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February 09, 2007

Mary Bonn Arrested

Guatemalan adoption facilitator Mary Bonn was arrested earlier this week on the charge of Harboring of an Illegal Alien. The charge does stem from the case of a LEGAL adoption that was completed in Guatemala. Rather than joining the adoptive parents, the child was allegedly illegally brought to the United States under a different name and had been living with Mary for approx. 9 months.

Guatadopt is receiving some scrutiny for not allowing anything into comments that we feel further victimizes the family involved. All I can say is “sorry”, that WILL remain a steadfast rule on this site and, yes, we get to decide what crosses the line. You are welcome to call that censorship if you like, but it doesn't change what our policy will be.

Guatadopt is not passing judgment on this case. Mary is innocent until proven guilty and will have her day in court, which she like anyone accused of a crime deserves. So let’s review the allegations and facts that are relevant:

1.) A US family legally completed the adoption of a child in Guatemala. The child’s birth certificate has that family’s name on it.
2.) That child, without the knowledge or consent of the child’s legal parents, was allegedly brought to the United States illegally under false pretence by a Guatemalan woman using a visitor’s visa with a name different than the child’s legal name.
3.) That child is alleged to have been living in Mary’s home for many months without the knowledge or consent of the child’s legal parents.
4.) To our knowledge, none of the adoption service providers working with Mary have been involved in this, charged with a crime, or had any knowledge of what is alleged to have occurred.

Mary may very well have believed that she was doing the right thing. She may have had reasons in her mind that make her feel justified in her alleged involvement. That does not change the reality behind the allegations.

If and when this story is picked up by the media, they will undoubtedly not cover it accurately so let me say it loud and clear: THIS IS NOT A CASE OF A CROOKED ADOPTION. THIS IS A CASE OF A PERSON WHO ALLEGEDLY TOOK A CHILD THAT WAS NOT HERS AND SMUGGLED THE CHILD INTO THE UNITED STATES OUTSIDE OF ANYTHING HAVING TO DO WITH ADOPTION ON A TOURIST VISA, NOT AN IR3 OR IR4.

The family involved is attempting to recover from the ordeal they have been through. Guatadopt is intentionally not saying too much about the case in order to respect their privacy. What I will say is that these are good people who have been put through a living hell trying to find their child.

There will be more to this story as it develops and it goes without saying that there are plans in the works to help families impacted. We will communicate those plans as they occur and will do our best to answer questions you may have, keeping in mind that much of the details are only the business of the victims.

Our Guatadopt team has volunteered to create a "Guatadopt Support Team" and assist parents who have RAI or Mary Bonn cases. We will be posting some forms (hopefully today) for those families to fill out in order to be assisted by our team or participate in a private support forum. We will not be able to assist families without this information, so please reframe from requesting anonymous information.

REQUEST FOR SUPPORT FORM

We will keep updated information on these cases in our Resource Center

Click here to read a statement from Focus On Adoption

UPDATE MON FEB 12:The State Department has issued a statment on the arrest. Click here to view it.

UPDATE TUES FEB 13: JCICS sent an e-mail to its members about Mary's arrest. Nothng in it is new except for that it does state that the investigation includes four other children wo were living in Mary's home, "none of whom were her biological or adoopitve children". It does of course state that JCICS deplores the events surrounding the case and is fully cooperatig with authorities.

Posted by Kevin at February 9, 2007 03:41 PM
Comments

Could you please comment on what someone should do if Mary Bonn was their facilitator? Our child is recently home and now I am concerned that things may not have been done correctly in-country. Thank you.

Posted by: Tara at February 9, 2007 04:37 PM

I have to say , I met this woman in the hotel lobby when we made a visit trip recently and she came off very rude to me .
I know families who are using her as their facilitator and it is taking FOREVER to get their children home.
So this comes as no suprise to me.

Posted by: Paula at February 9, 2007 04:39 PM

I would just like everyone to remember that there are two sides to every story. And it is not our place to judge anyone involved in this.

Posted by: Angie at February 9, 2007 06:31 PM

We sent this woman some money as part of the "program fee" but she is not listed as being with our agency. What does that mean?

Posted by: Niki at February 9, 2007 06:34 PM

We'll I am just sick!! What do you think will happen to these families? and where does one go from there.?
SS

Posted by: ss at February 9, 2007 06:52 PM

I have been working with Mary for the past year, and find her to be very easy to talk to. She has worked very hard on my case and has always been responsive. It's not always the coordinaters fault that things take so long, I think people forget that. There is the Lawyer, DNA, and PGN, all these things take way too much time. So you shouldn't put it only on Mary.
Mary has did her job and soon I will have my son home.

Rose

Posted by: Rose at February 9, 2007 07:56 PM

I would like to note that Mary Bonn is a facilitator that Reaching Arms International used (the adoption agency that the Minnesota Attorney General's Office is now investigating. "Oh what a tangled web we weave. . ."

Posted by: Kathy at February 9, 2007 08:05 PM

Please let us know if this will affect those still in PGN or can the attorney finish with the rest of the case?
ss

Posted by: ss at February 9, 2007 09:57 PM

Mary's arrest in itself SHOULD not have any impact on in-process cases that she was involved with. I have to assume though that her cases may receive some additional scrutiny in order to ensure that everything is legitimate.

I once again want to stress that this is not an adoption arrest.

As I wrote, plans are in the works to find assistance for families that may need it. At this point, the prudent thing is to ensure that your agencies have direct contact with your attorneys and are prepared to take over the role that Mary served. I am also cautiously optimistic that governments on both sides will do the right thing and aid in completing the cases, but I do stress the "cautiously" in that.

PLEASE, and take this as a plea, the adoption community needs to remain strong and united as a support mechanism. We also need to be the ones to keep focus on the fact that this does not involve an unethical adoption. This child was legally adopted in Guatemala by suitable parents who went through all legal channels.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at February 9, 2007 11:06 PM

Well, this news certainly leaves those of us that have RAI as our agency and Mary as our Guatemala contact in a fix. RAI has consistently denied having any way of directly contacting our attorney. We do have his email, so we hope that will suffice. We will certainly be anxious to hear of any other resources or suggestions that anyone might have as to how we get our child home. We heard three weeks ago that we were to enter PGN within a couple of weeks. We were waiting for Mary's return from her trip to GC last week for confirmation of our status....

Posted by: Linda at February 9, 2007 11:50 PM

Mary seemed nice and professional to me. Of course this is a scare of what is to come, but let's hope for the best. At least for the other childrens families.
SS

Posted by: ss at February 9, 2007 11:57 PM

Do I understand this correctly ???
A family adopted this child and before they brought their child home, Mary Bonn took the child ,
"as her own "
Why would any facilitator do such a thing.
Maybe I'm just not understanding why this was done.
This is just so sad.
No matter what the reason , the media will have a field day with this one.
I do understand what Kevin said about this not being about a
"Bad Adoption"
But we all know how the media is.
Another BIG cloud over Guatemalan adoptions.

Posted by: Paula at February 10, 2007 04:06 AM

Does anyone know why this child was brought to the US illegally and how? If this was a legal adoption, what was the point of bringing the child to the States illegally?

Posted by: Erik at February 10, 2007 07:35 AM

I am not sure I understand what Mary Bonn's role was in adoptions? Cananyone explain it to me?

Posted by: Niki at February 10, 2007 08:01 AM

Paula, you basicaly have it 100% correct.

Erik - the adoptive parents did not know Mary had the child. They had been lied to about where the child was. There's a word that starts with "k" and ends with "ing" that really describes what happened here. But since she has not been charged with that at this time, I am not using it.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at February 10, 2007 08:46 AM

Rose, we shouldn't put it all on Mary? She smuggled someone else's child into the country illegally and had the child living in her own home for many months . . . . which part of this should we put on the lawyer, DNA, or PGN?

Posted by: Teel at February 10, 2007 08:51 AM

I am confused as to why she (Mary) would "K" this child when the adoption was already final for the family in Guatemala? How in the world did the family or the authorities find this out?
Kevin is absolutely correct that the community as a WHOLE needs to stand together and also keep prayers/good thoughts for that family. I for one could not imagine the anxiety, pain etc. of not knowing where your child is.
Was this little one taken from Foster Care????

Posted by: s at February 10, 2007 09:08 AM

P.S. - Rose, is it supposed to make the family of the smuggled child feel better to know that soon YOU will have YOUR adopted child home? I guess I am just trying to figure out why in the world people will choose Mary's arrest for smuggling someone else's child into the country and then pretending that child was her own as an opportunity to talk about their own sucessful adoption? Keep in mind there is a family that is a victim reading these posts. Imagine if someone came into your home at night and took your child and when they were finally caught, people responded by posting on the internet about what a great guy the perpetrator who took your child was. What is the point of doing this?

