Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I feel like I'm beating my head against a wall

Wow....just wow....If you could see my inbox, and the emails I have received directly or that have been forwarded to me by people, that is what you would be saying. Wow.

I am absolutely shocked at some of the things that have been said, some of them by people who are often worshiped in the international special needs adoption community. I would like you to read this post, if you will. Then come back and read some more of my venting.

I am tired of being called a liar. I would like to know what my motivation would be to post this, then volunteer the contact information for the authorities in Serbia so you can verify it for yourself? I don't care who you are, contact me and I will give you that information without asking a single question of you. Perhaps some of you making the claims of "She's fabricated all of it" should have contacted the authorities MONTHS ago! Does that make ANY sense at all? There were eight people in that meeting on Monday, two Americans, one Serbian/American, one Serbian citizen, and four Serbian government officials. Do you honestly think NONE of them look at this blog and would say nothing if  they saw me post something about that meeting that was untrue? Just where, exactly, do you think that would get me?

I will not post emails that were forwarded to me. But I will post emails sent directly to me. I am tired of receiving emails like this one from Amy O., a name many of you know in the international adoption community.

Unfortunately, you are obviously you are a bit naive about adoption proceedings internationanally.  It is the case in each country worldwide that you either use independently or through an agency a person or team that is hired directly or through an agency that all see your personal information. You are never given the legal back ground of any person you use for any assistance in any country.  This is true for China, Russia, Estonia, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Serbia, Phillipines, Korea, well all of them actually. Each and every international adoption occurs because your complete dossier is sent to people you don't konw personally reads, translates and submits your dossier for acceptance.  In fact, Serbia out of all of the countries in the world that can be adopted from is in fact one of the ones where the least amount of people view your dossier and the costs are the lowest in the world and one of the least corrupt. Yes, you read that right out of dozens of countries you can adopt from as a US citizen,Serbia was the cheapest, easiest least corrupt process IN THE WORLD----- IN THE WORLD, LEAH, IN THE WORLD UNTIL YOU.  I have been working with international adoptions for over 12 years, several countries, Hague and not, independent and not and we have seen the cheapest easiest country in the world to adopt from now go down the drain right in front of our eyes since you adopted.  I think in your mind you have some sort of intention that you are doing something good, but instead we have seen children who were adopted purely because a small group of people were adovocating for the children see those children, the adoption numbers country wide go up signficantly.  Now that will be turned over to agencies who will benefit financially now and the families interested in those children will pay 20X's as much to go through an agency as they did without. Is this better, is this less corrupt? No, just a new cow will get milked. What was one of the best processes in the world, not perfect, not Leah's ideal world, but in the relative look at the world wide adoption community.  But you choose not to look at the world wide situation and the best situation for the children but instead wanted your perfect, the typical American wanting their version of the world.  This very very naive opinion will cost everyone. I am sad you don't see it but there is now nothing we can do, the ministry is now denying adoptions of families I had coming for children because of you.  We have in fact been told the children will be referred out through an US agency that currently charges $40,000 for an adoption.  I am so glad we adopted before you applied, I look at my child and I say thank you Jesus for sending us to her before Leah adopted so we could see the good, the caring, the truth the way things should have been before you.  Somehow we were guided to her before this all changed and we did not have to live through the hell that the families that have applied now have to live through now being told they can no longer have that child they know is waiting but now their advocacy is no longer acceptable. I pray for those children that they will not be forsaken for your own pride being hurt, for your own glory, for your own child you were told you could not have does not now cost others their children. 
I think of the story of Soloman, you might know the story, which woman are you Leah?
"Two young women who lived in the same house and who both had an infant son came to Solomon for a judgment. One of the women claimed that the other, after accidentally smothering her own son while sleeping, had exchanged the two children to make it appear that the living child was hers. The other woman denied this and so both women claimed to be the mother of the living son and said that the dead boy belonged to the other.After some deliberation, King Solomon called for a sword to be brought before him. He declared that there is only one fair solution: the live son must be split in two, each woman receiving half of the child. Upon hearing this terrible verdict, the boy's true mother cried out, "Please, My Lord, give her the live child—do not kill him!" However, the liar, in her bitter jealousy, exclaimed, "It shall be neither mine nor yours—divide it!" Solomon instantly gave the live baby to the real mother, realizing that the true mother's instincts were to protect her child, while the liar revealed that she did not truly love the child. The reputation of the king greatly increased when all the people of Israel heard of this wise judgment."

