02 Aug 2011

The Author

Author of the award-winning book Finding Fernanda. Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. Redux Pictures photographer. Read more here.


Guatemalan Court Revokes Passport; Asks for Return of Adopted Child “Karen Abigail”

Anyelí Liseth Hernández Rodríguez, kidnapped November 3, 2006. Photo courtesy Fundación Sobrevivientes

Unprecedented news from Guatemala: A Guatemalan court has ordered La Procuraduría General de la Nación (PGN, or Attorney General’s Office) and the Ministry of External Relations to work with the US Embassy to “locate and retrieve” a child adopted to Timothy and Jennifer Monahan of Missouri in 2007 under the fraudulent name “Karen Abigail López García.” The court, Juzgado Constituido en Tribunal de Amparo, also ruled for the girl’s passport to be annulled and for her birth certificate to be cancelled, based on the fact that the identity of “Karen Abigail” seems to have been created for the sole purpose of facilitating an illegal adoption.

The judge, Angelica Noemi Tellez Hernández, also issued the following orders for the adoptive parents:

“… los señores Timothy James Monahan y Jennifer Lyn Vanhorn Monahan, para cual se les fija el plaze de dos meses, contados a partir de que se encuentre firme la presente sentencia y debiendo tomar en cuenta el interes superior de la niña, bajo apercibimiento de que en case de incumplimiento, se les impondra una multa de tres mil Q, sin perjucio de las demas responsabilidades en que pudieron incurrir; y se ordenara la localizacion de la nina por medio de la Policia Internacional- INTERPOL.”

Basically, she’s given the Monahans a deadline of two months to respond, counting down from the date of the ruling, July 29, 2011. If they don’t cooperate, a fine of 3,000 Quetzales (about $389) will be imposed, and the Guatemalan authorities will “order the location of the girl through the International Police, INTERPOL.”


Coincidentally, on one of my reporting trips to Guatemala, I was provided access to thousands of documents about the “Karen Abigail” case, including a copy of the child’s passport application. Here’s a photo I snapped of it:

The photo at the top of this post, in color, is of a child named Anyelí Rodríguez. It was taken roughly two years earlier than the passport photo above for “Karen Abigail.”

The Monahans originally accepted an adoption referral for “Karen Abigail” from the agency Celebrate Children International, and one of Guatemala’s most famous and outspoken lawyers, Susana Luarca, later helped finalize the adoption.

The young couple Loyda and Dayner Rodríguez believe that “Karen Abigail” is their missing daughter, Anyelí Liseth Hernández Rodríguez, who was abducted from their yard in Guatemala five years ago. “I think that they are going to ultimately return her,” Loyda told me hopefully last August, during an interview.

Here’s a brief and slightly modified excerpt from chapter eight of my upcoming book, “Finding Fernanda,” summarizing the case:

The daughter of Loyda Elizabeth Rodríguez and Dayner Orlando Hernández, both twenty-four years old, was kidnapped on November 3, 2006 from their home. They reported Anyelí’s kidnapping the same day. The couple had two other children together, and two-year-old Anyelí was their middle child and only daughter. After years of pleading with authorities to help find her missing daughter, Loyda finally found a photo she believed to be Anyelí in Guatemalan immigration records, in the adoption file of a child called “Karen Abigail López García.”

But the child had already been taken out of the country. “Karen Abigail” left Guatemala aboard Continental airlines flight #457 on December 9, 2008 with a new set of parents, Jennifer Vanhorn Monahan and Timothy Monahan of Liberty, Missouri. They were clients of the Florida-based adoption agency Celebrate Children International, a Christian nonprofit with a serious complaint history dating back to the company’s start in 2004. A “contact” for the agency, a young Guatemalan man in his 20′s named Marvin Bran had initially offered “Karen Abigail” to agency director Sue Hedberg for placement. When the Monahans accepted an adoption referral for “Karen Abigail,” the lawyer listed on their Guatemalan Power of Attorney form was none other than César Augosto Trujillo, the same man who handled many other “Marvin Bran babies,” including the little girl at the heart of my book: Fernanda Alvarado.

The Monahans’ adoption was a slow, tangled process that began in 2006. By July 2007, a failed DNA test revealed that a fake birth mother had relinquished “Karen Abigail.” According to emails the Monahans sent to Guatemalan private investigators, they were distressed and confused. They’d already waited seven months for the adoption to move forward, with almost no progress.[i] On August 1st, Jennifer Monahan wrote in her personal timeline of the adoption that agency head Sue Hedberg had planned to ask LabCorp, the primary DNA testing facility in the US used for adoptions, to “bury” the results of the mismatched test. But “LabCorp can’t do that anymore,” Monahan noted, because of newly tightened regulations. She’d grown suspicious about what was unfolding in the adoption, and took careful notes of everything that transpired, including, her notes say, recording conversations with Sue Hedberg.  When Monahan asked Hedberg what could be done after the child’s failed DNA test, aparently seeking alternative ways to push the adoption through, Hedberg responded that Marvin might bring the child to an orphanage, where she might eventually become declared abandoned. Or, Hedberg said, Bran might dump the girl “somewhere where nobody could find her.” In subsequent emails, Monahan said she was “terrified.”

