Let this page serve as a warning to other American adoption agencies to not use Dennis Gornostaev's facilitation services for ANY adoption program.
Beware of Ukrainians promising quick adoptions and healthy kids.d
For two years (1997-1999) Dennis V. Gornostaev was Denise Hubbard's primary facilitator. He generated referrals from Russia and enabled Denise Hubbard to have an adoption program before BBAS was even incorporated in Dec. 1997. It was through Dennis Gornostaev we received Cyril's referral in Sept. 1999. At all times, Gornostaev held the reigns to any contact between Russia and the United States. Not Denise Hubbard.
Since he was the connection to Perm, we are reviewing what we know about him. And to join one agency in warning others thinking about using him to STAY AWAY from him for ANY adoption.
After Gornostaev's ouster from BBAS in Dec. 1999, tracking his whereabouts was difficult. In 2003 we came across more regarding Gornostaev and his work as a “facilitator” for Russian, Ukrainian and Kazakh adoptions in for two, possibly three, adoption agencies.
First, a review of what we know about Dennis V. Gornostaev.
Dennis Gornastaed née Gornostaev first appeared a full year before BBAS incorporation in Dec. 1996. He was listed, along with Carol and Simona Wirtz on Sarah's Hope Adoption Agency's Articles of Incorporation as a “Trustee”.
Gornostaev's home address at the time was in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, far away from Ohio.
He was living there thanks to the generosity of a family whose Ukrainian adoption several years earlier he had helped by drawing on connections in his homeland. He had later come to the U.S. on a student visa. When some problems between him and the school threatened his visa, the mother in the family offered to take him in and give him room and board in exchange for him helping to take care of the children, which she says he did quite well.
He would live with them as a sort of au pair for another two and a half years.
By December 1997 Gornostaev and the Wirtz parted. This was after Emily Hubbard's adoption was completed. Gornostaev, Denise Hubbard and Dennis Kaselak, the attorney who helped to run Sarah’s Hope, teamed up to bring Building Blocks Adoption Service, Inc. its Russian and Ukrainian adoption programs.
Dennis Kaselak incorporated his own company I.A.C.S. Inc. on June 6, 1998. Its specific purpose, as stated in its Articles of Incorporation:
To provide financial support to foreign agencies and orphanages; to provide assistance for international adoption of children and to facilitate and coordinate the adoption of such children as shall come into the care and custody of adoptive parents.
I.A.C.S.’s trustees were Dennis Kaselak, his wife Elizabeth and Dennis Gornostaev. Gornostaev gave another New Jersey street address as his home residence: in Summit, another affluent New Jersey commuter suburb, where his American hosts had subsequently moved to (they were still living at this a ddress, not far from the house Dan grew up in, in 2005 when he decided to stop by and ask about Dennis and we found all this out).
ddress, not far from the house Dan grew up in, in 2005 when he decided to stop by and ask about Dennis and we found all this out).
Around this time, the woman said, the kids had grown a little more self-sufficient and he needed to get on with his life, so he moved to Ohio.
A month after I.A.C.S.’s formation, BBAS completed its first Russian adoptions in the Volgograd, Perm and Vladivostok regions. This was a mere two months after BBAS was licensed to place children by the ODHS.
With the first BBAS adoptions completed, Dennis Gornostaev changed his residence to Northeastern Ohio. This makes sense for most of his business was originating from BBAS. He operated out of an office on Main Street in the leafy Cleveland suburb of Chagrin Falls with an assistant named Elena. She handled BBAS clients’ paperwork, acting as liaison to Denise and Wendy Stamper.
As referrals were lost in Volgograd in June 1999 Gornostaev and Hubbard’s relationship became tumultuous. Hubbard was literally at the mercy of Gornostaev, for he was the one directly in contact with “the reps” in Russia.
Behind his back, she began making inquries to Amrex.
By the end of the summer, Volgograd deteriorated due to a corrupt Italian placing children illegally with Italian citizens. This caused chaos to Gornostaev’s operations in the region, causing referrals to be lost and unhappy clients breathing down Hubbard’s neck. The Whitwells’ lost their first referral in Izhvesk in Oct. 1999 as well.
Denise, fed up with the problems Gornostaev was causing, needed to find another facilitator for Russia. We speculated she was angling to align with Amrex due to her insistence that we post our adoption on ICAR a few weeks before we went to Russia in Oct. 1999.
Whether Dennis was aware of this, we do not know. We can only assume he was not, as she still had to complete several adoptions (ours included) through him. The Whitwells were the last BBAS family we know of to complete their adoption through Gornostaev, in February 2000 in Izhvesk.
The straw that truly broke the camel’s back, though, was Cyril’s death in Perm and Linda Wright’s rejection of Ekaterina the same night. We can imagine that Denise didn’t need this, and may have faulted Dennis.
We can imagine that Denise didn’t need this, and may have faulted Dennis.
