To all my readers:
I have now received official permission from the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy (hereafter referred to as the MLSP) in Belgrade, Serbia to inform you of the events of the past several months.
In April of 2010, the family of Kaci was questioned in person by the MLSP when they appeared for the Ministry appointment to complete the adoption of their child. At that time they were asked about the involvement of Dr. Jasmina Jankovic in their adoption process, including questions about money paid to her. How they received information about the child, and other areas of Dr. Jankovic's involvement. At that time the MLSP informed Dr. Jankovic that she was to have no further contact with Kaci's family. In addition, the Velika Plana Social Center informed Ms. Jankovic that she was no longer allowed in their facility.
Over the course of the next year, although the MLSP suspected that Ms. Jankovic was continuing to facilitate adoptions in an illegal manner, they did not have substantiated evidence to confirm their suspicions, and no other families came forward with complaints.
As most of you know, during the in-country portion of my adoption process in Serbia, Dr. Jasmina Jankovic, doctor at the Zvecanska Street facility located in Belgrade, Serbia, acted as my adoption facilitator. (As she did for ALL the Serbian adoptions to US citizens, as confirmed today by the Serbian MLSP.)
During the course of my adoption, there were many issues brought to light including corruption, extortion, violations of privacy rights of children not legally available for adoption, and violations of Hague Convention regulations. Children who were not legally available for adoption were listed on the website of Reece's Rainbow. Although it was discovered there was a girl listed who was not legally registered for adoption, the director of Reece's Rainbow, Andrea Roberts, told me she had "verified the status" of all the other children. At the time my adoption was completed Reece's Rainbow was informed of the questionable activity of Dr. Jankovic, but Reece's Rainbow continued to send families into her hands.
At the end of my adoption process, I was questioned by the U.S. Embassy, and in February 2011 I was contacted by the MLSP Adoptions Unit requesting additional information, which was provided to them in the form of all email correspondence with Dr. Jankovic, along with copies of my adoption contract with About A Child, and written correspondence with Reece's Rainbow. During that same month the ministry informed Dr. Jankovic she was to have no further involvement in the adoption by a family currently in country. It was also discovered that most of the Serbian children listed on Reece's Rainbow were not legal orphans.
In May, 2011, I, along with Kaci, agreed to travel to Belgrade, Serbia in order to provide in-person testimony regarding the situations surrounding our adoptions.
On May 5th, 2011, I had a meeting with Mr. Pete Marigliano at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade. At the meeting I was informed of exactly what the Embassy is able to do for me as U.S. Citizen and adoptive families while in Belgrade, and what they are not able to do. The U.S. Embassy is well aware of my recent involvement with Cherish Our Children International, and how that organization helped me during my adoption process when it became clear that the situation in December had become an issue of my personal safety. In addition, the Embassy informed me that Dr. Jankovic had made an appearance before Embassy Staff, as well as staff from the MLSP to plead her case in the situation.
Today, May 9th, 2011, I along with Kaci appeared before the MLSP in a closed meeting. At this time we were informed that, based on their investigation, the MLSP has brought formal charges against Dr. Jankovic for violating Hague Convention regulations by conducting adoptions as an employee of the Serbian government, including but not limited to releasing private information of vulnerable children. There is also an ongoing investigation of other issues related to adoption, and a suit against her by the Zvescanska organization. These statements were signed and sworn to and subsequently entered into evidence for an upcoming trial against Dr. Jankovic.
The MLSP has also verified that although Dr. Jankovic has announced that an official communication from the MSLP was released stating Serbian adoptions are closed - a statement which was supported by Reece's Rainbow although they never verified it with the ministry - the statement absolutely untrue! The MLSP has never issued such a statement. Serbian adoptions have never been put on hold. Although families who have recently contacted the MLSP about their case, and told that no travel dates would be issued until after a certain date, there has never been a "hold" on adoptions. Because Dr. Jankovic was releasing information about children who were NOT legally available for adoption, the MLSP is now taking additional steps in the adoption approval process to assure that all children being presented are, indeed, legally free and available for International Adoption. These additional steps have added time to the adoption process.
Prior to their contact with me in February, 2011, the MLSP was completely unaware there were so many families currently interested in Serbian adoption. This has led to a high volume of emails and phone calls to the MLSP Adoption Unit, which they were not prepared to handle. Although they are trying their best, please be patient as you wait for responses from them.
There are currently approximately 40 children currently registered for International Adoption from Serbia. This information is available to families by contacting the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy Adoptions Unit directly.
The MLSP confirmed in our meeting that there are ABSOLUTELY NO healthy children being adopted out of Serbia. Also, although in the past some Roma children were registered for International Adoption, this is now a very rare occurrence as they are now being adopted by Serbian families.
The MLSP was appalled to hear that families were sending all of their financial information, including bank account numbers, social security numbers, level of income etc. directly to Dr. Jankovic. and that agencies and non-profit organizations in the U.S. were encouraging this practice of sending sensitive information to non-qualified individuals. They were equally shocked to hear that some agencies are telling families to carry large amounts of cash into the country to be handed over to their in-country facilitators. If you are working with an agency who has made such a suggestion, you are strongly encouraged to contact both the MLSP and the US Embassy with that information. It is reasonable that your ONLY expenses while completing your Serbian adoption would include:
Taxes for legal documents (birth certificate, passport, visa, etc.)
Translation fees of dossier and post adoption documents (with the going rate being approximately 8 Euro per page)
In conclusion, the MLSP is eager to move forward with a 100% transparent adoption process. Any claims that were made by Ms. Jankovic that families cannot contact the MLSP directly, and the MLSP is to be feared, is 100% false. You can feel confident that the MLSP wants nothing more than to see future U.S. adoptive families complete the adoption process without fear, and instead only with joy as they bring their children home. The MLSP is now working jointly with the U.S. Embassy to insure a smooth process for everyone.
I want to encourage each and every one of you who have had similar experiences in your adoption process to speak up. Yes, there are children's lives at stake, but extortion and bribery taking place during international adoptions runs a line very close to child trafficking, something none of us want to be party to.
Lastly, I would like to thank those of you who have offered your support over the last four months, as we very carefully took each measured step to insure that future U.S. adoptive families do not experience the fear and/or extortion that we experienced.
I especially want to thank Dean, who one year ago wanted nothing to do with adoption, and suddenly found himself in a difficult place, watching me through skype during what were sometimes some very intense situations. Even through all of this he is eager to adopt again. Only God can do that.
Please feel free to distribute this blog post to any families, past or present, involved in Serbian adoptions.