Guatemalan adoption attorney Susana Luarca became involved in the case, and the Monahans ultimately were able to adopt “Karen Abigail” through an abandonment process, meaning that the  DNA test results- which were meant to prevent fraud in adoption- could be ignored.  ”Karen Abigail” left Guatemala with the Monahans in December 2007.

It was exactly the kind of scenario Loyda Rodríguez feared: that her missing girl would leave Guatemala before the crawling judicial system could look into her case. A year had passed from the time she filed a missing child complaint on November 3, 2006, and the time “Karen Abigail” left Guatemala, in early December 2008.



For Rodríguez, getting anyone to pay attention to her family’s plight was an uphill battle. Rodriguez, along with four other women, had staged a 10-day hunger strike in the summer of 2009 in front of Guatemala’s Supreme Court of Justice to call attention to the cases. ”It was traumatizing,” Rodriguez told me in August 2010. “After eight days, I felt like my head was no longer my own. So hungry.But at about the fifth day we weren’t as hungry. We consumed only water.”

The other three women participating in the hunger strike were the director of Sobrevivientes, Norma Cruz, a young women whose stolen child had been recovered, Ana Escobar, and two others, Olga López and Raquel Par, who believed their missing children had been laundered with new identities and adopted to families in the middle America.

“On the fourth day, the doctor told me, m’am, I’m sorry, but you’re too old for this,” Cruz told me in one of my interviews with her. “I’m almost 50. I never fully recovered from it. By the time we went to the congress to sign the ‘convenio’ it was hard for us to walk…”

On August 29, 2009, another DNA test was administered, comparing a DNA sample from Loyda Rodriguez to one on fie from LabCorp for  ”Karen Abigail.” It was a match (see images here). The Guatemalan press wrote about it, but American media outlets didn’t pick up the story.

Fundación Sobrevivientes helped the Rodríguez family file an amparo, a legal move in Guatemala sort of akin to a request for help or protection, in the court system. They expected the results to take up to six months.

Instead, the process took almost a year. The decision last week by Guatemalan judge Angelica Noemi Tellez Hernández to annul the passport and birth certificate for “Karen Abigail” is unprecedented, as is the request for the child’s return.


About two weeks ago, on July 20th, I called Jennifer Monahan. Lawyers for the Rodríguez family had granted me access to thousands of records about the  ”Karen Abigail” case, and Monahan’s phone number was on on of them.

A woman answered the phone, and when I asked for Jennifer Monahan, she asked me who I was. I identified myself, saying I had just finished writing a book about adoption fraud that contained a lot of overlap with the people involved in her adoption of “Karen Abigail.” The woman sort of stumbled over her words, telling me she wasn’t Jennifer.

I told her that if Jennifer wanted to talk to me, it could be done confidentially. I explained that I already understood a lot about her experience, since Guatemalan sources had shared a trove of emails and documents related to the adoption. I offered to send her a few pages, to show the depth of what I was talking about. The woman told me to fax them to Jennifer Monahan by faxing them to the same number I’d called. I explained that I didn’t have a fax, and she told me, curtly, to find one.

I suggested that I could email them, instead, to an email address I had on file for Jennifer. She got quiet, and said that would be ok. I thanked her for her time and repeated that if Jennifer Monahan wanted to speak to me, it could be off the record. Later that day, I emailed an 11-page .pdf of documents to an email address I knew had been used by Jennifer Monahan. Here’s a small sample, excerpted from an adoption timeline Monahan sent via email to Susana Luarca. The “Sue” referenced here is Sue Hedberg, director of the adoption agency Celebrate Children International:

I haven’t heard back from Monahan, nor do I expect to. With this latest court development, I can’t offer her any kind of anonymity- the Monahans are named publicly in the ruling. If they don’t cooperate, Guatemalan authorities are threatening to get INTERPOL involved.

On Facebook, Fundación Sobrevivientes, the nonprofit providing pro-bono legal help to the Rodríguez family, expressed support for the court, saying they considered the resolution to be “historic and a light of hope for all Guatemalans, because justice in Guatemala, despite all of the obstacles, is changing, not with giant steps as we want, but case by case.”

On the morning of August 2nd, Sobrevivientes sent out a press release regarding the court ruling. On the last page, they included a little collage of those facing charges that vary from plain old human trafficking to fraud, conspiracy, and aggravated kidnapping in the “Karen Abigail” case. Those crooked yellow circles are my own– I’ve highlighted people involved that also played a role in the abduction of the daughters of  Mildred Alvarado, one of the two main characters in my book Finding Fernanda.


Update 8/4/2011, 11:52 PST: After reading some of the comments on the new media reports about this case, I’ve added more info to the post from my files, including the section about the hunger strike and the DNA test.

Update 8/3/2011, 2:14 PST: Here’s what Norma Cruz from Sobrevivientes told me this morning about the case, and the Monahans’ cooperation (or lack thereof):

“Los Monahan[s], nunca se han comunicado, para que esclarezcamos los hechos o poder llegar a una conversacion que nos lleve a un acuerdo minimo.”