Posted by: Teel at February 10, 2007 09:22 AM

I am a victim too! My adoption has been going on for over a year a hald. The facilitator that Mary chose to use let our pre-approval sit in USCIS for 6 months, then when AS was hired she promptly picked up the pre-approval and we went into PGN and got kicked out late September-06. The previos were a typo in the social workers report and PGN wanted newer dated copy of the baby's birth certificate. Two things that could have been corrected in a two week period at most. We, to date have not been resubmitted, and the baby has not been seen in five and a half months. The facilitator there does not respond and refuses to complete the case. Our Agency has done nothing productive to solve this, they say they try but what they do is just ask and accept what they receive-NOTHING! How is Mary to blame for this well she CHOSE to do business with someone she knew had a bad rep. She did not stay on her and demand either our paperwork be returned or finish the case. The Agency sent the money to an Attorney not on our POA and it was cashed, shouldn't the Agency have questioned this? People do not defend Mary if you have not been on the recieving end of a SHAM! We know nothing, do not know if the baby is alive and well or what happened to her. Someone, Mary, our Afency should know. There are too many gory details to list here of what we have been subjected too. I could go on and on. The bottom line we got scammed and nothing is being done to produce the child or finish the case. The thing that is the worst is that is was a simple case and everything, DNA, Pre-Approval, even the dreaded PGN was simple to do. There is no excuse. Yes I blame Mary. When I questioned the Pre-Approval I was told by Mary that said the Attorney said-Which I do not even know who the Attorney is to back off or I would loose the baby???? Be gratefuk if your case went well and you baby is home. We will never see that day!
GKM

Posted by: GKM at February 10, 2007 09:30 AM

Mary has a very competant assistant, who has jut recently been in Guatemala without Mary. She has made sure that cases were tended to. She herself got a difficult case through a tough spot. I am confident that her assistant can continue to deal with cases. I would strongly suggest that everyone hear Mary's side of the story before deciding that she is k_______er.

Posted by: Lisa at February 10, 2007 09:36 AM

Was Mary and "independent" facilitator with which various agencies contracted?

It seems several different agencies used her.

Posted by: Andrea at February 10, 2007 09:57 AM

Excellent point Teel, makes you wonder??? Here's a thought to add to this mess...how did this child get through Homeland Security at Customs? What was the reason for taking this child in the first place? If the media does take note of this story, we can rest assured that we will hear more,though all legal measure were taken it still doesn't take away from the fact that this person took a child into this country illegally and the association with the adoption agency is enough for them to have a field day. I know that the adoption community will stay strong and supportive but hopefully, the media will report the story fully and not cast a negative light on Guatamalan adoptions. Waiting to hear more, Marie

Posted by: marie at February 10, 2007 10:06 AM

Teel,

I was responding to someone who said she was rude person. I wasn't responding to the post to say that smuggling a baby is ok, because it is not.

Posted by: R at February 10, 2007 10:20 AM

Amen, Teel. Sorry, Rose...this is not about you!

Posted by: m at February 10, 2007 10:54 AM

Teel
I couldn't have said it better myself!!!
Thanks for putting it in writting.
This woman Mary Bonn has commited
a crime , no matter how much she has helped some .
She has caused pain beyone beleif to this poor family.

Posted by: Paula at February 10, 2007 10:55 AM

My heart goes out to all involved in this tragedy. Most of all my heart and prayers go out to this little child who is now suffering another loss. This is so very, very tragic...... this child has been thru so much..... so many losses....I also feel for the adoptive family involved in this case, this has got to be tough for them as well. Prayers coming for those whose hearts are hurting.
Blessings,
Gloria
mom to 5 Guatemalan blessings and a former RAI client.......

Posted by: gloria at February 10, 2007 11:32 AM

Nikki,
I believe Mary worked between the agency and the attorney. She ck'd and sent the paperwork, dossier etc. and went over to Guatemala and took videos and updates for the families. She would ck in with the attorney and make sure the case was going smoothly etc. So I guess this proves she was very educated on how the system works.
SS

Posted by: ss at February 10, 2007 12:11 PM

The child was brought into the country on a visitor's visa under someone else's name by a Guatemalan woman. The way the child was brought in had nothing to do with adoption. It just looked like someone taking their kid on a visit to the US. That scenario could happen anywhere/anytime. It's not adoption related.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at February 10, 2007 12:41 PM

WoW! This is crazy....Mary was the facilitator for us 16 months ago when we brought our son home. It was AWFUL! Fortunately, we were on top of things and just started skipping over Mary and the agency to communicate DIRECTLY to our attorney. That's the ONLY reason our son came home when he did.

In light of all this, is there any indication that the child's lawyer was involved in this and whether he played any part in it? Wouldn't there have to be more than only Mary in this scheme?? Do we know who the attorney was? Could she have pulled this off alone?

Posted by: kristi cj at February 10, 2007 12:46 PM

Thank you Kevin and Kelly. The work you are doing to prepare a team to help those of us with RAI and/or Mary gives hope in very trying and anxious ridden circumstance(s).

I'm glad that the child was finally located for the poor family at the crux of this heartbreaking series of events. I cannot imagine the turmoil to their lives caused by Mary's actions. I hope everything can be put back in order quickly so their family can begin anew and fully restored.

Posted by: Linda at February 10, 2007 12:57 PM

Sorry for all the typo's guys. I am very angry and wrote in a frenzy! Mary has just made choices and if nothing else this will teach alot of people alot of things.

Posted by: GKM at February 10, 2007 01:35 PM

Lisa - those of us that have Mary as facilitator would love to know of the competent assistant as we're a bit concerned. Perhaps the competent assistant would make him/herself known to us all? We've had Mary as US facilitator for our case for 2 1/2 yrs and know of no such assistant. We'd love to share in your confidence, but as of this moment, we're a bit shaky on having confidence that our cases are all going to be handled well by anyone associated with Mary.

Posted by: Linda at February 10, 2007 02:16 PM

One thing I have wondered since all this "broke" - Does the family get their baby since this adoption seems to have been complete?

Posted by: kristi cj at February 10, 2007 02:37 PM

GKM would you please share with me privately who your attorney is? Thank you!

Posted by: Jennifer at February 10, 2007 02:46 PM

I want to add something..... I know that in the "heat of the moment" there is a lot of emotions running strong... I think it's important to let the facts be made known and the proper authorities do their job..with time the truth will come out .... I know it's easy to get caught up in the very real emotions that are triggered by something like this, but I think this is a moment where we can all benefit from taking a deep breath and stepping back and wait for further info from the authorities. I really believe in due process, and a person should be allowed to explain themselves before the towel is thrown in, why Ms. Bonn did this action I have no clue, but I suspsect we will know soon enough.... has anyone been alerted as to the motives behind her choice of action? I also want to add that Ms. Bonn is also a mother of many children, and her children may be reading these posts. Lets take that into consideration. I am not in any way suggesting that what she did is right, just so concerned for the many children involved here. Both this child that has been deprived of it's adopted parents and also Ms. Bonn's children who will also be affected by this. I hope we can all keep this is consideration. Again, my heart and prayers go out to the children involved and the adoptive parents. I also want to go on record that I am a prior client of Ms. Bonn and do understand the frustrations that some here are expressing. It is a very difficult time to realize that one's adoption is not being properly handled and that trust has been betrayed. BElieve me, I do personally understand. I just wanted to make the point that not only is this child and adoptive family being hurt by Ms. Bonn's actions but also her children.
I hope this post is taken in the spirit of which it was written.
Regards,
Gloria
mom to 5 Guatemalan blessings... and former RAI client.

Posted by: gloria at February 10, 2007 04:05 PM

So what has happened to the child?

Posted by: Erik at February 10, 2007 04:14 PM

What was her motivation? Im really confused as to why this happened?

Posted by: J.W. at February 10, 2007 04:20 PM

For Linda, GKM and the other families in this situation- Words cannot describe the shock of hearing about this. I don't have answers for you, but please know that you and your little ones have been thought about and prayers of having the strength to deal with this situation one day at a time.
Abrazos, Marie

Posted by: marie at February 10, 2007 04:40 PM

Linda,

Sara Shore and Melissa Scott are considered Mary's assistants. Sara Shore use to work for Reaching Arms International, left there and became one of Mary's assitants. I'd be a bit shaky on having confidence in Sara or Melissa!! Please, consider who Sara Shore and Melissa Scott have worked with before you put your confidence in them!! Also, Tamara Hillstrom works with Sara, Melissa, and Mary!

I'd be sure to work with the "support team" that Kevin and Kelly are going to be providing.

Posted by: Amy at February 10, 2007 05:19 PM

I was a client of Mary Bonn and I was very happy with my experience working with her. She was nothing but professional and kind to me. I also know that she cares deeply for children.

While I sympathize for all those who have been hurt by Mary's actions in their personal adoption experiences, I think it is unfair to judge and condemn her now for something that we don't fully understand. The story posted here is only a fragment of the whole story. After all Mary has done for my family, I'm not going to jump on this "bandwagon".

Posted by: Mari at February 10, 2007 06:36 PM

I know this case--and it makes me sick. This family has been thru h@#$ the past year. And all this year Mary Bonn has lied and kept their child from them.

