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On the Adoption Dollar Trail

On the Adoption Dollar Trail
By Michael Montgomery

A tinge of guilt passed through me when I contemplated my new assignment: investigating the shadier side of international adoption. Certainly the topic was worthy. International adoption has rapidly expanded over the past decade as more U.S. families seek orphans in such far-flung countries as China, Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. We've heard a lot about how these children are changing the face of many communities in America. But there's been less attention to the skyrocketing cost of adoptions and the boom in for-profit adoption companies in the United States and overseas, often with little or no regulation.

The story looked fine. So what about the guilt? Well, as it happens, three years ago I traveled to Kazakhstan with my wife and seven-year-old daughter. There we adopted an 11-month-old boy, Bo. Our journey was more or less the typical adventure that adoptive parents love to tell (often at extreme length). Deep anxiety and exhaustion transformed into exhilaration at our first encounter, followed by more anxiety and exhaustion as we returned home with our new son.

One element of Bo's adoption bothered us, however, and prompted my sense of guilt. Like many adoptive parents, we were told by our agency to carry thousands of dollars in cash (and in clean, new currency) to Kazakhstan and hand the money to an agency representative as soon as possible after arrival. We were also told not to expect an itemized receipt for most of the cash....click here for story