Do not forsake the children for your own selfish wishes.

Here is what I don't get and here is where I'm going to loose my tempter....

People think **I** brought this on! WHAT??? WHAT????? This makes my head spin in confusion! I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING!!!!!!! I answered questions asked of me by government officials!!!!!!! First U.S Officials, then Serbian. If **YOU** were contacted by government officials, and asked the same questions, what would you do??? Would you LIE???? I know that some of you HAVE! I, along with the MLSP have SEEN the emails sent by Dr. Jasmina Jankovic asking people to LIE and say they paid her nothing!!! How many of  YOU LIED?????

I have heard time and time again that I "did this" because of my own anger or, as the email above states, my own "selfish wishes". WHAT? I didn't "DO" anything other than HONESTLY answer the questions asked of me.

The email above is just one over the course of several months, written to make me feel bad for doing something I had no control over. It is not my fault I was questioned! The email above is exactly why others who are having problems in other countries refuse to say anything when they, too, have had problems in their adoption process. There is NO support in this community when you run into a problem such as I have experienced. There is only ostracism and attacks like the one I posted above. It is for this very reason people are becoming afraid of adopting from places like Ukraine. They have heard about the extortion by some of the Ukraine facilitators, and they have heard from families who received absolutely no support from their US based agencies or organizations when that happened. Yes, I worked with Reece's Rainbow, and no, I have not heard one single word from Andrea Roberts regarding this issue. Over the course of four months, I have received not one single reply to any email sent to her, other than to answer a question regarding grant money disbursement.  Although she has never asked me for clarification herself, she has told people in private emails that I am lying and that much of what I have said is "fabricated".  I did have contact with my representative from About A Child (who also happens to work with Reece's Rainbow) but her responses were in the capacity of agency rep.) but that agency turned around and paid Dr. Jankovic an additional 1000 euros, wired to her directly,  to pacify her! The words "We don't want to burn one bridge before we've built another" were used. After my adoption was complete, and the all of the problems during my and other adoptions were brought to light, Reece's Rainbow and About A Child continued to work with the same facilitator, even after other families had come forward.

People are of the mistaken opinion that Serbian adoptions will now be even more expensive because of this mess that I supposedly created.

1) One, I didn't create the mess. It was created by Dr. Jasmina Jankovic by what I think was a simple, honest error on the visa paperwork. This lead the U.S. Embassy to start asking me questions, which lead to other questions, which lead to a lot of paranoia on the part of both Serbian and U.S. individuals who were a little freaked out that I was questioned. Also, this investigation was started a FULL YEAR prior my adoption. The MLSP stated time and again that they determined Dr. Jankovic was doing this for nothing more than personal gain, and had been watching her for more than a year before I came along!!!!

2)  The email above mentions an agency charging $40,000+ for a Serbian adoption. Well, they were doing that BEFORE! They started advertising that MONTHS ago. (actually, right around the time I came home, I believe.) They also state they have "recieved approval from the Serbian government and is accepting applications for inter-country adoption". The ministry officials in the adoption unit have never given any agency "approval" for anything. They are familiar with the claims that agency is making and stated in our meeting that was a LIE. The ministry also claims to have not had any contact with that particular agency. They were also appalled to hear that agency is asking people to bring HUGE sums of cash with them for their adoption facilitator, not to mention the claims this agency is making to families about the types of children they can hope to adopt, and the timeframe in which it will happen.

3) There is now a cooperative effort between the MLSP (Serbian government) and the U.S. Embassy regarding Serbia's adoption process to keep it intact, and keeping it as inexpensive...actually less expensive...than it has been since it began. Something you would discover for yourself if you actually contacted the MLSP and asked questions yourself.

4) Depending upon the type of accommodations you like to stay in, your expenses in country - including hotel, in-country transportation, translation services (both written and spoken) - should not cost more than around $3500 if you stay in country for 21 days. I paid those expenses, plus a facilitation fee of 4000 Euro ($ 6500 U.S. dollars including the bank fee)

5) there are plenty of HONEST people in Serbia willing to help you complete the in-country part of your adoption. I can put you in contact with Cherish Our Children International, a  U.S. based NON-PROFIT organization who wants nothing more than to see the children of Serbia get out of the institutions and into families. They will also give you the receipts you need for tax purposes. The U.S. Embassy and the MLSP are aware of this organization, and know exactly what happens for the families working with them. Cherish Our Children International has met with BOTH the U.S. Embassy, and the MLSP. You can verify this for yourself by contacting them the Embassy and the MLSP. I personally participated in both meetings.