Perhaps, in its wake, she told him point-blank that he would have to take his business elsewhere come the millenium.
It followed that Denise and Dennis Kaselak (I.A.C.S.) also ceased their business relationship in at the end of that year, when BBAS changing its facilitators to Amrex.
Hubbard would spare no one in her efforts to screw Gornostaev, including BBAS clients. Once their relationship was severed, it left some BBAS clients out in the cold with respect to Post Placement reports. Charlene Whitwell was one of them. She assumed when she mailed the boy’s Post Placement reports to BBAS in Ohio, that Denise Hubbard was directly forwarding them on to Izhevsk and/or Dennis Gornostaev. As Charlene later discovered, Denise had been sending them directly to Amrex in Alpharetta, GA! Once in Alpharetta, they presumably sat, and were never sent directly to Russia.
Ashley had assumed Denise was following the proper post-adoption procedures. Of course, once an adoption is completed with BBAS, Denise could care less, especially if that client had been one who no longer believed in her.
Gornostaev received word from his contacts in Izhevsk that they were not getting the Whitwell's Post Placement reports. He was forced to directly contact them through email. He told Charlene that Denise was forwarding the Post Placements to Amrex. Charlene went directly to Denise and let her have it.
Amrex didn't work in Izhvesk, so why had Denise sent his Post Placements to them?
Charlene circumvented Hubbard by contacting their Izhevsk translator via email to explain the situation. Happily, the translator understood, and their son’s post placement reports were sent to the correct people.
After December 1999, Gornostaev briefly teamed up with Diana Adams of adopts.com to place children with her help. They completed one adoption we are aware of in October 2000, but after that, he moved to another agency.
In Daniel’s telephone conversation with Dennis Kaselak on Oct. 31, 2000, Kaselak told him that Gornostaev was currently working with All God’s Children International (AGCI) of Portland, Ore. This was verified by a page, since replaced with this one, on AGCI’s website regarding 9/11 where Dennis V. Gornostaev signed his name as “Russian Program Director.” AGCI is presently working through Baltimore-based Adoption Resource Center, which has the accreditation it lacks.
AGCI is presently working through Baltimore-based Adoption Resource Center, which has the accreditation it lacks.
Baltimore-based Adoption Resource Center, which has the accreditation it lacks.
Gornostaev placed a few children through AGCI in 2001 in Vladivostok, mainly functioning for them as he did with Building Blocks ... in a background role, making things happen on the ground but rarely coming into direct contact with the families.
An AGCI family who successfully adopted a boy from Vladivostok in September 2001, under the two trip system, said they did not have direct communication with Gornostaev during their adoption. AGCI and Gornostaev, we learned, had parted company in Jan. 2002, citing “significant differences of style and philosophy.”
Gornostaev’s Vladivostok facilitators are no longer working with him. Instead, they are working with an accredited agency (bringing in the big bucks and the willing-to-pay clients) in the Primorski region.
He seems to burn an agency a year. It wouldn’t surprise us if he wore out his welcome with them as he had already done with BBAS.
It wouldn’t surprise us if he wore out his welcome with them as he had already done with BBAS.
The next agency to take Gornostaev on would be burned even worse. It happened during his tenure as AGCI’s Russian Program Director. It took us until February 2003 to come across the following post to a Yahoo! Ukrainian adoption email list, placed by a Program Director for A New Arrival:
Please post this link on as many message boards and adoption e-lists as possible. We need to get this message out. If you are an agency, please take note of this important bulletin. It would be great if this bulletin could be translated into other languages because they will be Dennis' next prey. Cyndi Peck http://www.anewarrival.com/Dennis.html Notice on Dennis Gornostaev also known as Denis Gornostaev
From: "A New Arrival - Cyndi"
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 21:22:41 -0600
Adoptions from Ukraine
Adoptions from Russia
Adoptions from KazakhstanDennis Gornostaev lives in Prague and claims to facilitate adoptions of orphan children from Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan.
In reality, Dennis is not doing the adoptions for most people, but is taking thousands of dollars from them, leaving them without referrals or adoptions. He does not give the refunds for failed adoptions although his contracts states that he will, and most of his adoption attempts are failures. A licensed, international adoption agency in the U.S., contracted with Dennis, and paid him over $12,000 for adoptions for three families, from Ukraine and Kazakhstan. He did not do the adoptions and has told the agency over and over that he would refund the clients' money but never did. He went so far as to tell one client that he had already transferred their money to the agency's bank account, but it did not arrive, so that was a lie.
Since Dennis is in Prague, the agency has no way of recovering the lost funds. So we are alerting the public to stay away from Dennis and do not trust him with your adoption or your money. Dennis has successfully completed a few adoptions and may use those as references for his business. But most of his adoptions fail, and he does not refund any money.
The agency gave him five months to make good on his promises or we would make this public. The five months are up. The agency was able to complete adoptions via other programs for our clients, but at a loss of over $12,000.
