19 adopted Haitian children to their father.

Dan Blackburn, although elated, says much work will be needed to repair the damage done to the children during the lengthy divorce proceedings.

Kathy Blackburn filed for divorce in December. During the custody hearing, she accused Blackburn of sexually molesting all 11 of their adopted daughters, and accused him of killing a crying baby by stuffing a rag into his mouth while the family lived in Haiti.

The Blackburns drew national attention by adopting 28 children, many very ill, while spending more than a decade as missionaries in Haiti.

Foreign adoptions feared out of control

Date: 1996-06-28

Written by Jason Barber

CORRUPTION and rule-breaking have plagued the adoption of Cambodian children to foreign countries in recent years, according to NGOs who warn the system is open to abuse.

Officials, including within the Ministry of Social Welfare and the Council of Ministers, are accused by some NGOs of taking bribes to approve adoptions.

Some children adopted abroad are not orphans, sources say, and Cambodian "middlemen" are feared to have bought children from poor families for the international adoption process.

Foreign adoption agents have also been active in Cambodia, and been permitted to personally take children out of the country, contrary to the law.

Since 1991, it has been legally banned for children to be released into the custody of intermediaries, rather than directly to adoptive parents who come to Cambodia to pick up the children.

The government does not know the whereabouts of many youngsters adopted to foreigners, "and doesn't have any guarantee that these children are even alive," according to one NGO source.

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