Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Armenia: Report Identifies Corruption in International Adoption

From ArmeniaLiberty website:
The Armenian government is planning to make fresh and potentially far-reaching changes in its rules and procedures for international adoptions of children from Armenia following an RFE/RL report suggesting that they may still be riddled with corruption.
Relevant proposals drawn up by Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian’s office aim to increase the transparency of the process and reduce the role of obscure local middlemen working for Western adoption agencies. They are also meant to make it easier for Armenian families to adopt or bring up orphans.

An April 2011 report by RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) said that U.S. adoption agencies seem to continue to make thousands of dollars in informal payments to Armenian officials dealing with foreign adoptions. In particular, it cited a sample contract signed by one such agency, Hopscotch Adoptions, with Americans wishing to adopt Armenian and Georgian children.

The contract, offered to a potential client in the United States in 2007, explained that almost $5,000 of more than $30,000 charged by Hopscotch for every adoption would be spent on “gifts to foreign service providers and government functionaries performing ministerial tasks as an offer of thanks for prompt service.” It claimed that such gifts are “customary” in Armenia and Georgia and do not violate U.S. law.

“Gifts and gratuities” were also a separate spending category in a sample agreement that was offered by another U.S. agency, Adopt Abroad, at least until last April.

Officials at the Armenian Ministry of Justice as well as anti-corruption campaigners in Yerevan agreed at the time that such payments amount to bribes and are therefore illegal in Armenia.
And then there's this part of the article about an American adoptive parent behaving badly:
Another major proposal from Prime Minister Sarkisian’s staff would increase from three to six months the minimum period of time, after an orphan’s inclusion on the database, during which he or she cannot be eligible for international adoption. This requirement, meant to facilitate domestic adoptions, appears to have been violated in at least two cases in 2007.

In one such example, an American couple living near Washington, DC adopted a little Armenian girl through Hopscotch in May 2008. Sonia Vigilante, the adoptive mother, revealed on her blog that the girl was less than one month old when she and her husband were first shown her pictures and offered to adopt her in October 2007.

Vigilante reacted to the RFE/RL report with a litany of abusive e-mails sent to Ara Manoogian, an Armenian-American activist and blogger who privately interviewed her and several other U.S. adoptive parents and shared their experiences in Armenia with an RFE/RL correspondent. Using a fictitious identity, Manoogian posed as a childless man from Texas interested in adopting an Armenian child.

“The girl is mine mine, mine!!!” Vigilante wrote on May 31. “I win, Armenia loses. Hahahahahahahaha!!!” “I don't give a shit what the Armenian crooks think of me anymore,” she said in a subsequent note.
Boy, won't her daughter be delighted to find this when she's older. . . .


OmegaMom said...

Ho. Lee. Cow. That woman's insane.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that that quote is accurate, seriously. Note that the actual publishing of this article by RFE/RL omitted this information, probably due to the fact that the author could not verify it. To be honest, the quote is reminiscent of the rantings a certain woman with the initials VK who trolls blogs and poses as other people all the time. I know Sonia personally, and this is not her at all.