exposing the dark side of adoption
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Holy Who's Your Daddy! Should we be surprised that the National Council for Adoption--or at least its member agencies and adoptocrat friends in high places--have spearheaded a campaign to censor the scheduled December 1 ABC Primetime feature on the Russian adoptee known as "Disney World Girl" who was grossly sexually abused by her "forever father"?

In case you don't remember, in 1998 "Disney World Girl" also identified as "Mea," or "Masha" was adopted from a Russian orphanage at age 5 by wealthy Pittsburgh pedophile Matthew Mancuso for the sole purpose of sexually abusing her and selling pictures on the Internet of his nightly rape rendevous. Mancuso is currently serving a 15 1/2 year federal term for a 2003 conviction of trafficking obscene material on the Internet. On November 14 he was sentenced in Allegheny County Common Pleas court to another to 35-70 years state time on 11 counts: rape of a child, aggravated indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, unlawful restraint, incest, corruption of a minor, child endangering, and 2 charges each of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child and indecent assault of a child under age 13.

From the beginining, Masha and her new adoptive mother, identified only as "Faith" refused to roll over. They did the unspeakable: broke out of the politically correct warm and fuzzy adoption cocoon, courageously telling Masha's story to the press and public. They not only demanded justice for Masha (which is perfectly acceptable even in Bizarro AdoptionLand) but to drop the dime on the "adoption professionals" who delivered the girl, directly into Mancuso's hands. Bad adoptee. Bad mom!

Back in 2002 when Masha's story broke, not surprisingly, there was barely a peep out of NCFA and its cronies. Not that anybody thought all this was fine and dandy, of course, but as usual, the industry chose to remain silent after a few perfunctorily sympathetic squawks and hand wrings. The only reference I found to Masha on a search of NCFA's webpage last night is a CNN International's Insights transcript of an interview dated June 8, 2005 with NCFA CEO and president Tom Atwood around the time of the Pavlis case. Atwood, is also quoted in the November 18, 2005 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reminding us that no matter how horrible this case is, over 49,000 Russian children have been adopted by American families "and this is the only instance like this that we're aware of." (my emphasis). Apparently the Beltway air has fuzzied Mr. Atwood's memory. He forgot to mention the numerous cases of reported physical and sexual abuse against Russian adoptees in the US and the 12 Russian adoptees murdered by their forever parents. (NOTE: The Trib-Post is owned by radical rightwing financier Richard Mellon Scaife whose Scaife Family Foundation handed out $104,000 (free registration/sign-in required for access) in grants to NCFA between (no purpose stated). The foundation is acknowledged for its financial support in NCFA's 2000 coffeetable propaganda centerpiece, NCFA Factbook 3.

It's another story, of course, now that things are getting tight with the Russian Duma which will decide very soon on whether to maintain Russia-US adoption trade or at least restrict it. Bad publicity over Russia-US adoptions needs to be contained and controlled. After all, last year alone, US adopters shelled out $67 million for Russian child acquisition. Sorry, Masha! As I've said hundred times, in AdoptionLand both money AND bullshit talk while we walk. Better to muzzle a 13-year old girl speaking truth to the adoption industry than break the honeypot.

I guess the lobbyists, money grubbers, special interesters, and adoption agents think that Masha should just be grateful Mancuso didn't beat her to death with a wooden spoon, crack her head on the edge of the bath tub, or starve her. Oops my bad! He did starve her! (more about that in a minute).

In 1998 Matthew Mancuso, now 47, a divorced and retired engineer, with a poor relationship with his adult daughter and ex-wife (who reportedly were never interviewed, or even contacted during Mancuso's home study and adoption process), adopted Masha from a Russian orphanage after seeing her in an adoption agency video. She had been placed in the orphanage a year earlier after her alcoholic mother stabbed her in the back of the head (some reports say neck). The first night Daddy and Daughter were safe and secure and alone in their nice suburban Pittsburgh home Daddy told Masha he loved her, then made her sleep naked with him in his bed. For the next four years he raped her nightly in that same bed--except when he took her on yearly trips to Orlando where he raped her Disney World hotel beds.