6) Families are still not required to use an adoption agency to adopt from Serbia. If you are working with an agency who is asking for tens of  thousands of dollars to do what you can EASILY do yourself, PUT THE PHONE DOWN AND WALK AWAY! Adoption from Serbia **is** easy compared to many other countries. It is also the cheapest country to adopt from. But keep in mind, if anyone promises you a healthy child from Serbia, WALK AWAY! There are only approximately 40 children registered for international adoption from Serbia, and it was verified Monday that every single one of them has "significant special needs, some of them very severe". (keep in mind that "severe" in Serbia is very different than "severe" in the U.S.) (*note* I say "approximately" 40 because at the time of our meeting with the MLSP they did not have a list of the children sitting right there, so this was the estimate given.)

7) If any more emails accusing me of lying and falsifying information come through my box I am going to start filing slander and/or defamation of character law suits.  NOTHING I have said on my blog is untrue, and ALL can be verified by contacting both the US Embassy and the Serbian Ministry of Labor and Social Policy. 

***EDITED TO ADD*** July 2013: Since this post was first published in May of 2011, Serbian adoptions have significantly decreased on cost and become even easier than they were before the investigation which lead to the crack down on corruption in Serbian adoptions. I have gone on to adopt twice more from Serbia. My first adoption, using the corrupt facilitator, was $18,000. My second adoption, AFTER the investigation, was $7100. My 3rd adoption, my STATESIDE costs increased, bringing my total adoption costs to $11,500. Although people tried to bully me to give up fight for truth and transparency in Serbian adoptions, I didn't. Serbian adoptions are alive and well, with proof sleeping right down the hall from me and in the homes of other families around the U.S.


Sher said...

So sorry you are being treated this way Leah!

Kathy said...

You are right, Leah, all I can say is wow. I am sorry that you are under attack, I hope that when it's all aired out, the most vicious of your attackers are humbled, and brave enough to apologize to you. You definitely deserve it.

Lisa Riley said...

Praying for you and this awful situation. May God send you the strength and wisdom to continue on!

Tamara said...

A lot of disappointing things in that and the other post. It is simply amazing how some people can take something so "good" and corrupt it. But, reading that Serbia is stepping up and trying to make things right and better - that's an incredible thing. Prayers that eyes are opened and others choose to be courageous and stand up for what's right.

racheal_stewart said...

Wow, that e-mail was harsh. So sorry you are going thru this. Eventually everything will come out and people will see that you are not the super villan others are making you out to be. Keep your head up, hang tough, whatever other cliches you can think of. You are a strong person, much loved by so many.

Ken Schlorf said...

These attacks you are getting are ridiculous!

Designs by DD said...

I don't understand what people hope to accomplish with these slanderous attacks.

Hang in there, there are people who believe in you.

Praying for you, praying for Axel and still praying for Ianna!

SiberianMommy said...

Hi Leah,

I saw your blog too late. Actually in 2008 I started the ball rolling to bring down Dr. J. She said the Ministry "halted" my adoption as a single mom of a little girl. The told me not to worry she would take care of it. 3 other families were in the same boat, suddenly in limbo with very few answers from her. In Dec. 2009 I was magically matched to a little boy and Dr. J told me not to ask about the little girl anymore. NO explanations, nothing, so I emailed the US Embassy and the Ministry contacts I had. I even called and had my friend leave a message in Russian in the hopes I could find out what happened to the little girl RR advocated for. Well, Dr. J was LIVID that I contacted anyone and said that I single handedly halted all Serbian adoptions. She even had the other 3 families, all of us special needs adoptions, sending me emails accusing me of "killing" their children who needed life saving surgeries because I couldn't leave it alone like Dr. J said. In the end of January 2010 I walked away from crazy Dr. J and Serbian adoptions. In March 2009 I met my Bulgarian daughter and brought her home 6 months later. The whole process was emotionally draining, psychologically devastating, and financially a train wreck. I'm so glad I finally found out that Dr. J got her just rewards. She was a terrrible human being no matter what any other naive or corrupt person has to say.

Thanks for making my day!!

Nadya and Mara's Mom