These are the posts from FRUA in which we first took our story to a large audience — namely, the Eastern European adoption community. This was, in retrospect, the right thing to do instead of going to the media — we were able to tell the story our way, emphasizing the things we saw as important, anticipate any possible criticisms and make sure it reached the right ears and eyes without the sensationalism and self-aggrandizement we could be accused of had it been on prime-time broadcast television.
Many people later said that it had the right effect, that it lingered in their minds and helped them make key decisions that may have been the best for their adoptions. We also believe that it broke an uncloseable gap in the wall of silence and vagueness about such discussion on FRUA, which has been more open ever since.
We have no idea how many people actually read it, but we imagine quite a few (Denise Hubbard certainly did, we’re sure).
At the end we've compiled some of the publicly posted comments we got. They showed that people clearly got it — that they drew the same lessons, and saw the same failings of BBAS, that we did. Some of them also had some interesting information to add.
“Sad anniversary (worst Russian adoption story ever)” posted 12:28 a.m. EST, 11/27/00
walk away in silence.
People like you find it easy,
Walking on air ...
Thanksgiving weekend is a joyful time, and so it was for us and our newly-adopted two-year-old son who we cherish so dearly.
But we couldn't smile quite so much this year. Thanksgiving night, we put him to bed and then thought about the child who is not here and will never be.
We can only see Cyril on the video we shot in Perm last year, and that's what we watched Thanksgiving night.
Last year on Thanksgiving night, he died quietly in our hotel room, halfway through the 10-day waiting period.
We wanted to post about this on Saturday, the actual anniversary, but were too overwhelmed with emotion and/or work to do so.
Word of this tragedy has, we are aware, filtered out slowly over the intervening year through various sources. An anonymous post here in August was brief but accurately described what happened. Some versions have apparently been filtering around through the Russian adoption community that are grossly inaccurate.
We remained silent all year about this, publicly at least, because we were continuing with a Bulgarian adoption we had begun before going over to Russia (through the same agency, Building Blocks Adoption Services of Medina, Ohio) and feared that such disclosure on our part would be held against us (BBAS had already retaliated against us for complaining about them to the Ohio Department of Human Services).
Now that is two months in the past and there is no reason anymore to hold our tongues.
We have had to speak out about this and the issues it raised some way, for our sanity's sake. So for a long time we resorted to pseudonyms (The Central Scrutinizer was one of mine) here, and saw our attitudes and facts questioned.
Well, tonight let the masks be dropped and the truth be known.
We owe it to Cyril Christian Case, born (and buried) as Kirill Konstantinovich Petrov. Of the eight months he had on this world, I would hope the happiest days were the last three, that he spent with us.
Building Blocks offered us a $9,500 "refund" with the condition that we not speak of his death.
We cannot take this money if it makes us complicit with the forces that led to his death. It would be like covering up the fact that he even existed.
Instead we will use the first anniversary of his death to make his existence more visible.
For his story is the sternest indictment yet of a system that processes children like cattle while others profit from the vast sums of money expended. It is why we continue to raise questions in discussions here and elsewhere about where the money is going and what's really going on to create this huge supply of babies for, it seems, every American couple who wants one badly enough.
Building Blocks, and various officials in Russia ... they are all liable. It does not matter. There is enough blame to go around, and the appropriate names will be named.
Second post, (same thread, 1:20 a.m. EST, 11/27/00)
does one get to this clandestine archipelago? Hour by hour planes fly there, and
trains thunder off to it — but with nary a mark on them to tell of their
Something inside us, or outside us, must have known what was coming and tried to warn us.
I had a panic attack, something that has never happened before or since, before getting on the plane to go to Russia. We had a weird chill up our spines when finding out that the name of the INS worker handling I-600-A petitions in our area is also the Russian word for "corpse." The EgyptAir plane went down three weeks before us, it too out of JFK. All a pure coincidence at the time.
But we persevered, and so there we were on Nov. 19, 1999, being led up to the door of Dom Rebyonok No. 2 in Perm by our Russian translator and facilitators, along with the observer from the Ministry of Education.
On the door was a plaque saying, in Russian, "Home for Children with Disorders of the Central Nervous System." At the time we took note of it and repeated what we'd heard so often, that the Russians exaggerated or overpathologized these disorders and the kids were generally OK other than a few things that could be cleared up with the help of American pediatrics.
Dr. Andrew Adesman had seen a few yellow flags on Cyril's medicals, but the video was somewhat better than he'd expect from that, he said. Still, he said it was unusual for three sonograms to have been done, with such unsubtle diagnoses of some problems in the kidneys.
Denise Hubbard, BBAS's executive director, had respectfully dismissed him as being a little overcautious. She had gotten medicals for one other child from Perm, and they were supposedly exactly the same. "What does that tell you?" she asked in email?
Later, we would find out they weren't.
The culmination of months and months of preparations was an occasion not for celebration but for doubletakes on our part. Cyril was brought out and finally entered our reality after having existed on video screens for so long ... but he seemed awfully thin. I chalked that up to the ways cameras can sometimes lie, and to the fact that orphanage kids are almost always behind developmentally. He would catch up.
Nevertheless, he seemed OK as he responded to us in typical infant fashion. He wasn't interested in the toys we brought, but that would come with time. He did seem to be attentive, inquisitive and reasonably aware of his surroundings.
We discussed with the orphanage director his medicals, so we could prove to the judge at the next day's court hearing that we understood he had some problems and that we could deal with them (Don't they all?)
During this time, there was a long conversation between our facilitator and the director, most of which was not translated and proved to overwhelm our Russian language skills. For a long time we would wonder what it was about.
The court hearing went fine. After a brief wait during which a young man was escorted through the halls by some security people with a Rottweiler or some similar dog (we later learned he had been sentenced to ten years for his part in a robbery-murder, another bad omen that we only picked up on later), the judge granted the adoption but didn't waive the 10 days. We had expected as much.
When we came back later to pick up Cyril, we were told he had a fever, and he did. So we reluctantly agreed that the best place for him tonight was the orphanage.
This was the weekend, so it took us two extra days of convalescence on his part for him to be cleared for release.
But by then, he appeared healthier. The director said he was good to go.
At the hotel we discovered that Cyril had the world's worst diaper rash ... large areas of his buttocks were hardly soft or even reddish areas. If you saw it on an American child, you'd call the police.
Denise told us over the phone that Emily, her daughter adopted in 1997 from the same orphanage as Cyril (we think) had the same diaper rash.
This was a blatant lie.