The monster took pictures of the rapes and sold them on the internet.

The monster forced her to shower with him.

The monster, at the onset of Masha's puberty, to keep her body from developing, and thus remain attractive to him and his pervert Internet friends, starved her. In 2002 when she came to live with Faith, Masha suffered from calcium deficiency because she wasn't allowed milk or other dairy products. She ate plain spaghetti and raw vegetables. She weighed 52 pounds.

The monster did other things so bad that the press could not report them.

Masha never stopped believing that the nightmare would end.

Masha knew that she would never forget what the monster did to her and that someday everyone would know.

Masha probably never suspected, however, that once she escaped from the monster's clutches that she would be re-vicimized by the industry who put her in his clutches to start with.

A couple weeks ago, despite not knowing the intent of Primetime much less the content of the show which was still in production, adoption agencies and industrialists, with or without the support of NCFA, circulated a "save the orphans" plea on Internet adoption lists and forums panicking paps and adopters to "bombard" ABC with notes of disgust and rage over Masha's "negative adoption story." Here is part of the whine taken from the A Helping Hand Adoption Agency site (cut here for space--go to link and scroll down the page for entire message) but duplicated throughout the the 'net:

Negative Adoption Show to air on Primetime, ABC- Orphans need your help:

November 14, 2005

....We understand that this is going to be very negative - equating international adoption with human trafficking. The National Council for Adoption has insisted that they be interviewed to show the positive side of international adoption.

We would like to see ABC news bombarded with emails from the adoption community letting them know the detrimental effect a one sided story can have not just on Russian adoptions but all international adoptions; thousands of families and children may be harmed by an unbalanced story. We will be very grateful for your support, as will all the children, around the world, who await their forever families....

Former NCFA board member Richard Van Deelan, director of Michigan's Adoption Associates (again edited for space) wrote on his agency page:

As most people in the world of adoption know, right now is an important time for international adoption in Russia. So now could not be a worse time for the U.S. media to portray international adoption in a negative light. ABC news Primetime is scheduled to air a story on November 17 highlighting an adopted Russian girl who was involved in a United States pornography scandal. The tone of this story is very negative and any misleading information about international adoption could cause problems with future adoptions. The crime this little girl was forced to endure is deplorable, but it must be known that the vast majority of adoptions are completed by loving, caring families. This story could cast a very bad light on international adoption and all the good that has been done for thousands of children worldwide....

And let's not forget the Russian adoption forums (FRUA, for example, but not limited to it) where, with a few admirable exceptions, any criticism of Russia-US adoption is met with hands-flung-up flop sweat, horror, vilification, insults, deep denial, and quirky paranoia. Posters who know nothing about Masha's case, many desperate for "a child of my own" accept what agencies and their PR flacks feed them, have dismissed posts from adoption reform insiders who actually do know something about it. Some have even personalized the show; complaining the broadcast will insult their Russian-born adopted children--strip them of their dignity-- though they never explain how. Not surprisingly they have implied that the program will reflect poorly on them--and (God forbid!) their agencies. Of course, the forces of greed (adoptive mother Faith's greed to be specific) and network sensationialism have forced Masha into the limelight.. If these well-intentioned know-it-alls bothered to take a few moments to visit their best 'net friend Google they'd know that Masha, an extremely bright, articulate, and aware young woman, has always been vocal about her experience and Mancuso's prosecution--and went to the media herself to get her story into the public consciouosness to hopefully protect other potential victims from the monster's friends and from adoption agency incompetence.

No one says that Russian child welfare, adoption and court authorities do not share the blame for this adoption atrocity. The corrupt lackadaisical Russian system itself must be held to the fire. But that's not the point. This mess was created in the US by co-mingled and incestuous adoption "services" and "professionals" who make millions of dollars a year off the misery and need of others. The attempt on the US side to censor Masha's story and the adoption industry's attempt to cover up the story, however, is the point.

David Conti, reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review names names. This is how the adoption came down.

It started with what's called a "home study," which was completed in 1997 by Nancy Simpronio, then director of the Pittsburgh-based Family Adoption Center.

