exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Owner of Strongsville agency, employees charged with conspiracy in foreign adoption cases


By John Caniglia, cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A federal grand jury charged the former owner of an international adoption agency, accusing her and others of taking part in the fraudulent procuring of adoptions, according to an indictment unsealed Friday.

Margaret Cole, 73, of Strongsville was the longtime owner of European Adoption Consultants, whose business closed when the FBI raided its offices in 2017. She is charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and making false statements to U.S. and Polish officials.

Her attorney, Roger Synenberg, declined to comment because he had not seen the charges.

Two others associated with the company, Debra Parris, 68, of Lake Dallas, Texas, and Dorah Mirembe, 41, of Kampala, Uganda, were charged with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Attorneys for Parris and Mirembe were not listed in court files.

Parris worked for the adoption agency, while the indictment said Mirembe “provided adoption-related services” to Cole’s agency.

Cole founded her business in 1991 after her 6-week-old daughter died from sudden-infant-death syndrome. She told The Plain Dealer in 1995 that she started the agency after others had denied her adoption attempts because she was more than 40 years old and already had children.

European Adoption Consultants operated in Bulgaria, China, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Honduras, India, Panama, Poland, Tanzania, Uganda and Ukraine, according to federal officials.

The indictment accused the three women of taking part in two different schemes, one involving children from Poland and the other Uganda.

In the case involving Poland, the indictment said Cole and Parris worked to transfer a child in 2015 from Poland to Parris’ relatives, who were not eligible for inter-country adoptions.

The charges said a client had sought to adopt one child, but the child had a sibling, and there was pressure to take both children. Parris’ relatives took the second child.

The indictment said the child later had been injured with Parris’ relatives. The charges said Cole lied to authorities in Poland to keep profiting from the adoption of children there.

In the investigation in Uganda, the indictment said Parris and Mirembe paid bribes to judges and welfare officials to adopt children from 2013 to 2016. Many of the children whose adoptions were procured through bribes and fraud “were not properly determined to be orphans,” the indictment said.

One of the people who worked for the company, Robin Longoria of suburban Dallas, also admitted to paying bribes to Ugandan officials to gain adoptions, according to the charges.

She has since pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. She is expected to learn her sentence in October.

2020 Aug 14