Under "Our story" on Building Blocks' web site, you read that Russian children are not usually diapered in orphanages ... they just let them soil their clothes, then change them, to the point that they go through three or four changes per day. So, what we think happened is, someone noticed his continuing problems, problems that were causing more frequent changes. Instead of saying something they decided to slap a diaper on him until we could get him to America!
Under other circumstances, this would have worked out fine.
Third post, same thread, 11:45 a.m. EST, Nov. 28, 2000
came and went and Cyril's fever had improved but not enough for them (and us) to
feel totally comfortable taking him out of the orphanage.
In the interim, Elizabeth's mother had been concerned enough to call the US embassy and see if they knew of any doctors who could help. They had called late the night of the court hearing saying their data base didn't show any Western-trained doctors in Perm, hardly surprising since the city was closed to foreigners during the entire Soviet period.
But a fever seemed to be Cyril's only problem. After all kids get them all the time.
Sunday was finally the day. The director was back and was able to accept our gifts and give us Cyril's schedule. Wrapping him up in an oversized winter outfit against the subzero weather, we brought him back to the hotel to really start bonding with him.
That was when we finally stripped him all the way down to change his diaper and discovered his diaper rash. We immediately begin treating it with Desitin we had brought, and later found some high-quality German baby oil and ointment in the local stores. It had begun to respond to treatment by the time of his death.
Cyril seemed OK. He ate without much fuss (although very slowly), napped like he should and tried to crawl and roll around the room. He was mentally adroit enough to perceive a difference in the sounds of spoken Russian and English around him. Nothing seemed wrong. Our relatives called from America and we happily chatted away with them.
It was too cold to really go anywhere with Cyril (and we also felt he was too frail). So over the next couple of days we established a routine where one of us would go out and about and sightsee and have lunch with Lena, the translator, and Sergei, our driver (And whatever else we can say about the Russians, these two were genuinely nice and helpful and earned every kopeck they were paid). Later, we would buy some foodstuffs at the nearby rynok and have dinner and feed Cyril in the process. We were well-connected to the rest of the world through the TV, which we found endlessly fascinating and so different from TV during the Soviet period, when we had last been to Russia.
These were genuinely pleasant days, and it seemed like the worst elements of the experience were now behind us.
Fourth post, 1 p.m. EST, Nov. 28, 2000
“The tragic death of Cyril Christian Case, continued”
could, through myself,
Set your spirit free,
I'd leave you a hollow egg
See you break, break away
Into the light
And to the day ...
To let it go
And so to fade away ...
The 25th day of November in the year of our Lord 1999 was much like the day before it in Perm’, Russia.
Five thousand miles away our countrymen carved up stuffed turkeys and laced up cleats for afternoon football games.
This peculiarly American holiday, Blagodarya, is of course unknown in Russia. The only effect, our facilitator Gennady told us as I piled into his Audi that morning, was that the Moscow stock exchange was forced to close for the day because the American markets were observing the holiday. They nonetheless greeted me with "S prazdnikom!," and I returned the favor by explaining the celebration's roots in the waning days of the Civil War and how Lincoln said Americans should set aside this day to be thankful.
Lena and I took in the Perm regional museum, with its displays of the region's geological history, the city's role in the 1905 revolution, and one other item that was to come back to mind later — deformed fetuses in jars, in a section devoted to the harmful environmental effects of industry on the region.
The day before, it had been Elizabeth's turn to go out on the town with Lena, to the art museum, while I sat a napping Cyril on the couch to the accompaniment of English-language news on Deutsche Welle TV and Russian music videos on the national MTV-clone.
But we were hoping to observe Thanksgiving in some ersatz way. Linda Wright, another Building Blocks client, was arriving that night and meeting Yekaterina, her referral, (the other referral from Perm that came with Cyril), and hopefully we could all have dinner together in the hotel Mikos's modest dining room (She would be staying in a different hotel, for reasons neither of us could fathom, unless BBAS and Denise Hubbard didn't want us comparing notes on our experiences leading up to Russia and things we might have been told by her or her agency).
Baked turkey,or indeyka, is not a common food in Russia so chicken was going to have to do.
After coming back to the hotel and making my rounds at the rynok, we settled in to give Cyril his dinner. He had been turning up his nose at the baby food we had been giving him, but took other foods like mashed-up fruits and potatoes ... slowly, however.
We were also puzzled by the sunken look of his eyes and the fact that he hadn't really slept the night before nor during his nap times. But he seemed to be teething a bit and that might have been bothering him. After all, he was still eating and wasn't running a temperature. His stool suggested he had some sort of parasitic infection (it was similar to a giardia infection I'd had in the past after a whitewater rafting trip) but all the kids seem to and they can be treated once they get home to America.
I was sitting on the sofa bottle-feeding him formula by sort of squirting it into his mouth, since he wasn't sucking on it this evening. Perhaps he'd burned his tongue ... after all he was swallowing what we gave him.
It was about 5:15 p.m. Perm time, the night already two hours upon us.
We set Cyril down on the sofa to rest and absorb his meal while we watched that evening's DW-TV newscast and traded a few more jokes about its Germanocentric bias.
As was our new habit, we looked over at Cyril from time to time.
On one of those Elizabeth looked into his eyes. Something didn't seem to be right and she pointed it out.
I had never ever seen it before but I knew it right away. That look, or rather lack of a look, in his eyes. And so did Elizabeth.
I'm wide awake,
I'm not sleeping, oh no ...
His pupils weren't reacting to the light. I picked him up and put him on a nearby chair. His head and neck sprawled lazily over his shoulders, like a doll's.
Elizabeth saw his mouth open and heard one faint puff of air escape.
"Dan," she said, "this baby's dead."
It still sounded slightly absurd, even given what we had observed. After all, we had read lots of other people's narratives on APR, on FRUA, in private email and on websites, and even though some of them reported some pretty serious health problems to deal with upon returning no one had ever had a child die. It hadn't happened, so it didn't happen. The Russians wouldn't place dying children with us, would they?
He didn't respond to gentle slapping of his cheeks, except in the way his head bobbed slightly in whatever direction the slap came from.
I hoped he hadn't choked on his food (my big worry every time I fed him). I hoped there was still time to revive him.
We realized we were beyond the point of doing anything more for him by ourselves in this room. So we did the next logical thing ... grabbed him, threw him over our shoulders, barged out the door and ran downstairs to the lobby screaming "POMOGAYTE! POMOGAYTE!"
