By Mable Nakibuuka
The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced sanctions against four Ugandans who participated in a scheme to take children from Ugandan parents to place them with American families for adoption.
Last week, three women were charged with arranging adoption of Ugandan children through bribing Uganda officials and defrauding U.S adoptive parents.
The three defendants included a one Cole, who ran an adoption agency out of Strongsville that facilitated intercountry adoptions from Uganda.
There is also a one Parris, responsible for managing aspects of the agency’s Uganda program while another suspect Mirembe, a Ugandan citizen, provided them with adoption-related services, such as legal representation.
The complainant (names withheld on request) accuses Parris and Mirembe of allegedly bribing Ugandan government officials to “corruptly procure adoptions of Ugandan children” while concealing that fact from Americans seeking to adopt the children through the U.S. Adoption Agency.
“It was discovered that Ugandan children adoptions made through Parris and Mirembe had been procured through bribery and fraud, the kids were not properly determined to be orphans, and after investigations, the children were ultimately returned to their mothers in Uganda after.
That was after the US Adoption Agency’s clients came to believe that these mothers had not knowingly given their children up for adoption,” the complaint states in part.
In a statement issued by the State Department, Pompeo said that Mirembe’s law firm sought out “vulnerable families in remote Ugandan villages,” promising parents that their children would be moved to Uganda’s capital of Kampala to further their education.
Once in Kampala, the children would be placed in an unlicensed children’s home and American prospective parents would travel to the African country to adopt them.
The Justice Department also charged Cole and Parris over transferring a Polish adoptee to Parris’ relatives who were not eligible for adoption as one of them had a criminal arrest record.
After the child was physically abused, Cole and Parris concealed the improper conduct from U.S. officials and from the Polish authority responsible for adoptions to continue profiting from such practices.