Carrie West's story
We are the parents to six children ranging in age, from 21-3, our youngest from Vietnam.
As adoptive parents, we understand the reluctance by some, to view International Adoption Fraud, as the growing threat that it is.
Some regard this issue, to be one that effects only the smallest percentages of families adopting today.
While ours and many cases like it, may not represent the majority of families adopting Internationally, the number of families coming forward to report fraud is growing.
It is far too easy to set yourself apart from those of us who have experienced fraudulent adoptions first hand.
To do so, only reinforces the foothold of a select group of individuals, and places birth families, adoptive families and Vietnam Adoptions at further risk down the road.
The deliberate refusal on behalf of our US Attorney's Office, to hold accountable, agencies who knowingly employ facilitators engaging in the illegal and unethical placement of children abroad, does little but undermine and already compromised industry, and allows for the continued exploitation of birth families abroad.
As adoptive families, we deserve the same level of protection afforded to anyone having been victimized by fraud, deliberate misrepresentation, extortion, etc.
Behind the images of tedi bears, hearts, and angels, lies a multimillion dollar industry, that remains completely unregulated.
Legislation must be implemented, transparency in this process achieved, and accountability for ones choices in agents understood, before we can hope to prevent the abuses of trust, that many of us, have experienced first hand.
Our story is cautionary in nature and serves to reinforce the many honest experiences shared by so many other families over the past years, months and weeks, and particular, in recent articles reported in the Jacksonville and Metro West News.
All documents, emails, and correspondence are held by USAG, INS, & US Investigators.
We have had the privilege to speak with and meet a number of the families, mentioned in the Jacksonville, and the Metro West News articles.
Many of these families have reported their cases to various licensing boards, INS, FBI, State Attorney's Offices, and consumer protection agencies over the years.
- links to Metro West & Jacksonville stories
MaiLy and Marie LaTrace, have been involved in International Adoption for the better part of this past decade.
Mother and daughter, have started many notable agencies in the past, among them Mai Lynn Adoptions, Vietnam Ministries, Cherubs International, Project Faith, and MaiLy's latest venture, Project Faith, Intl.
-links to Mai Lynn, Project Faith, Cherubs of Asia, Viet. Min. & Project Faith Int.
-link to signature pages of MaiLynn Adoptions showing forged signatures
The LaTraces have enjoyed, a never ending supply of agencies here in the states like, Asian Angels, A Child's Story, Tedi Bear Adoptions, Christian World Adoptions, Cherubs International, A New Arrival and My Kids Adoptions, who have afforded this family the opportunity to reach an even broader client base.
These agencies represent only a portion of those having employed the services of the LaTrace family abroad.
While some of these agencies responded quickly to allegations of wrongdoing (such as Cherub International) others made excuses for their facilitators, placing their clients at further risk.
In fairness I will point out, that some of the agencies having used LaTraces as their agents in Vietnam early on, did so without previous knowledge of their history.
That said, our agency, A Child's Story, Inc. located in Springboro, Ohio, and owned by Mary Ormond was not among them.
Our agency director, Ms. Ormond afforded her "employee" Agnes Tuyet Nga LaTrace (also known as Marie LaTrace) an alias to work under in Vietnam.
By aiding this family in the creation of a name unfamiliar to anyone, Ms. Ormond would not risk that we would give out information contradictory to what she had publicly stated on the apv, in communications with other adoptive families, agency directors and her former business partner at Cherub International, Ellen Rice.
Information claiming not to be working with LaTraces, or through LaTraces in Vietnam.
The alias afforded Ms. Marie LaTrace, during the period of time that we knew her, was Kim Lien.
link to apv denials f Mary Ormond here
link to letters from agency owners
The LaTrace Family's methods of obtaining children for adoption, fraudulent documentation provided to prospective adoptive families, deceptive tactics in offering children who have already been accepted and placed with other families, and encouraging families to travel for children who do not reside in the country of Vietnam, providing fraudulent information on the true status of "orphans" represent a fraction of those actions now under investigation.
In addition to their "adoption work," MaiLy LaTrace revealed in 2002, the completion of her International web site, aimed at soliciting funds for The Home For Thuy Orphanage.