Posted by: Laura at February 10, 2007 07:25 PM

Amy
I would just like to say that people who work with Mary didn't assist Mary in what ever she did.
The last post about Tamara, Sara, Melissa I feel really isn't fair. I adopted using this team and though I can't speak for them, I know they trusted Mary and this had to be a huge blow. I hardly think it is fair to say you can't trust any of them. If what Mary is accused of doing is true, it is very sad and I feel for the children tangled in this mess and for the other family. I know Sara and Tamara love the children they help bring home and the families they help build. I know Tamara as being a very ethical person. I have only meet Mary once, but I know Tamara and I know her well enough to tell you that she is probably crushed and what you posted was cruel.
Amy Junes

Posted by: Amy at February 10, 2007 07:37 PM

Amy, I really don't even know who you are and I am positive we have never met because if you knew me you would not say such things about me. I am an open book with my heart and life and have never done one thing to be ashamed or embarrassed by in the adoption arena or in my dealings with the children of Guatemala. I have not once been unethical, done anything in anyway that is not in compliance with the laws of this country and in Guatemala I have never told even a half truth and anyone who knows me or has worked with me would tell you that. I have no idea what is "allowed" on the board, but would give my e-mail address or telephone number to anyone who asked and wanted to question me about any of my work, both professional or ministry.
My heart will forever beat for the children of Guatemala and it will be the privilege of my life to serve them and the families who are blessed enough to adopt them or serve them in some capacity.Again, please know me and know who I am and what I am about before you judge me.
Thank you~Melissa Scott

Posted by: Melissa Scott at February 10, 2007 07:44 PM

I just want to say that Mary did work for other agencies, at least she did 2 years ago. She was the facilitator for my dd's adoption through Angels Haven Outreach. It took a year and my hiring outside help to get my baby home. But, that is neither here nor there, the point is she probably was still working with more than one agency. So, I think it is important to find out the names of all the agencies she was currently working with so that ALL the families with cases in process with this lady can be supported. However, I know Kevin and Kelly will do a wonderful job and will find out. Maybe since Melissa is willing to post here, she can privately contact Kevin or Kelly and let them know the names of all the agencies so they have a better handle on creating the team they need to support all these families.

Now that being said, Kevin, Kelly, I don't know what you need, but I am more than willing to do whatever I can to help. I do NOT work in adoptions, but I do have contacts in Guatemala who DO work in adoptions and I will be happy to help coordinate or ask my friends in GC to help however we can. I will wait to hear from you. In the meantime, I will pray for all the families and children involved to get through this difficult time and find their way to each other, as God intends.

God Bless, Nancy

Posted by: Nancy at February 10, 2007 09:02 PM

Mary was the facilitator for our son's case, and I'm very disappointed to hear this news.

I will say that Sara was very helpful and professional with anything we needed during our adoption process. I've also been in contact with Melissa, and she was very professional in all of the communication that I've had with her. It really isn't fair to judge them.

Posted by: Kim at February 10, 2007 09:06 PM

Mary Bonn was the facilitator on our adoption case and she was less than honest. Our family was very naive about Guatemalan adoptions when we began the process. However, despite this naivety, our family was able to figure out and verify that we were not being told the truth. We went searcing for help. During this search, we discovered other families whose experiences mirrored those of our family.

For that reason, it is extremely difficult for me to believe someone who is familiar with Guatemalan adoptions and who works closely with Mary Bonn would not know that Mary Bonn is sometimes less than forthright to families. If that truly is the case, then I guess assistants can be added to the list of Mary's victims. . .

I just pray that the actions of Mary Bonn do not have political ramifications that impact even more innocent people.

Posted by: Kathy at February 10, 2007 09:50 PM

Thankfully, our daughter came home last March, but our agency contracted with Mary Bonn.
As some of you mentioned, we also had trouble getting information about our cases working with Mary. Our agency kept saying they only could pass along what information Mary gave them, and that Mary wasn't forthcoming with giving information or cooperating (which made me angry--if the facilitator isn't doing her job, then the agency needs to get another facilitator, or do the job themselves!) It didn't seem we ever could get information directly from the attorney.

We did have occasional contact with Sara and have only good things to say about her.

What really makes me angry is how this family and child were put through this. I don't know this family's individual circumstances, but I know that during adoption your emotions are already all over the place, whether you experienced infertility/miscarriage prior to the adoption, previously failed adoption, etc. plus all the red tape, AND THEN, add that you can't get information about your case, and with this poor family--where your child is even though the adoption was essentially complete--I can't fathom how most of us aren't complete basketcases by the time the adoptions are finalized!
To Adoption Agencies/Professionals:
DON'T YOU DARE MESS WITH OUR EMOTIONS! AND DON'T PATRONIZE US BY TELLING US "EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT" AND "IT'S GOING TO BE FINE."

Posted by: Mary at February 10, 2007 10:37 PM

Friends,
Once again I am very concerned that there may be some who in the "heat of the moment" may begin to jump the gun. Mary Bonn is the one who is under the scrutiny of the law right now and *not* those who work with her. Please let us remember to keep our heads above water on this one. We don't know all the details involved in this misdeamor, but I am sure in time, we will soon find out. Let's just remember that so many people read these posts out there, and words can hurt. Just because Mary has done something illegal does not mean that the agencies she works for or those who place their trust in her are bad hats. Let's give people the benefit of the doubt, until proven guilty. Remember, as American Citizens we believe in due process - "innocent until proven guilty". I hope we can remember that and keep a spirit of love and compassion for all involved here. I can only imagine that the agencies and adoption professionals that work with mary are deeply concerned right now as well. Let's keep our hats on and wait for the verdict to be in, before we begin to tear into other's integrity.
For the record, Ms. Bonn does work with various agencies, so many people's adoptions will be affected. Let us reach out to these families in a spirit of love and compassion. Adoption is hard enough without having to go thru this. Again, I hope this is taken in the spirit of which it was written. With all due respect, for all those personally involved in this tragedy.
Regards,
Gloria
mom to 5 Guatemalan blessings and former RAI client

Posted by: gloria at February 10, 2007 10:56 PM

Let me remind everyone of Guatadopt comment rules. Anything goes, we don't censor unless something becomes a personal attack.

This issue is one that makes that distiction of personal attack very difficult to define.

Please don't put us in a difficult situation in this. Posting your experiences with someone is fine. Defending that person is fine as well.

As this moves into a discussion of adoption service providers who have been associated with Mary, let's also try a bit to remember that the charges cuurently filed against Mary do not stem from any improprieties in an adoption.

It is important for in-processs families to know who was working with her. It prevents agencies from trying to hide that fact from clients who deserve to know.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at February 10, 2007 11:40 PM

Does Mary Bonn have a daughter involved with Guatemalan adoptions out of Edina, Minn.? We used someone with the same last name 6 years ago to bring home our daughter. Not a great experience but had a far worse with a "reputable" agency a year later!

Posted by: Suz at February 10, 2007 11:49 PM

Hi,I am in the middle of an adoption with AFJ, and Melissa Scott. Ms. Scott has been amazing and although I have never personally met her, through our communication and seeing her in video with my soon to be daughter, I have warm heartfelt feelings about her as a sincere, sensitive and competent person with a gentle soul.
In a perfect world adoptions could move smoothly along with needy children being adopted by loving families. But, where varied personalities, business people, governments, and money are involved there is going to be greed, incompetency, ego and competitiveness especially in an intensely emotional business like adoption. I think those of us that are adopting are aware of this, and even though we don't like it, we feel that what we are doing for the children is most important. I would imagine that the people that are on the fronts of Guatemala adoption, working for us, are certainly confronted with some business misconduct and probably, as we do, feel that although things are less than perfect they do the best they can and maybe, just maybe, their personal decency, honesty, and goodness can make a difference in a less than perfect world.
I am grateful to have Melissa Scott to help me bring home my little girl.

Posted by: Amy Schoeneck at February 11, 2007 05:41 AM

Kathy and Mary you both hit the nail on the head. I do know Mary loves her children very much and her bad choice will affect them for a long time. That made me realize that all though I am past agngry at everyone involved in my adoption I need to think before I speak. Especially here on Guatadopt. I am only hoping that all of this commotion causes my daughter to magically appear after almost six months. Love and Prayers to all that are like me, on pins and needles.
Kim

Posted by: GKM at February 11, 2007 09:15 AM

We still have not heard Mary's story of why this happened. I hope we will have that chance.

Posted by: J.W. at February 11, 2007 11:05 AM

Mary Bonn also worked with Focus on Children of Wy. They have sent an announcement that Sara Shore will be the new facilitator for Guatemala.

