Chapter Sixty

Candace, What Has Become of You?


    We read the Novinar story and tried to contact Mr. Koch at the Munich television station “Pro Sieben”.  All to no avail.

    Next, we solicited the help of an International Adoption contact who lived in Europe.  He knew the story of what happened to O’Brien in Munich in April 1999. 

    He said she had worked for the Voice of America/Radio Free Europe in the mid to late 1990s.  It was while working for VOA/RFE O'Brien became interested in international adoption.

    We came across a twisted tidbit about O’Brien during her VOA/RFE days.  It appears O’Brien did something which shows exceedingly bad character and judgment.  It makes for salacious reading — certainly O'Brien hadn't wanted this information public.  Does she treat her male subordinates in the United States like she allegedly treated Mr. Paul T. Currier in the Czech Republic in 1996?

    There are many Americans living in Europe, Germany especially, who have adopted Eastern European children.  Most of these people are in the United States armed forces.  It’s difficult to adopt while you’re living overseas.  O’Brien stepped in to fill the void that the Atlantic Ocean represented between clients and agencies.

    However, she became caught in a snag.  She did not have an agency license in Germany.  Nor did she have a proper license to do adoptions from there.  Although she was a neophyte to the International Adoption, she was an attorney.  She should have fully studied the laws before she began placing children.

    She was soon caught in Edmund Koch's Pro-Sieben TV undercover adoption scam, and was portrayed as a child trafficker.

    The only thing she had done wrong, under German law, was to operate without a proper placement license to let German citizens adopt. She also had violated visa rules.  The case, said our source, was never officially closed.   She spent a few months in a German jail.  Upon her release, she returned to the United States.

    BBAS Bulgarian program appeared out of nowhere — quick, rapid referrals, lies about a quick timeline — when Volgograd crashed in June 1999, eroding her relationship with Dennis Gornostaev.  We revealed   O'Brien involvement in the establishment of BBAS Bulgarian program.  The spoke linking O'Brien, Kamenov, Hubbard and Marco was Rudy Rivera.

    It was also with great relief BBAS's first Bulgarian client, after many years of silence, admitted O’Brien’s role in beginning the adoption that BBAS took the credit for completing. 

    Candace O’Brien has her own side of the story.  Like all mid-level child pimps, she pushes blame on to everybody else but herself.  In an eye rolling email forwarded to us in the summer of 2001, she explains what happened in Munich. 

My name is Candace O’Brien. I am in receipt of the comments provided to you  by your source and that you provided a family.

Indeed, it is unfortunate that you did not find it necessary or advisable to contact me recently when I sent an email to you identifying myself.  This
would have provided you with the opportunity to more thoroughly investigate the facts that your source provided.

I understand that your role in adoption is that of a watchdog for the adoption community. I congratulate and commend you on this undertaking. I am often disheartened when I hear of unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of families and make it so difficult for those of us who work diligently to help families and children.

International adoption is a noble endeavor; however, it is not without hardships for both families seeking the help of professionals and for the professionals helping families, as my story certainly illustrates.

I am somewhat perplexed, however, by your desire to put out an all-points bulletin to the adoption community and then to inform families of this most unfortunate episode in my life. After all, your “trusted and ethical” source clearly indicated that they did not think that my activities were of a “criminal” or “fraudulent” nature.  

Though you do not seem eager to discuss with me what happened, I will take the opportunity to share with you some facts.  I would also suggest that should you dig a bit deeper with sources in Germany you will find some respected and ethical adoption professionals who worked with me closely and who regularly referred to me families seeking to adopt, not because as your source indicates, “[I] often did not know what I was doing” but because my adoption work was first caliber. I take great offense to your “sources” comments about my adoption skills.

Let me begin by sharing with you the following:  In the late 90’s, after visiting various orphanages throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, I made the decision to use my considerable international skills, background, education and enthusiasm in helping unite families and orphaned children.  I decided that this was a noble cause and I wanted to devote my life’s work to accomplishing this difficult (and as my story shows), sometimes unfairly maligned endeavor.

I had decided that it would be most convenient to locate myself in Germany. Once there, I soon realized there was an active adoption community among  Americans living and working abroad, particularly military members and civilians working for the US military forces.  I was fortunate enough to meet a couple of American social workers, one in particular who was very involved in the adoption network and who was very excited about my location in Germany because it would provide an excellent service to families in Europe.  These social workers began to refer families to me.  Indeed, I was just beginning my adoption work and had much to learn.  These social workers provided tremendous support and a wealth of information. They introduced me to military officers in JAG (military legal office) who provided further assistance and guidance, invited me to their seminars and network meetings and worked closely with me on cases.  This support, combined with my extensive international background and experience, resulted in my quickly becoming an adoption professional.