The name of this site is projectfaithintl.com and the information contained on it is fraudulent.
Information about children alleged to be seriously ill with Tuberculosis, children "alleged" to be raped (by a family member) and pregnant were among the fraudulent statements provided on this International site, to solicit the funds needed for the completion of this Project.
While initial correspondences revealed the cost of completion of this project to be $8,000.
Within a few short months, the cost of completion increased to $80,000.
This site is owned by Tedi Hedstrom of Tedi Bear Adoptions.
Fraud Site: http://www.vzpacifica.net/community/tmosley/fraud.htm Please note, the Domain Name projectfaithintl.com is registered to Tedi Hedstrom at her Neptune Beach & Atlantic Blvd. addresses.
The date of creation was Dec. of 2001, and lists email@example.com as her administrator's address.
-projectfaithintl.com domain link here
West Adoption Fraud Together, The LaTraces and Mary Ormond of A Child's Story, Inc. did refer 5 yr. old, Tran Thi Thuy in June 2000.
She was listed on their web site under the Rainbow Kids site.
Mary Ormond and Cheryl Adams (Vietnam Program Coordinator) stated that Thuy had become available after the death of her mother and subsequent relinquishment of her father, due to extreme poverty.
She was "allegedly" in foster care.
- link to Rainbow Kids & A.C.S. page identifying Thuy's status
Full fees for this adoption were paid, and my oldest daughter and I traveled for the submission of Thuy's paperwork to Hanoi, in July of 2000.
This week proved long and confusing, as Thuy could not be located, upon arrival into Hanoi, and Kim Lien (Marie LaTrace) and her associate stated that she was no longer available.
I immediately started making calls to find out how she could have been paperwork ready and waiting for us prior to leaving the states, and in a matter of days, she was no longer available, and missing.
Kim Lien did not understand my concern, as she claimed to have many babies available, and we could just pick one of those.
Our agency director was well aware of our desire to adopt an older child, as we knew that these children are often overlooked.
The next day, Kim Lien and her associate, arrived at our hotel, with infants, and toddlers in tow.
Some of these children came with "foster mothers" while others were accompanied by birth mothers.
Many of these children were left at our hotel, for my daughter and myself to care for, in the hopes that we might except one of these children instead.
Throughout this time, my husband was in touch with our agency at home, and would relay what information he was able to ascertain to me in Hanoi.
We were repeatedly told by our agency, "You are in Vietnam now, you must give them time to work everything out." When it became apparent to Kim Lien, that we were not going to approve the substitution of one of the babies, in place of Thuy, and that we wanted answers, she announced that Thuy had been found.
We were told that she was in the countryside visiting a grandparent.
Although we were encouraged to submit our dossier on her, we waited to get confirmation from our agency in Ohio, before doing so.
They too, explained that there was a misunderstanding, as the grandmother was planning to move away, and wanted to visit with her granddaughter one last time.
We didn't have time to make the trip to the countryside to visit Thuy, however, we did submit our dossier on her, before returning to the states.
We were approved for two children, but did not decide to submit on our second child, until I returned home, and was able to confirm his availability through our agency director Mary Ormond.
His name was Llam Anh.
-links to picture of Llam Anh & Carrie in Hanoi
- link to infants and children left in hotel room
On Sept. 5, 2000, after the submission of both dossier's and while awaiting G&R's on both children, we received an e-mail from our agency A Child's Story, stating there were complications, and to call ASAP.
We were told that our five year old, Tran Thi Thuy was extremely ill, suffering from Tuberculosis.
Ms. Ormond explained Thuy's condition as extremely serious, as she was very weak, covered with sores, and that it was actually a deep cough that had prompted them to take her for further testing.
Ms. Ormond was adamant, that we could not adopt her.
Even more disturbing, was that she said, children like Thuy are often not treated, and the disease is allowed to run its course.
We made it clear to Ms. Ormond, that we were committed to helping Thuy, and she assured us both verbally and in writing, that she would do whatever she could to help.
Within that same conversation, we were told that there was also a "problem" with our two year old Llam Anh's referral.
Apparently, his paperwork was not in order, as he had a father, and no effort had been made to locate him about his sons pending adoption.
