@adoptaip.com, for that unsolicited third party
endorsement <snark>. Not everyone has such a high opinion of your
director. Google is definitely not your friend.
San Antonio Express-News
October 28, 2001
Adoption exec leaves legacy of complaints
Concern is growing over poorly regulated foreign adoption programs.
Author: Paul Cristian Radu; EXPRESS-NEWS STAFF WRITER
Section: Metro / South Texas
A San Antonio adoption agency has handled hundreds of foreign adoptions
since the Iron Curtain fell a decade ago, saving children who were
abandoned in decrepit orphanages and helping families adopt children in
But the agency, Adoption Services Associates, also became involved in
the same problems that caused the Romanian government to suspend
foreign adoptions this summer.
In a lawsuit filed in March, the nonprofit agency accuses its former
director of international adoptions of failing to disclose medical
problems of children to adoptive couples, mistreating and threatening
prospective parents, separating siblings without informing the adoptive
parents, and costing the agency $300,000 in damages.
During three years, according to the lawsuit, Adoption Services
Associates "received at least one complaint a week, every week,
calculating to approximately 156 complaints," against the international
adoption director, Orson Mozes.
Mozes, one of the leading brokers of foreign adoptions in the United
States, handled foreign adoptions for ASA for 10 years before agency
director Linda Zuflacht fired him in March. Based in Santa Barbara,
Calif., Mozes continues to coordinate foreign adoptions as the
international director of Life Adoptions International.
Mozes declined to respond to Zuflacht's charges in several requests for
an interview. He referred questions to his lawyer, who also declined to
Zuflacht, a San Antonio lawyer who founded Adoptions Services
Associates in 1984, said her agency has arranged about 1,000 adoptions
from Romania and Russia for U.S. parents, including some in San
Antonio, since the early 1990s.
The number of foreign adoptions in San Antonio is unclear, since no
single U.S. government agency regulates international adoptions. But
Sue Hall of San Antonio, who belongs to a Russian adoption support
group, said 150 to 200 local families have adopted foreign children,
with most coming from Russia and Romania.
The falling-out between Adoption Services Associates and Mozes reflects
the growing international concern over poorly regulated adoption
programs in Eastern Europe and the brokers involved in the industry.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union a decade ago, the number of orphans
adopted every year from Eastern Europe has more than doubled, to more
than 16,000 annually, according to the State Department. Most of the
adoptions are successful and pair needy children with U.S. parents who
often are compelled to rescue orphans from filthy, crowded facilities
where toddlers sometimes are tethered to cribs by overworked
But problems with brokers and corrupt orphanage directors have been
widespread. The Romanian government has suspended foreign adoptions
several times, with the latest suspension in June after a scathing
international report was issued.
In her report, Baroness Emma Nicholson, the European Parliament's
special envoy for Romania, accused that country's adoption system of
"persistent abandonment of children, child abuse and neglect and child
trafficking." She complained of endemic corruption in the system, and
expressed concern for 240 Romanian orphans who could not be traced.
Three weeks after the report, the Romanian police directorate for
organized crime said elements of the adoption industry were run by
criminals who pocketed donations intended to improve orphanages. In one
case, police charged the "My Child" program with misusing about
$500,000 donated by several U.S. adoption agencies.
In the Adoption Services lawsuit, Zuflacht said one adoptive couple was
threatening to sue her after adopting three siblings from Russia
"The three children have a 17-year-old sister who was left behind in
Russia. The older sister was viewed as a parental figure to the three
younger children. The adoptive couple claims (Mozes) was aware of the
older sister and proceeded with the adoption and subsequent separation
of the children without advising them," the suit claims. "This
separation has caused the three children to be hostile and violent with
The parents wanted the three children removed from their home,
according to the lawsuit, contributing to the growing problem of
disrupted adoptions from Eastern Europe.
>From 1994 to July 2001, U.S. parents returned at least 136 children
adopted from overseas because of problems with the children, according
to figures compiled by Tressler Lutheran Services, a leading U.S.
adoption group. Most of the children in failed adoptions came from
Russia and Romania.