The desk staff went into immediate action, calling the emergency services. The hotel doctor, a young man named Lev Borisovich something (I later learned) came out from the massage parlor to begin CPR. He did the chest compressions; I did the mouth-to-mouth part.
It has been years since I first took CPR, and my certification has thus long since lapsed. But I remembered how to do it on an infant, pumping lungfuls of my air into his with Lev's every shout of "Dishom!," hoping they would get something then stilled moving again.
I never thought, when I took CPR, that I'd be doing it on a baby, much less my own adopted son.
Elizabeth stood by the desk, crying hysterically and covering her eyes.
As the minutes passed, minutes that I recalled all too well are irreversible in terms of their effect of oxygen deprivation on a human brain, nothing seemed to be happening. Neither Lev nor I could escape the feeling that our actions were now pretty much a formality.
The doctors came with equipment, after what seemed like an eternity. Perhaps they could still bring off a miracle.
But after setting up their masks and tubes, they began dismantling it again a few minutes later and preparing to go. Elizabeth heard the Russian word konyets ("the end") from one of them. They had apparently pronounced him and gave us a card to that effect to pass along to the police when they arrived.
In the meantime, the staff brought out glasses of vodka for us (we were too shocked to drink them, although we still appreciate the gesture), and we glumly sat on the sofa next to Cyril's body.
We brought down the yellow sleeper we'd intended to put him in that night. Now he would sleep in it forever.
I will always remember, even though I don't want to, the lukewarm feel of his body as we put it on him. It was all we could do to touch and hold him long enough to do so.
There we remained on the couch against the wall, for all entering or exiting the hotel to see. I still wasn't comprehending this ... it was so unreal. I wanted it to be some sort of big sick joke, with the real, healthy and happy Cyril brought back out to us from behind a nearby door.
Lena and Sergey returned with Linda Wright, fresh from the orphanage herself to see Yekaterina in the flesh for the first time. Their joyful expressions were frozen when they saw us and began putting it together.
"On umer," I said to Lena, finding it too difficult to say in my own language. "On umer."
Third post, 1:01 p.m. EST 11/29/00
"The aftermath of Cyril’s death”
dinner was immediately canceled, without any discussion.
Lena and Linda Wright sat around talking with us and doing their level best to console us while we awaited the police.
I kept saying to Linda that this wasn't in the brochures, that we'd never in our worst nightmares imagined this happening (Nevertheless, on our videos at the orphanage, Elizabeth twice mentions the possibility of Cyril dying. Somehow I think we could sense it). Linda was just the person we needed to be there at that time.
Particularly for one thing she did — very small for her, but the world to us at the time. When the police arrived, we were told we had to go back up to the room ... and take Cyril's body with us.
Neither of us had it in ourselves to pick up his cooling body and take it upstairs again. Linda did it.
For that we owe her a lifetime of thanks.
There followed a two-hour session with several police investigators. Thank God for Lena being a certified translator for this! She earned her pay and her gratuity that night alone.
Cyril's body was placed in a corner of the room, and the scene was diagrammed as if he had died there. We wanted it removed as soon as possible, but were told we'd have to wait for the morgue workers to arrive (a separate agency in Russia, apparently ... the emergency doctors don't do that as their equivalents in the States would).
Elizabeth handled the task of telling them what had happened as they wrote it all down. I huddled with Linda as she lit up a smoke in the vestibule of our room.
In the course of the conversation, she revealed to me that she was not going to adopt Yekaterina, the little girl she'd been referred. She'd already shared this decision with Elizabeth.
I told her that she shouldn't do that just because of what had happened to us, that we'd like to see her bring a happy child home to Indiana. She said it was more than that.
Ever since getting on the plane in Chicago earlier (what was still for her) that day, she'd been having bad feelings. Just as they had with us, things had happened that hadn't been good. The plane had had a fuel leak at the airport and they'd all had to get out and go back into the terminal while it was fixed, for one thing.
And then there was her visit to the orphanage once she finally got to Perm’.
Yekaterina hadn't looked right. She'd had noticeably yellowish eyes, for one thing (something even Cyril didn't have) and had been tiny, visibly tinier than she'd expected her to be (just as Cyril had been for us).
The kicker was the medicals (the ones supposedly identical to Cyril's, if you believe Denise Hubbard). She was told they were totally wrong.
Yekaterina's birthmother had been 32, not 23. She'd had several children before, and this was not her first pregnancy. And several other little mistakes.
All of this added up the wrong way, and being greeted by the sad spectacle we presented when she first saw us was (ahem) the last nail in the coffin.
Even given what had happened to us, I couldn't believe that she'd come all the way here and changed her mind. But now I understood.
I had to
come out into the room for a while to give my statement to the police, basically
seconding what Elizabeth had said. This still took time, and during that time I
sat in a chair with Cyril's body behind and to the left. Elizabeth sat next to
Death isn't final, at least not when it first happens. It starts, as had already been graphically demonstrated to us, with medical and legal death, and then goes on to make sure the deceased looks dead.
I had glimpsed Cyril from further away while I was talking with Linda. He was looking deader every minute, and by the time I got to sit close to where he was livor mortis, or the darkening of his skin where blood was pooling due to gravity taking over from his heart.
His eyes were also getting that increasingly cloudy cast that makes them look more like a fly's than a human being's.
So I understood perfectly well why Orpheus was told not to look back. I physically could not bring myself to look over my left shoulder. What I am telling you is based on those few glances.
Thankfully, I was finished very quickly, and then the police talked to the doctor and the desk staff. The orphanage director, who was still legally responsible for Cyril as the ten days had not passed, also made an appearance along with Gennady and Sergey (not our driver, but Gennady's boss who we usually didn't see).
Finally the "STATIM" or morgue workers, showed up to collect the body. They wrapped him in a piece of dark plastic and took him downstairs.
We followed as they took him out into the cold night and their truck. "Do svidanya," we said as they put his body on the back seat.
This has been the extent so far of any funeral or wake we have been able to have for him. To this day we do not know where his body is buried. We left money for some sort of service and marker but have no way of knowing if it was actually used for that purpose.
Not too long after, the police were done. After they left, Lena told us they would be doing the autopsy tomorrow and that we should stick around for the result.
At this time we were still concerned that we might be held responsible and face further troubles. Lena assured us that this was not likely. And as you know from the fact that we are here posting this, we are very much at home safe and sound and not in Russian prisons. But do understand that at that time we knew we couldn't rule out what might happen if someone with a political agenda and some swing got wind of this.
What happened with Linda Wright was, however, in many ways worse.