I attended seminars given in Germany in which many US agencies presented their adoption programs to overseas families. There were also US agencies who held seminars privately and who worked with both US citizens and German citizens. None of these agencies nor I had licensure in Germany.  I had sought advice about this both from a JAG officer involved in adoption and private German counsel.  I was advised that there should be no problem since these children would not become German citizens.  Further, military members and civilians working for the US Forces were under the jurisdiction of the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) and did not fall under the jurisdiction of German law in many instances, including immigration laws. I worked very closely with the US Consulate in Frankfurt.  The consular staff knew me well and knew that I worked in Munich.

Most unfortunately, I was the victim of an unscrupulous journalist [Edmund Koch] who, in an effort to make a story, fabricated a story about me and my work.  The German authorities thought that they had to react in a very serious and tough manner.  I became the example to anyone contemplating adoption work.  Very unfortunate for me.  In fact, it could have been any one of many US professionals who regularly travel to Germany to work with Americans and foreign families wishing to adopt. I pose a question to you.  Should you therefore warn families about all the various agencies and professionals who traveled to Europe and who in fact broke German law?  I think not.  What would the purpose be of doing this?

Due to the fact that there exists no extradition treaties between the US and Germany, German authorities often detain US citizens during investigations because of fear of flight. I was therefore detained for a short time (not months as your source indicates) while the German authorities investigated the merits of the allegations brought against me and other professionals with whom I worked by the unscrupulous journalist.  It was a horrible nightmare for someone like me who holds myself to the highest standards in my work.   Your source’s opinion that “they would have a heck of a time getting her back here” is false.  In fact, during their investigation, the German authorities allowed me to return to the United States for 5 weeks to visit family.  I could have chosen the coward’s path and remained in the United States (as your source suggests).  I chose instead to return to Germany because I believed in myself and my work, knew I had done nothing wrong and felt that it was imperative that I uphold my reputation.  Several weeks after my return to Germany, with a respectful nod, the German authorities allowed me to return to the United States.

If my adoption work had been anything less than outstanding, I would still be in Germany, I can assure you of that.  In fact, the investigations that I underwent and the fact that I was released is a testament to the quality of my work and an indication of my knowledge of international adoption law and practice.

Soon after my return to the United States from Germany last year, I was invited to a Christmas party given by a trusted friend and adoption professional who provided unending support to me during my most difficult time in Germany.  Some families who had adopted children through my program would be present at this party.  The last time I had seen these children they were in orphanages.  

Imagine my surprise at this reunion.  To see these children happy and smiling and living with loving families was the most emotional, uplifting experience of my life (with the exception of my first adoption when my family met their daughter for the first time).  My families welcomed me with warmth, love, support and sincere thanks for bringing them and their children together; they all expressed sincere sorrow for the suffering that I had endured in Germany as a result of my work on their behalf. This experience gave me the resolve and strength to continue my work in adoption and pursue what has been the most challenging and rewarding work of my life.

It is imperative that all of us involved in international adoption, regardless of our prospective, strive to uphold the highest standards of professionalism and ethical practices. It is expected of me as a professional and I expect it of others. I think these standards must apply to all of us regardless of our role in adoption. The impact of our actions via the Internet has vast implications. The Internet, used wisely and ethically, is a powerful and effective tool for providing information and support to adoptive families.  I think all of us owe a duty of great care in how we proceed to disseminate information.

I hope that my comments here have shed further light for you on what happened and perhaps even provide some insight into the kind of professional that I am.  I take pride in my work in adoption and what happened to me was much more than an unfortunate episode.  I suffered greatly at the hands of an unscrupulous journalist and a legal system that does not afford the kinds of protections that we in America are so fortunate to have.  I’m not sure what lesson one takes from such an unfair situation.  I think perhaps that life can be harsh and unfair but when life presents a hurdle -- one that may seem insurmountable -- you just pick yourself up and pursue what it is you believe in.  I believe in my work and I love my work.  

I wish you the best in your continued efforts to provide support to adoptive families and to engage in constructive dialogue about the many complex and difficult issues surrounding international adoption both here and abroad.