That translates, roughly, to “The Monahans have never communicated, either to clarify the facts or to arrive at a conversation that will lead us to a minimum agreement.”

Update 8/5/2011: I’ll post the court ruling in full tomorrow.

Update 8/23/2011, 5:29 p.m. PST: For more on the Organized Crime Unit of the Ministerio Público’s interest in the migratory movements of Jennifer Monahan, Timothy Monahan, “Karen Abigail” Monahan, and adoption agency director Sue Hedberg, click here for documents. 

I’ve previously written on items and people related to this case on the Finding Fernanda blog here (“May 6th, 2011: Breaking: Susana Luarca In Custody”), here (“July 8th, 2011: Breaking: New Charges on Yajaira Noemí Muyus case”) and here (“May 19th, 2011: On GuatAdopt’s “On Susana, CICIG, and the Senator”).

[i] Email supplied to the Ministerio Publico by Marvin Bran’s former defense attorney Fernando Linares; access to “Karen Abigail” case file granted to me by Guatemalan lawyers for the Rodríguez family.

  1. Shame on those people. I hope the little girl gets returned to her family as soon as possible. ALL the people involved in this illegal adoption belong in jail.

  2. Wonderful news!!!

    She is one of the children featured on http://threedaysforthreedaughters.typepad.com/ Now she needs to be brought back home to Guatemala and her family!!

    I am pleased to see the Guatemalan gvt following up on these cases, albeit far too slowly. This is the second PROVEN case, the first was caught just prior to her leaving Guatemala for the US to be adopted: the child of Ana Escobar, taken at gunpoint!

    What is needed now for this child and and several others is for the US gvt to DNA all children suspected of having been kidnapped to conform or deny allegations of such international felony crimes. It is sinful that people could just go on with their lives with a possible kidnap victim in their home and ignore it…and not think it will kick them in the back someday when that child finds out, as they WILL, since there names have been all over Internet all of their lives!

    How can people be THAT desperate for a child that they would turn their back on such an egregious avenue to obtain one? How do they sleep at night?

    Do they think the “end” – more material possessions – justifies the means?

    “If … the best interests of the child is to be the determining factor in child custody cases … persons seeking babies to adopt might profitably frequent grocery stores and snatch babies from carts when the parent is looking the other way. Then, if custody proceedings can be delayed long enough, they can assert that they have a nicer home, a superior education, a better job or whatever, and that the best interests of the child are with the baby snatchers. Children of parents living in public housing or other conditions deemed less affluent and children of single parents might be considered particularly fair game.” — Justice James Heiple, Illinois Supreme Court in the “Baby Richard” case.

  3. Mirah,

    How can you possibly rejoice? Please, tell me. Are you a mother? There is an innocent child involved and you are rejoicing at her heartbreak? You are rejoicing that she will be returning to a life of poverty with no education? Are you that high up on your horse that you feel no sympathy towards this child? She, unlike you, has a sweet little girl heart.. and she is the one losing in all of this.

    Shame on you.

  4. Ashley-

    Well said. In the end, it is this beautiful child that will suffer.

    Such a shame.

  5. Despite more and more evidence that many on BOTH sides of the border were involved in these crimes, it continues to be that only Guatemala appears to be taking any action. WHY? I have now, after years, lost faith that any on the US side will face accountability, from LabCorp, to CCI, to Tedi Hedstrom. Those of us that have filed complaints with so-called “oversight” boards from state to federal levels, meet with constant brick walls and disappointment.

    I have my own very strong opinions on the business practices of LabCorp, a DNA testing company that so many APs put faith (and dollars) into for accurate, honest DNA results. But once again, it appears from the above notes from Ms. Monahan, that LabCorp’s business practices were perhaps murky at best. The allegation that a major DNA testing facility in the US was “burying” DNA test results prior to this case, should sound great alarm.

    I hope that the adoptive parents, Jennifer and Timothy Monahan, can find it in their hearts to truly do what is RIGHT for Anyeli (“Karen”) and return her to her family in Guatemala, as hard and as painful as that will be for them.

    I have met Loyda (Anyeli’s mother in Guatemala) and Anyeli’s brother. They live in a nice middle-class neighborhood, the children go to school, are healthy, loved, and educated. Loyda is a warm, genuine, caring, honest, intelligent woman, who is a wonderful mother to her children, and wants more than anything to be reunited with her stolen child.

    Anyeli will certainly grow up to see her name on the Internet, and find the truth on her own. Or worse, be taken by INTERPOL, potentially scarring her even further than she already is, if the Monahans don’t act quickly and do the right thing.

    Jennifer Monahan: please don’t let Loyda suffer any more. No good will come to anyone in this terrible situation if you continue to hide and not face the truth. My husband and I walked a similar path, and the only thing I could hold onto, was my belief that being a “good” parent is not about doing what is right for the parent (for us, fulfilling the need to parent), but what is right for the child.