Zuflacht says in her complaint that adoptive couples spend $10,000 to
$12,000 in countries where they are adopting children to cover legal
work, government fees, drivers, translators and gifts to orphanages. On
top of that, Mozes received $7,000 per placement, and parents paid
Adoption Services Associates $1,750 or $3,500 in fees, depending on the
age and needs of the adopted child.
Zuflacht said the money parents spent overseas disappeared without an
accounting from Mozes.
"Without such an accounting, ASA is unable to verify whether these cash
amounts are being spent to further adoptions and help the orphanages,
or whether it is taken by Defendant," the lawsuit says.
According to Romanian and Russian laws, the only fees required for an
adoption are document fees. Agencies usually also make direct donations
to orphanages. Translators and drivers are paid according to the local
standards of the countries, where the average monthly salary is less
Financial records on file with the Internal Revenue Service do not show
any gifts or donations made to orphanages by Adoptions Services
Associates between 1997 and 1999. As a nonprofit organization, ASA is
required to make the records available to the public.
The financial reports show ASA earned $1.79 million to $1.97 million a
year between 1997 and 1999. As the executive director, Zuflacht earned
between $70,000 and $158,000 a year for running the agency and
providing legal services to adoptive parents.
Mozes has been affiliated with foreign adoptions for more than a
decade. He was mentioned in a December 1990 Los Angeles Times article
about planning to escort couples to Romania to adopt children.
At the time, he worked through the Romanian Club of Santa Monica,
Calif. Later, the Romanian Club became a Russian Club and Mozes started
doing adoptions from Russia when Romania imposed its first moratorium
on foreign adoptions.
In 1996, Mozes and Adoption Services Associates were temporarily banned
from performing adoptions in Romania, according to a former Romanian
Adoption Committee official who asked to remain anonymous.
The former official said Mozes tried to adopt a Romanian orphan for a
Mexican couple, which was illegal because Mozes was working for a U.S.
agency and Mexico is a "children donor" country like Romania. Parents
in children donor countries are not supposed to adopt foreign children,
because the countries already are overburdened with orphans awaiting
Several parents contacted by the San Antonio Express-News said they had
complaints about their experience with Mozes and Adoption Services
Associates, but they asked to remain anonymous out of concern for their
One woman said she and her husband tried to adopt a Russian girl
through Mozes this year after seeing the girl's picture on Mozes' Web
"Before I dialed the phone I prayed, 'Lord, make it clear if we are to
work with this agency.' My hands shook as I dialed the phone. I was
calling to say, 'Yes, she is our daughter.'
"Before I even finished getting the words out of my mouth, this man -
the agency director - demanded that we immediately Federal Express
three checks to three separate addresses totaling a very large amount
of money if we wanted them to hold this child for us," the woman wrote
in a lengthy Internet message, which she verified in a telephone
"I began to question him about the large amount of money (that we
didn't have) and the three separate addresses," she said. "He became
irate. He yelled and called me names and his final words were,
'Somebody will pay this much for that little girl!' Slam! He hung up
Adoption Services Associates fired Mozes soon after the incident. The
couple said they subsequently had similar problems trying to arrange
the adoption with Zuflacht.
Zuflacht said that, despite problems with Eastern European adoptions,
her business is going well. "I'm thinking that I'd like to have
something to fall back on in case also Russia closes down and there
would be nothing. I'm thinking about Guatemala, where the adoption
process is still simple, and about China: there are tons of girls in
Caption: Linda Zuflacht, seen in her office Thursday, is the director
of a San Antonio adoption agency that specializes in international
Memo: Adoption Services Associates director Linda Zuflacht says in her
complaint that adoptive couples spend $10,000 to $12,000 in countries
where they are adopting children to cover legal work, government fees,
drivers, translators and gifts to orphanages. On top of that, former
international adoption director Orson Mozes received $7,000 per
placement, and parents paid Adoption Services Associates $1,750 or
$3,500 in fees, depending on the age and needs of the adopted child.
Zuflacht said the money parents spent overseas disappeared without an
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