Silence greets exposure of corrupt adoption practices

Date: 2006-07-29

By Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer

THREE weeks ago the Irish Independent published secretly recorded interviews with My Linh Soland, the woman who organised all 150 of the Vietnamese adoptions to Ireland since 2004.

Ms Soland revealed the adoptions were corrupt, that birth certificates were routinely forged, that officials who declared children abandoned knew exactly where their parents were, how money meant for humanitarian aid was part of the corruption and that Vietnamese officials at the highest levels were getting pay-offs.

She named the names and how much everyone received.

We have it all on tape.

There was so much money involved that Vietnamese children were being removed from their parents unethically and illegally for profit. Ms Soland, who arranged adoptions to France and the US, grossed over $1m from Irish couples alone.

The story was a nightmare for the 150 adoptive Irish couples who now do not know the true history of their adoptive child.

The details on the tapes were explosive but unfortunately some were a little too explosive for the Irish Independent's lawyers. We could not print the names she mentioned or some of the more juicy details.

But we have it all on tape.

After the story was published we flew home and waited for the phone to ring.

For a while it did but it was only other journalists and broadcasters wanting to do follow-ups and interviews. The most interesting response has come from the Irish authorities. They have been silent.

Despite Ms Soland's admissions no one from the Irish Adoption Board or the Irish government contacted us.

It would be reasonable to assume that the Irish Adoption Board would have phoned looking for details. They are supposed to put the rights of the child first in all their actions. Two journalists had just discovered massive corruption in the system but they didn't seem to be interested.

It would be reasonable to assume that Brian Lenihan's office would have at least asked for an informal briefing on what we discovered.

We have the names of the Vietnamese government officials who are corruptly profiting from the adoptions. They didn't get in touch.

Instead all these organisations have hidden behind a letter from the Vietnamese government assuring them that the 150 adoptions were legal.

No one has asked us if anyone who helped draft this letter is mentioned by Ms Soland. They might be surprised by what she says.

The Vietnamese government is internationally recognised as one of the most corrupt in the world but in this case the Irish authorities trust them.

No questions asked.

The sad truth of international adoption is that it is all about getting babies for middle class families and not at all about the human rights of babies and their parents in Russia, Guatemala, China, Vietnam or Mexico.

The Irish Adoption Board seem to be only interested in satisfying their clients.

The Irish government are only interested in pleasing the electorate.

THERE are no votes in opposing international adoption. There are no votes in protecting the human rights of mothers and their children in faraway countries. And so there is only silence.

International adoption is so often portrayed as a fairytale rescue of abandoned and unwanted babies. It is a beautiful story but one that very often does not stand up to scrutiny.

It seems that despite their claims to care for the welfare of children no one involved in international adoption really wants to know the truth about the babies arriving every day in Ireland. 


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