If you have any further questions, please email…
Upon seeing this, I was stunned. It had taken us long enough to find it, and to see Dennis Gornostaev so blatantly being called on what he was by an agency director was a complete (though pleasant) shock.
She went to the trouble of providing the same warning on her agency’s website at the URL provided.
At least Cyndi Peck at A New Arrival had the courage to stand up and warn other agencies about Dennis. Why hadn’t Denise Hubbard or her counterparts at AGCI?
Mrs. Peck made another post to the same Ukraine group on Aug. 29, 2002.
From: Paul and Cyndi Peck
Date: Thu Aug 29, 2002 3:54 pm
Subject: The Good, the BAD and the UGLY!
Ok, since you asked :-) I will post this again. We had a terrible experience with Dennis Gornostaev. He took $12,000 of our client’s money and did not do the adoptions, and did not give one cent back.
We asked him to even refund us ½ and we would “eat” the other half. He said he sent it (well, it never came.). Now he does not respond to any of our communication. He works in Ukraine and Kaz and lives in Warsaw.
I wanted to find out more and emailed Mrs. Peck on Feb. 6, 2003, with my telephone number. She called me back and we exchanged information about Dennis Gornostaev.
As the conversation unfolded, I came to understand that the relationship between A New Arrival and Gornostaev began in October 2001, a month after his name appeared on the AGCI website. Mrs. Peck told me that Dennis Gornostaev had come highly recommended to them by Randy Barlow, an American social worker living in Germany.
Mr. Barlow was under the impression that Gornostaev had completed many independent adoptions and had many happy clients under his belt. He had no reason to think otherwise. Neither would ANA when Dennis Gornostaev’s name was presented as a facilitator for their adoption programs.
Neither would ANA when Dennis Gornostaev’s name was presented as a facilitator for their adoption programs.
Once connected with ANA, Gornostaev promised them quick referrals, shorter trips from Kazakhstan and Ukraine and healthy children. By the end of October, at least six clients had compiled their dossiers and paid $3,000 for “translation and location” of children from both countries.
Gornostaev requested ANA provide him with three clients per month for Ukraine and Kazakhstan, a hefty workload for a small agency. Clients are hard to come by in such a competitive field, but they believed Gornostaev when he said he’d get their clients the quick referrals and the fast in-country trips.
We knew nothing of Gornostaev’s Kazakh representatives, in truth, we don’t think he had any at all in that country.
By March 2002, after promises and entreaties by the agency to have their clients hang in there, neither travel dates or children appeared for them in Kazakhstan.
Fed up, the Kazakhstan clients were forced to switch to other ANA programs, or leave the agency entirely.
Mrs. Peck told me that Dennis completed one adoption for them in Ukraine out of three families who had signed on (Building Blocks, to the best of our knowledge, has only completed one Ukrainian adoption, back in mid-1999). He claimed he was originally from Ukraine, something we cannot verify.
The couple who successfully adopted from Ukraine had a relatively trouble-free adoption, with the end result being a healthy, young child, she said.
Gornostaev had bragged on his great connections at the National Adoption Center in Kiev (when it was being run by Mrs. Kunko), but Mrs. Peck later found out that it was illegal for agencies to select children from Ukraine (not that that’s stopped some agencies). Needless to say, she was not very happy about it.
Cyndi said her agency had refunded part of their clients’ money, but that Dennis had run off with approximately $12,000. She had been in contact with Dennis to have the money wired to ANA’s account; Dennis would tell them he needed the account number to have the money returned. Still, after several email exchanges and telephone calls, ANA’s money had failed to materialize.
His MSN email account bounced, his cell phone number has been disconnected. Cyndi thought Gornostaev is living in either Prague or Warsaw, or someplace in Eastern Europe. (His U.S. hostess said in 2005 that he was as far as she knew living in the Czech Republic somewhere, though she had had no contact with him for years. She had tried to talk to, among others, Denise to find him, and found her terse and curt on the phone (surprise!))
(His U.S. hostess said in 2005 that he was as far as she knew living in the Czech Republic somewhere, though she had had no contact with him for years. She had tried to talk to, among others, Denise to find him, and found her terse and curt on the phone (surprise!))
For all intents and purposes, Dennis Gornostaev has left the show, taking with him at least $12,000 of American families’ money.
Not only had he taken ANA’s clients for a ride, but the agency as well (unfortunately for one of these clients, ANA signed on with another facilitator who would also take them for a ride in Vietnam).
Cyndi Peck herself would cease to work with ANA in June 2004. After having serious doubts about Lori Jones, ANA's Executive Director, Cyndi joined Mary Mooney's new agency, International Adoption Guides:
Cyndi Peck, pictured here with her family, is a Guide for China and Haiti adoptions. She assists adoptive families with the dossier and paperwork needed to adopt. Cyndi has worked in international adoptions since 1998, helping over 100 families. She is the mother of four internationally adopted children, five biological children, and grandmother of two.