Candace O'Brien

    Once back in the United States, O’Brien worked briefly in Illinois as an immigration attorney, verifying Mrs. Penn's story. She had a Web presence here and here.

    At the time of our 2001 enquiries she worked for International Adoption Resource (IAR) in Boca Raton, Fla.   O’Brien was listed on their website as “International Adoption Consultant” with an email of

    IAR’s director was Rebecca Thurmond. It was the same IAR which was in Indiana, the same IAR Linda Wright contacted when she had come home from Russia in November 1999.  Then Thurmond was using Amrex for her Russian facilitators.

    In July 2000 Rebecca Thurmond moved to Coral Springs, Florida.  She incorporated IAR as a for-profit, focusing on Guatemala instead of Russia.

    O’Brien herself moved from Illinois to Florida around the same time.  She worked at IAR for approximately two years.  We do not know the exact reasons for her leaving Thurmond’s agency, but it was a wise choice.  She had established herself, without recrimination, in the international adoption agency world in the States. 

    She used her connections with Rudy Rivera and the knowledge she had gained working at IAR and – can you believe it? - set up her own agency.

     According to Articles of Incorporation filed at the Florida Secretary of State’s office, Candace M. O'Brien of Miami Beach, Fla., registered a FOR PROFIT corporation called AdoptInternational in December 2001.  The only officer listed is Candace M. O'Brien.

     In July 2003 we chanced upon AdoptInternational through a link from the Precious In His Sight photolisting and did not recognize the agency’s name.  You can imagine the shock when clicking on the child’s photo to learn more and Candace O’Brien’s name came up as the contact person. The URL led to AdoptInternational. At the time, O'Brien was promoting three foreign programs: Azerbaijan, Guatemala and Poland. No Bulgarian or Russian program.

     The next link followed was  “About Us.”  A photo of the loving, blonde O'Brien cuddling a baby met the viewer. It was a face to the name we’d heard so much about the past four years.  Accompanying O'Brien's photo was another photo for a “Vincent McNamara,” a name not familiar to us. Vincent was also holding a baby — perhaps both were clutching infants to prove how much they “love” the babies and how great their devotion is to them.

    Vincent McNamara had no experience whatsoever working in the adoption industry. Why was he an “International Program Director”? Because anyone can be one, that’s why (i.e. Wendy Stamper, Kelly Carter-Hubbard). His work background consisted of 12 years in “humanitarian efforts providing response and recovery assistance on major disasters, as well as fund raising for support of these efforts.” With his real experience at a charitable non-profit, he is actually better qualified than O'Brien.

    Once becoming acquainted with O'Brien, McNamara might have seen a huge profit potential in international adoptions and decided to leave his position as a “Vice President and Director of Contingency Planning for a major financial institution" to devote his full time efforts to AdoptInternational's profit margins.

    McNamara's bio reads more like a résumé than the description of job duties usually preferred by agency professionals.  The end paragraph could be found on any job application: “With my new position I look forward to leveraging my years of international travel experience along with my education including an M.B.A. in International Business to providing the best program services for our clients.”

     Would a M.B.A. in International Business be in how to draft impossible contracts, wiggle out of health issues of P.I. kids, and basically throw clients to unscrupulous facilitators overseas?  Would a career being tossed out of Munich and Bulgaria and having lawsuits filed against her help clients at all if they knew the truth — or cared? 

    The next time we looked at AdoptInternational's website in 2004, Vincent McNamara's photo was gone, along with his bio. Where was Vincent now?

     “Devoted to Making a Difference” is how O'Brien portrayed her FOR PROFIT agency. In the brief corporate-sounding bio from 2003, O'Brien states not only she’s an attorney, but claims to have been a corporate executive. She lived and worked abroad in EE (didn’t mention Radio Free Europe by name, but we know why now) and had been changed when she saw the suffering orphans there. Like all dutiful adoption professionals, she felt her “background, education and experience could provide a great service to orphaned and abandoned children and those in search of them.”

    In other words, easy marks for easy targets and sticky fingers on shrinking wallets.

     Since AdoptInternational is a FOR PROFIT agency, one wonders if O'Brien could find it within her budget to refund the Penns the monies she owes them (see last chapter).  The answer to that is an obvious no.

    O'Brien in late 2003 and early 2004, moved forward in her career of “Adoption Expert” by penning an advice column in The Miami Herald. What an adoption expert. 