Posted by: Jenn at February 11, 2007 11:08 AM

I also wanted to take a moment to vouch for Melissa Scott. She is truly a sweet and godly woman. Her heart is for the special needs children of Guatemala and she works tirelessly to find families for them. These are the kids who have absolutely no chance of a future in that country. She does a great deal of her work for no charge in order to help unite special needs children with families. Melissa is honest and above the board in all of her dealings. Melissa recently helped us to complete our adoption from Guatemala and I simply cannot express how wonderful she was and how much she cared about our family through the whole process. Please remember that we don't know all of the facts of Mary Bonn's situation and there is no reason to believe that anyone else involved in adoptions helped her to take this child. Please give Melissa the benefit of the doubt and I believe the same courtesy is due to anyone else who may have worked with Mary Bonn recently or in the past. ~Rachel (whitmirefamily on adoption.com)

Posted by: Rachel Whitmire at February 11, 2007 11:24 AM

I just want to offer another side to this story. First of all, I want to say that what is going on with Mary Bonn has to do with her personal decision to rescue a baby and bring this baby into her home. She did what she thought was right given the situation. This has nothing to do with her professional role of an adoption facilitator. Unfortunately, this decision may have consequences that affect her ability to continue as a professional in adoptions, but this was a personal issue and choice on her part. It has nothing to do with the children whose adoptions she was running, how long their adoptions are taking, or whether or not the attorneys or PGN do their jobs quickly. It seems odd that this event in Mary's personal life somehow now becomes the explanation for the bumps and delays in all the Guatemalan adoption processes she has been a part of (bumps and delays that are normal! Not easy, but normal in any international adoption!).

I am not saying that Mary made the best choice or even the right choice, but I am saying that there IS a whole story that needs to be told. Please consider that before judging Mary harshly. Also, there is absolutely no reason to bring the people Mary has worked with into this. As I stated before, this was a personal decision on Mary's part to bring this child into her home and her family to care for her there. The people working with Mary had nothing to do with it.

The whole story will not be told on this group because of the moderator's desire to protect the family, but I pray that the whole story will have a chance to be told.

Posted by: AS at February 11, 2007 12:18 PM

I too want to go on record of personally having known and associated with Melissa Scott for the last 5 yrs. I have spent much time with her and her beautiful family. I know her to be a woman of sound principles and without a doubt a woman who has loved and adored God's children in Guatemala. It hurts me to read the posts of people who are so quick to judge Ms. Scott. She can not be blamed for the actions of Ms.Bonn. When I read these kinds of posts from the adoption community it saddens me. We need to stay strong and "sane". False accusations and blaming innocent people for Ms. Bonn's actions is so very wrong.
Regards,
Gloria
mom to 5 Guatemalan blessings

Posted by: gloria at February 11, 2007 01:50 PM

I've always thought that if you contract with an agency, then the agency must take responsibility for the actions and behaviors of its employees and sub-contractors. Your contract is with an agency and you make payments to the agency. You would rarely get to choose the facilitator, buscadora or attorney. The agency does that and should be responsible and accountable. That's the way it is in every other business. Why do we allow the adoption industry to pass the blame, buck and responsibility and accountability this way?

If you hire a contractor(builder) to build a house, he may sub-contract out the plumbing work. You move in and the plumbing is faulty, you go to the contractor, not the plumber. The contractor can then get the plumber to fix things or find a different plumber to use or allow you to get your own plumber and reimburse you for the repairs. If you buy a new car and it has a faulty transmission, the manufacturer of the car warranties that, regardless of who the transmission supplier is. Whether or not an agency who uses a bad facilitator/buscadora/attorney is complicit in their actions or a victim of their actions is irrelevant. They must be made to take responsibility and they must be held accountable. When that happens, then we may finally see some of these agencies choose their facilitators/attorneys, etc. more carefully.

Adoption is now a 3 Billion Dollar a year industry that remains unregulated and that has to change.

David K

Posted by: David K at February 11, 2007 02:00 PM

David K.,

Amen!

Posted by: GKM at February 11, 2007 03:57 PM

Like Amy Schoeneck said above, I also am in the process of adopting through A Family Journey and working with Melissa Scott. Melissa has been absolutely wonderful, supportive, patient, and honest. I believe her to be a completely ethical adoption professional, and I believe with all my heart that she truly loves and cares for the children of Guatemala. I trust her with my son who is waiting for us in Guatemala. That is the highest compliment I can give!

I don't think that Melissa, or anyone else who has worked with Mary Bonn, should have any "guilt by association" simply because they have worked with Mary.

For that matter, as someone has said above, Mary's side of the story has yet to be told. I don't know Mary Bonn and had never heard of her until now, but our justice system is supposed to presume innocence until guilt is proven.

That being said, of course I believe that Mary Bonn should not be involved in any ongoing adoptions in light of her legal situation.

I am confident that A Family Journey will handle this in an ethical and prudent matter, and I am very grateful to be working with Melissa Scott to bring our precious son home. I would not hesitate to recommend Melissa or her agency to any friends or family members of mine who would want to adopt from Guatemala.

Posted by: Wendy Faircloth at February 11, 2007 05:24 PM

I find it so disheartening that this site would post just one side of a story. There's obviously more to it than what has been said. Many of the comments people have posted are irrelevant and vindictive in nature.

I think posting this news in such a slanted manner is in poor taste and totally inappropriate. I expected better of this "respected" source. Kevin, it's nice that you are protecting the family involved, but in doing so, you have villified a person who has helped bring hundreds and hundreds of children to loving families. Mary Bonn has devoted much of her life to the children of Guatemala.

I think you have done a good job of getting the adoption community stirred up, but I hope in doing so, you haven't created yet one more reason for the media to take this story, twist it, and hurt the future of adoptions in Guatamala. I question your motive for posting this story in the manner that you did.

I know that you will never apologize to Mary and her family for what you have allowed to happen here, but you should.

Posted by: Mari Rose at February 11, 2007 08:38 PM

I second that Mari. I am also saddened to see how quickly people are to jump on the bandwagon regarding this situation.

Mary is a wonderful, kind, caring woman who has always put children first. I will stand by her in thick or thin, she is a huge reason I have my son and hundreds of others should think before they speak.

It is not the "norm" to get the updates, videos or photos that we did from Mary. I have adopted two children and it was night and day with the updates and photos between the two. She knows how important it is for the children and the waiting families to have whatever information she can find out. If there isn't anything for her to share with us, that is not her fault. She does the absolute best that she can and I appreciate everything she has done for our family and hundreds others.

Posted by: Angie at February 11, 2007 11:15 PM

please someone tell me what if any reasons could there be to justify "the other side of the story"....I can't think of one thing that would make me say, oh, well now I understand why she would take a legally adopted child (someone else's) and enter under a false name and visa into the US and then keep the child for 9 months! What is the Big secret?

Posted by: Amber at February 11, 2007 11:30 PM

Can someone explain Mary's side of the story. There has to be a reason this happened and it may be more complex then we all understand presently.??

Posted by: J.W. at February 11, 2007 11:32 PM

Amen, Mari Rose!

Posted by: MCR at February 11, 2007 11:59 PM

I personally would like to hear why a person with so much experience in this field would be found with an improperly documented child in her home? So far the only people who know both sides seem to be the authorities who took the action.
I know that my disposition is based on my personal bad experience which seems to have been shared by many others. Based on this experience, I still cannot conceive of any explanation that would rehabilitate the reputations of anyone involved in this story. I have a limited experience in the adoption arena and can think of many legal ways to have "sheltered" a child and that is why I cannot conceive why someone with vast experience would make such a choice.

Posted by: Suz at February 12, 2007 12:37 AM

Thank you, Mari Rose, for your post. I couldn't agree with you more! There is another side to this story that has yet to be told.

Posted by: AS at February 12, 2007 12:42 AM

If Mary Bonn is acquitted, we will certainly post the details. But at present we feel obligated to protect and assist the KNOWN victimized family(ies) as opposed to the alleged criminal.

Sorry to be so blunt, but we are admittedly slanted against what we believe is WRONG.


Posted by: Kelly (guatadopt.com) at February 12, 2007 09:31 AM

To add to Kelly's post.

Guatadopt is not posting either side to the story. Where have we posted what the family involved says happened? It will be the role of the courts to determine that.

What we have posted is that Mary was arrested and what the allegations are against her.

We are allowing people to post in support of Mary as well as those who have been looking for a long time to share what thier experience was. That is all fair!

If you had a great experience with Mary, post it. If you had a horrible one, post that too.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at February 12, 2007 10:18 AM

I agree with you 100% Mari Rose!

People need to hear the facts first.

Ever heard of a trial first.

Rose

Posted by: Rose at February 12, 2007 11:56 AM

Angie and Mari could you please explain how it is that this action represented the actions of a "kind and warm" person who puts "children first". To take such obvious ILLEGAL steps to "save" a child who was already in a LEGAL adoption process does not read "warm and kind" to me. To have a young child leave Guatemala ILLEGALLY means that she knew there would be a risk of being discovered resulting in the child being immediately taken into some period of protective custody and then moved again into the LEGAL adoptive family's home. How is that upheaval "putting children first"? Also, by taking ILLEGAL steps she must have known she could be jeopardizing her work in adoptions thus affecting the lives of MANY children who could have used her experience in the field.
I see this as a discussion of the ethical question of "Does one good act absolve humans from their countless bad actions"? Depends I guess on how you were raised and have evolved as an adult. Obviously I feel, based on my experience with the Bonn family, that a true "warm and kind" person who puts "children first" would never even consider these ALLEGED acts and would have worked within the legal system to ensure the child's future.