She was hustled back to her hotel despite some entreaties from me that she stay here with us tonight (we had to sleep in that room for the remainder of our two nights in Perm’ ... it was impossible to change that, apparently). Later on we found out why.
She had told Sergey that she had changed her mind about Yekaterina and would not adopt her. This put the facilitators in crisis overdrive.
At her hotel, the Nichols, on the outskirts of the city, she was taken into a room with Gennady and Sergey. On the telephone from America was Denise Hubbard, who had apparently pulled off a highway down in North Carolina where she was visiting relatives; and Dennis Goronstaev, the American-based facilitator who was at that time BBAS's chief contact for its Russian program (We later learned that the two of them were in the latter stages of a serious falling-out at this point ... as if they wouldn't have been afterwards anyway).
Linda, a dealer in "previously owned" motor vehicles by profession, got the hardest of hard sells both in person and over the phone.
Remember, by the way, that she had not slept in almost a day and was additionally coming off the stress of plane travel, making her fateful decision and meeting us for the first time over a dead infant.
She was given the usual line that she couldn't come all the way here, many thousands of miles, and just change her mind. She had a beautiful house in the Midwest with a lovely little horse and two dogs. Wouldn't that be a lovely place for little Katya, so much better than the orphanage? (A legitimate point, but Linda believed the girl had issues she wasn't able to deal with). Didn't she have such a loving family, and so much love in her heart?
Denise herself then joined the Russians in promising that she could get another referral tomorrow ... and that the ten-day wait would be waived! Whether she adopted Yekaterina after all or another referral.
This is interesting, because prior to going over to Russia Denise had told us that the judge in Perm’ was known for NEVER waiving the waiting period. And she was telling the truth at least on that.
So how was it suddenly possible that the same exact judge, given this situation that had just unfolded, would waive the ten-day wait? We all highly doubt that this would be secured by any legal means.
Linda stood her ground. She is a strong woman, stronger even than we might have been. She insisted she would leave with us when we left. And on that they relented.
But, when she signed the papers withdrawing her application to adopt Yekaterina, she was also given another piece of paper to sign, one promising she would never again apply to adopt from the Perm’ region. She signed it.
Meanwhile, back at the Mikos, we began getting phone calls. First, Dennis Goronstaev called from Chicago, where he apparently was at the time, and I gave him our families' phone numbers so he could do the thankless job of ruining Thanksgiving for them instead of us (we had avoided making any phone calls to America ourselves for the whole time we were there to keep our hotel bill down).
My parents called (on a conference call as they are divorced) and shared their grief, saying the turkey would probably get cold and be picked at in both places.
My mother was adroit enough to ask if we would get our money back — an issue that would come to a head many months later.
Elizabeth's parents called. Her mother had had a strange chill come over her shortly after 7 a.m., perhaps around the same time Cyril died. She was in tears.
Her father, who I have rarely heard cry, had been called home from work. My wife has never heard him sob like he did, for the grandson he never got to meet. And she doesn't want to hear that again.
Her uncle, a recovered alcoholic who has done a lot of counseling of people in difficult situations, also called on his own dime.
Denise Hubbard called. She admitted she didn't know what to say as this had never happened before. She was genuinely stunned.
She asked if we were still planning to go ahead with the Bulgarian adoption we had begun. That wasn't really the right time, and we eventually did bring our son home, but at the time Elizabeth was so afraid of the same thing happening again that she didn't want to make up her mind.
She asked if the Russians had offered us another referral. That offer was indeed made the following day, but Lena and Sergey the driver understood very well when we said we couldn't do that.
We then discussed making travel arrangements to get us home as soon as possible.
And finally, the tide receded and we were left to stay up and talk among ourselves about the child who might have been. We took down the crib very quickly and unpacked the suitcase full of baby stuff we'd gotten for Cyril. The clothes, medicine, toys and blankets were piled high on the chair near where his body had lain. We decided it would be his nasledstvo, or legacy, to the orphanage.
It was a truly heartbreaking sight, and remains so in memory. Ernest Hemingway once said the shortest story in the English language can be told in six words: "FOR SALE: baby clothes, never used."
That pile on the chair was the picture to go with it.
There was one final absurd moment to the evening before we tried to settle down. Very late, after the desk had closed down, some man called from Italy to try and book rooms at the hotel. The call was forwarded to our room (I imagine they expected we'd be the only ones receiving calls) and this gentleman had English good enough to make his wishes known to me but not good enough to understand my explanation that we were not the staff but guests.
It took two of his phone calls to get it across to him that he should call back later when the desk staff was in, and we actually laughed about this afterwards. I guess we needed it.
I didn't sleep much that
night, and Elizabeth didn't sleep at all, responding to the whole situation by
throwing up sometime around dawn.
Denise called sometime before that, telling us our flight home had been arranged for two days later from Moscow, with Linda Wright.
The day passed very quietly, mainly with us reading and watching TV (. We had no desire to see any more sights, so we stayed in except for one trip on my part to the rynok in early afternoon. One song whose video was in heavy rotation at the time caught the mood pretty accurately — "Zima v Serdtse" or "Winter in the Heart." We were still a little nervous about the possibility of getting arrested.
Lena finally called around 1 p.m. or so, telling us that the preliminary findings from the autopsy had attributed Cyril's death to "an acute infection of the digestive tract."
This, in our opinion, is the truth but far from the whole truth. In 1992, one of my brothers died, and the autopsy report said the proximate cause of death was a staph infection. You wouldn't know from just that that he was in the final stages of Hodgkin's disease, and thus had almost no immune system left. So, too, do we believe that was a symptom of something greater.
Legally, we were off the hook as far as she knew, and could leave Perm.
Gennady, Sergey the driver and Lena came around a little later. They went over Gennady's account book and refunded that portion of the money we paid them when we got to Perm that had not otherwise been spent on their services or meals.
This would turn out to be the most equitable refund we got from anyone associated with this adoption.
We said we wanted the money to go for giving Cyril a proper burial (religious tradition in Russia apparently precludes cremation, which is what Elizabeth had wanted done) and gravesite. They asked us what name we wanted on the marker, and we told them to use his Russian name: Let Matyushka Rus’ keep her own children.
We also tipped Lena generously in recognition for her service above and beyond the call of duty. They took our passports to get our plane tickets, and called back later to tell us we would be leaving at 5:30 the next morning. After a one-day layover at the Hotel Belgrade in Moscow, we would be headed home at last. Too soon, but too long at the same time.