  6. Mirah, you are an idiot to rejoice. There is nothing to be happy about. This is a Hollywood, central casting TRAGEDY. For EVERYONE involved. To blame her parents like they knew or participated in a kidnapping is bullshit. None of us adoptive parents KNEW what we were getting into bed with when we started adopting from Guatemala. It was only once we were in it did we FIRST recognize that we were getting treated like crap by the adoption agencies. SECOND when the allegations of kidnappings, etc. came out they were refuted by the US Embassy. Things didn’t seem right to us – and some parents put the brakes on cases that didn’t pass the stink test – so put the blame on the agencies, put the blame on the attorneys in-country, but the ADOPTIVE PARENTS were victims in this too. But mostly the children. And Karen Abigail is INNOCENT. And she is losing parents for the second time in her life. Which sucks BALLS. So put your confetti away. And you can rest easy in the knowledge that the only way ANYONE would forcibly take a child of mine I’d had for 4-5 years would be over my cold, dead body.

  7. Ashely, while I do agree that there is clearly an innocent child involved in all of this, please don’t make the *wrong* assumption that all families from Guatemala live in poverty. That simply isn’t true.

    Anyeli’s family in Guatemala, while perhaps not living to the same economic level as the Monahans (who I understand live quite well by US standards because he is a medical doctor), maintain a nice home, in a nice neighborhood, and are far from the picture of “poverty” many may hold in their minds.

    I think it is important to paint an accurate, honest, (non-biased) picture of Anyeli’s (Guatemalan) family situation, because implying that Anyeli would return to poverty in Guatemala can “muddy” the already ethically complicated situation.

    The bottom line is, this child was stolen. The adoption was not legal, and the (birth/first) parents did not consent in any shape or form. Anyeli was stolen in her front yard! Even if the family in Guatemala was impoverished …. We never have the right to steal a child. Period.

  8. And Jen, your situation was VASTLY different. You were never “your” child’s legal parent. You never moved home to the United States and lived your life for years with him/her- getting to the point where you forget the child is adopted and just live your life being a parent. So no, you cannot relate. You VOLUNTARILY gave up a referral. You did not have a FINALIZED adoption overturned and INTERPOL potentially involved with a forcible taking. Not the same.

  9. Hi ladies, let’s keep it civil!

    Both the Rodriguez family as well as the Monahans have been horribly victimized, not to mention what poor “Karen Abigail” has gone through.

    One key difference in this case, though: the Monahans may have known that the adoption was based on fake paperwork, and pushed ahead regardless. There is an extensive email record of their adoption proceedings, and how they wanted to continue adopting the child even after the negative DNA test, which should have raised very serious questions.

    Over the past five years, the Rodriguez family has been asking for answers, and receiving radio silence. I’m not sure if the Guatemalan judges’ orders will mean anything in terms of getting the US to cooperate with their investigation (which involves CICIG, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala).

    More than anything, Loyda seems as if she wants answers. And to clarify one other thing: her daughter was taken at age two. “Karen Abigail” then was under the care of various people in Guatemala, including the Bran Galindo family operation (according to medical records given to me by the Guatemala City pediatrician who saw “Karen Abigail” and the other Bran Galindo children) for the next two years. Then, finally, she ended up with the Monahans.

    So, if “Karen Abigail” is indeed Anyeli Rodriguez, that means the child has spent approximately four years in Guatemala, and about three in the U.S.

    Not that it makes much difference…. ?

    I should have added to my blog: I initially reached out to the Monahans because I was curious to see if they were the family threatening to sue CCI for $425,000 (I blogged about this last week). (still don’t know who this family is!)

    The “Karen Abigail” case is heartbreaking from all sides. There’s more to come.

  10. Actually, Stephanie, to set the record straight, I was Hazel’s legal parent in Guatemala where I lived with her for six months. And, we are still her guardians. So, when I say my husband and I walked a SIMILAR path, that is what I was referring to. In addition, as Erin said, we were also aware Hazel’s adoption was fraudulent prior to completion (as were the Monahans), but we put the brakes on it when we learned of the bogus DNA test.

    To minimize Hazel’s story to “just” being a referral we voluntarily “gave up” is really doing a massive disservice and deeply minimizing and hurtful to all involved, particularly for a child we still support in Guatemala to this day.

    I would really appreciate it if you’d please get your facts straight before posting things on a public forum. Thank you.

  11. It is unfortunate and tasteless that someone took the opportunity to slam another AP about their case, which has NOTHING to do with the case reported in this site. Stephanie you should check your sources first regarding the Hemsley family and their referral before you post erroneous information about them, it is not very professional.

    Regarding the Anyeli case, the AP family knew of the negative DNA and pressed to finish the adoption. It has been well known and documented that Anyeli was kidnapped and laundered under the name Karen Abigail for five years now and referred to the Monahan family. So sadly,
    alot of suffering could have been avoided, especially for a mother and father searching and longing for the return of their kidnapped daughter.

  12. “the only way ANYONE would forcibly take a child of mine I’d had 4-5 years would be over my dead body”

    Stephanie, my question to you is – if someone snatched your 2 your old child TODAY from your front yard, and you found out 4 years later that she was living with some wealthy family thousands of miles a way, what would you want done? Would you expect this family to return YOUR KIDNAPPED child?! I’m guessing you would.

