The Masha Allen Adoption – What Went Wrong?

Date: 2006-09-27

Statement of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, delivered the following statement today as part of an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing entitled, “Sexual Exploitation of Children Over the Internet: Follow-up Issues to the Masha Allen Adoption”:

“Last May, this subcommittee heard testimony from a very brave young girl, Masha Allen. Masha was adopted from Russia by a man from the Pittsburgh area, Matthew Mancuso, when she was only five years old. Once Mr. Mancuso brought Masha home to Pennsylvania, he began raping and molesting her and placing images of those actions on the Internet.

“At that hearing, Masha, and her attorney raised serious and troubling questions about the circumstances surrounding her adoption. Like all the members of this subcommittee, I was deeply troubled by the pain and suffering that she has endured, but I was also troubled by the possibility that the adoption procedures that were intended to protect her actually failed her.

“The purpose of today’s hearing is to bring some much needed resolution and transparency to the questions raised four months ago. Specifically, it was unclear at that hearing which adoption agency had worked with Masha’s adoptive father to place Masha with him. There were also questions raised about the home study of Mancuso. Mancuso was a divorced man who admitted at the time of the adoption proceedings that he had little or no relationship with his adult daughter from a previous marriage. He also specifically requested a four or five year old girl in his adoption application. Members of the subcommittee questioned whether some of these facts should have warranted additional review and possibly rejection of Mancuso’s adoption application. Finally, after Masha arrived in the United States, no one visited her or Mr. Mancuso’s home to conduct the follow-up post-placement reports that were required by Russian law in order to learn whether Masha was adjusting to her new home and family. As Masha herself put it at our hearing, she could not understand why no one came to check on her to make sure that she was okay.

“Before this subcommittee as witnesses this afternoon are the individuals who were involved in Masha’s adoption from start to finish: the adoption agencies, the home study agency, the social workers, and the facilitator who assisted in conducting the adoption proceedings in Russia. I am looking forward to hearing the full story about their involvement in Masha’s adoption. Answers to the questions posed at our May hearing are long past overdue. We want to know which agency was responsible for placing her with Mr. Mancuso. We want to know why the post-placement reports were not conducted after Mancuso brought Masha from Russia to his home. And we want to know if something could have been done to prevent her adoption by a man who seemed to have no interest in being a father, but only in sexually exploiting her. This committee is entitled to answers to these questions, but more importantly, so is Masha.”

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