Posted by: Suz at February 12, 2007 12:03 PM

Question: what was Mary's role for A Family Journey agency (or any other agency for that matter)? In short, what did Mary do that now has to be done by someone else? Please reply privately or publicly.

Note: I am in PGN and am trying to determine how this will effect the process.

Thanks.

Posted by: Cheri at February 12, 2007 12:18 PM

cheri,
In response to your post - Ms. Bonn is an unlicensed Guatemalan adoption facilitator. She is hired by various adoption agencies that contract her to oversee the Guatemalan adoption process. She works directly with the attorneys handling the adoptions and she also is in charge of securing referrals for the agencies she works with. She is the "middle" person between the agency and the Guatemalan staff. She plays a large role and I would not doubt if her case load was not affected by this expierence. Of course some agencies may go on and say "all is well". They will tell their clients that in order to maintain order in a time of uncertainty. There is no doubt about it - Ms.Bonn does play a big role in the adoption process. The agencies she works with depend on her to updates, videos, photos and all basic info regarding the cases come thru
her. As far the effect this will have in the pgn - who is to tell? There may be little affect or there may be greater scrutiny on her cases. THat is to be determined in time. Agencies who work with Ms. Bonn need to be supportive at this time - adoptive parents are placing their trust in them to be honest and candid. As adoptive parents we want the truth - not a pat answer that only makes adoptive families feel patronized and brushed off. As the guat adopt team has stated there is a support group that is being formed for clients of Ms. Bonn - agencies that have been affected by this scandal should be the first to offer support measures for their clients. That is the least they can do.
Regards,
Gloria
mom to 5 Guatemalan blessings and former client of Ms.Bonn

Posted by: gloria at February 12, 2007 01:43 PM

I think it's important to take note that Ms. Bonn works with various agencies. Some adoptive parents may not even be aware that Ms.Bonn is handling their case. She is not usually the one to contact the parents - that is usually left to the agency guat director - Ms. Bonn's work is doing behind the scenes for the most part. Therefore, many adoptive familie may be unaware the she is in fact handling her case on the guat side.
FYI,
Gloria
mom to 5 Guatemalan blessings and former client of Ms.Bonn

Posted by: gloria at February 12, 2007 01:47 PM

These charges come as a huge shock to me as well as many on this list. My point is NOT to judge Mary until she has the chance to tell her side of the story.

Kevin expressed that we can state our opinions in opposition or in defense of Mary, I chose to state the things I believe to be true about her. I know she is a kind and caring person who puts children first. That is my opinion, you do not obviously agree with me and that is fine. I just want others to know that I care about her and will suppport her in any way I can.

It is true that she has helped hundreds of families with their adoptions and I am choosing to focus on all of the positive things Mary has done.

Posted by: Angie at February 12, 2007 01:55 PM

After reading kevin and kelly's post today I have to add that guat adopt has only posted the facts. Mary Bonn, a guatemalan adoption facilitator, was arrested for allegedly breaking the law. Regardless of the "why"... what she did was allegedly illegal, or she would not have been arrested. Kevin has repeatedly tried to help people focus on the "crime" that she has allegedly committed and is arrested for - the illegal harboring of a child.
Please take note that there has not been any accusations from the guat adopt team regarding Ms.Bonn's work in Guatemalan adoptions. The facts have been presented regarding her arrest for the crime she has allegedly committed.

I have not read anything more or less. Regardless of "why" Ms. Bonn chose her course of actions - there is no doubt a crime is alleged to have been committed. I for one am grateful for the guat adopt team that has consistently been on top of issues pertaining to guat adoptions and has always strived to present the facts.
Regards,
gloria
mom to 5 Guatemalan blessings and former client of Ms.Bonn

Posted by: gloria at February 12, 2007 02:11 PM

Oh my word, I cannot believe how some of you think that some untruth has been posted by Guatadopt when Mary was arrested for bringing a child to the states illegally. What do you need to hear to understand why she would do such a thing and cause such pain to the family involved and to the child. I'm sorry but Mary has messed up several adoptions and mine was one of them. We are on our second referral and this time around, we're with a reputable attorney, not some facilitator in Guatemala that Mary happened to work with that didn't do ONE thing on our case for a whole year!!!!!!!! We never did find out the reason, only that this person was a very evil person in Guat. I'm sure Mary has helped to bring home many children but there are also many of us that have suffered great losses because of who Mary worked with in Guatemala.

Arvella

Posted by: Arvella at February 12, 2007 02:58 PM

The U.S. Department of State just issued a statment regarding this situation. You can find it here: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_482.html

Posted by: Michele at February 12, 2007 05:31 PM

Mary Bonn is the facilitator for our agency and updates and information sharing from them have been very weak. and inconsistent I do feel the agency has a responsibility in supervising a facilitator if they 'subcontract' that work out.I wonder if Mary felt she was 'above the law'. She couldn't have been 'saving a desperate child as that baby/child had a family waiting for her or him!!

Posted by: W.K. at February 12, 2007 05:33 PM

arvella,
I am sorry that you had to go thru a challenging adoption process. It's tough - no doubt about it. Your post has once again reminded me that it is so very important to check out *who* a family chooses to work with for the adoption. It is *not* enough to research the agency - ( boy did I learn this the hard way!!!!! ) prospective adoptive parents need to carefully screen *who* is working the cases in Guatemala. Parents should request the names of the attorneys and facilitators the agency works with in Guatemala. Also take note that often enough "bad hats" hide behind alias names or work behind others. Folks, I can not stress enough how critical it is to really do your research! A few good references on an agency or attorney is not enough! Also take note that agencies often enough have prior clients on the online groups posting "glowing reports" of their agencies and expierences... beware of that... I learned this from my own personal expierfence... I was much to trusting and it cost my family some heartache.....I hope others can avoid the mistake I made by placing too much trust in agencies and not taking enough initiave myself. Expierence is a hard teacher.
Regards,
gloria
mom to 5 Guatemalan blessings

Posted by: gloria at February 12, 2007 05:59 PM

For the families that choose to fill out the questionnaire asking for some assistance with their case, can you tell us what to expect? Will they be contacted? And how do they know that you received their MBRAI form? Is there any way to confirm it? Thank you!

Posted by: George at February 12, 2007 06:00 PM

Yes, we will contact all families privately. We will also post on the sitewhen we have done so in case we miss anyone.

As for what to expect, we are honestly still working out the details. Mostly, I think we will be able to facilitate a system where parents can't be lied to that will give the necessary pressure to your adoption service providers to get the cases moving.

We hope to reach out to both governments, good experienced agencies (we are already in discussion with Focus on Adoption, of which I am board member), the ADA, etc.

Realize that we can't guarantee results. But Guatadopt has lots of experience helping families, sometimes just giving them the support they need to push appropriately.

Also realize that may not be easy. For example, while some attorneys may want to help, they may be afraid to get their names connected with what could possibly be bad cases. That is why I hope both governments will help in order to do what's right for the innocent children and families that may be impacted.

Bonnie - to date there are no other arrests that I am aware of. Obviously she didn't act alone as someone else brought the child to the US.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at February 12, 2007 06:19 PM

Hi,

I am still trying to understand this process. As far as I know my case is in PGN. It is a "A Family Journey" case and I know that Mary works very closely with that agency as well as others. How do I know if I need the generously profered assistance that this site has offered? If I am in PGN, is there anything else that Mary would have handled on my case? I don't want to sound an alarm if it is unwarranted, but I don't want to turn a blind eye to these disturbing events. Expertise or opinions would be warmly received. Adopting is stressful and now the volume (of stress) has been turned way up..!

Posted by: Cheri at February 12, 2007 06:47 PM

Could the situation with Mary Bonn in any way impact children that she handled but have already come to the US under IR3 or IR4 visas?

Posted by: sara at February 12, 2007 07:00 PM

I think this is a highly unfortunate situation for all involved. This will not only damage Guatemalan adoptions but hurt many agencies who have had years of successful adoptions working wih Mary. It appears Mary made a mistake and she'll have to answer to our justice system in due time.

I also know Mary loves kids and maybe in a moment of weakness, or maybe in a cold and calculating fashion, made a mistake. I can only hope it was the former. I personally don't see her doing anything against what is best for any child. She went out on a limb on our case and helped us bring our little boy home.

Either way, I hope everyone will wait for all the facts before they cast judgement on who she is. Everyone makes mistakes... lets not make one here by being judge, jury and executioner.

