exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Niels' blog

by Niels on Friday, 01 August 2008

In many of the discussions I follow on the internet, the Romanian situation keeps returning when talking about banning inter-country adoption. Not so much by those that oppose inter-country adoption as an example of a successful ban, but quite to the contrary, by proponents of inter-country adoption as a failed attempt.

The arguments used by proponents usually take two forms, either they address the abandonment figures, or the situation of disabled children.


Contrary to popular belief, the abandonment situation in Romania has very much improved since the ban on inter-country adoption was instituted. In early 2005 Unicef published a bleak report saying the situation of abandonment had not changed compared to 10, 20 or 30 years ago, a report that was based on figures compiled in a period the moratorium on inter-country adoption had just been instituted.

This report is stuck in people's minds and the lobby to reopen adoptions from Romania gladly wants to maintain that image in order to claim Romania's ban on inter-country adoption was a disaster for the children in that country.

by Niels on Monday, 28 July 2008

In an interview with Le Parisien, The French Secretary of State in charge of foreign affairs and human rights, Rama Yade, has announced she is creating some sort of Peace Corps for international adoption.

Each year we adopt in France 3 000 to 4 000 children, but painfully. Between 2006 and 2007, we recorded a decline of over 20% of international adoption in France for example while in Italy it increased by 9%.

So in order stay competitive with the Italians, who obviously manage to do better in recruiting children for international adoption, the French will now train an army of young volunteers to facilitate adoption by French families. The younsters will be will be sent out to several third world countries, to begin with Cambodia, followed by four other countries in October and the remaining 74 countries in 2009 and onwards. They will stay on site for two years.

The project will be funded both by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European private companies.

The interview appeared in an article called: Des Peace Corps à la française afin d’aider les familles, which roughly translates to: French Peace Corps to help the families. It is clear the French are most of all interested in their claims for children, not so much in the interest of the children involved. France, now preceding the Council of the European Union, is expected to push forward new European legislation to expedite international adoption. The push for faster and more adoptions is supported by Italy, that like France is facing a growing demand for children.

by Niels on Friday, 25 July 2008

It was little over a month ago, I still believed Masha Allen was probably well taken care of, after her ordeal with Matthew Mancuso. Call me stupid, call me naive, but I believed the Allegheny County Department of Human Services would certainly in a case like Masha's, take all precautions possible to make sure her second placement would be done right, if not for Masha's interest (which it should be), then at least for their own sake.  

Much to my surprise I found an entry on James Marsh' blog on June 17, containing just a single link pointing to an article called One Child's Unending Abuse - From Disney World Girl to Drifter, which reveals a claim made by James Marsh against several Pennsylvanian organizations and individuals responsible for the Masha's second placement. In Masha Allen betrayed again, I go in more detail about that claim.

Yesterday, July 24, James Marsh created a special section on his blog under the eery title omens:

Starting today I will begin posting noteworthy harbingers with the hope that readers will consider this from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: "we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." I will refer to these tidbits as omens; something either good or evil that is believed to foretell the future.

What follows is a collection of publicly available material that could be seen as red flags in Masha's adoption by Faith Allen/Lynn Ginn/ Kimberly Murphy or any of the other names Masha's adoptive mother goes by. Faith Allen is been described as mentally unstable and deemed unfit to adopt or foster children, yet with the help of Judge Cheryl Allen, with whom Faith had lived for some time and in whose honour she had her name changed, was able to adopt Masha Allen, without having FBI clearance, without a complete and competent home study and despite three abuse allegations against her.

by Niels on Monday, 21 July 2008

In several posts made over the last week, references were made about the role being played by churches in both child placement practices and child abuse. The most severe cases of child abuse in church run child placement facilities known, revolve around the Congregation of Christian Brothers.

Established in the early 19th century by Irish merchant Edmund Ignatius Rice, the Christian Brothers were a religious community dedicated to teaching disadvantaged youths. In the second half of the century as part of the child migration movement, the Christian Brothers spread out to Australia and Newfoundland, Canada, where they established schools and orphanages.

The most notorious of all orphanages was Mount Cashel in St. John's Newfoundland, an all boys home established in 1875.