We also signed documents releasing the orphanage and Ministry of Education from any legal claim we might bring over Cyril's death. It was suggested that signing them would make it easier for us to leave Perm’.
Perhaps we shouldn't have signed them, since we do hold the orphanage director at least partially responsible for Cyril's death. But lawsuits are difficult enough to prosecute in your own county court, much less thousands of miles away in a different legal system and language, so I have no reservations about waiving that one.
Elizabeth still could not bring herself to eat or sleep. I ordered some soup for dinner and she had a little, but that was it.
At the appointed hour, again in utter darkness, we gathered our things. Elizabeth still had not slept. The hotel room was now clean of our presence save for the pile of Cyril's things, now hopefully destined for those he had until so recently slept and cried next to. I still like to think they got some of them ...
I noticed a slight rumbling in my stomach, a slight gassiness that I chalked up to the earliness of the hour.
We picked up Linda and soon were at the airport, where we said final farewells to Gennady, Sergey and Lena over a cognac toast (well, me at least). It would have been hard for any outside viewer to guess the unhappiness lurking behind the situation.
The flight to Moscow went smoothly enough. We were actually thankful, all things considered, that we didn't have to worry about keeping Cyril warm and well-fed on that flight. My stomach, however, still didn't feel quite right despite the drinks and breakfast.
Dmitri, BBAS's Moscow facilitator, met us and offered his condolences. We hadn't expected to see him again so soon, nor he us.
We and Linda both had paid him $1,300 each, as per BBAS's directions, upon our initial arrival in Moscow. The bulk of this money was to pay for medical examinations and visas for two children who, for entirely different reasons, no longer needed them. We asked about getting it back minus the fee paid to Julia, the translator, and Dmitri said we would discuss it tomorrow when we were picked up for the flight home.
After checking in at the Belgrade, they asked us if there was anything more they could do for us that day. We said we'd really rather be left to our own devices, such as they were. They understood.
I decided to try to get some nap time in in our room with its view to the river and Ostankino, while Elizabeth and Linda got to commiserating in her room. On the plane, they had been discussing in more detail some of the things Denise had told her and us, and things were looking less right.
After a couple of hours of shut-eye, I felt more relaxed, but still not quite back to normal digestively.
I decided what I needed was some more familiar food, and chose to take my walk around the hotel's neighborhood, including one end of the Arbat, Moscow's pedestrian mall.
There I found a McDonald's and indulged myself in a burger, fries and coke before picking up something I'd wanted on my last visit to Moscow, a souvenir T-shirt with the subway map on it.
Back in the hotel I finally faced up to the inevitable ... I was coming down with a stomach bug of some kind. I made haste to obtain extra bottles of water and soda at the Seventh Continent across the street.
Not much longer afterwards, it was time for dinner, and after scouting out the area and ruling out a couple of pizzerias and other restaurants serving Russian food with which Linda wasn't really familiar (but which we had been living on quite well in Perm’), we decided on the hotel's own restaurant. Despite some of the menu selections, I limited myself to soup and bread based on my condition.
It was a long, lingering affair, and afterwards I said I was ready for bed. Elizabeth tried to follow, but gave up and went back to Linda's room.
As the night progressed, and my sleep began to consist of short periods of sleep interrupted by frequent visits to the toilet, Elizabeth returned and grew concerned about me. After one such session, she began to fear for my health as well.
I have had stomach bugs before and this wasn't the worst, though of course it chose such an opportune time to manifest itself.
It was now painfully obvious where it had come from, too. I had come down with whatever had taken Cyril's life.
I wasn't worried for my own, though I did ask Elizabeth to go downstairs and get more bottled water to rehydrate myself with. But I did realize that, if it could have this effect on 240 very hardy pounds of me, what effect might it have on a virtually defenseless, undernourished infant?
I knew the answer to that question, and I think you do too.
One other answer, or at least a question, came out of this last night in Moscow. Elizabeth, after repeated assurances from me that I was not going to die, went to chat with Linda again.
This time they watched the video we had shot, and Linda pointed out how, in the orphanage, we had indeed been asking the right questions only for the staff to tell us, through Lena, whatever they thought we needed to hear.
And Linda brought out the medicals for Yekaterina that she had been given. Surprise! They were nothing like Cyril's beyond some of the same diagnoses seen on most Russian medicals, like the ubiquitous "perinatal encephalopathy."
Linda had been angry with Denise all the way back from Perm’, going off about how she had been lied to and she was never trusting her again. After looking at the medicals, we began to feel some doubt ourselves, and made a copy at the hotel.
Although I felt good enough for breakfast, my illness, the last trace of Cyril's life, reasserted itself when I threw up in the dining room. Only then did it become apparent that I had digested very little of what I'd eaten in the past day or so. No wonder Cyril was fighting a losing battle ... he couldn't take in the nourishment we had offered him.
Still, I hoped that would expel the illness from my body, and felt much better afterwards. I didn't have any problems on the flight.
One problem we did have made himself conspicuous by his absence. Dmitri turned out to have gotten sick himself with some sort of flu that was going around. Hmmm ... awful convenient, wasn't it, that it was the same day we were to discuss our refunds? That's hundreds of dollars neither of us are getting back.
The flight back to JFK passed without incident. But, clearing customs and then being greeted by my mother and stepfather without the child they'd been hoping to see ranks as one of the experiences in our lives we were least looking forward to, and one of those we least want to repeat.
if you told me you were drowning,
I would not lend a hand ...
I’ve seen your face before my friend
But I don't know if you know who I am ...
I was there and I saw what you did,
Saw it with my own two eyes ...
So you can wipe off that grin,
I know where you been,
It's all been a pack of lies.
It took several more days at my mother's house in New Jersey before I was able to fully shake the stomach bug. In one small way I didn't want to, it was all that was left of Cyril.
My mother, who raised the three of us, taught, and has taken care of many children in her day, said the videos of Cyril showed her a child on a downward trend. She had begun, while we were away, reading up on the possible effects of malnutrition on brain development, so concerned had she been about the second video we got from Building Blocks (a week before we left, too little time to have it reviewed).
That wasn't a problem now, unfortunately.
We finally, after a few more days, returned home amidst the usual hubbub of the holiday season complicated by mounting Y2K anxieties. We went back to our lives and did our best to go on.
It would have been nice not to think of adoption at all for some time, to just completely disappear from the subject and indeed from the world at large. But it reared its head into our lives sooner than we expected it to.
