Chapter Fifty-Three

The Corrigans’ Continuing Process

    Unfortunately, the Corrigans and two other families by the name of Atkinson (see “When Clients Attack”) and Zoldak were about to have travel delays. Much happened in February 2001.

    If you will recall, there was at that time a minor international adoption scandal in the United States and Great Britain regarding the Allen family in California who had been set up by a “facilitator” regarding the adoption of biracial infant twin girls.

    Unfortunately, before the adoption could be finalized, the birth mother and the facilitator conspired to remove the babies from the couple and gave them to a family by the name of Kilshaw in Wales. Since they had first made contact via email, the story became known as the “Internet twins” case.

    This was a nasty story, which was finally resolved by the birth father of the girls winning custody after they were returned to the United States following a brief spell in the British child welfare system.

    This obviously caused a stir in Bulgaria. All of a sudden, their newspapers were filled with “scandalous” stories about orphanage directors selling children to Americans, with the hint that they might be adopting the children to harvest and sell their organs.  

    The selling of body parts has always haunted Americans adopting foreign children. It is believed by many in South America and Eastern Europe that when Americans adopt children, the children are then used as organ donors once they are home so the families can make money off of them. 

    As we all know, this is utter bunk.

    But it is a rumor that continues to be spread in certain sections of the foreign media, especially in Eastern Europe when negative foreign adoption stories crop up.  Especially stories about babies being “sold” over the Internet.

    The negative stories began in the Bulgarian newspaper Monitor in January 2001, right after the Allen and Kilshaw family adoption nightmares. 

    Monitor, a publication with something of a sleazy, tabloid reputation, ran an article critical of the adoption of Bulgarian children by foreigners and made much use of the fact that Bulgarian children were placed on Internet photo listings – presumably for the sale of their body parts.

    One agency in the article was singled out – Adopt An Angel in Alaska.  The article showed a page from Adopt An Angel’s photolisting, showing a boy from Bulgaria.  It was all quite trumped up and hysterical sounding, but one part of that article wasn’t: the article mentioned five orphanages being pegged as selling children to Americans: Burgas, Vidin, Kazanlek/Buzovgrad, Razgrad, and Kurjali. 

    To our knowledge, and by contact with Adopt An Angel clients, Adopt An Angel did not place children from Kurjali, Burgas and Buzovgrad, but did have one client traveling to Vidin. 

    For all of 2000, it had been Building Blocks placing the majority of children from Bourags, Buzovgrad and Kurjali — as a matter of fact, these three orphanages were where Denise and Valeri Kamenov started the BBAS Bulgarian program.

    The first BBAS families to travel to Bulgaria traveled to Kurjali.  The first successful placement of a Bulgarian child that BBAS had was from the Pediatric hospital in Buzovgrad, run by Dr. Panova.

    The rest came from Kurjali, whose orphanage director was a doctor by the name of Mela Gospodinova and our own Burgas with Dr. Sabrutova as its head.

    Something had happened in Bulgaria, and it wasn’t Adopt An Angel’s fault. The proverbial smelly brown stuff had hit the fan, and it was heading BBAS’s direction.

    On Feb. 24, 2001, the post below appeared on the Bulgaria list from the Atkinson family, BBAS clients who had identified their son from Buzovgrad through the Rainbow Kids photolisting.  

     Denise was telling her clients it was all families and agencies whose dates were to be delayed. This was upsetting enough for the Atkinsons, one of Denise’s BIGGEST supporters, to post publicly, going against all the dictates of THE BLOCKS:

All:  My husband and I were scheduled to leave for Bulgaria this Monday to bring home our son who is currently in an orphanage in Buzovgrad.  Our adoption agency director called us early this morning and said that police had taken all adoption records including those from the orphanage in Buzovgrad or in all of Bulgaria.  Our adoption agency director left for a seminar in Washington, DC and I was so upset that I failed to ask her this.  She did say that this included any parents scheduled to pick up their children.  Has anyone else heard anything about adoptions being stopped or have any other information that would be helpful?

    This caused quite a stir on the list, for no other client from any other agency had their pick up dates delayed at all.  Denise, with the help of Valeri Kamenov, LIED about this, causing more panic than was necessary to not only the Atkinson family, but to many other families who were adopting with other agencies.  

    The Atkinsons were told to cancel their trip and advised Sue and Rob Corrigan to ask Denise about their travel plans. Upon seeing the Atkinsons’ post, Denise called Mrs. Atkinson up and told her not to post to the Bulgaria list anymore about delays and cancellations for their son.

    Dorothy Blevins, another BBAS Bulgaria, upon seeing the Atkinsons’ post, called BBAS quite distraught. Denise told Dorothy that the Bulgarians were checking to see that everything was “legal” due to the Allen/Kilshaw adoption mess in England and the kerfuffle over the Internet connection.  Clients again were told not to post publicly because the Bulgarians were watching!  

    Since Denise was out of the office when the Atkinsons posted publicly (indeed, she was in the Washington, D.C., area for an adoption convention, as she had posted to her website), she must have been going crazy. 

    Sandi Harding had the task of calming clients down.  On Feb. 24, right after the Atkinsons’ post, this email was sent to Bulgarian clients.  It was a summary of the article in Monitor, passed along from Valeri Kamenov.

I have forwarded on your email to Denise and she will be calling you.  She has asked me to tell you not to post any messages on the Internet because the Bulgarians monitor the boards and we do not want to cause a panic. I am enclosing a letter from Valeri explaining the situation…Please hang in there and read Valeri’s letter below:


The police have started to check all orphanages and the documents of all children because of the photo listing that a not licensed agency from aliaska put up on thair site.  The police thinks that there are illegal adoptions.  Thay are checking also the documents of the agencies (Bulgarian and American agencies) and also the documents of the families.  Thay are checking everybody who is involved in the adoptions in Bulgaria.  All our documents are also in the police.  There are also the documents of the children who had to leave for America with thair parents.  We do not know how much it will continue.  But our lawyer advise we need to delay the trips of the families for the middle of April.  If thay can travel earlier we will inform you.  We sorry about the families who have bought tickets.  But it will be unusefull for them to come here and wait here.  Without the documents in the orphanage can not give them thair child.  Without our documents (passport, court decree, birth certificate) thay can not issue a viza.

