The Overview

“History never repeats I tell myself before I go to sleep

And there’s a light shining in the dark

Leading me on towards a change of heart”

–Split Enz  

    We delayed writing about BBAS’s Guatemalan program for a variety of reasons.  Some information is sprinkled throughout the website, but the time has come for this chapter, focusing on Denise, Richard J. Marco, Jr. and their handling of Guatemalan adoptions. 

    The Guatemalan adoption process is not our forte.  We understand the current Guatemalan adoption process in the broadest of terms.  We are not familiar with the players in Guatemala or the attorneys making things happen. Therefore, it is important that readers unfamiliar with Guatemalan adoption learn more about it.

    Over the years though, we’ve kept our eye on BBAS program observing Denise’s activities. In 2003 she began pushing Guatemala hard, just like she had with Bulgaria in 1999 and 2000.  The half-page ad in Adoptive Families magazine in February 2004 featuring the obviously Guatemalan little girl caught our eye.

    When we received the information from the ODFJS for BBAS re-certification, Denise stated she was focusing on advertising.  Adoptive Families magazine is a national magazine, sent to thousands of adoptive parents.  We contacted somebody we knew at an agency who also ran a half-page ad in the magazine.  We asked them how much such an ad cost to run.

    Our adoption agency contact told us a half-page ad cost $900 per issue.  To run the ad for a full year it cost $8,000.  $8,000 is a hefty sum, yet it increased Building Blocks national visibility.  And saved them from advertising on the Internet where it is easier to come across this website if an astute consumer decided to check them out.

    The half-page ad, coupled with pie in the sky praise from such notable BBAS Guatemalan adoptive mommies as Bennett had raised awareness of BBAS. Therefore, we knew it was only a matter of months before Denise would sabotage her Guatemalan program – and start screwing paying clients.

    By mid-September 2003 our prediction came true. The first disgruntled BBAS Guatemalan client stepped forward, followed by a second in May 2004.

    To hear their stories, it’s like hitting “rewind” and then “replay” on a DVD or VCR.  Denise Lynn Harding Hubbard has not changed since our dealings with her.  The Excuses, Bad Treatment and LIES remain the same.

    Everything in International Adoption is your international connections. Who do you know that will get your agency the quickest referrals?  The quickest female infant referrals?  And speed them through the process? It doesn’t matter that your in-country network is dealing with people who may have been arrested, detained, dealing in a shady gray market, involved with tax evasion or money laundering, or even implicated in child smuggling.  No matter what these in-country contacts are doing, whether it’s above the table or far below it, as long as they procure the child for your clients, you won’t make a fuss, nor will you stop the gravy train as it keeps rolling.  Especially if you’re working in an industry where the demand keeps rising with lots of help from agencies just like yourself.

    A demand created by you to your paying clients, promising them quick referrals, quick timelines and “healthy” children.  American agency directors don’t care about their international contacts – as long as they deliver children with no fuss or muss.

    Denise’s initial contact for Guatemalan adoption in the United States knew Guatemalan adoption inside out.  Why she chose to break away from him is a matter of speculation.  Perhaps she believed she could do it herself, increase her take per adoption and achieve that fleeting rush of glory.

    Building Blocks Adoption Service, Inc. first Guatemalan adoption was completed in November 1999 while we were in Russia. These first Guatemalan clients were Kurt and Shelly Weber, a family we became acquainted with on the New Jersey LAPA board in October 2000.  They were singing BBAS’s praises and we posted, interrupting the love fest.

    According to BBAS “Board Minutes” for  September 1999 the Webers paid Denise’s airfare to Guatemala for their infant son’s pickup trip (Once again Denise flies overseas on someone else’s dime!).  Denise wrote it up for the November 1999 BBAS Electronic newsletter in her usual syrupy dripping terms, choking with descriptions of extreme poverty in Guatemala City.  It was insulting to read. She made you wonder why she wasn’t trying to help the poor in Guatemala instead of increasing her bottom line.

    Almost overnight, in July 1999, BBAS’s Guatemalan program began simultaneously with the Bulgarian one.  At the time, Dennis Gornostaev’s Russian program was in trouble. Her Russian clients were irate at the lost referrals and the longer-than-promised timeline.  It forced her to establish a relationship with Amrex in September 1999 to keep a Russian program running. This bears repeating: Russia brings clients to your door.