In the late 1980's allegations of sexual and physical abuse led to the so-called Hughes inquiry, which concluded that several hundred boys were systematically abused, both sexually and physically by the members of the congregation. They also concluded that officials had transferred offenders and covered up the abuse at Mount Cashel. Eleven Christian Brothers were eventually convicted and sentenced to between 4 months and 11 years in prison.

by Niels on Tuesday, 24 June 2008

It's been less than a week ago that I wrote in my blog post Masha Allen Betrayed Again: "

I know of at least 77 cases that eventually made the news and that's only a tip of the iceberg


Since writing that post I've been spending a lot of time on our abuse cases list. For quite some time it had bugged me we had only a few articles about Masha Allen, knowing their was much more out there. When I first started working on the list, hers was the first case I added, but knowing how much there was still to come, I only added a few of the key articles, knowing I would get back to it one day. That day was last week and now I feel the article archive we have on her case is as complete as possible.

Encouraged by the help I got from Kimette, I've been spending more time on the list than ever before and eventually we were able to find 108 cases. That doesn't mean we have everything covered that is published on the internet. It just means I am going to take a short break from it after I finished this post. It's not good for my mental health to work too hard on this stuff. It's heart breaking material and after several days I get really sick of it.

by Niels on Saturday, 14 June 2008

On June 6, the Committee on the Rights of Children of the United Nations Human Rights office, published a report about measures taken in the United States of America regarding: sales of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

It's 11 pages long, so I am not going to publish it in its entirety here, though I made it available as a PDF attached to this post.

In the report the following observations are made, which I would like to highlight here:

The Committee welcomes the recent ratification of the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption and notes that the Department of State (DOS) has been identified as the Central Authority. In this respect, the Committee is concerned about the fact that for-profit persons may be approved to perform Central Authority functions, though they must comply with the requirements and qualifications indicated in article 22, paragraphs 2 (a) and (b) of the Hague Convention, including integrity, professional competence and accountability.

Not only may for-profit organizations and persons be accredited, they are. At the time of writing these for-profit organizations are listed on the state department's website:

by Niels on Saturday, 14 June 2008

Tonight I watched part of the soccer match between the Netherlands and France at the European Championship in Switzerland. I'm not a big fan of watching sports, but sometimes, when half the nation here is infected with soccer fever, I watch a game or two.

When the match was over one of the Dutch players went to side line, picked up his toddler and carried it onto the field, to take part in the euphoria of winning the game. After that several of his team players followed suit. It had been a good match and though I enjoyed watching it, I'm just too little a sports fan to get really excited over it, so seeing these players with their children was for me by far the best moment of the evening. I thought what it must feel like 10 to 15 years from now, being that child and seeing back that footage.

When I got back to my laptop to see what had happened on this website, I found a PM that pointed me to another athlete, former football player Rich Tylski. Where the Dutch soccer players showed their children triumph and shared excitement, Tylski and his wife Jane showed their adopted daughter a belt, the surface of a table and eventually the inside of a hospital.

What a world of difference. The girl adopted by the Tylski's was only 6 years old at the time charges were pressed against her adopters for abuse that had been going on for 3 years at the time. So when the abuse started she must have been as old as the children I saw in the arms of their soccer playing dads on the television today. The soccer player's children were in the spotlight for a few minutes and whether they remember this event 10 to 15 years from now remains to be seen, while the girl adopted by the Tylski's will live with the memory of pain and abuse for the rest of her life.


by Niels on Friday, 13 June 2008

Yesterday I came across an article called Operation Zip Code, which revolved around the theme: where you live determines the quality of your health care. It mentions several of the medical practice hot-spots, where people are several times more likely to receive for example knee surgery than on average or where the hospitalization rates are much higher than in the rest of the country.

When I read the article I thought how that applies to child placement too. Unfortunately there aren't that many statistics maintained on child placement. So we have to do with little that we have.

In 2000 the US census, for the first time, asked about adoptive status. A true hot-spot based upon that data is Alaska, where 3.9% of the children under 18 in a household are adopted, compared to Puerto Rico, where that number is only 1.1%. The census also asked about step children and here the popularizing effect of former president  Clinton for that theme has worked, because Arkansas takes the lead with 8.5% of the children in a household being stepchildren. The lowest figure can be found in the District of Columbia, where this number is 2.1%. In general the percentage of stepchildren in a household is much higher in the South than anywhere else, with the North East having the lowest figures.

