'Evil' adoption scandal

By Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer
Saturday July 08 2006

A WOMAN nicknamed 'Dr Evil' who arranged the adoption of 150 Vietnamese babies to Ireland has admitted the paperwork was forged by corrupt officials.

In a series of secretly recorded meetings, My Linh Soland told an Irish Independent reporter how the children's histories were invented.

And she told how officials at the highest level were paid to procure paperwork or to turn a blind eye about whether the adoptions were legal or ethical. Three weeks ago Ms Soland was revealed as a convicted fraudster who had tried to intimidate witnesses. She served three years in a United States prison.

But two years ago she was chosen as the only person allowed to facilitate adoptions of Vietnamese babies to Ireland. She was chosen by the Adoption Board after a series of garda checks were carried out into her background.

However, her criminal past was brought to the attention of the Board last month through documents sent by an anonymous source.

Last night a spokesman said he would not comment on any allegations of forgery or corruption by Ms Soland until the current garda investigation into the allegations is completed.

John Keegan, spokesman for the Board, said they must allow "due process" to be carried out.

He said the Vietnamese authorities have assured them that all adoptions facilitated by Soland are legitimate.

However, earlier this week Ms Soland, believing that the journalist meeting her wanted to set up a UK adoption agency based in Northern Ireland, outlined the process of misrepresentation, forgery and corruption that accompanied every Vietnamese adoption into Ireland.

During the secretly taped interview, Ms Soland described how the fraud started at a local level.

According to her, many of the children adopted by Irish people were described as "abandoned orphans" - even though the directors of the local children's homes knew exactly where their parents were living.

She said a fraudulent history was prepared because if the mother is listed as known, there has to be a police investigation, which would reduce the amount of money individuals made from each adoption.

"If you bring in the police that means more money and more people. That means deductions and the pie is cut into more pieces," she said.

"They make up the birth certificate. They declare the child abandoned even though they know the mother.

"They won't tell you. They just say 'abandoned at the gate, at the door' and they will bring out witnesses [to verify this]."

Listing the mother might also mean an investigation into whether the parents were aware of, or had given their consent to, the adoption.

Ms Soland also said that most of $4,500 humanitarian aid which Irish parents are obliged to give as part of the adoption fee is stolen and distributed through the "corrupt ring" of adoption officials.

She listed those who benefited, but the Irish Independent cannot name the individuals for legal reasons.

These large sums of money for each adoption mean that officials are motivated to separate babies from their parents even if it is unnecessary.

Children can be taken from their parents because officials claim they are abused or unfit parents. However, officials receive a substantial corrupt payment for every child that is made available for adoption by Irish parents.

Ms Soland said false receipts are produced to show that the money is spent correctly on humanitarian aid but that it is spread among officials in corrupt payments to ensure children with forged paperwork are available for adoption. She said that unless the false bills are paid, facilitators won't get the children for adoption - "but don't quote me on that".

Dr Vu Doc Long, Vietnam's State Director of International Adoptions, denies there is any problem with Vietnamese adoptions into Ireland, although he admits the humanitarian aid is not audited.

"We have no regulations covering the donations," he told the Irish Independent.

"Ms Soland does not have to show how she spent the one million dollars - it is the responsibility of the Irish Adoption Board."

Ms Soland's appointment as the Vietnamese facilitator was hailed as a clean-up of the previous corrupt process.

Adoptions had been suspended because of corruption and were only reopened with the appointment of Ms Soland and the introduction of new regulations.

According to Ms Soland, the children adopted under the previous regulations "were pulled from families".

The Irish Independent has also learned that the Irish Adoption Board received complaints from parents regarding adoptions facilitated by Ms Soland.

The complaints ranged from concerns about switching babies at the last moment to demands for extra charges not authorised by the Adoption Board. According to some adoptive parents, Ms Soland's callous attitude meant she was nicknamed 'Dr Evil' by those hoping to adopt.

According to some adoptive parents, Ms Soland's callous attitude meant she was nicknamed 'Dr Evil' by those hoping to adopt.

Mr Keegan of the Adoption Board said they have received written assurances from the Ministry of Justice in Vietnam confirming the legality of adoptions which were facilitated by Ms Soland. They were also assured that these adoptions were processed in accordance with Vietnamese legal requirements.

Ms Soland resigned from her consultancy position when her criminal record was revealed last month.

Additional reporting by

Edel Kennedy in Dublin

- Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer

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Adoption chief used Vietnam fraudster as a tour guide

By Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer
Tuesday July 11 2006

THE registrar of the Irish Adoption Board employed corrupt adoption facilitator My Linh Soland to act as a guide last week - despite the fact that she was under investigation by his organisation and the gardai.

Kiernan Gildea travelled to Vietnam with a scout group on a volunteering holiday which also included sightseeing excursions.

It was just one week after the Adoption Board announced its investigation and called in the gardai to examine Ms Soland's past.

Ms Soland (65) met Mr Gildea and the children at Ho Chi Minh airport and acted as translator and guide for the group part of the time they were in Vietnam.

The Adoption Board announced on June 16 they were investigating reports that Ms Soland had a criminal record for fraud and intimidation of witnesses.

She served three years in a US prison for fraud but two years ago was appointed as the only person authorised to facilitate Vietnamese adoptions into Ireland.

Last week, in a series of secretly recorded meetings with an Irish Independent journalist, Ms Soland revealed that all the Irish adoptions relied on forged paperwork and corrupt payments.

Believing that the journalist wanted to open an adoption agency in Northern Ireland when British adoptions reopen in the new year, My Linh detailed how children's paperwork is forged and their histories distorted to make them available for lucrative international adoption.

She also revealed that the humanitarian aid component of the fee between $4,500 and $7,000 is stolen by corrupt officials. This money then ensures that children are removed from their parents on spurious child welfare grounds or are taken illegally and put up for adoption.

But despite the international investigations that were being conducted into Ms Soland's criminal record, Mr Gildea continued with an existing arrangement to spend his holidays with Ms Soland.

The Irish Independent has seen an email sent by Mr Gildea to Ms Soland on June 20, four days after the Adoption Board announced they were investigating her past and allegations she was involved in serious criminal activity. The email was sent from Mr Gildea's Adoption Board address and states;

"Dear My Linh, I'm sorry to hear of all the trouble you're going through at the moment. . . I'm just writing to confirm that my Scouts still hope to go through with their project to paint the orphanage in Vung Tau and I hope you might still be in a position to help us as planned. . . Looking forward to seeing you next week. . . Yours sincerely, Kiernan."

Mr Gildea and his group then travelled to Vietnam where they were met by Ms Soland at Ho Chi Minh airport.

She acted as a guide and interpreter during their trip and brought them to Vung Tau orphanage which they helped to repaint.

Irish parents have recently adopted children from Vung Tau province through Ms Soland.

She also helped Mr Gildea and the group with a number of tourist excursions.

She accompanied the group acting as a fixer, guide and interpreter.

Ms Soland's association with Mr Gildea and his group continued even though the Vietnamese American was forced, in the middle of the holiday, to resign from further involvement in Vietnamese adoptions to Ireland.

Ms Soland's earned over US$1m from the 150 Irish inter-country adoptions.

John Keegan, the director of services at the Adoption Board, confirmed that Mr Gildea is on "sanctioned annual leave" and was currently uncontactable.

- Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer

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