Mancuso hired the center to do the study, which is required by state law for all adoptions. After interviewing him, seeing his home, checking his tax returns, medical condition and criminal background -- he had no previous arrests -- Simpronio recommended Mancuso be approved.

"Mr. Mancuso is very capable, willing and well-prepared to provide a stable and loving home," she wrote in the home study.

Simpronio left her job several years ago and could not be reached for comment. Rick Baird, the president of Adagio Health, which took over the Family Adoption Center, called Mancuso a "monster" who "figured out how to beat the system." "Everything was done according to state guidelines," Baird said. "He did not exhibit any symptoms of this behavior before."

The adoption was coordinated by a New Jersey woman, Jeannene Smith, who at the time was working with the Indiana-based Families Thru International Adoption.

Keith Wallace, the executive director of that group, said he fired Smith before the adoption was completed in 1998. She in turn formed a group called Reaching Out Thru International Adoption, which Wallace said handled the adoption and was supposed to check on the girl.

Debbie Spivack, the executive director of Smith's group, did not return a call for comment. Smith could not be reached.

You may not know these names, but they are important names. This crew of "adoption professionals" are not amateurs. They are not freelancers. They are not shysters. They are not the corner Mom & Pop Adoption Store.

While there is much more known and much more to say about these "experts," below are documented facts taken from their own sources.

The Family Adoption Center now operated by Adagio Health, had been licensed in Pennsylvania since January 1983. Former director Nancy Simpronio who performed Mancuso's home study has placed at least 200 infants during her professional tenure.

Jeannene Smith who coordinated the adoption out of New Jersey for Families Thru International Adoption, is the treasurer of the international adoption advocacy organization Focus on Adoption. According to her biography published on the Focus page (no date), she is the founder and CEO of Reaching Out Thru International Adoption, "a non-profit humanitarian aid and child placement organization." It states that she has provided testimony and position statements to Congressional leaders and the media on various aspects of international adoption--as well as child trafficking. Smith is a well-known and respected member of the The Joint Council on International Children Services (JCICS), the largest and oldest affiliation of licensed non-profit adoption organizations in the world. Smith, according to the Focus page (no date), is the chair of its Cambodian Caucus, and serves on the JCICS Hague Committee and Ethics Committee. She also served on the the JCICS Hague Regulations Committee and the Advisory Council on Intercountry Adoption (ACIA) Hague committee. In other words, Jeanneane Smith is a serious player in US international adoption trade, practice, and policy. As noted by Conti, she was fired by Family Adoption Center before Masha's adoption was completed, but I have been unable so far to learn the reason for that firing.

Debbie Spivack, Reaching Out's executive director, is the chair of the JCICS Azerbaijan Caucus and the co-chair of the Government Affairs Committee. She was also a member of ACIA and the JCICS Hague Regulations Committee.

Not surprisingly Families Thru International Adoption and Reaching Out Thru International Adoption are accredited members of JCICS.

Is it any wonder that the adoption industry is bunkering in? If this is the "best and brightest" the US international adoption trade has to offer--the professional experts who refused to secure Masha's health, welfare, safety, and happiness as they were professionally and morally mandated to do--then what can we expect from the less lights?

Responsible and honest adoption professionals should welcome such an examination as Masha, Faith, and Primetime offer, but instead, they gather their wagons to protect the holy--and lucrative--institution of adoption against the truth to power courage of a 13-year old girl.

The Cowards of Adoption should be called out, publicly shamed and ridiculed for their attempt to censor the free flow of information (should we be surprised?) and to silence Masha and her mother. We hope that those in the trade who abhor strong-arm attempts to keep the public in ignorance about Masha and other corrupt cases will speak out with us. Or will the US adoption industry show itself as corrupt and as the Catholic Bishops who denied, ignored, abused, bribed, and silenced those thousands who were harmed and sometimes destroyed while under their "protection"?

Send your support of Masha and Primetime Masha who has shown more courage than most of the adoption deform community could muster in 25 years at abc.news.magazine@abc.com.

Masha is a true Heroine of Adoption!

Posted by Marley Greiner at 8:09 PM

2005 Nov 29