This had to be done, and we were informed that this process could take up to six months.
This child should never have been shown to us, let alone referred to us, without all paperwork in order.
-link to A Child's Story correspondences sending condolences, and stating they will pray for Thuy
- Tran Thi Thuy pictured here, holding a picture of Carrie & Paul West - taken by LaTrace family.
The smile on Thuy's face, holding one of several pictures sent to her of her new family, stayed in our memories, long after we were informed that Thuy was "allegedly" suffering with Tuberculosis, and could not be adopted.
A Child's Story, Inc. did refer, and I use that term loosely, additional children following the loss of Thuy and Llam Anh, but for a variety of reasons, these placements fell through.
Eventually we received and excepted the referral of Pham Thi Thuy, our now 3 year old daughter.
She was "allegedly" in foster care. After receiving our 171H clearance through INS Boston, we traveled for her G&R in Feb. 2001. We met MaiLy on this, our second trip to Hanoi.
MaiLy had come to our hotel after the completion of our daughters G&R ceremony.
She had with her, an older boy our agency wanted us to meet, and who we had turned down previously, because they had reported that he was living with an intact sibling group.
It was our agencies hope, that we would reconsider adopting him.
Prior to travel, and in subsequent e-mails, Ms. Ormond informed us that this boy would be our last referral, per order of the "social workers" handling our dossier.
When we asked MaiLy about this child, she stated that our agency director, wanted us to take him, and told us that he'd be our last referral, in an attempt to get us to accept him.
MaiLy explained that there are no social workers making such decisions, that she is the one identifying and referring children for Mary Ormond.
MaiLy went on to say that she actually started A Child's Story, Inc. and that Mary Ormond had adopted her children through MaiLy.
MaiLy presented as quite charismatic, devoted to both the children and families she worked with.
She also possessed a wealth of information about the process of adoption in Vietnam.
Later documentation provided by MaiLy LaTrace, would confirm earlier conversations, that MaiLy claimed to have backed Ms. Ormond in her business venture, and in turn Ms. Ormond would refer families to LaTraces for adoption.
The topic of social workers, would not be discussed again, until we returned to the states.
-link to correspondences from LaTraces taking credit for starting and financing A Child's Story
During dinner that evening, MaiLy and Kim Lien, informed us, that five year old Thuy's condition had worsened, prompting them to bring her into their home.
They made mention of the high cost of medicines and doctors.
Paul, my husband and I assured them both, that we would help with her medical care.
Both Kim Lien (Marie) and MaiLy were "allegedly" willing to continue to care for Thuy in their home, because they knew her chances of survival without their intervention was poor.
They stated that if Thuy was able to make a recovery, she would again be available for adoption, and asked if we would be interested, we said yes.
We were extremely appreciative of MaiLy and her mothers devotion to our Thuy.
Before leaving Hanoi in Feb. 2001, for HCMC to apply for our daughters visa, we left money with Kim Lien (Marie LaTrace) for the express purpose of caring for 5 yr. old Thuy and wired additional money back to MaiLy's Vietnam Ministries account in March of 2001, to handle any additional medical expenses.
An e-mail accompanied this wire, and clearly stated what the funds were to be used for.
Upon arrival into HCMC, we were met by A Child's Story employees member named Chieu Anh.
We would later realize, that Chieu Anh was the sister-in-law to Kim Lien (Marie LaTrace).
Chieu Anh was responsible for accompanying us to our daughters physical, and reviewing all documents to insure that all was in order for our Embassy interview.
During our initial interview with the US Embassy, we were informed, that our case was going to be sent to INS for further review.
There was no way of knowing just how long their investigation could take, so my husband returned home to work, and I remained in HCMC calling INS daily for updates.
INS had many families ahead of ours, and because our daughters birth family was in Hanoi, this would require travel on the part of the investigating agent, and meant further delays.
Arrangements were made through our agency's staff, to complete the Power of Attorney, so our daughter could be escorted home, upon completion of the INS investigation.
-insert link to letter from A Child's Story stating your child is in good hands
Soon after arriving home, we started receiving the first of several calls and e-mails, indicating something was very wrong.