    Today, in 2005, the AdoptInternational website boasts “testimonials” of happy families who have completed adoptions with O'Brien.  O'Brien's photo appears holding a Guatemalan baby with the caption:Luis Angel checks out Candace.” She's still blonde and perky, but Luis Angel looks confused — who was that woman mugging for the camera?

    What's even more hilarious is the blurb for the new Bulgarian program.  How on earth did this woman have the audacity to place this tripe on her website?  Bulgaria in 2005 is all but closed to foreign adoptions.  Few referrals have been given out and a few agencies have even done away with their Bulgarian programs.  Did the Bulgarians know the jailbird O'Brien was trying to "place" children from their country?

Announcing the Opening of Bulgaria! We are pleased to announce the opening of our newest program in Bulgaria. Our Executive Director launched a program in Bulgaria several years ago. Bulgaria has recently joined the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and has enacted law and regulation allowing for foreign adoptions to begin once again. AdoptInternational has entered into a cooperative agreement with an accredited Bulgarian organization and we are currently in search of families wishing to apply for this program. Please visit our Programs Galleries for further information on this program.

    Not much has changed with O'Brien (other than that little lawsuit being made public), yet she's still in business, pretending to be in it for the kiddies and operating her for-profit adoption agency.

    AdoptInternational hit an enormous pothole in May 2008.  Like every other small agency in the United States, O’Brien applied for Hague accreditation from the Council on Accreditation (COA). Even after taking the step of changing AdoptInternational’s status from FOR PROFIT to non-profit, she thought that would be enough to get accredited.

    It was not.  It turns that COA, which some of us IA critics had feared would go easy on agencies, actually exercised due diligence and read her agency’s website (which, if you read it as of 2010, shows that Candace has a very healthy ego. Is there a page on it which doesn't mention her name?). They noted that she was promoting programs that weren’t open at the time, and said she was already accredited ... more or less writing checks she couldn’t cash. So, they denied her accreditation

    O’Brien went ballistic.  She posted PDFs on her website with the correspondence she had with the COA over the issue.  HOW DARE they deny her accreditation!  Her! Even after they gave valid reasons:

The adoption provider is not Hague accredited and stating otherwise is improper and unethical conduct ... Agency lists Guatemala as

a program source yet adoption service providers should not be accepting applications for this country. Therefore, the information

posted is misleading and a misrepresentation of the facts ... Agency lists Azerbaijan as a program source with brief processing timelines.

New cases from Azerbaijan have not been processed since 2006. Therefore, the information posted is misleading and a misrepresentation of the fact.

    Ouch! Candace naturally petitioned for reconsideration. Her rebuttal is pure backpedaling.  “Was going to” ... “website did not clearly reflect this position” etc.  She portrays herself as magnanimous.  But we know better than that. Note how she says that “At the time we were anticipating that AdoptInternational would soon be accredited ...” In other words, they were expecting the process to be the rubber stamp many of us had feared it would be.

    Oh, it gets better.

... however, it was NEVER my intention that the copy that stated AdoptInternational was Hague-accredited should have appeared on the site at that time.

    Sure it wasn’t, Candace. Sure. So how does she explain this?

I made changes to the design of this section of the site as described above ... and I mistakenly gave the website consultants text that included the paragraph

indicating that AdoptInternational was Hague-accredited and then failed to review it once it appeared on the site.

    This is problematic in more than one way. By now, we have some experience in creating and updating websites ourselves (as may many of you, dear readers) and this doesn’t pass the smell test.

    When you talk about making changes to the design of a website, usually you mean the background images, the colors, the layout or things like that. Not the content. Why would she have included anything textual in what she gave the web “consultants” (i.e., someone’s relative who had the free time and knew a little bit more (which is to say, anything) about HTML coding than Candace herself did? If you make that change, you are changing more than the “design” of your website.

    And why would you have the text indicating that the agency was Hague-accredited lying around where this might happen if it was “NEVER [your] intention” that it appear in pixel before the agency was, in fact, accredited? Seems like an accident that was waiting to happen, and then actually did. If it was an accident, that is.

    Lawyers, like (we remind you) Candace herself, have cute legalistic euphemisms for what really happened here. They say someone “misspoke” or “made a misstatement of material fact”. All to avoid saying the “P” word. To be fair, Candace wasn’t under oath here, but all the same it pretty much looks like she was playing the same game as Denise did: get clients in the pipeline so you can hit the ground running when you finally hit the ground, no matter whether you can legally do so or not (Even her excuse — “Truly, it was an innocent oversight” — sounds disturbingly like Denise talking about Simona as she was preparing to stab her in the back: “She has gotten the shaft truly she has”)

    And what if it was? What if we take Candace at her word (which requires an awful lot of effort)? This is troubling. By Candace’s own account, she compounded one lapse with a second, making it not just sloppiness but sloppiness squared.