    It’s a sad story all around, but the Monohan’s went through with a questionable adoption and now the little girl they call their daughter has to suffer the consequences. She deserves to go home to the family that has been searching for her.

  13. Wow Ashley, I am a mother and I can’t even begin to explain what’s wrong with your comment. Are you seriously suggesting that it is ok to steal poor children and put them with wealthier families because you think they would be better off? My children certainly love their stuff and their private school that’s for sure, but I was quite happy growing up without because I had the love of my family. The mother child bond is strong, and even in an ideal legal adoption, many children still grow up to feel a loss and seek out their birth parents. Not saying adoption isn’t fantastic and most unselfish on all parts, just saying it is not without emotional pain on different levels. The emails here clearly show that Jennifer knew something was wrong and she did it anyway, going so far as to want the DNA evidence to be covered up. So, yes this little girl is going to be devasted, for the second time, and no they aren’t responsible for the kidnapping, but they had an inkling and certainly knew before now, so they bear alot of blame too. Her real parents and the little girl are blameness, and should be reunited. Their love and connection is something to celebrate. If those adoptive parents really love her too, they can choose to help the family financially and/or pay for her education.

  14. I think it’s important to note that in addition to the Monahans being aware of fraud present in Anyeli’s adoption prior to completion, they were contacted and told about this impending court battle and asked to resolve the situation outside of the courtroom. The Monahans refused, stating they would fight the mother in Guatemala with “their last penny and last breath” to keep Anyeli under their roof.

    This court process in Guatemala took 2 years I understand and was a last resort, because the Monahans refused to come to the table to resolve the issue or come to an agreement. They hid behind their US attorney for the last 2 years, unwilling to communicate.

    The mother in Guatemala is well aware of the trauma that a court battle and Interpol may inflict on Anyeli, and did not want to go this route, but simply had no choice. It was her last resort.

    It’s really difficult to have any sympathy for the Monahans given this information. I hope this information gets into the mainstream press, because it is critical to understand the full story.

  15. Mimi, are you sure you can read? My issue is with someone who is obviously anti-adoption rejoicing at a child’s heartbreak. How old were your kids when you brought them home? Have you personally dealt with attachment issues? Do you get pleasure out of your children suffering?

  16. BTW- She uses the word “exciting” to describe this situation. There is NOTHING exciting about this. Have a heart!

  17. Ashley, I don’t think Mirah is rejoicing at a child’s heartbreak, and she is not anti-adoption. I think her excitement is that after many years of fighting in court, and years of the Monahan family ignoring Sobrevivientes, Loyda (the mother), and Guatemalan authorities, there may be a chance that Anyeli will be returned to her mother.

    I know you know that many have been following this case (and the other two stolen girls) for several years. If there is any excitement you sense from Mirah, perhaps it is just that there may be a resolution on the horizon. I know Mirah has spent time in Guatemala and knows this case very well. And I also know she has a heart of gold. I know she does not wish suffering on anyone, particularly and adoptee.

    This suit was brought to court 2 years ago by Norma Cruz, with the Monahans having full knowledge of it at the time. The suit was Sobrevivientes and Loyda’s last resort because of the Monahan’s stonewalling and refusal to talk. Perhaps that is the excitement you are reading here, that there was victory for Sobrevivientes, and that perhaps something will finally be worked out.

  18. I have been asked why I rejoice. I have been asked if I am a mother.

    Yes I am mother and know the pain of having a child pressured from me to fill a demand by the adoption industry. I can only IMAGINE the agony of having a child actually KIDNAPPED – stolen! The paralyzing fear is incomprehensible.

    I have been called names and asked if i rejoice that the child will be returned to poverty. Let me ask you, was the financial status of the Duggars a consideration in returning Jaycee Lee or Elizabeth Smart? How do you weigh the VALUE of ones heredity, lineage? What dollar value is there on LOVE?

    Please read again:

    “If … the best interests of the child is to be the determining factor in child custody cases … persons seeking babies to adopt might profitably frequent grocery stores and snatch babies from carts when the parent is looking the other way. Then, if custody proceedings can be delayed long enough, they can assert that they have a nicer home, a superior education, a better job or whatever, and that the best interests of the child are with the baby snatchers. Children of parents living in public housing or other conditions deemed less affluent and children of single parents might be considered particularly fair game.” — Justice James Heiple, Illinois Supreme Court in the “Baby Richard” case.

  19. Please try to read this as unemotionally as you can:

    Sympathy for the adoptive parents would have been in order in 2006 when they were first told that the acquisition of the child they adopted was questionable…but not now, after they delayed requests to have her DNA tested to confirm or deny that the child had been a victim of a felony. They delayed and delayed, making the child a stranger in her own native land, he native language and her family.

    Initially, they were victims themselves. They did not intend to kidnap nor to adopt a kidnapped child. But their reluctance to make it right as soon as their was suspicion, makes them complicit – accessories after the fact.

    What they did is every bit as wrong as the Brazilian family who kept Sean from his father David Goldman. They also did not kidnap the child but they kept him from his father and his native land. It is wrong. it is wrong when it is done TO Americans and it is equally wrong when it is done BY Americans!