On Dec. 5, Linda Wright alerted us in email to a post on Dr. Downing's web site (which we hadn't been aware of before going). A couple had posted, saying they had been days from going to Perm’ to pick up their child only to have the court date suddenly postponed due to "an investigation."
We felt their pain, even through our own. Remember, a year ago at this time the Y2K anxiety meant you had an extremely narrow window to get to the US embassy's consular section, which closed for the holidays Dec. 23, and would not reopen until mid-January. If you had a ten-day wait to cope with in a distant region, any delay was pushing it.
They said their agency wasn't telling them much more. We knew what was happening and followed up anonymously, without leaving an email address, saying we knew what was going on and if they left an email, we'd email them.
They were still skeptical, so we took a deep breath and posted again, leaving no name publicly but linking to our email.
Finally they got in touch with us, saying they had to make sure we weren't cranks or something like that. They turned out to live not too far away, and we talked on the phone and told them what had happened to us and that that was probably the cause of the investigation that had stalled their adoption. They had managed to get out of the agency that a child had died in the custody of another American family (true) and the couple was being detained (not).
We set them right.
It was a difficult truth to hear, but nonetheless they said they felt "empowered."
Elizabeth also called their agency, Alliance for Children, to set the record straight. I must say they were quite taken aback, but glad to hear something more than what they might have been getting from their people in Russia.
From them, too, we learned that supposedly the investigation had led to several other children in Dom Rebyonok No. 2 being hospitalized, and tissue samples being sent to a central lab in Moscow.
Later the same day we got an email, followed by a phone call, from Denise Hubbard. After inquiring as to whether we had made our minds up about continuing with our Bulgarian adoption, she then proceeded to tell us off ever so gently for responding to the worried couple on Dr. Downing's site.
"I am very concerned," she wrote. "We also need to discuss the silence of the issue in Perm until the investigation is completed. The Ministry of Education has been surfing the web and noticed a posting that you answered, to shed light on the situation in Perm and they are concerned that this will cause your return to Perm for investigation."
On the phone, Elizabeth took great umbrage at this. "Those people had a RIGHT TO KNOW!" she said in a tone of voice she normally uses only with members of her own family. Denise for once had no glib, soothing reply. It seemed like even she agreed.
She and Elizabeth had a conversation that was franker than any other we'd ever had with her.
She admitted that she'd been trying to steer people from Russia to Bulgaria, out of concern that the future of Russian adoption wasn't good for her agency (the March 2000 changes were seen as inevitable at that time). She also said she felt that the children available in Bulgaria were generally healthier than their Russian counterparts and that the Bulgarians were more honest than the Russians.
She also feared that Bulgaria would eventually become like
We really wonder now if the Russian Ministry of Education was the one happening to surf the web that day. Somehow I think it was only Denise Hubbard who saw and was afraid that if the truth was out there the other couple would "run with it." "It could hurt adoption," she warned.
At the time we weren't too inclined to be sympathetic. If adoption as we had experienced it was at risk, we weren't crying. We'd done too much of that.
It was the first nail in the coffin of our relationship with Mrs. Hubbard (as we soon began addressing her again in email). We also didn't appreciate a letter that arrived from them the day we finally got back home billing us eighty dollars for the services of a courier to take our dossier to the Bulgarian embassy. After a rather strident phone message from Elizabeth, Denise (to her rare credit) waived the fee.
We also began, per Denise's direction, to call and fax Dennis Goronstaev for help in getting Cyril's final autopsy report and death certificate (the latter would help prove that the adoption had taken place for tax purposes). He seemed eager to help yet somewhat less willing to provide hard facts, and denied that any sort of investigation of the sort we had heard of had taken place.
Only much later did we learn that, by this point, Denise and Dennis had ended their business relationship amid much acrimony. We wonder if she was simply trying to make trouble for him by keeping us in his hair. (She has since been working with AMREX, about whom much has also been said and I will leave it at that).
A week later we had decided to continue with the adoption of our Bulgarian son Anguel, and let Denise know shortly before she left for Bulgaria so she could take new photo and videos and we could see that he was alright (We did get this, and it brought some small joy back to our holidays). After all, we believed it would only be a few short months and we would be able to go to Bulgaria for Anguel.
We were able to have a good time on New Year's Eve, spending the millennium eve with relatives in New York City as we had always planned to. Still, it was never far from our minds as we sipped champagne and enjoyed the rare privilege of watching all four digits of the year roll over that Cyril was not here to enjoy this.
The world was not plunged into anarchy by Y2K, and so we continued with our wait.
In the interim we signed up for the EEAC Bulgaria mailing list and began to hear of a lot more complexity regarding the process there, and waits considerably longer than the 3-4 months from submission of paperwork that we had been told.
We pressed Denise several times for a clearer Bulgarian timeline than what she had already told us. It didn't help that the agency had asked everyone who had already submitted documents to Bulgaria to get updated police and medical clearances since the judges there weren't accepting anything older than six months.
Finally on Jan. 30, she sent us the email with the timeline ... and working it out with the calendar, we figured it would take until July at the earliest! (In actuality it was October!)
I came home from running some errands to find Elizabeth sobbing on the couch. I knew she'd read the email.
We felt betrayed. Denise Hubbard's credibility was now completely shot with us. We suspect she had the real timeline as early as December but purposely delayed giving it to us until after our dossier had been entered in Bulgaria's Ministry of Health, making it harder for us to change our minds. (This wouldn't be the last time she'd be emotionally manipulative in the course of Anguel's adoption, but that's another story. If you want to hear about how much fun adopting from Bulgaria through BBAS was, email us).
Tired of having our hopes devastated by an out-of-control process, we seriously considered backing out of adopting Anguel. It was the only thing about it we could control, the only way we had of voicing our protest.
However, doing so would have punished mainly a two-year-old boy who is now sleeping safe and sound in our bed (an idea that seemed incredibly remote at the time). So for Anguel, and only Anguel, we stood pat.
After several dead ends and lapses in communication with Mr. Gorontsaev, who had gone back to Russia for a while (I don't blame him ... after dealing with Denise, Irkutsk would have seemed like a vacation), we put aside the issue of getting Cyril's autopsy report until after we got Anguel home, whenever that would be.
And another way of dealing with Denise and Building Blocks became known to us.
It's a lovely thing, those registries of adoption agencies on the Internet. I urge everyone to leave your names and email addresses there ... you never know how it will become useful.
Without going into too many inconvenient details, it was through one of these that we found another BBAS client (well, former BBAS client at that point) who was obviously dissatisifed.