I also think guatadopt.com needs to post the criminal complaint and affidavit (section edited to protect the family's identitiy). Yes, this tells only one portion of the story, but until the censorship of information ceases no fair discussion or assesment can be made on this subject. (anothe section edited to protect the family's identity_)
Thanks.
Brad

Posted by: Brad at February 12, 2007 08:58 PM

Sara -

Mary is/was a communication channel and really nothing more. She hooked children up with agencies and was a central point of contact.

The adoption process in Guatemala continues irreguardless of whether she is around or not. They may watch cases she was involved with more closely, but the process is controlled by Guatemalan law and the lawyers and court system.

As far as this affecting IR3's or IR4's already granted, there is no reason for it to. Again, the IR3/IR4 is issued by the US Embassy after the Guatemalan process is finished. Mary has no role or interaction with this process... these are purely legal hoops to jump through.

It is possible that someone will want to look at your paperwork, but there really is nothing to worry about. You just never know when it comes to the US Government.

Good Luck.
Brad

Posted by: Brad at February 12, 2007 09:06 PM

Wow, I just read all these posts and I can't believe that almost 3 years after my dd came home and 5 years after starting this journey, I still don't understand the full adoption process. If my agency used a facilitator,I was not aware and I never even thought to ask. I just assumed that the agency communicated directly with the attorney in Guat and that was that. It may have been that way in my case but I never would have known to ask.
I too am sad for everyone involved and most especially the children. Again if this Mary Bonn was so concerned about the children why 'risk it all' and do this? You know now at the least everything she touches will be scrutinized. I will keep everyone involved in my thoughts and prayers
Sharon in Michigan

Posted by: SHARON at February 12, 2007 09:28 PM

The complaints against Mary Bonn and her family date back more than a decade. There's a thread in the archives of the Guatemala-adopt listserv called, "Agency Bashing," all about Summit adoptions. There were also complaints posted on the LAP-NNJ attorney/agency bulletin board when that still existed and I think I recall on the old Adoption Guide site.

I understand how a family that had a good experience with Mary Bonn and holds her responsible for bringing their precious child home can defend her and discredit past and present complaints. But if I were one of those families, given the charges levied against Mary Bonn, I'd start to wonder about exactly how my child was obtained. That's the big implication these defenders of Mary Bonn don't see. It's a big enough implication to lead to the shutdown of Guatemalan adoptions in the same way Cambodia was shut down. Lauryn Galindo had and still has staunch defenders in spite of the evidence against her.

It is the activities of the unethical adoption profiteers that cause countries to shut down, not the activities of whistle blowers or adoption reformers. The blame is is squarely on an unregulated adoption industry that refuses to police itself and fights to maintain the status quo.

David K

Posted by: David K at February 12, 2007 11:09 PM

Thank you Gloria for your comment. You are so right about checking out who you work with in Guatemala. We too have learned the hard way. We had absolutely no idea what to check out when we started. We thought if we checked out the agency and asked a few of the references we were given, that it was enough. Definitely NOT. If I would have known all I do now, what pain and grief we could have saved ourselves. Thanks again for reminding everyone to research, research, research and research again.
Blessings,

Arvella

Posted by: Arvella at February 12, 2007 11:36 PM

I am using A Family Journey Adoption Agency. Tamara Hillstrom has been my contact and is the owner. She is a scrupulously honest person with the highest integrity. She cares passionately about the children of Guatemala and has adopted from Guatemala herself.
In my opinion its very important that the agencies who had some association with Mary not be held responsible for what has happened as then families my loose their most competent and best supports.
I will continue to recomend a Family Journey as an outstanding agency.

Posted by: J.W. at February 13, 2007 12:23 AM

Hi All- I have reflected over this situation and read many of the postings over and over again and I cannot say enough regarding these case(s) and how sad I feel for the adoptive family(ies) and their child(ren) involved. But also anger at the pain that they are going through. Let us not lose sight of what has happened and let's be careful of using words that might defend someone on one hand but on the other hand cause pain to the victims in all of this. It must be very difficult to be pouring out your soul about your bad experience and have raw emotions, seeking solace from unknown strangers who are only united because we are or have adopted(ing) children from Guatemala, and to then to have to read about the defense of those accused. These families did not choose to go through this bad experience, they only had a dream to give a child a family. Mary Bonn (and others maybe?) was charged with harboring an illegal alien by bringing a child into the US illegally and not reuniting them with that child's adoptive family, who were waiting for that child. She had this child for 9 months in the US! Just imagine if this happened to you! Mary Bonn did choose her actions. Some advocate to give Mary the benefit of the doubt, well, did she not think this would cause pain? Did she not think it was not illegal? Did she think this is not wrong? Over and over I have posted and advocated the need for oversight not only of US-side agencies but especially the lawyers, facilitators and staff used in GT, that cause alot of families unnecessary delays and pain. Let's have some compassion here. Marie

Posted by: marie at February 13, 2007 06:04 AM

Melissa Scott is wonderful and ethical lady. Any negative comments about her on this site are simply not true. A good guide in life is to not say say things about people whom who do not know. Words can be very damaging, and Melissa has not done a single thing to deserve the bad comments. Just because she did work with Mary Bonn does not mean she did something wrong. Melissa would not have worked with her if she knew there were any problems.

Posted by: Leah at February 13, 2007 08:37 AM

Sharon,
I think you ask a very important question, "Why risk it all to do this?" You cannot possibly answer this without knowing her side of the story. Kevin, it should be posted here.

Mary is an incredibly smart and successful woman. Obviously after all these years in the adoption business, she wouldn't make such an important decision without good reason.

I know from my experience, Mary does indeed care deeply for children. She is the kind of person who will stand up for what is right, even when it's the difficult thing to do and when heartache may be the result. I respect that quality in Mary, and I know I'm not alone in saying that.

Just like Angie, I stand behind Mary through all this. She made the hard decision she believed was right. Most people don't have the courage to do that.

For those of you who have experienced problems in the process, my heart goes out to you. We experienced problems in our adoption too. Adoption, for sure, is not for the faint of heart. With two governments and many people involved, there are times when things go "off track". Mary did what she could for us when problems arose and for that I am grateful.

Posted by: Mari Rose at February 13, 2007 08:57 AM

I wasn't going to comment on this situation with Mary Bonn but I can not sit silent any longer. Unless you are directly involved with Mary Bonn's arrest, all that is said is pure speculation. Therefore, I won't comment on what I think is happening in this case. Those things that are in darkness will surely be brought to light and the truth will be revealed in due time. I do not think it is fair, nor do I think it should be allowed, to taint the reputation of others or hint that there was any inpropriety because someone or another agency was "associated" with Mary. I'm on the board of directors for a grant giving organization. If a fellow member embezelled money, that does not make me party to his crime. There needs to be some limits set here or this topic is going to spin out of control.

Additionally, this is my second adoption and we are using A Family Journey. I'm wise enough to know that an agency can not control all the moving parts in the adoption arena. Are they ultimately responsible? Absolutely. Tamara Hillstrom/A Family Journey aren't perfect. Neither are the adoptive families she serves. But what I do know is that Tamara is a woman of integrity and A Family Journey is a great agency. Tamara has fought for the children of Guatemala for a long time. She loves the families she serves. I won't sit silent while some try to hint that she was involved in illegal activities. I'm not sure how Mary Bonn's arrest resulted in defaming the character of others but it needs to stop.

Posted by: Mitzie at February 13, 2007 09:17 AM

For those stating that additional scrutiny may be applied to cases where Mary was facilitator, I'm confused. Why would the PGN have any knowledge of Mary's involvement with a case? If her role was communicator between attorney and agency, where would her involvement even be noticeable to a reviewer going over our dossier, etc.? I also trust the report that Mary's arrest had to do with an illegal immigration, not adoption. If that is the case, why would adoption cases receive any additional scrutiny?

Posted by: Linda at February 13, 2007 10:01 AM

Mari Rose,
You're right, I don't have the courage to smuggle a child into my home under false pretenses without consent or knowlege of her legal parents. I might, however, summon the courage to alert the authorities if I felt the child was in any danger.
It would take something extraordinary to make Ms. Bonn's actions acceptable. I can think of no context in which her actions can be excused. Perhaps I will be corrected, but in the meantime I am glad this woman has been exposed and hope she will no longer be involved in adoptions.
Let's save our compassion for the person who is undisputedly a victim in this case....the child.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 13, 2007 10:10 AM

I just noticed the update for today on this page. There were 4 MORE CHILDREN LIVING IN MARY'S HOME NONE OF WHICH WERE BIOLOGICAL OR ADOPTIVE!! Unbelievable!!! If she has done this 4 or 5 times - could she have done it more than that?

Posted by: AR at February 13, 2007 10:48 AM

In the midst of the sad news concerning this case - I think it's critical for us to remember "who" is really affected here.... and that is the child...... that is who I keep thinking about over and over again..... how does this baby feel? Where is she? How is she doing? To this child - there has been many losses in her life....and now one more....
I just can't fathom how this will effect that precious soul who will ultimately pay the price.
Does this child understand what is going on? No! How will this affect her in t years to come? How will she feel about her adoption story? How will she make peace with what life has dealt her? Do any of you stop to think about this child? This little one deserves all our prayers right now. I can't imagine how scared this child must feel at this time. Her world has turned upside down yet again!