    Mirah Riben, author, THE STORK MARKET: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry

  20. Will the transfer be hard on the child? OF COURSE!!! But so too will living a life separated from her family, and knowing how they fought for her and she was kept from them!

    As was pointed out she spent more time in her homeland than in the US. Other children have survived such transfers: Sean Goldman, Baby Richard….and they survive very well.

    We cannot condone kidnapping nor allow it to go on once uncovered. It is a tragedy for all involved. I am not minimizing that. But a felony kidnapping has occurred and needs to be set right. It can no longer be ignored.

    Wouldst that it never occurred. Wouldst that it was unvovered and resolved sooner. But here we are today.

    It is very easy to identify with the adoptive family – especially those of you who in the same boat. But try for just one split second to identify with a terrified mother whose baby is taken from her after she was drugged, or at knife or gun point.

    Do poor people (which Llyoda is not by Guatemalan standards) deserve less legal recourse?

    Simply put: If your child was taken and passed along for the purpose of laundering the truth of her origins – and ultimately would up in Guatemala or any other foreign country – would you not fight for her return???

    Was David Goldman right or wrong to fight for the return of his son? The public supported him. Why? because he is an upper-middle class white American…or because he was a broken-hearted FATHER who had the law and love for his son on his side? Did the child’s step-father and grandparents suffer a loss? Was it not a difficult transition for Sean?

    Fair is fair. Right is right. We do not leave kidnap victims where they are found – even if those people were unaware that the child was kidnapped.

    If I were the judge, I would order as gradual a transition as possible and allow post transfer visitation. That is the way to resolve this in the child’s best interest, IMO. It will still be very difficult, but it is right.

  21. Jen, I apologize. I reacted emotionally to this because it was not the adoptive parents’ fault, anymore than it was yours that the circumstances surrounding their child’s adoption were not above-board. But to blame them is also unfair – you as well as I both know that once you are in it (the process) you are in love with this child and you no longer are processing the child as being the birth parents, but your own. And DNA not matching was not unheard of – and abandonment adoptions following that kind of circumstance (or a “missing birthmother”) were not uncommon. (The forums on adoption.com were not infrequently full of such posts.)

    The problem with the Moynahan’s is that they got in so deep with this child that they didn’t put the brakes on like you did. But was it really their responsibility? They are the ones with the emotional connection – they are the ones being used. Where was the agency, the US Embassy, the Guatemalan gov’t. It was THOSE entities responsibility to keep this from happening. And they let everyone down.

    Do NOT demonize those parents. Not everyone had the emotional wherewithall to do what you did, Jen. I wouldn’t have been able to do what you did. So I read what you wrote and I thought you were coming from a place of moral high horse – which I thought was very unfair. Again, I apologize for that.

    But I still will go to my grave knowing that I would have likely done the same as the Moynahan’s. And that little girl is going to be damaged beyond repair most likely from this. And Mirah, Sobrievivientes, whoever – they can all celebrate, but this is a tragedy plain and simple. (and whoever wrote that it was like Elizabeth Smart or the Jaycee Dugard case – that is just sickening. This child was not kidnapped by the Moynahan’s – and by all measure I hope no one is implying that she is being abused. That is a disgusting and untrue analogy.)

  22. Oh my… What’s that smell? Could it be the underbelly of adoption? Finally the news is covering the Multi-Billion dollar adoption machine and the corrupt practices that are involved.

    I, like many others around the globe are cheering this little girl’s plight HOME. I hope she has her ruby red slippers on…
    Speaking as an adoptee, who was forcefully taken, “THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME”

  23. Stephanie, the Monahans knew they could be traffic-ing in a human being when the DNA test didn’t match. Did they call the authorities? NO! They engaged in the traffic-ing. The US federal government claims it has zero tolerance for that. The Monahans need to return the child now and the federal agents should arrest them immediately, if that’s true. They are accessories to kidnapping and transporting the child. And I wonder why they couldn’t take a domestic or foster child? Something wrong with the Monahans? You should read “legally kidnapped”, the overseas adopters are often the worst.

  24. I am the adoptive mom to two internationally adopted girls who have been with me for four years. If I were in this family’s shoes, I would be on the next plane to their home country with these girls. Would it break my heart? Yes. Would I see if I could still stay in touch? You bet. And I’d do everything allowed to me to help smooth the transition. But even though someone legally saw fit to allow me to adopt these girls and even though my name is now on their birth certificate, the reality is they have another family, eight members (including one parent) with whom we still have contact via letters and pictures and yearly visits.

    As for the arguments re returning a child to poverty (which isn’t even the case here)….say a crown prince abducted an American child. Even if the child was already well-off, royalty could give them a better life, a life unimagined: better schools, better opportunities. I can hardly see that flying as an argument to allow the royalty to keep the ill-gotten child. Children belong with their families. Adoption is a last resort for children who need adoptive families, not vice versa.