Another source of information is the Administration for Children & Family of the US Department of Health and Human Services, which maintain statistics about public agency adoption in the US. Here the District of Columbia clearly takes the lead, with Hawaii as a close runner up, while Puerto Rico and Maryland close the list.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway has all sorts of information about adoption and foster care, including lists of licensed agencies per state. Though the information is not all that accurate, the number one position of Pennsylvania, remains undisputed even after further perusal. With 206 agencies, Pennsylvania has by far the largest number of private adoption agencies in the USA. Especially in and around Philadelphia is a real concentration of agencies an influence that is even noticeable on the other side of the Delaware, where quite some agencies seem to like Cherry Hill, New Jersey as their domicile.

by Niels on Monday, 26 May 2008

Focus on Adoption, so adequately coined a Rogues Gallery by James Marsh, seems to have made internal changes as of late. Reviewing the who we are section of their website, it is plainly evident that Jeanene Smith no longer serves as treasurer.

Given Jeanene Smith's bad reputation as a result of the Masha Allen case it is no wonder that the ex-excutive director of Reaching Out Thru International Adoption has become a persona non-grata. But why now? Why not years ago, when it became evident that ROTIA was completely negligent in their post-adoption services? Was it only because ROTIA (renamed into ChildPromise in 2006) went out of business only a few months ago? Was it just the marketplace that dictated the removal of Jeanene Smith?
It can't have been the ethical motivations of Focus on Adoption.

There is more to the "who we are" page that has changed. The bio's of all board members have been removed. Is Debbie Spivack still affiliated with Focus on Adoption, what happened to Carl Jenkins, is Families Thru International Adoption still represented in the person of Chris Huber? All we do know is our view on Focus on Adoption has become even more blurred than it already was.

by Niels on Saturday, 24 May 2008

When late February we started our Abuse Cases section, I had foreseen we could only show the tip of an iceberg, but I hadn't foreseen the size of that tip. Since the incarnation of that section the list of cases has grown with the following recent cases:

It's a sick world we live in. And now there is this:

from: djournal.com

Death of 2-year-old called a homicide in Union County

5/21/2008 6:16:54 AM
Daily Journal

NEW ALBANY - What was thought to be an extreme case of neglect leading to a child's death has been ruled a homicide.

Union County Sheriff Tommy Wilhite said Tuesday that a preliminary autopsy report for a 2-year-old who died in a Memphis hospital Sunday night proved that the child's death was not an accident.

Ramone and Janet Barreto, the child's adoptive parents, were initially charged with two counts of child neglect and with the new information could be charged with a more severe crime, Wilhite said.

"The report did rule the child's death as homicide," said Wilhite. "We're still investigating the crime, so no new charges have been given at this time. There is still a lot we have to look at.

The 2-year-old was one of nine adopted children ranging from ages 2 to 17 living at the home at 824 County Road 87 near New Albany. The other eight children are in custody of the Department of Human Services on Tuesday. No signs of abuse were found with the other children.

Nearly all the children were Guatemalan, according to Wilhite. The ones who aren't Guatemalan aren't American, but their nationalities are unclear.

Deputies also are still investigating a puppy breeding operation on the property, which they discovered while looking into child-abuse reports after the 2-year-old was taken to the hospital.

Nearly 200 dogs, 25 cats and a duck were found crammed into 67 cages behind the home. Wilhite said the dogs were bred to sell puppies.

The Tupelo-Lee Humane Society was granted custody of the animals. Its staff and volunteers are keeping them fed and hydrated on the site until a clean, off-site location can be found.

At that point, each pet will receive a veterinary exam, medical care, grooming, vaccinations and spay or neuter operations. They will be adopted out to the public after that point.

"These animals are all going to need to be sedated or anesthesized and shaved entirely," said Mississippi State University School of Veterinary Medicine Professor Phil Bushby, one of the two veterinarians dispatched to the house Tuesday.

About the only good news was that the animals apparently had been well fed, said veterinarian Sonya Bryan from Tupelo's All-Animal Hospital.

Otherwise, the situation was bleak.

"As far as the overall condition," she said, "I've never seen anything like it."

Daily Journal reporter Emily Le Coz contributed to this story.