That is the *real* tragedy here,
gloria

Posted by: gloria at February 13, 2007 11:02 AM

David K.

I value your opinion, are you serious when you wrote that parents who had Mary involved in their adoption should wonder how their children were obtained. Do you suggest that we try to obtain more information about our adoption? If so, how would you go about that??

Thanks so much.
Michelle

Posted by: michelle at February 13, 2007 12:30 PM

David K,

Yes, yes, YES. Well put.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 13, 2007 12:38 PM

Something keeps haunting me about this case. The real tragedy here is that this may have major implications on the future of adoptions. For those that support annd advocate for Mary Bonn, and think that everything is OK, well think again.
Even though this is clearly not a crooked adoption, it is so closely related to the adoption arena that those opposed to international adoptions will find it easy to blur the lines. Especially when there maybe more children involved brought to the US illegally. Where were these children going? Why weren't the adoptive parents told of this? What were the adoptive parents told? That their case was in the PGN black hole? Does history repeat itself? Yes it does. Think about why adoptions were stopped, and yes even in-process cases too, in Cambodia, Costa Rica, Romania, and on and on. Do you see why this is a delicate situation and needs attention. Do you see why agencies should be held responsible for who they choose to work with in foreign countries. I certainly hope this doesn't occur leaving families and countless children in limbo. So please if you are going to support anyone, first think about the effect this person's actions can have in the long run for families and children. Marie

Posted by: Marie at February 13, 2007 12:51 PM

I had a great expereince with Mary, but it has been one year since. She was very helpful and always gave us timely updates and pictures.
As far as blasting others that may have worked with her, I think that is sad. Sara Shore and all those at Angels Haven worked hard to get our baby home. So it does not make sense to bring them into this with no evidence against them.
I am sorry for those who have been affected by this and my prayers go out to each one. I pray that your babies are home soon.
I also pray for Mary, that if this thing is true, that she will have a change of heart, and that she does serve the time needed to do this.
If this is not true,(and in this country we are innocent until proven guilty-one of the may freedoms we enjoy), then I pray that this site, which is so helpful and encouraging, will post that too.
Thank you Kevin and Kelly for all the work you do to keep us posted on things in Guatemala and helping us all through a difficult process. I know you are just posting what you hear and keeping us informed. Please keep us up on anything you hear.

Posted by: Dee at February 13, 2007 12:55 PM

Mari Rose, (or is it Mary Bonn?), it seems like you are the one pushing an agenda. It seems evident from some of your first comments where you say...

"I find it so disheartening that this site would post just one side of a story. There's obviously more to it than what has been said."

or

"I think posting this news in such a slanted manner is in poor taste and totally inappropriate."

As others have said before, all Kevin did was post the facts. Your attempt to make that sound like a personal attack makes me wonder what your motives might be.

You go on to post that...

"Mary is an incredibly smart and successful woman. Obviously after all these years in the adoption business, she wouldn't make such an important decision without good reason."

Is being "smart and successful" justification for breaking a Federal law? Maybe you could enlighten us as to what could even remotely be considered a "good reason" for arranging to have a child brought to her home by forging a United States government document then keeping that child in her home for months without the knowledge or consent of the parents who legally adopted that child!

That reason I would like to hear. It ought to be a doosie!

Finally you mention that... "She made the hard decision she believed was right. Most people don't have the courage to do that."

It doesn't take courage to make a choice like that, Mari. It takes an act of blind desperation. I mean, lets get real here! How smart is it to forge a U.S. visa to transport a child that has been legally documented to belong to another family? Remember the DNA tests we all had to pay for? Did she really think she wouldn't get caught? (that's a rhetorical question)

I'm writing this because I'm involved in an adoption through an agency that used Mary Bonn. I can tell you that any of the negative comments made here about Mary are far too kind. Our DNA approval took 5 months because the papers sat on someone's desk without any action taken while all the time we were told she would “look into it”. We were told we were out of Family Court two months before we actually entered into it? (something we just recently discovered)

I can't give you all the details of our process because I'm still worried about possible retaliation for speaking out. (like you said, she’s smart and successful) It has been over twice as long as a typical Guatemalan adoption should take and nearly three times longer than our agency suggested it would take. We have never received any documentation other than the pictures sent back by Mary and our DNA approval letter. We have no medical updates, no proof of entering PGN.

We have been threatened by our agency and by Mary. We have been told we have no right to demand information about our process. We have been told by Mary, "thats the way I do it and you can wait until you pick up your baby to get the papers.

Mary Bonn tells you what she thinks you want to hear regardless of the truth. I'm happy that you and others had a good experience with her. That was, for you, far more luck than intent. Like Kevin said in an email post, it's not how an agency handles the easy cases that shows how good they are, it's "how they respond to troubled cases."

When things don’t go smoothly Mary will not act until she’s pushed into doing something and then she shows herself to be the "knight in shining armor" who comes to the rescue. She then tries to rescue the case that she had a large part in delaying.

I'm sure that Mary cares for her children but when it comes to adoptive parents, Mary cares only for what looks best for Mary and heaven help you if she decides not to care about you.

My baby is learning to walk. My baby is learning to talk. My baby is learning to love and trust our foster mom and when we finally bring that child home it is going to hurt! It hurts the child; it hurts the foster mom; and it hurts us. But ya know... it won't hurt Mary Bonn so don't tell me what a kind and loving person she is and don’t tell me how much she cares for my child. You have no clue!!
When I feel safe I’ll tell you who I am but for now I will be just...

Adopting Papi

Posted by: adopting papi at February 13, 2007 01:02 PM

Now that everyone knows something about Mary Bonns arrest can anyone tell me if there is a USA licensing board for facilitators in Guatemala adoption. I have not found this. Is there any valid reason the agencies cannot continue with the lawyers to complete the cases in progress?

Posted by: john at February 13, 2007 01:36 PM

Friends,
I have known Ms. Bonn for years. I do not agree with many of her business practices. But I do know that she has many children. She is an adoptive mom to many. I was unable to read the JCICS letter as it is released to it's members only. It is premature to "jump the gun" and assume that the 4 other children in her home are also illegally there. From what was posted here - there is an "investigation" going on to determine the legal status of these children. Invetstigation does not mean or equate guilt. Many families have children in their home thru guardianship or disruption. It is not illegal to have a non adopted child in one's home. I will be interested to hear the "facts" on the legal status of Ms. Bonn's other children. For now I think it helps to stay focused on the crime she has been alleged with. Until the report is out to prove that she has other children in her home "illegally" I think it's best to sit tight and wait for the facts to be presented.

I am sure that an investigation will determine the legal status of her other children in the home. I am sure in time we'll have the full scoop. Until then I think being supportive means we stay "sane". Jumping to conclusions without solid facts is simply wrong. Because an investigation is under way - does not mean she has been illegally harboring *all* her children. Let's sit tight.
Regards,
Gloria

Posted by: gloria at February 13, 2007 01:51 PM

dear adopting papi,

I am sorry for the heartbreak that you are expierencing right now. Adoption is hard enough ..... I do hope you are able to work thru the adoption challenges you are going thru..... although our case with our daughter's adoption ( another mary case) was not as painful as yours ( we fostered her and that helped a ton!) I do know what it feels like when those you placed your trust in have betrayed you.. it stinks......I just wanted to write and say I am truly sorry.
I do hope your child can come home sooner than later.
Regards,
Gloria

Posted by: gloria at February 13, 2007 01:58 PM

Adopting Papi,

I can see we have far different experiences with Mary. I haven't had the experience of Mary not caring about my case, but I can understand what you are saying. I can tell you are very frustrated. I'm very sorry your experience hasn't been a good one. I hope that you get your child home soon.

Posted by: Mari Rose at February 13, 2007 02:57 PM

Adopting Papi, thank you for speaking out. I´ve been afraid to do so because my agency has threatened me to. I already lost one referral to them and from then on, they have threatened me several times that I will lose my new referral. This happens whenever I call them out on the long delays. I´m still waiting and just found out today that Mary has paperwork that my attorney needs for my case and now my case is going to be delayed again. It´s so frustrating for me to hear other parents excuse what Mary did because their babies are home safe and sound and they didn´t have any problems. The agencies make a lot of money off of us. We pay a lot and in return they place us in the hands of facilatators and attorneys. Now that this has happened, a lot of comments say that the agencies associated with Mary should not be mentioned negatively. The truth is, many of them are best buddies with Mary. I´m just so upset and heartbroken, that again I´m getting delayed without support from my agency. As soon as I turned my fees in, many months ago, it was like they got what they wanted and now they didn´t need to be nice anymore. My agency will not even accept calls right now. I also want to say that I am so sorry for the parents who had their baby taken. They endured the horrible wait and PGN and then when their day to see their baby come home, they spent it heartbroken because for whatever reason, Mary took and hid their baby. Now, we hear that this may have happened to four more children. These children have gone from their birth parents to a hogar-orphanage to a foster mother and then to Mary. Now, again, they will be uprooted. I´m sorry for this being so long, I´m just so upset, not angry, just hurt, many of us have faced years of infertility and longing for a baby and now this.