LaTrace e-mails suggested that Chieu Anh was "acting crazy." Additional e-mails stated that Chieu Anh was refusing to surrender our daughter, because she wanted to use her to come to the states.
They had indicated that she had done this before, and that they would quickly remedy the situation.
Finally, it was suggested, that Chieu Anh was looking for money, before she would return our daughter.
MaiLy and Kim Lien (Marie) claimed that the police had been notified.
Additional correspondences said that "search warrants" were being issued and Chieu Anh's residence had been searched by police, and that Kim Lien had enlisted the assistance of her uncle, who had "friends" at the neighboring police department.
After receiving several conflicting reports, we received the most disturbing one of all, as it stated that "Chieu Anh has runaway with Thuy." links to Maily and Kim Lien's e-mails Throughout this time MaiLy had been in frequent contact with us, appearing genuinely concerned and apologetic for her aunts actions.
She stated that her mother was finally successful in retrieving our daughter, so there was no need for us to travel back to Vietnam.
She further explained, that we needed to wire $2,900.
For Kim's airline fees by Western Union immediately, as seats had been reserved, and Kim Lien would be escorting our daughter home.
We did forward all funds requested, only to be told in a subsequent e-mail by MaiLy, that she was sorry for relaying misinformation, and that Kim didn't actually have physical custody of our daughter.
Although we received detailed e-mails from MaiLy, stating that she had turned in our airline tickets, in order to refund our money, no funds were ever forthcoming.
Additionally, the ticket that had been purchased previously for our daughter, was liquidated by the LaTraces, bringing the total loss here to just under $4,000.
This was in 2001, and has never been mentioned again by either LaTrace family member.
-link regarding wiring of money to western union/tickets link to e-mail from Maily apologizing for giving us misinformation about Kim having our daughter
We made dozens of calls to Vietnam, during this period of time, speaking with US Embassy officials, INS, and LaTrace family members.
Arrangement were made so that I could return to Vietnam immediately.
Phone bills for just this period of time totaled over $1,800.00, and to date, total into the thousands.
I arrived in HCMC, on April 8, 2001. and contacted the Duty Officer as instructed.
A meeting was scheduled the following morning at the US Embassy in HCMC.
However, before any missing persons report could be filed, I was contacted at my hotel, by the woman I knew as Kim Lien.
She explained that the police were planning a "raid" of the location, where they suspected our daughter was being held, and asked if I wanted to be there.
Although, I was reluctant at first, I didn't want to risk losing an opportunity to get our daughter back, so I contacted the Embassy again, to inform them of the events as they were explained to me, and accompanied Kim Lien to this location.
The van was filled with LaTrace family, and associates, unfamiliar to me.
Upon arrival, it was clear, that this was not some "unknown" location, but rather, the exact location in which I left my daughter, in the care of LaTraces sister-in-law Cheiu Anh.
Upon arriving at the location where our daughter was "allegedly" being held, I had to wait outside, until two Vietnamese officers known to Kim Lien arrived.
I was then allowed inside to get my daughter, and as I attempted to leave, I was stopped by one of the officers, and told to sit down.
When I refused, he made it clear, that I was not leaving with my daughter Thuy, unless I sat down and spoke to them.
They proceeded to pull my adoption paperwork apart, and question me regarding my financial situation, adoption costs, etc.
They suggested that adoption costs are high, and if I don't have enough o pay for Thuy, maybe I shouldn't take her.
They also remarked that I had five other children, and maybe that was as much as we could afford.
It was clear, that these officers were not there to assist me.
I refused to give them any money, so they continued to hold me for questioning.
They finally requested that I sign a paper stating that our daughter was not held against our will, and that I was never asked for additional money.
I refused to state those facts. I was eventually returned to my hotel, with our daughter, and immediately contacted the US Embassy's Duty Officer.
I gave the Embassy officials the document I did sign, which stated that I was forced to return to retrieve our daughter, after continual attempts to gain access to her failed.
I also included the ID Number of one of the officers present, as the other one was not wearing identification, and would not disclose his name.
This was signed by one of the officers present as well. The next morning I met with the Embassy and INS officials.
The Head of Security was contacted, and he joined that meeting. He made it clear, that he had been informed of our daughter's situation in previous communications with Embassy and INS Officials.
