ADOPTION BROKER TRIES TO MOVE FIRM TO WEST INDIES ISLE

ANDERS GYLLENHAAL
The Miami Herald
February 11, 1988

A Coral Springs baby broker who has been forced out of several states for questionable adoption practices is attempting to move to the West Indies island of Montserrat to continue his services outside the reach of U.S. laws.

The island's governor is expected to decide soon whether to approve a bill that would allow Richard Gitelman of Coral Springs, who is facing investigations and criminal charges in this country, to run his private adoption service from the tiny British colony.

Gitelman had become one of the country's busiest adoption brokers, locating babies for hundreds of desperate couples for fees of up to $10,000, before state and federal authorities began looking into his business.

Laws in Oregon and Louisiana were changed in recent years to block his services. Florida sued unsuccessfully to close his Broward-based business. Gitelman was arrested in Pennsylvania in October for allegedly coaxing an under-aged pregnant woman across state lines.

Shortly after the criminal charges were filed against him, Gitelman helped convince the Legislative Council of Montserrat to pass a bill permiting women to come to the island to deliver the babies and arrange the adoptions.

The island's governor, Christopher Turner, has yet to sign the bill. He is expected to make a decision this week. Several Montserrat residents said pregnant woman already have started arriving on the 11-mile-long island, located 250 miles southeast of Puerto Rico.

Gitelman refused to discuss his Montserrat plan. Members of the Montserrat government, which would make money under the bill by charging fees for each adoption, also declined to talk about it.

"It's pending," said Attorney General Odel Adams. "I'm not prepared to say anything more than that."

Adoption laws in the U.S. vary from state to state. Many states permit private adoptions, but regulate the role brokers like Gitelman can play, how much they can charge and how much money mothers can receive.

Adoptive parents bringing children in from out of the country would still have to file petitions with local courts, health workers said. But the U.S. would not have jurisdiction over how adoptions were arranged, how mothers were treated and what fees were paid.

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