All our documents are fine and legal.  But we just have to wait for the investigation to finish and receive all our documents back.  


    An Adopt-An-Angel client informed me that an attorney by the name of Dobrev was involved somehow, due to the fact “they” were investigating Buzovgrad. 

    Yet another fellow adopter using All God’s Children was informed that the investigation involved all agencies that had photolistings.  All of the orphanages were allegedly undergoing a two-day audit or investigation.  

    But why?  And why were the only families experiencing pickup delays BBAS families?

    On Feb. 26, Bulgaria Online ran this story, translated from the Standart newspaper.  

    To say the least, we were stunned. The worst we had suspected was at least partially confirmed:


Police officers and prosecutors undertook investigation at the orphanage “Mother and Child” in Bourgas for the reason of a warning that illicit adoptions took place there, the police officer in Bourgas said.  The Superior Cassation Prosecutor’s Office ordered the check by the end of last week. With the support of the Economic police in Bourgas the magistrates had confiscated all the documents from the orphanage and filed an investigation case.

The teams are going to search for data on the personnel involved in a channel for trafficking in children abroad, police sources said.  Inspectors from Bourgas and Sofia also took part in the investigation.  They will check up together with the police the documentation of the orphanage on the adoptions made in the last three years.  Every case of children adopted abroad will be checked up separately, sources from the prosecutor’s office elaborated.

Dr. Zhivka Sabroutova, director of the orphanage, was not found for commentaries.  She has not showed up at the orphanage from the very beginning of the investigation and does not answer her mobile phone.  Attendants from the orphanage admitted, however, that the police inquired them of the adopted children several days ago. 

The Bourgas orphanage “Mother and Child” is situated in the Zornitsa residential district close to the building of the United Regional Hospital.  There orphans and abandoned children from one month to five years of age live.  Among them are kids with congenital mental and physical malformations.  Dr. Zhivka Sabroutova was appointed director of the orphanage in 1991.

    Indeed, during this time there was one family using Spence-Chapin, a Charity agency who had gone to Spence-Chapin’s adoption seminar in New York City in August 2000 where Dr. Sabroutova was speaking.  

    This same family reported quite a time adopting their daughter from the orphanage while all this was going on.  They did not paint a very nice portrait of our fair orphanage director or the institution she was running.  Or the trip they made to Burgas for their first visit.  

    We learned more from this odd little article about Burgas than we ever had while waiting over a year for Anguel. 

    More was to come about these investigations in a few months. Needless to say, the BBAS families were quite in a tizzy when the above article was sent to them by Denise — and the link posted to the EEAC Bulgaria list by Daniel and Elizabeth Case.

    That day, when Denise was back in the office from the adoption horse and carriage seminar she had been conducting in Virginia, the following “Bulgarian Program Update” was sent to the clients, signed by both Valeri Kamenov and Denise.  Darn those Atkinsons for posting to the list about their travel delay for their son!

            Dear families:  

As you all may have heard this weekend (if not we are advising you at this time) a minor delay has occurred in the Bulgarian program.  Evidentally according to Valeri, our agency representative the police are investigating adoptions in general throughout Bulgaria due to an agency in Alaska posting children on the Internet.  The adoptions have NOT shut down.  Documents entered into the Ministries and courts are still moving and being processed.  The only delay is for parents making trips to Bulgaria to visit orphanages for the 1st or 2nd time due to the fact that all of the children’s files are being taken into custody of the police to review and make sure that all the children’s documents are in good order. Valeri assures us that all of our parents documents and the children’s documents are in excellent condition.  As soon as these documents are released, parents will resume traveling.

Valeri is personally attending each investigation of our cases to ensure no problems occur.

Right now all must sit tight and relax.  It is routine when governments place children that they make sure all adoption rules are followed.  We will keep you posted on changes immediately.

Denise Hubbard

Valeri Kamenov

    There it is again!  It’s routine!  Blame the foreign government!  They have no control!  Just a minor delay!  Hey, these things happen all the time!  No sweat!  Put the blame on everybody but themselves and lie to their clientele about it.

    On the Corrigans’ behalf, I called three adoption agencies who all had ties to Burgas through Charity — VIDA here in the Hudson Valley, Spence-Chapin in NYC and AIAA out in Michigan. 

    Not one of these agencies was having any delay in sending families over for pickups. 

    The lady I spoke with at VIDA said, “As a matter of fact, we have a family right now in Bulgaria picking their child up.  We have not been informed of any delays.”

    Of the two Adopt-An-Angel clients who were traveling to pick up their children, not one had a problem. Nor any delays.  

    Hence, no agency’s clients besides BBAS’s were experiencing any complications. Hmm ...

    One effect of all this had on all agencies was that on the public photolisting sites, any and all Bulgarian children were immediately removed from Rainbow Kids, Precious In His Sight and the Welcome Garden. This was from AIAA to Adopt An Angel to BBAS to FOC to any and all agencies who placed pictures of the Bulgarian children.

    You can imagine the sadness and frustration that the Corrigan family feeling.  They had a travel date at long last for N – and then the “snags” and fun were to begin in earnest with BBAS, the Bulgarian scandal and then with Rick Marco’s involvement .

Back (in the Corrigans’ story as well Next

Next (and last) chapter in the Corrigans’ story