Mom may sue adoption agency

Relates to:
Date: 2003-04-17

By Jeorge Zarazua
Express-News Border Bureau

LAREDO — A lawyer wants to question a former San Antonio adoption agency employee to learn more about an alleged baby-buying scheme before they decide whether to sue the company.

A state district judge is to hold a hearing on the request later this month in Laredo.

Corpus Christi lawyer Tony Bonilla said he needs information from Maria Dolores Bondoc to help him determine whom, and on what grounds, his client should sue to regain custody of her baby.

Bondoc's attorney, David Almaraz of Laredo, said he would not allow the questioning.

"She's not going to give any depositions anywhere," Almaraz said of Bondoc. "Not as long as she's facing criminal charges."

Bondoc operated the AAA-Alamo Adoption Agency's office in Laredo until her arrest in September on charges of baby-buying and smuggling Mexican women into the United States. The federal smuggling charges were dropped so the state could proceed with its case.

The Webb County district attorney's office says it still is working to indict Bondoc on three counts of sale or purchase of a child.

AAA-Alamo owners Bob and Eleanor Gray have denied involvement in or knowledge of illegal activities in Laredo and have said they are confident Bondoc is innocent. The Grays' attorney, Ron Prince of San Antonio, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In the deposition request, Norma Adriana Salazar Gonzalez claims Bondoc offered her money in April 2002 in exchange for her baby. Salazar, then 17, was pregnant and living in Mexico.

Salazar claims Bondoc arranged for her to be smuggled across the Rio Grande into Laredo, where she stayed with one of Bondoc's relatives for two months until she gave birth.

Salazar was admitted to Doctor's Hospital of Laredo on Aug. 8, 2002, and had a Caesarean section the following day to give birth to a male baby, according to the petition. She was released from the hospital on Aug. 10, 2002, without her son.

"The petitioner was defrauded and taken advantage of and consequently lost her newborn baby due to this fraudulent and illegal baby-buying scheme," the petition says.

Salazar's claims are similar to those alleged in the arrest and search warrants issued against Bondoc in September.

Bondoc's attorney denies his client did anything wrong.

Almaraz said the adoption agency has videotape showing Salazar willingly agreed to place her baby up for adoption after her son was born.


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