    If you run a business, and have (as many do) a website, you better make sure you know what’s appearing on that website. It is your responsibility. Sometimes text gets mistakenly uploaded that shouldn’t. That’s exactly why you review what gets uploaded even if it’s just two sentences. We do it with our new pages, and we’re sure other website owners (even international adoption agencies) do it too. That Candace didn’t do this, especially when her agency was going through a process essential to its continued viability, a process in which it could reasonably be expected that every word on AdoptInternational’s website would be scrutinized, speaks volumes about her competence in running other aspects of an international adoption agency, aspects in which the consequences of such oversights could be far worse.

    And when you remember that Candace is (nominally) an attorney in good standing in the state of Illinois, to the point that she makes it the first thing she says about herself in her online bios, it just gets even worse. Lawyers, of all people, have to know better than to let this happen. If you allow an, uh, “misstatement of material fact” of this magnitude to get into a document to be submitted to a court or a regulatory body, and then have to admit you failed to review said document prior to submission, you get sanctioned and/or turned down, with prejudice. If you are an associate in a firm of any size and reputation, you don’t make partner and will likely be seeking employment elsewhere, perhaps outside the legal profession, at some point in the near future. If you are a solo practitioner, you will have a lot of problems getting new clients if this gets out.

    Candace was either grossly incompetent or seriously malfeasant here. You would do well to satisfy your international adoption needs somewhere else.


    She continues to work with shady foreign folks in-country.  Her Kazakhstan facilitator is Gabdulin Karimovich Nigmat.  Mr. Nigmat, or “Nigmat” as he is known, was the facilitator for Adoption International Program (AIP).  He works primarily in the Ust region.

    He is the FORMER facilitator for AIP.  AIP’s former boss, the horrid Orson Moses, is currently incarcerated in California.  For years Moses bilked countless PAPs out of money, children and hopes.  His bait and switch photolisting tactics are legendary.  Go here and here to learn more.  Truly, Orson’s con was the longest running we’ve seen in I.A.

    O’Brien claimed ignorance of Nigmat’s provenance, but she’s lying.  She knew or should have known his background and his former handler.  AdoptInternational and AIP advertised kids on the same photolisting site for years.  She is so desperate to keep her agency going she will sign on with any unconnected foreign operative in order to get a PAP.  This is the way O’Brien has always worked and will continue to do so.

    Of course, this being 2010 and all, Candy has her own blog.  It’s linked from AdoptInternational’s website, the very same vanity project where all the staff pages link to Candace’s user profile (the one that, in case you weren’t satisfied by three paragraphs of her profile, you can click “more” and read three more paragraphs with the same information, just even more hagiographic).  The first entry was a blather about Madonna’s failed adoption attempt of Mercy from Malawi.

    Does this come as a shock?

    It seemed that, after the kerfuffle with COA, AdoptInternational became yet another fallen flag on the railways of international adoption. But Candace wasn't out.  Her living in Florida, having AdoptInternational and being a Rudy Rivera protégé is serving her well for ANOTHER child-selling profit venture: Guatemalan surrogacy.

Introducing Our Guatemalan Surrogacy Program!!!!

We are very pleased to announce our Guatemalan Surrogacy Program. We at Advocates for Surrogacy realize the importance of providing affordable options for our clients particularly in light of the recent global financial crises. Further, there is a current crisis in international adoption with program closures, general instability, prohibitive travel requirements, and increasing restrictions against single parents and those in their 40’s. Our teams in the U.S. and Guatemala have worked together for many years in adoption so this surrogacy program represents a natural progression of our work. This innovative new program in Guatemala offers major cost savings (fees are almost one fourth the costs of surrogacy programs in U.S.), convenience (only a two and half hour flight from Miami), full service branch office in Guatemala with fully bilingual staff, top notch fertility clinics with highly trained physicians and bilingual staff and beautiful accommodations in one of the most beautiful countries in the Americas.

    Read more on why Guatemala should be YOUR destination to have a surrogate mother carry your baby:

Introducing our Guatemalan Program!!