Given the events preceding this meeting, he planned to make contact with hotel security, and was effective in making them aware of our situation.
Despite these efforts, family members of LaTraces continued to attempt access, and so I was moved to an undisclosed floor.
During this time, MaiLy and her mother, tried hard to convince us, that their aunt/sisterinlaw, was not acting on their behalf.
Towards the end of my stay, someone slipped a photocopy of a US passport page under my hotel room door.
Till this day, I don't know who did it, as my room had been changed, and security on the floor I was on was tight.
While I recognized the face to be Kim Lien, the name read Agnes Nga Tuyet LaTrace.
Embassy and INS officials confirmed that this was Marie LaTrace, not Kim Lien.
- passport picture link here
While awaiting my flight home, I was told by Embassy Security, that it would be safest to remain in my hotel, as much as possible.
There could be no protection afforded me outside of the hotel. However, during one of the last days I spent in Vietnam, I was approached by hotel security announcing that there were police officers in the lobby requesting to meet with me.
These officers requested that I accompany them to the police station for questioning.
When I refused, I was told that I didn't have a choice, and must go. I was allowed to call the head security officer at the Embassy before going with these officers.
I was taken to the police station, where I was again questioned at length, while my paperwork was reviewed.
Several LaTrace members were present, and there were accusations flying back and forth between various members of this family.
Cheiu Anh, made it clear, that the "plan" to not return our daughter, was not hers.
Marie LaTrace denied having anything to do with this plan, and worked hard that evening at trying to convince me of her innocence.
She was concerned, that if my faith in her was shaken, it might hurt their chances of helping our five year old Thuy, who they claimed to be caring for at the time.
Because I refused the officers suggestion that I pay any additional money, I was kept at the station and questioned further.
Again, the Embassy Security was kept apprised of the situation. I said little to the woman I now knew as Marie LaTrace, as she and her daughter were still holding approximately $4,000. in airline tickets.
I was careful to not direct suspicions towards Marie or her daughter MaiLy, as it was abundantly clear, that they had powerful connections in Hanoi and HCMC, and my focus was in getting our daughter home safely.
Additionally, if they had reason to believe I suspected them, as being involved in this scam, I would not stand any chance of getting back our $4,000. which ultimately was never returned.
-insert email from MaiLy & refunded tickets
After returning home from Vietnam, on April 12, 2001. I Immediately began requesting information, on Marie and MaiLy LaTrace, and our agency A Child's Story, Inc.
As a new member to the apv, I was inundated with apv notices detailing account after account, of disturbing, yet familiar scenarios.
While the agency names involved differed, the one thing that remained consistent, was the use of the LaTraces as the facilitating agents abroad.
Within a few short months of returning from Vietnam, we learned that our daughter Pham Thi Thuy, then two, had never been in foster care.
Despite our agencies claims to the contrary, and the paperwork that was provided us, she was living with her birth mother.
Her birth mother had cared for her directly, until the very day of the G&R Ceremony.
That day, marked the first time that mother and child were ever separated. This explained the grieving process that ensued, following our departure from Hanoi.
Our daughters birth mother was told that the paperwork is easier to process, if there is a foster home listed for the child.
Money had also been discussed, and assurances were made to her, pending the successful placement of her daughter for adoption.
Additionally, our daughters birth mother was instructed on how to respond to direct questions from INS officials, during their investigation to process our daughters orphan visa.
There was no way, that we could walk away from this information. To do so, would insure the continued exploitation of future birth parents and their children.
All information was promptly turned over to Government officials. Sadly, our case was not the first of its kind for Ms. Ormond @ A Child's Story, Inc.
Previous clients offered written testimony to substantiate, that their children were never in foster care, despite paperwork provided them through our agency, and that they were instructed not to give INS the names of A Child's Story's facilitators during the Embassy and INS interviews.
They were understandably afraid to come forward with this information, and only did so, at our request.
Ms. Ormond's previous business partner @ Cherub International, substantiated this families accounting of facts, and also added in writing, that Ms. Ormond lied to her directly when questioned about her use of facilitator's in Vietnam.
We now had every reason to doubt all information offered through our agency, and their employees abroad.