    I feel for this child and BOTH sets of parents, but am glad that the little girl’s return to Guatemala is being sought and I hope it happens. And I would love to see CCI being held accountable; I’ve heard about similar stories surrounding them in other countries.

  25. Any parent of a kidnapped child who gets a court order for the return of their kidnapped child would and should celebrate. Can you imagine what it feels like to KNOW where your kidnapped child is but the family harboring the child refuses to cooperate. It isn’t like the Monahan family just found out that the child was kidnapped. They were informed of this a loooong time ago.

    For those children who failed a DNA test, the authorities had to be informed, in this case they were not and an abandonment route was sought followed by the issuing of a COA (certificate of abandonment), keep in mind that all the documents that pertained to Karen Abigail were fake.

    Sadly the mother of Anyeli had no choice but to press charges because the Monahans did not cooperate, that was THREE years ago. The patience of Loyda Rodriguez is admirable. The mother wanted a gentle return with no publicity, sadly the family who had Anyeli refused to do that. Many attempts were made to contact the Monahan family over the years. It will be interesting to see what the Monahans do and a testament of their moral character.

  26. I’m having a very difficult time defending the adoptive parents here. They clearly knew the child was being misrepresented, they knew the DNA did not match. Rather than asking how to make it happen anyway, perhaps they should have sought out the correct officials to report this atrocity. I agree they are victims, but they were COMPLICIT victims.

    As an adoptive parent, I know how defensive I would be of my child if I were in this situation – but we have to remember that whatever pain we feel as adoptive parents at the potential loss of a child we have loved and cared for – are we remembering that the birth parents loved that child JUST as much.

    As for doing what is best for the child – I am sorry, but that is simply a crock. Implying that the child should stay with the family with the most money really does equate to “buying the child.” Socio-economic status does not justify kidnapping. And this was kidnapping – and sadly, the AP knew that was likely the case and chose to go through with it anyway.

    The heartbreaking and utterly tragic result in all of this is that the child and birth family were completely innocent victims in this horrific series of events – and none of them will ever completely recover.

  27. Wow…knowing that they have known the allegations that this child was kidnapped and continuing to keep her and fighting the DNA requests. I don’t care. It is completely heartless. They are as bad as the kidnappers. Maybe it didn’t start out that way, but it is that way now. Why isn’t Child Protective Services involved at this point? It can’t be good for this child to be raised by people who are complicit in her kidnapping.

  28. How is it that this stuff is still happening and yet getting so little attention!? Before my mother decided to go the sperm donor route and had me she seriously considered adoption from somewhere in Central/South America but ultimately decided against it because she learned in her research that some of the children were kidnapped. That was more than 30 years ago and the fact that it is still happening so blatantly is absolutely appalling. I can’t even muster up much sympathy for the adoptive parents here since they clearly knew something was wrong and proceeded anyway.

  29. It’s always easy to say what one would do if one were in another’s shoes when one knows he/she never will be in another’s shoes isn’t it?

  30. I’m not saying it would be in any way easy to stop the process as soon as you realized it was likely fraudulent. I’m sure it would be horribly difficult. But lots of things that are right are very difficult. The fact that it was hard to do the right thing doesn’t excuse the fact that they did the wrong thing and actively participated in the trafficking of a child. And apparently to this day, they are refusing to try to make things right.

  31. Shame on the Monahans for pushing forward an illegal adoption — knowing all along that the woman who gave the baby to the adoption agency was not her mother and probably was kidnapped.

    Now they and the girl they helped kidnap are going to pay a terrible price. The little girl belongs with her birth family, who incidentally are not poor, but are middle class.

  32. As a mother with a daughter from Ethiopia (that is running rampant with corruption) I have one thought… ENTITLEMENT. Shame on anyone that thinks lives are better because of what you have. Shame on anyone that believes you can lie and cheat to get what you want and then justify it with “love”. Sorry for all the women that yearn to become a mother but cannot while watching young women do it with careless ease. But if you hold on tight to something you aren’t supposed to have eventually you lose it and any opportunity to have what is supposed to be yours. Our children do not belong to us… they are gifts from God… temporarily within our care. Sadly, there are miscarriages in adoption too.

    Praying for this child and all the others to return home!!!

  33. I agree that this is a terrible case, but I think people may be too hard on the Monahans. Did you read this article? The kidnappers basically told the Monahans that if they didn’t go through with the adoption, the child would be taken someplace and abandoned where she could never be found. It’s not as though they said “oh, no DNA match? Well, I guess we’ll just put her back in her backyard.”

    Yes, ideally once the Monahans made sure she was safe they should have done whatever they could to locate her parents. But the fact that they went through with the adoption after the DNA match fail is actually to their credit considering what these people were telling them.

    I do think the Duggard and Smart cases are similar though. Those kidnappings were terrible before it was known what happened to them. If it turned out they were in fact kidnapped by people who raised them as beloved children would the kidnappings then be okay?

  34. Also, the vast vast majority of domestic kidnapping is by non-custodial parents. So by your way of thinking, this is a-okay? Or it’s only okay if the non-custodial parent is wealthier?

