Monday, February 18th, 2019

The Dark Side of International Adoption: When Naivety Turns Criminal

Published on March 19, 2014 by   ·   No Comments Pin It

In 2008, Dina McQueen and her husband, Brian, traveled to Ethiopia to bring their one year old daughter home. Her journey to motherhood is chronicled in her book, Finding Aster: Our Ethiopian Adoption Story (Inkwater Press, 2011.) Little did she know while writing the book that the red flags she detailed would foretell the March 2014 indictment of the main players of the adoption agency they used.

The Dark Side of International Adoption: When Naivety Turns Criminal

Aster & Dina

Aster & Dina

Those of you who read my blog by now will likely know that four employees of the adoption agency we used to facilitate our adoption have been indicted. (One presumed to be living in Ethiopia, the in-country representative named Tefere in my book, has a warrant out for his arrest.) I have remained silent here simply because I do not know where to begin. One day, I will write Book II and the sequel of our adoption journey will be available for public consumption. At this time, however, for those of you who may be curious to hear how I feel about the intuition expressed throughout my book (most of it written during 2008, the start of IAG’s descent towards its indictment), I will be brief, but, yes, I will speak.

Recently, I received an email from a reader seeking my guidance about which adoption agency I could recommend for an Ethiopian adoption. This email arrived shortly after the indictment was made public, and the inquiry seemed naive; through my perspective, everybody considering international adoption must know how corrupt the process has become. I now realize, I’m the naive one if I think there is nobody left who hasn’t read about the plethora of criminal acts surrounding Ethiopian adoption.

So, for those of you starry-eyed prospective adoptive parents of an Ethiopian child, now would be the time to remove those rose-colored glasses. There is no longer a place for romanticism when contemplating international adoption; those days are over.

Thus, for the record let me express my opinion: I have come to believe, at least until a complete overhaul of the system has been accomplished, that couples seeking to grow their family through adoption must at least consider going domestic.

* * *

From the Epilogue in Finding Aster: “… I never accepted how little information we were given. From current [2010] research I now know that the story we were told is common: mother too sick and/or poor, father ‘unknown.’ Before Aster became a legal citizen of the United Sates of America, I needed to let my concerns go. I could not afford to irritate the wrong person for fear, I thought, that our adoption would for some ridiculous excuse be halted.” (page 167.)

I now know that the anxiety I felt about not doing/saying anything that would piss the wrong person off was not ridiculous. Those in charge—then—did use their manipulative, criminal power to intimidate us, the adoptive parents, in order for them to keep their multi-million dollar fraudulent business thriving. I could beat myself up for not taking my pre-adoption intuitions more seriously. However, I won’t do that to myself; it’s clear now that if I had, another couple would be raising our daughter.

* * *

Last night, in the dim, pre-sleep light of her cozy bedroom, as I lay next to my daughter she spoke in her “little” voice. “Mama,” she quietly said. “… I miss Mama.”

Our noses nearly touched we were so close, so I knew she couldn’t be speaking about me. I wanted to make sure, though, so I inquired. “Your birth mother?”

“Yes,” she said. “I haven’t seen her since I was a baby.”

The emotions are layered, thick, and sticky, as I continue to unravel slivers of truth. Not sure how such a seemingly win-win way to grow one’s family could coalesce into such a messy, complicated, blessed union of disparate parts. However, why-ever, we–our adoption triad–have become family. One distant yet connected family. And though the future has yet to find its clear path, we rest easy knowing there is a future. For us all.


*In upcoming posts I will slowly introduce how we came to know that much of what IAG told us–before, during, and after–were lies.
She lives in multi-cultural Reston, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and cat.

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