Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mexico-Ireland Adoption Scammer Involved in U.S. Adoptions, Too

I posted before about the child-trafficking scandal involving Mexican adoptions to Ireland.  This Huffington Post article by investigative journalist Erin Seigal, author of a book about adoption corruption in Guatemala, reveals that the scandal may be broader and deeper than first thought, and involve adoptions to the U.S. as well:
Guadalajara-based attorney Carlos López Valenzuela is one of the people allegedly at the center of the operation. His law firm, López & López Associates, was operated by both López and his son, reported by the Mexican press to be a former state prosecutor. The firm, according to posts signed by Lopez on internet adoption websites and message boards, was "exclusively devoted" to private Mexican adoptions and boasted of "an outstanding track record in delivering healthy children." One of his posts, dated August 2001, claims he "handled over 260 adoptions for Couples of New York area during the past 21 years [sic]," or since 1981.

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This is not the first time López has been involved in an adoption scandal. In 2003, Lesley Stahl and the CBS TV news magazine 48 Hours produced a story called "Twist of Fate," which followed two Mexican sisters who had been adopted to different American families. The adoption had been arranged by Carlos López. The girls' birth mother claimed she had been "forced to give them up for adoption," alleging that López had refused to return her daughters after she changed her mind. Additionally, she said, records for her daughters had been manufactured. López said he'd done nothing wrong.

In 1990, Belen Zapata of CNN Mexico recently reported, López and three other women were detained on charges of human trafficking stemming from attempts to purchase as-yet unborn children from pregnant women at the Hospital Civil de Guadalajara. At the time, López told authorities he was a representative of the Association of Adoptive Parents of New York.

Indeed, the affiliation between López and American adoptive parents has a long history. As a founding member of the Yahoo email list "Friends and Families of Mexico," a list with a publicly accessible archives dating back to 1999, López posted to a group of almost 200 people with adoption advice, poems about orphans, and business solicitations. His firm was sometimes also referred to as "López Castellanos Asociados." After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, an associate of Lopez posted to the list, asking adoptive parents to email photos to him so that fifty worried Mexican birth mothers would know that their children were all right. The post said that López has been working adoptions for "25 years," which would mean since the mid-1970's.

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