We exchanged our stories (as people with unpleasant adoption experiences often do) and they agreed ours was worse. They had come to have the same opinion of Denise as we now did during the previous year, when they had been continually strung along only to finally lose the referral for some ridiculous reason that they didn't believe, and experienced a great deal of trouble getting their dossier back when they finally told Denise they weren't going to adopt from Russia through her agency. We agreed that Denise can be quite charming and friendly as long as things go well, but if they take a turn for the worse and you start to ask questions about the poor information, or complete lack thereof, that you're getting from her she puts you in the doghouse.
Some of the entries in their dossier had been false, so they went to the extent of filing a formal complaint against BBAS with the Ohio Department of Human Services. We hadn't realized we could do that. Hmmm ...
The falsehoods, not only those perpetrated against us but other clients, continued to mount. Another fellow BBAS client, the Ellingtons, returned from Izhevsk at the same time with their son, one of the last adoptions BBAS completed with Mr. Gorontsaev.
The facilitators in Izhevsk, they told us, were quite aware of what had happened to us but were under the impression we had been drunk, which we weren't obviously. They also got looked in on during their ten-day wait by the orphanage director and every other official with some sort of social-services connection. Obviously Cyril's death had had an impact of some kind on the process (the couple we had previously talked with in December went over during this time as well, and were not even allowed to take their son from the orphanage during the entire wait).
They, too, found out in Russia that they had been lied to by BBAS about a number of things, including some statements on their son's medicals and why a previous referral was lost.
After spending several weeks writing a narrative and collecting the supporting documentation, we sent it to the ODHS (This narrative is the version of the story on Mary Mooney's site).
This did have an impact at BBAS's offices in Medina. Our last phone conversation with Denise ended with her saying rudely "I don't need anything more from you!" and slamming the phone down. We have never spoken with her again.
We also received a letter on March 5 from their attorney, Richard Marco Jr., saying that although they were contractually bound to finish the Bulgarian adoption, since we had complained to the ODHS about them ("apparently you believe you were treated badly," he had the audacity to say), all communications other than routine ones concerning that adoption were to take place through his office. Fine ... we were pretty much at that point anyway.
As we have said before, what happened with our Bulgarian adoption and BBAS, though successful, is not really a topic for this board (If you email us, we can tell you all about it).
But there would be one more final revelation.
At great cost in time and money, we got the videotape we shot in the orphanage translated by Hudson-Neva Exchange of Waterford, NY. We remained very interested in what had been said but not translated.
There was no smoking gun, so to speak. But it wasn't entirely good news for the orphanage either.
One passage in particular stands out (Emphasis ours):
-What do we do with those children? We've got twelve children with
Down Syndrome. The situation is unpredictable. We have so many children
from heroin addicts...-What does that mean? Well, it is hypotrophia and hepatitis C.
If the mother takes heroin the chances of hypotrophia are 50% and
100% of all cases are hepatitis. Also some traumas of the spine. In our case
everything seems symmetrical, which means that it is not just some part of the
brain but that the whole system is deficient. See he is stretching his feet out. It
is the deficiency and it is not peripheral but all of his system is affected
Linda Saridakis at the ODHS told us that if BBAS didn't know this about the background of the children in the orphanage, they should have.
The last few sentences are his comments on Cyril's nervous tics, his frequent stretching of his legs and the head twitches that would become more frequent as his death neared. Obviously, they hadn't settled the question of whether Cyril's mother was a user or not.
I wish we'd known that.
(It does, to be fair, show that the Russians were deceiving themselves about Cyril's health as much as we were ... they repeatedly refer to his condition as "just a virus.")
Here the story must end for now, at least as far as Cyril's part in it does. But it's not over, even if we do have a son now. It's not over as long as this can happen again.
And of course you can't become
If you only say what you would have done.
So I missed a million miles of fun ...
I know it's up to me
(if you steal my sunshine)
Making sure I'm not in too deep
(if you steal my sunshine)
November 25, 2000
Somewhere in western Connecticut, a blue Honda with New York plates is speeding across the state on I-84 on a rather pointless mission to reach the highest point of New Haven County and return home.
In it are myself and Anguel, sleeping peacefully in his car
seat in the back. "It's a beautiful day," Bono's
voice calls from the stereo. “Don't you let it get away.”
Even given this date, and that the weather is kind of overcast, I actually agree. For it is many universes removed from where we were last year, all three of us.
That's not to say we didn't mark the anniversary in our own
ways. Elizabeth took a double shift at work, the better to keep herself
distracted. At roughly 9:15 a.m. that morning, I had tried to have some sort of
moment of silence but Anguel, who's not yet old enough to understand, isn't
having any of it. God bless him.
We did watch the videos again together after I came home Thanksgiving night (again it was a day she worked). That was probably a more fitting observance.
At the end of September, we finally traveled to Bulgaria. Pickup day for Anguel was Oct. 2, exactly one year after Elizabeth's first visit, and over nine months since our paperwork first entered the Bulgarian bureaucracy. (Much longer than BBAS had represented to us).
Our experience in Bulgaria practically went by the book. He
pleasantly surprised us in Burgas when we came by talking ... something he
hadn't done in three videos we'd gotten, the lack of which had led to concerns
on our part for his development. But on the afternoon trip back to Sofia, he
seems determined to prove our worst concerns wrong. He's happy, healthy,
exuberant and outgoing and loves to look out the window at passing cars.
Over the next few days, the medical exam and visa interview follow without a hitch. All things we never got to do with Cyril. Less than a week after we came to Bulgaria, we're flying home with him. He does his new parents a tremendous favor by sleeping through the entire flight from Frankfurt to JFK. My brother says the smile on my face when we came out of customs holding him is the biggest he's ever seen on me. Not that Anguel wasn't trying to compete.
Yes, it's a happy ending. Anguel never ceases to be a joy
every day that he's with us. He's adapted and attached very well, and two months
with him have gone so much better than the many months without him.
But although you can heal, you can't forget. And there are still some unresolved issues from Cyril.
First, we still do not know what he died of since we have
never gotten any autopsy report. We do realize that legally we're not entitled
to it, since the 10-day wait hadn't expired, but we're not prohibited from
seeing it either and we'd very much like to.
Nor do we know where he might be buried. So far, doing this on the web has been our most elaborate memorial.
And as people who've read this far will probably guess, we
have a major gripe with Building Blocks and Denise Hubbard. That hasn't yet been
resolved to our satisfaction.
We would, however, strongly advise you not use them if you are considering adopting from Russia. Denise still lies to people, from what we've heard.