Health-care costs in the United States are continually rising and insurance often does not cover infertility treatments such as IVF procedures nor egg donation. Surrogacy is often beyond the financial reach of many people particularly in these times of global financial crisis. Many sanctions which have been instituted in the adoption process in the United States and abroad such as country closings, general instability, and prohibitive travel requirements have left many loving and nurturing families without the capability of experiencing the joyful gift of parenthood.

Our Guatemalan Program is designed to provide couples and individuals who are not able to achieve parenthood by offering excellent fertility and surrogacy services at substantially lower costs. We have a highly experienced full service team here and in Guatemala headed up by lawyers who have partnered for many years in international adoption. By having offices located in the United States and Guatemala, our communication lines between the US and the Guatemala will bestow you with peace of mind that you are receiving the most efficient and professional services available. Both offices are committed to providing you with care, protection, guidance and support through this journey. Our teams in the U.S. and Guatemala include lawyers, licensed psychologists, social workers, and top notch fertility clinics.

The idea of deciding to pursue surrogacy in a foreign country may at first seem intimidating; however, medical tourism is a fast growing industry. With excellent medical care available abroad and substantial cost savings people across the globe are now seeking treatment outside their home countries. Our Guatemalan program offers excellent fertility clinics with well-trained, fully bilingual staff (English and Spanish). Our experienced local program staff lead by an attorney will assist you every step of the way upon arrival in Guatemala and throughout your stay with the goal of making your experience a memorable, rewarding and joyful journey to parenthood.

Guatemala is a beautiful country located in Central America bordering Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador, and Belize and coasts on the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean and is just a two and a half hour flight from Miami! Flying to Guatemala can be easier and faster than flying between states in the U.S.

    Candace O’Brien heads “Our Team”, along with a Esther Rodriguez who claims she was AdoptInternational’s Office Manager for three years (is there something more between Candace and Esther going on here?)

United States Offices

Candace O’Brien, Esquire
Executive Director
Candace O’Brien is a licensed attorney in the State of Illinois. Candace spent many years as an attorney and corporate executive overseas. Candace has worked in the field of international and domestic adoption for over 10 years and she is passionate about helping people regardless of gender, religion, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation to build families. Candace believes that surrogacy provides a fantastic solution for many families who increasingly face barriers in international and domestic adoption Candace brings her passion, knowledge, commitment to excellence and integrity to surrogacy as does the entire team at Advocates for Surrogacy.


Esther Rodriguez
Director of Client Services
Esther has been the Office Manager at AdoptInternational for the past three years. She became fascinated with adoptions when she adopted 2 boys 15 years ago and has pursued a career in helping others achieve their dream of creating a family. She brings with her an Associates Degree in Business Management and over 15 years of Business Management experience. She is also a current member of Phi Theta Kappa and is currently pursuing a Degree in Law.


    It does not seem as if Advocates for Surrogacy has done much of the latter. The site has not been updated since 2008, with none of the promised information about how to finance surrogacy or deal with your insurance company,  and the blog last had a posting in August 2009. Candace is rumored as of 2010 to be exploring going into domestic adoption. Given her track record, we don’t expect that to go any further than a decent-looking website before she loses interest and turns to something else.


    IAR and Rebecca Thurmond were not able to work the international adoption racket as long as Candace O’Brien. 

    IAR has not been so fortunate.

    Having had a harrowing experience in one international-adoption scandal, Candace could read the writing on the wall this time around. It turned out that Thurmond was employing the services of Rolf Levy, a Costa Rican facilitator who was charged with laundering babies from Guatemala through his country through and remains a fugitive. She herself was the leaseholder on a house in Costa Rica where he stashed his product. The state of Florida, which was in the process of renewing IAR’s license, instead suspended it and a month later moved to revoke it when it found not only numerous recordkeeping violations and falsifications but that she had attempted to continue doing adoptions even after the suspensions.

    In May 2004 an agreement was reached between Rebecca Thurmond and her clients.  She agreed to pay more than $100,000 to those either waiting for a child or those who had wanted a refund.  By agreeing to pay the clients off, the state of Florida dropped its investigation into the agency for “unfair and deceptive business practices.” IAR’s license was revoked by Florida’s Department of Children and Families. Rebecca Thurmond was barred from running an adoption agency in that state. 

    It does not, however, prohibit her from setting up shop in another state such as Pennsylvania or California to continue facilitating adoptions.

    Corruption is overtaking international adoption, it seems, no matter where you look. But it was nice to see that, in this instance, the state regulators did their job.

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