Getting additional information would prove harder now, as whatever steps we took to get this information, would need to be done, in such a way, as to not draw attention by LaTraces.
The one very real concern we still had, was the current health status on our original referral Thuy, still in Vietnam.
It was clear, that the LaTraces, could not be trusted to use any monies forwarded them, past or present, to help with Thuy's medical treatment, so we would need to find another way to help her.
Locating her would be the first hurdle. I posted a short note on the apv, asking for anyone who may have visited the Hanam Province within recent months.
It was a long shot, but was worth a try. If for some reason, the LaTraces were not caring for her as they claimed, then she could have been returned to her province, and need our help.
On a list of 1,000 members, I received only one response to my post, and it was from a woman, named Judy Mosley.
Judy stated, that she had recently completed an adoption in the Hanam Province and asked if I had specifics on the child I was looking for.
I quickly responded by forwarding on Thuy's full name, fathers information, etc. The next day, I received, the following e-mail that will forever remain vivid in my mind.
It was from Judy Mosley, and it read, Carrie, "That is my daughter." Needless to say, this news was bittersweet for our family.
Amazing really, how four words can throw you into a complete tailspin. "That is my daughter." No time was wasted in exchanging pictures, to insure that we were speaking about the same child, and hard copy documents to follow shortly thereafter.
One of the first question that I had for Judy, was about Thuy's health? Since they had not adopted through LaTraces, my thought was, that she may unaware of Thuy's medical condition.
Judy assured me that Thuy appeared quite healthy, but did take her to the hospital, to have the necessary tests done, just to be on the safe side.
Extensive medical reports indicated that Thuy, had never suffered from Tuberculosis, and in fact, was in excellent health.
Over a year ago, my husband and I were forced to face a painful truth, that with the help of our agency's owner Mary Ormond, we were aligned with some of the most notorious facilitators operating in Vietnam today.
While so many families before us, had dedicated countless time and energy to reporting the LaTrace family to various agencies, they remained active participants in the identifying, and referring of children from the Northern Provinces of Hanoi.
There were no quick or easy solutions to stopping this family, or the agencies affording them access to so many unsuspecting families here and abroad.
The families effected by LaTrace adoptions, extend well beyond that of the US borders. Their web site reaches people globally, making tracking the true scope of their deceptions difficult.
A Child's Story, Inc. and it's officers, were served with the following letter:
-Phillips Law firm
- link here
-A Child's Story Surrenders License Link Here
This was only a temporary solution, as the bigger problem remained MaiLy and Marie, and their ongoing relationship with a seemingly endless flow of US agencies, more than willing to keep them in business.
The promise of quick referrals and instant travel, proved to attractive for some agency owners to refuse, and thus a long line of unsuspecting families, were encouraged to travel, to submit on children, who were not available to them upon arrival into Vietnam.
MaiLy banked on one thing, and that was my commitment to insuring that Thuy not be denied access to the medical care she needed.
She exploited that fact, whenever possible, and continually maintained, up till this past June of 2002, that Thuy and her sister Hoi remained in Vietnam, under her watchful eyes.
Hoi awaiting the birth of her soon to be born baby, the result of her fathers rape, and Thuy anticipating our pending adoption.
There was no one challenging the truthfulness of MaiLy's statements or promises, as we already knew the truth.
We waited and watched, as MaiLy repeatedly assured us, that she was in communication with both Thuy and her sister Hoi.
I thanked her, for being so thoughtful, as to forward on the most beautiful pictures of Thuy and Hoi.
I listened, attentively, as she described the moving story of Thuy's sister Hoi, and how this poor child, asked to be placed in The Home For Thuy Orphanage, after finding herself raped and then pregnant by her own father.
I praised MaiLy for all those times, that she "allegedly" met with our daughters physician in Hanoi, claiming to have reimbursed him out of her own pocket, for Thuy's costly medical treatment, and thanked her for taking her valuable time to visit Thuy, over the TET Holiday 2002, bringing her gifts, and insuring that she still wanted to be adopted by us.
Quite remarkable really, given that these letters, conversation and visits, "allegedly" took place, well after Tran Thi Thuy had been adopted by the Mosley family, and had been living with her new family, for almost a year in Saipan.