  35. “Sympathy for the adoptive parents would have been in order in 2006 when they were first told that the acquisition of the child they adopted was questionable…but not now, after they delayed requests to have her DNA tested to confirm or deny that the child had been a victim of a felony. They delayed and delayed, making the child a stranger in her own native land, he native language and her family.”

    We are responsible for what we do…
    I hope I understand this correctly..

    The little girl was stolen, spent 2 years in orphanage, left for US dec 2008, DNA didn’t match , adoptive parents knew this and recorded it, , family went forward regardless, DNA buried, signed adoption papers , contacted over 2 years ago ( that would mean they had her for 1 year ignored DNA test for adopted daughter they knew had fake documents) to resolve this outside of court and ultimately this would have returned child To her family for which she was STOLEN from and she would be back home where she belongs. Do I have this right?

  36. Erin- So is there any truth to Susan Luarca’s assertion on her blog that the DNA results proving that Karen Abigail is Loyda’s daughter also showed that the purported birthmother who took the original DNA test was shown to be Karen Abigail’s paternal aunt?

  37. Wow, below these facts clarify the timeline and which clearly incriminates the Monahan’s and calls into question their ethics.

    This is an entry from PPL, and can be viewed there.

    Sat, 2011-08-06 16:55 — Niels
    Not every fruit is an apple
    While it is certainly true that all adopters should prepare to be asked difficult and painful questions, I see a qualitative difference when it comes to stolen/trafficked children, especially when the adopters have acted in spite of or simply ignored information about the illegality of the adoption.

    When we look at the case of Angelyn Lisseth Hernández Rodríguez (aka Dulce Maria or Karen Abigail) daughter of Loira Rodríguez, it is evident that the adopters in question were aware of the fact that the girl they took from Guatemala was illegally obtained.

    We added that particular case to our archives in March 2009, now almost two-and-a-half years ago. Guatemalan new papers reported about this particular case as early as March 2008. This was even 9 months before the girl was actually brought to the US.

    When adoptees ask question about their heritage, it is important they can trust the adoptive parents. When adopers have willfully ignored all ethic concerns about the adoption, how can there possibly be trust?

    This creates a huge qualitative difference between regular (as in no ethical and/or legal irregularities) adoption cases and cases where adopters have not acted in good faith. How can Angelyn Lisseth ever trust the Monahan family to tell her the truth, when the Monahan family has ignored all information about the criminal activities that made that adoption possible?

  38. This is heartbreaking – on all sides. As the adoptive mom of two daughters from Asia, I tell my children all the time that some day there will be a DNA registry that can help them find their birth families… and I will encourage them to do so if it’s in their hearts. I know that the very strong preference for boy babies in Asia was the cause of my daughters’ abandonment – so it’s impossible to put myself in the position of the Monahans. However, I do believe that Anyeli/Karen should be returned in as non-traumatic a transition as possible – even if that means the Monahans move to Guatemala for a year or more and forge a relationship with the birth family. If they truly love this little girl, they will put their own lives aside temporarily in order to secure her future as a whole, healthy person. At the same time, the birth parents should not force the child to be returned to them immediately, as strangers, but should allow the relationship to develop with the adoptive parents’ help. There are 4 adults here that should be looking out for the child’s best interests, if they all claim to love her so much.

  39. Adoptive children always fantasize about their real parents. While material possessions are nice, love and belonging to who is yours, is much more important than having “things.” That is a problem with American culture, always thinking material things are the tops. There is no question what is the right thing for the Monahans to do – give the young child back to the parents from whom she was stolen. The girl will be grateful after some initial trauma.

  40. In general, I have a problem with this case. I understand that every government is different but this makes me sad to know that the US had done nothing in regards to this case. When they applied for the passport, questions should have been raised and things should have been checked. I believe that the adoptive parents were just as wrong as the people who kidnapped the child being that they are supposed to be the parents and have the child’s best interests at heart, nottheir selfish ones. They new better. They new it was wrong as soon as Sue said that LabCorp could lose the DNA test. At that point they should have contacted the government. I see this article was written last year but I realy hope that everything has worked out for the best. I am happy though that cases like this are now getting some spotlight. It happens in countries all over the world, including the US where children are kidnapped and sold/adopted out for a profit. Hopefully we can start getting it right.

  41. I am sad for this little girl. I understand you wanted to adopt, but you can’t keep someone’s child. No matter what the reason. I too adopted, but, I feel the entire system, now that I know more, is broken. People are moving children like popcorn. They should only be allowed to move a child from the home if they speak to the parent and they sign off. Case in Michigan, a father is riding his bike an hour south (Bay City) to make sure he doesn’t miss a visit with his four biological children. From what I’m told, he has never missed one yet….The mother was on meth, unbenounced to him, and the system feels he would make a bad father, so have decided to leave the children in foster care. WOW DO WE HAVE MONEY TO TAKE CARE OF PEOPLE WHO WANT TO TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES….and throw around our big power. These baby social workers are ruining lives because they have no experience taking care of children and especially they judge people which will take them back later with karma or better yet, they may be in the same situation some day and loose their children to disease or social work. STOP THE GESTAPO…THIS IS NOT YOUR CHILD!

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