    But not everybody wants to adopt from Russia. Other adoption programs were vital to BBAS continued operations and increased market share.

    How did the BBAS Guatemalan program emerge, bringing with it the Bulgarian Program?  Who was the connector who connected Denise with Guatemala and Bulgaria?  The answer: Richard J. Marco, Jr. BBAS “Corporate Attorney” extraordinare. We always wondered why Rick Marco seemed so hands-on with Bulgaria and Guatemala.  It seemed as if he had a personal stake in those programs’ outcomes.

    He well may.

    Sometime in the mid- to late 1970s, Rick Marco attended Ohio Northern University for his undergraduate degree. While there, he seems to have made the acquaintance of another undergrad by the name of Rodolfo “Rudy” Rivera.

    Rudy’s resume says he attended ONU from 1973 to 1977 and received a BA in Political Science and Spanish. 

    Rick Marco’s Martindale Hubble profile says he also attended Ohio Northern, but it does not state what courses were taken or which dates he attended (Did he get into college or law school early? He would have been 24 at most when he was admitted to the bar, a year ahead of the usual schedule).

    We do not know how Rivera and Marco became acquainted at Ohio Northern.  They could have been roommates, classmates or shared activities.  However, it was a connection Rick Marco, Jr. would exploit for himself and Denise Hubbard in 1999.

    Rudy Rivera runs his own adoption agency called Children of the World, Inc.  If you explore that site and the website for his law firm, Anderson & Rivera, you notice Rudy Rivera IS Guatemalan adoption.  There is not much he doesn’t know, nor is there much he can’t find out for a client of any agency.  He is the most well-connected, knowledgeable person Denise Hubbard ever had for an international adoption program.

    (In 2007 and 2008, Guatemalan adoption became harder, with even more corruption.  Rudy Rivera, being the wheel that he is, is now moving his tentacles into another baby-oriented direction.  Not quite adoption, but more in the direction of rent-a-Guatemalan womb. If the Guatemalans are legally unable to breed for us one way, well goshdarnit, Rudy Rivera will be there for their women to breed for us another way.  We’ll be footing the bill in either scenario.  And Rudy will be happily collecting it.)

    We hate to say it, but hiring Rudy was one of the best moves Denise Hubbard made with respect to her agency (Not that she wouldn’t later screw it up). We also have since learned of a third player in this game.

    When Denise and Rick Marco made arrangements with Rudy Rivera to launch Guatemala, Rudy Rivera had an ace up his sleeve: Bulgaria.  We’ve gone into great detail about this, but it was through Mr. Rivera that Denise connected with Valeri Kamenov to launch the Bulgarian program.  Rudy Rivera was associated with Candace O’Brien at the time she was arrested in Munich, leaving at least three American families adopting from Bulgaria on the hook.  Denise salvaged one of Candace’s adoptions, that of a special needs girl from Buzovgrad.

    The other two families were left to fend on their own – and brought their children home from Burgas in the late summer of 1999.

    Since 2000, Guatemala has been a boon to not only BBAS but other agencies. It has its advantages such as healthy young infants in foster care and a required DNA test to determine if the biological mother and the baby are truly related, assuming that isn’t fudged.  However, “healthy” infants, the chase of the youngest, female referrals and allegations of shady financial dealings began to plague the Guatemalan adoption community in 2003 and 2004.

    Young babies in foster care, the attorneys involved in the Guatemalan adoption process and costs of the DNA test adds a few thousand dollars to an adoption.  A few thousand dollars over the cost of a Russian, Kazakh or Bulgarian adoption. Costs Denise Hubbard delights in passing along to her paying clients.  We imagine Denise selling Guatemalan adoption by highlighting the “healthy” babies, the “good” foster care they receive and the fast timeline for the baby’s adoption, not to mention the excellent “reps” who make it all happen. 

    Denise and her corporate attorney Rick Marco were not only overcharging their Guatemalan clients, they seemed to be earning more per Guatemalan adoption than the Amrex Russian program. How did we come to that conclusion?

