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Friday 22 August 2014

'Evil' adoption scandal

Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer

Published 08/07/2006 | 00:11

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A WOMAN nicknamed 'Dr Evil' who arranged the adoption of 150 Vietnamese babies to Ireland has admitted the paperwork was forged by corrupt officials. In a series of secretly recorded meetings, My Linh Soland told an Irish Independent reporter how the children's histories were invented. And she told how officials at the highest level were paid to procure paperwork or to turn a blind eye about whether the adoptions were legal or ethical.

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A WOMAN nicknamed 'Dr Evil' who arranged the adoption of 150 Vietnamese babies to Ireland has admitted the paperwork was forged by corrupt officials.

In a series of secretly recorded meetings, My Linh Soland told an Irish Independent reporter how the children's histories were invented.

And she told how officials at the highest level were paid to procure paperwork or to turn a blind eye about whether the adoptions were legal or ethical. Three weeks ago Ms Soland was revealed as a convicted fraudster who had tried to intimidate witnesses. She served three years in a United States prison.

But two years ago she was chosen as the only person allowed to facilitate adoptions of Vietnamese babies to Ireland. She was chosen by the Adoption Board after a series of garda checks were carried out into her background.

However, her criminal past was brought to the attention of the Board last month through documents sent by an anonymous source.

Last night a spokesman said he would not comment on any allegations of forgery or corruption by Ms Soland until the current garda investigation into the allegations is completed.

John Keegan, spokesman for the Board, said they must allow "due process" to be carried out.

He said the Vietnamese authorities have assured them that all adoptions facilitated by Soland are legitimate.

However, earlier this week Ms Soland, believing that the journalist meeting her wanted to set up a UK adoption agency based in Northern Ireland, outlined the process of misrepresentation, forgery and corruption that accompanied every Vietnamese adoption into Ireland.

During the secretly taped interview, Ms Soland described how the fraud started at a local level.

According to her, many of the children adopted by Irish people were described as "abandoned orphans" - even though the directors of the local children's homes knew exactly where their parents were living.

She said a fraudulent history was prepared because if the mother is listed as known, there has to be a police investigation, which would reduce the amount of money individuals made from each adoption.

"If you bring in the police that means more money and more people. That means deductions and the pie is cut into more pieces," she said.

"They make up the birth certificate. They declare the child abandoned even though they know the mother.

"They won't tell you. They just say 'abandoned at the gate, at the door' and they will bring out witnesses [to verify this]."

Listing the mother might also mean an investigation into whether the parents were aware of, or had given their consent to, the adoption.

Ms Soland also said that most of $4,500 humanitarian aid which Irish parents are obliged to give as part of the adoption fee is stolen and distributed through the "corrupt ring" of adoption officials.

She listed those who benefited, but the Irish Independent cannot name the individuals for legal reasons.

These large sums of money for each adoption mean that officials are motivated to separate babies from their parents even if it is unnecessary.

Children can be taken from their parents because officials claim they are abused or unfit parents. However, officials receive a substantial corrupt payment for every child that is made available for adoption by Irish parents.

Ms Soland said false receipts are produced to show that the money is spent correctly on humanitarian aid but that it is spread among officials in corrupt payments to ensure children with forged paperwork are available for adoption. She said that unless the false bills are paid, facilitators won't get the children for adoption - "but don't quote me on that".

Dr Vu Doc Long, Vietnam's State Director of International Adoptions, denies there is any problem with Vietnamese adoptions into Ireland, although he admits the humanitarian aid is not audited.

"We have no regulations covering the donations," he told the Irish Independent.

"Ms Soland does not have to show how she spent the one million dollars - it is the responsibility of the Irish Adoption Board."

Ms Soland's appointment as the Vietnamese facilitator was hailed as a clean-up of the previous corrupt process.

Adoptions had been suspended because of corruption and were only reopened with the appointment of Ms Soland and the introduction of new regulations.

According to Ms Soland, the children adopted under the previous regulations "were pulled from families".

The Irish Independent has also learned that the Irish Adoption Board received complaints from parents regarding adoptions facilitated by Ms Soland.

The complaints ranged from concerns about switching babies at the last moment to demands for extra charges not authorised by the Adoption Board. According to some adoptive parents, Ms Soland's callous attitude meant she was nicknamed 'Dr Evil' by those hoping to adopt.

According to some adoptive parents, Ms Soland's callous attitude meant she was nicknamed 'Dr Evil' by those hoping to adopt.

Mr Keegan of the Adoption Board said they have received written assurances from the Ministry of Justice in Vietnam confirming the legality of adoptions which were facilitated by Ms Soland. They were also assured that these adoptions were processed in accordance with Vietnamese legal requirements.

Ms Soland resigned from her consultancy position when her criminal record was revealed last month.

Additional reporting by

Edel Kennedy in Dublin

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