As I've said, they offered us a $9,500 refund earlier this
year ... if we agreed to "not disseminate any negative information"
about them. We have obviously chosen not to pursue a return of our money through
those means. (in fact, a couple of other agencies we talked to wondered why they
didn't just do Anguel's adoption for free).
You need only read one more thing to understand just where BBAS is coming from.
In September, before we left for Bulgaria, we had written Rick Marco, their attorney, a number of harsh letters about various issues. He responded to them in one.
"It is unfortunate that you continue to raise an adversarial relationship with Building Blocks Adoption Services, while continuing to use those services. Had you had such a problem with them then perhaps you should have terminated the adoption process at some time in the past."
Am I missing something here? We put up with them only because it was the only way to adopt Anguel. He was all that mattered, and should matter — our feelings about Building Blocks are (obviously) not why we did business with them. That he and his client feel differently says a lot more than they seem to realize about why BBAS does adoptions.
"We will continue to honor our responsibilities to you, but will not provide any services beyond the completion of the adoption of your son."
Ha! No postplacement is necessary for Bulgaria. An empty, childish threat that makes me laugh after the previous sentences.
I wrote a long letter back after we got Anguel making these points (among other things). Rick Marco haughtily refused to respond to any of them.
And there are a few other loose ends.
Linda Wright, who cannot speak here because she chose to take a $2,500 refund she was offered under the same terms and adopt from Guatemala instead (she brought home a healthy daughter last spring), would still like to know what became of Yekaterina. All that she was told was that a good home would be found for her. If anyone has been offered a baby girl from Perm born around mid-April of 1998 with blonde hair and blue eyes, please drop us a line. We do have the medicals available for completion.
The Ellingtons, the couple who went over to Izhevsk in late January, posted a rather negative review of BBAS on the ICAR site (a review now strangely missing ... could the affiliation between AMREX and ICAR have something to do with this?). Denise wrote them a hurt email asking what they felt they had been deceived about, so they set it out for her, and she never wrote back. They haven't talked since.
As far as we've heard, the same crew of people over in Perm that we dealt with are still doing adoptions, although the rules have apparently changed a great deal (the orphanage director, we heard later on, was held responsible and has been a real grouch to visiting foreigners ever since).
We have filed two complaints against BBAS with the ODHS, one for each adoption. It's doubtful they will be able to do anything except make them write Total Quality Management letters about how this isn't going to happen again, but if Denise keeps going on like this, there will be more.
We have, in electronic format, some of the supporting documentation for this story, such as Cyril's and Yekaterina's medicals and a photo we took of that gruesome diaper rash, if anyone's interested.
Daniel and Elizabeth Case
“You are very brave to tell your story so openly. Perhaps it will save other families and children from the same fate as you have suffered.”
“I have never heard of a more horrific adoption story; my heart goes out to you. The poor child is in a better place with no suffering. I guess this is an example of how poor the children are really cared for over there. I can't begin to imagine all the children we don’t know about.
“I can only imagine how you must feel. Do remember that for a few brief days you gave that baby something he had never had. Love and a family, it was not all in vain.”
“Daniel and Elizabeth, I had chills when I saw your story posted here. Coincidentally, I had just read it on The Adoption Guide site. God bless you both. We are currently feeling very suspicious about our agency and their lack of communication. How dare they? So much time has gone by waiting that we are hesitant to start again elsewhere. I feel trapped. I don’t know what to do. I wish you all the best with your little son.”
“Thank you for sharing your story with everyone. I can only imagine how emotionally difficult this has been for your whole family. You are truly a strong couple to be able to share the story of your personal loss with all of us. I have such respect for your willingness to tell your story, regardless of the emotional pain, so that others might be better prepared to handle possible difficult situations in their adoption process. My thoughts & prayers are with you ... God Bless.”
“I appreciated your story also, as I have appreciated Marie’s. Whether it be Russia or Ukraine, there is always an abundance of posters who say things like ‘it’s so easy’ ... This is a difficult site to post on if you disagree with the majority, no matter what the issue. A lot more people have stopped using their real names and posting their e-mail addresses because of this. It is brave for both Marie and Daniel & Elizabeth to keep doing so, and I think their stories need to be heard , and more than once – no one stops the people who post constantly and repeatedly about their success stories and the methods they used.”
“All I can do is just cry. And Daniel and Elizabeth are right. The agency is responsible for not providing enough info on diagnosing and treating the condition, for not providing a doctor on call in the region.”
Genie (A Russian native who has herself adopted, and strong advocate of doing so independently)
“ I plead to all parents who go to adopt from Russia: please, if you feel the baby is not doing well, don’t wait until real emergency happens and don’t waste your time looking for American doctor: dial 03, and the emergency pediatrician will come and stay with you as long as required, until the child is stable, or take you to the hospital, if it is necessary – for free.”
(This was interesting to us. Had BBAS bothered to find this out and tell us before we went to Russia, things might have been very different).
[in a later posting]
“When the babies are suffering from serious malnutrition (whether caused by infection or not) they often have a paradoxical reaction on food: giving them more food can cause more weight loss and even death, perhaps because they have so little energy supply left over that an attempt to digest the food steals the energy from other life-supporting devices, such as heart and brain. In order to overcome this condition they have to be put on IV. The fact that Cyril had such a severe diaper rash indicates that he had diarrhea for quite a while (I've been there – my daughter was infected with the stomach staph bug in the hospital right after birth and she didn’t gain weight for quite a while because of diarrhea – up to 40 times a day. It was a nightmare). There is no surprise you didn’t know this, because there are no so severely malnutritioned babies in the US anymore, but the orphanage medical staff should know, and it’s definitely their fault. They had to send the baby to the hospital.”
Ernie Jones(FRUA’s site administrator)
“I'd like to thank the Cases for sharing their story with all of us. They should be admired for having the courage to go public to the world with this.”
“If you can save even one family from suffering a similar fate, you have done us all a great service. And perhaps Cyril’s story may make prospective adoptive parents ask a few more pertinent questions about their agencies. Most of all, I hope unethical agencies (not to paint them all with the same brush) will begin to understand that they should be accountable for referring sick children, whom they represent as relatively healthy. And agencies should provide traveling parents with the phone number of at least one medical professional in case of an emergency.”
“May God be with you and your Bulgarian born son. I am sure that He embraces Cyril now and for an eternity.
“I read your string of stories while crying. I ran to pick up my daughter (disrupting her nap) and just hold her. Thank you for sharing your story. But for the grace of God your story could be that of any one of us.”
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