    On Sept. 11, 2004 we received the BBAS signed Guatemala contract from Andrew and Gina Anderson.  Their contract, signed in November 2002, enumerated each separate fee and the amounts due.  These separate adoption fees were not unusual for BBAS, yet it appears if BBAS retains better financial control over its “reps” in Guatemala than it did in Russia or Bulgaria.  While this is certainly good for BBAS, it is not good thing for clients.

    We decided to estimate how much money BBAS could have been making if 25 Guatemalan adoptions were completed annually.  These are the figures we calculated.

Fee type


x 25



 Child identification*




 Retainer for services






                                                              * Only refundable fee, according to Guatemala contract. 

    This doesn’t even include the $18,000 “foreign source fee” BBAS collects in two $9,000 installments and wires to Guatemala (and whether they really send it all there to begin with is questionable).

    Now, that sum of money for a Guatemalan adoption isn’t unique to BBAS, as a few Guatemalan adoptive parents have pointed out to us. Wasatch, for one, charges the same amount.

    But note all the same that BBAS’s fee structure doesn’t include the DNA and medical fees in Guatemala, either. And that Wasatch is taking in less money at their end for a larger operation.


    And the fee structure isn’t even the worst thing in the contract.

   When we examined a copy the Andersons had sent us, we discovered the following clause inserted near the end.

THE ADOPTIVE PARENT(S) represent and acknowledge that they have read and understand this Agreement and accept it as policies and conditions for working with BUILDING BLOCKS.  THE ADOPTIVE PARENT(S) do agree not to represent BUILDING BLOCKS and its directors, officers, employees and agents, including doctors in a negative format verbally, media related, in a written manner or publicly.

    (Emphasis ours)

    This is the clearest proof we have had so far that our website has had an impact on Denise Hubbard’s adoption business. A negative one. This went even further than her efforts to muzzle the other Bulgaria clients right after we came home.

    Who else could this be directed at but the EEEEvil Cases and their accursed website? Note the reference to “doctors” ... obviously Teri Atkinson, who judging from our server logs reads this site so Denise doesn’t have to, has picked up on our reporting on Dr. Eric Downing and his questionable behavior elsewhere on this site.

    Not that that clause would amount to much if they ever tried to enforce it. How can the contract still be in force after BBAS completes the adoption, for one thing?

    And what does “negative format” mean? Sounds like Denise decided to try to play lawyer herself (since neither adoption queenpin nor real estate moguless seems to have worked out for her) and insert some that’ll-show-’em language into the contract without consulting the erstwhile real lawyer in the BBAS family. Could cause some real problems in court, that.

    Most egregiously, even if coherently drafted, it would even prevent signatories from exercising their completely lawful right to complain to BBAS’s licensing authority, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

    A contract that bars that remedy, absent any pending litigation between the parties, cannot be enforced in any way, shape or form.

    Nor do we think that BBAS and Rick Marco really have the time or money to try to enforce it. They would have to choose between pursuing legal redress and doing adoptions. And we can’t imagine Denise giving that latter one up until the state takes her license away, or she gets sued into bankruptcy, or a meteor falls on her ... you get the idea. All of which we wouldn’t mind coming to pass.


    In February 2003 we learned Building Blocks uses the following group of Guatemalan attorneys. 

Asistente del Departmento Internacional Diaz-Duran & Asociados

15 Avenida 18-28 Zona 13

Guatemala City, Guatemala

Telephone: (502) 361-3370

Fax: (502) 631-3317


    A partner at Diaz-Duran of this agency is a “JP”.  There is an attorney by the name of Beatriz Armas de Ortega who handles some BBAS cases.  A woman named Stephanie, who speaks a little English, is the liaison between the law firm and the agencies Diaz-Duran contracts with.

    The person who gave us this information told us to email Stephanie for confirmation that BBAS was associated with Diaz-Duran.  In August 2004 I emailed asking if they were linked with Building Blocks Adoption Service, Inc.

    An individual named Ximena Aguilar wrote back, confirming Diaz-Duran worked with BBAS:


From: Ximena Aguilar

To: 'Elizabeth Case'

Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2004 12:54 PM

Subject: RE: American Adoption Agency

Yes we still work with Building Blocks Adoption Service.


Ximena Aguilar

    Throughout 2004 Denise was trying to steer as many clients away from her failing adoption programs into Guatemala as the following post to the Yahoo! Guatemala group shows:

Subject: Just switched adoptive country from Haiti to Guatemala

Hi - My husband and I just switched our adoptive country to Guatemala.
We had just completed our dossier for a Haitian adoption last week,
as the violence there was beginning to peak.  It was a very difficult
decision, but we felt it was a good one - most Haitian adoptions are
now on hold or are seriously hampered by the violence there.  So this
week we've experienced a range of emotion - from sorrow (for our
situation - but more so for the Haitian people) to loss to excitement
in learning about a new country and culture.  Also, the time between
referral and getting your child is much shorter in Guatemala than it
is in Haiti
(Haiti is 9-12 months after referral - and that's under
normal circumstances).  What can any of you tell me about your
adoption processes.  Anything we should be looking out for (positive
or negative).  We live in Cleveland, OH and are working with Building
Blocks Adoption Agency here in the area.

Look forward to hearing about your experiences and stories.


    Let’s see.  Lyz couldn’t adopt from Haiti (and that’s the second Haitian non-adoption we’ve heard of with BBAS), the Sheridans couldn’t adopt from Georgia, and “Maria” couldn’t adopt from Kazakhstan.  What was Denise doing?

    The very next month “Lyz” was spewing the BBAS/Hubbard agency line on the Yahoo! Guatemalan Adoption Group.  Where have we seen this before?


Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2004 16:03:46 -0500
From: Lyz Bly

Subject: Re: Re: Facilitator / Attorney References

My agency was a little "funny" at first about their attorneys/reps,
however, they did give me their names and the numbers of parents whose
cases were handled by the same rep/atty who are handing our case, and
they had to give us the atty's full name when we signed the POA.  (They
also gave us the rep's name when I pushed a little.)  The only thing
they've asked is that we don't try to contact either of them
individually.  Their reasoning:  they don't want parents communicating
with the attys or reps - they believe that that is their job.  I
completely understand this - you wouldn't want the people from your
agency having conversations about your case with your attorney and then
call her yourself with the same set of questions...Not only would this
take up the attorney's time (double the phone calls = twice the amount
of work/time), but it could lead to confusion and miscommunication.  I
also believe there is something to what Robyn said about agencies being
leary of giving out the good contacts they've worked to establish. 

That said, Kimi should ask for references from other parents who have
used the same atty/rep - if they won't give her references, then I would
see that as a red flag.

Good luck!
mom to [daughter] b. 2/3/04, ref. 3/3/04, waiting for DNA......


    Instant replay!  Changing countries, fast referrals, don’t contact the reps in Guatemala …Hitting replay never seemed as treacherous.

    Advice from a green PAP was advice NOT to follow.  Especially when the advice was coming from Denise Lynn Harding Hubbard.

    Using such tactics on paying clients – no matter which program they are in – does no good when you are lying to them to begin with.

    In September 2003 our first disgusted and hurt Guatemalan clients Kimberly and Jonathan Moody stepped forward to share their story. Gina and Andrew Anderson’s story followed in May 2004.

    In 2006 we learned that Denise had reached new lows in gouging her Guatemalan clients.

    And that’s not even getting into what went on in Guatemala.


    Rudy Rivera runs his own adoption agency called Children of the World, Inc.  If you explore that site and the website for his law firm, Anderson & Rivera, you notice Rudy Rivera IS Guatemalan adoption.  There is not much he doesn’t know, nor is there much he can’t find out for a client of any agency.  He is the most well-connected, knowledgeable person Denise Hubbard ever had for an international adoption program.

    Into 2007 and 2008, Guatemalan adoption became harder, with even more corruption.  Rudy Rivera, being the wheel that he is, is now moving his tentacles into another baby-oriented direction.  Not quite adoption, but more in the direction of rent-a-Guatemalan womb:

    If the Guatemalans are legally unable to breed for us one way, well goshdarnit, Rudy Rivera will be there for their women to breed for us another way.  We’ll be footing the bill in either scenario.  And Rudy will be happily collecting it.