Still Waiting For My Baby

Posted by: Janie at February 13, 2007 06:53 PM

Adopting Papi, i couldn't agree with you more. Our cases sound identical. I won't say more either because I'm also in process.

Almost given up hope!


Posted by: Arvella at February 13, 2007 07:55 PM

I typically never comment on sites, but must comment about Melissa Scott, having first met her almost 2 years ago. Phone calls, in person meetings, and emails have more than proven she is heads above anyone else I know. She helped us bring our delightfully wonderful 11yr old son home from Guatemala almost 4 months ago, and it was nothing short of a privilige working with her. Virtually the only contact we ever had about our case came from Melissa (who wasn't a paid employee of our agency), or Mary Bonn. We are very thankful for the role they both played in our adoption.
Melissa's heart beats continuously for children, and her life bears that out. I would recommend her without a moments hesitation to anyone. In fact, I would leave any of, or all of, my 9 children in her carer, and if you knew me, that speaks volumes of the trust I place in her!!!
Kendra Jackson

Posted by: Kendra Jackson at February 13, 2007 08:14 PM

Amy:
I don't know you and I don't know which was your relationship with Mary, Sara, Melissa and Tamara, but the only thing that I know is that this team work is very active and you can't imagine how much time they spend trying to answer questions of all the families that they handle even when these questions are of comun sense. PLEASE TELL US, TELL TO ALL THE READERS OF GUATADOPT, WHY are you blaming Sara, Melissa and Tamara. They don't have nothing to do with Mary's problem....you are talking in a general way... I mean, it seems that you are telling to the readers that all the people that is around Mary or working with her is not honest..... The adoptions process that these team work handle is not realted with Mary's problem. I can't believe that you can make a bad reputation of Melissa and Sara, they are such a good person, with loving families....
PLEASE DO NOT WRITE BAD THINGS ABOUT SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE NOT SURE.....

Posted by: CRIS at February 13, 2007 09:32 PM

TO ALL THE GUATADOPT READERS,
PLEASE DO NOT JUDGE MARY'S SITUATION. WE DO NOT THE WHOLE STORY. THERE'S NO RIGHT TO JUDGE HER...WHY ARE YOU RELATING HER ON "K....ING" THESE IS A STRONG WORD AND ALL THE PEOPLE THAT ARE REALATING HER ON "K.....ING" WHY DON'T YOU WRITE THE COMPLETE WORD???
I MEAN, IF I AM GOING TO WRITE SOMETHING I NEED TO BE SURE ABOUT IT.... NO JUST GIVING THE IDEA OF SPECULATIONS OF SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE NOT SURE!!!!
WHY DON'T YOU TRY TO FIND THE REST OF THE STORY AND DO NOT WASTE MORE TIME MAKING CRITICS ABOUT THE SITUATION WHE HAVE READ???

Posted by: CRIS at February 13, 2007 09:41 PM

Michelle asked me:
"I value your opinion, are you serious when you wrote that parents who had Mary involved in their adoption should wonder how their children were obtained. Do you suggest that we try to obtain more information about our adoption? If so, how would you go about that??"

I did not say "parents who had Mary involved in their case should wonder how their children were obtained." I said, "...if I were one of those families, given the charges levied against Mary Bonn, I'd start to wonder about exactly how my child was obtained." I spoke for myself, not as a suggestion for others. I was stating what I believe a bigger implication of Mary's arrest might be.

I also stated that I saw similarities with the Lauryn Galindo case and the shut down of Cambodia, something a subsequent poster (Marie) also pointed out.

If our experience is any indication, the investigation of this case and of Mary may take many months or years and any court proceedings could add additional years onto this. That means it may be a while before the truth comes out and before we learn how many children Mary handled this way. A plea bargain could also block us from learning everything. In our case it took almost 18 months of investigation to learn that 21 children had false documents, illegal adoptions and had been smuggled into and harbored in the US without immigration status. As we learn more here, similarities to our case may come to light.

As far as an adoptive parent who wonders how their child was obtained, a birth mother search may be a good start. That option was taken away from us when our daughter's true identity was stolen and she was given a different one to make her adoptable. Don't forget that our case is a Mexican adoption case and Mexico is a bigger country than Guatemala and the truth may be harder to come by there.

David K

Posted by: David K at February 13, 2007 10:07 PM

Mary Bonn was the facilitator in my adoption. I caught her in several lies throughout the process. I was given incorrect dates as to when my case went into PGN, incorrect information concening my pink slip, and 3 out of 4 times that I went to Guatemala I had to follow up to be sure that my attorney and foster mom knew that I was coming. My last trip her office didn't notify the attorney until the day before I left the states. Every mistake made on Mary's part was blamed on someone else--the agency, the attorney, etc. I kept in close contact with my agency, so I caught her in the lies. I hope to adopt again someday, but I have already sworn that I would be sure she was not the facilitator if I do. I met her personally during one of my trips and she was indeed rude to me. I hate that such a horrible thing has happened, because she handles a LOT of cases, and this is also going to really put a blemish on the public's view of international adoption. Whatever her "reason", excuse, etc., it was wrong, illegal, and has caused pain to the family. I couldn't imagine not knowing where my child was. It was hard enough knowing that she was growing up without me although I knew she was in good hands with her foster family. My heart goes out to the family involved. As for Mary, I don't really feel anything.

Posted by: Ava at February 13, 2007 10:46 PM

Cris,

Nowhere has Guatadopt said that there is any connection between this case and the adoption service providers Mary worked with. Quite to the contrary, we have stated the opposite and have stressed that this case has nothing to do with the actual adoption in Guatemala. We have stated the allegations and charges against Mary. Everytime we have used a form of the word "allege" we are pointing out that this is what she has been accused, not convicted of.

What do you call it when someone takes someone else's legal child against the parents wishes, lies to them about the child's whereabouts, and raises the child as her own? I think anyone would call that kidnapping.

You do raise a very good point that we should all have sympathy for Mary's children. They too are undoubtedly victims in all this. Believe it or not, I know for fact that they have weighed heavily on and have been in the thoughts of the adoptive family in this case.

We do know the actual events that transpired in this case. The people who read Guatadopt regularly trust our judgement on this because they know from experience the integrity of this site.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at February 13, 2007 11:26 PM

I have never once made excuses for anyone. I was stating my opinion about Mary and my personal experience with her on my case.

My adoption from Guatemala was fast and I am grateful for that. I can relate to your heartache and pain because I have another adopted child that took us over 22 months to bring home. It was hell. I found it no "easier" to wait for my son even though his case took much less time than my daughters. Any minute you are apart from your child is torture. I am grateful that my son's adoption went smoothly and a lot of that was due to Mary.

I had an agency that pretty much walked away from my case when the going got tough. It took two trips to India and a legal battle to get her home. But all that matters is that she did come home. I let go of the anger and focused on how I could bring her home, I stopped pointing fingers and trying to blame other people/government/agencies and fought for my daughter.

I wish you the best in your adoptions. We can agree to disagree when it comes to Mary.

Posted by: Angie at February 14, 2007 12:04 AM

Dear Adoptive families,

I am so sad to read all the posts today. There is so much pain, heartache and frustration being expressed and really I sense that many in the adoption community are having a hard time right now. It breaks my heart to see and "feel" so much pain......
I sure don't have any magic answers up my sleeve......but
I do know prayer can help....... and so I am asking any of you who wish to join in prayer or the sending of good wishes to join together collectively to pray for *all* involved in this situation.
There are so many that need our prayers right now..... I hope some of you will join me tomorrow at 12 pm GUAT time .... I know that prayer can provide healing and I know so many hearts really do need to feel some peace and comfort right now.

Praying for healing and comfort for all touched by this event,
Gloria
mom to 5 Guatemalan blessings

Posted by: gloria at February 14, 2007 01:00 AM

My husband and I went through RAI for the adoption of our son. Sara Shore was the Director of the Guatemalan program at RAI. Mary Bonn was the facilitator. I have so much that I would love to post here, but I'm going to refrain from doing so and keep this short. It took over a year for our precious son to come home. Sara was my main and only contact until midway through our adoption process....then I also began corresponding with Mary. Both Sara and Mary treated us with total disrespect. Our case had many problems and to get answers to any of our questions proved to be very difficult. I felt that they really didn't care about us....there were many phone calls and e-mails that went unanswered....I honestly felt like they were ignoring us.....they certainly didn't like questions. Without going into details, they were truly unprofessional and the manner in which we were spoken to was rude and unacceptable, especially the comments made by Sara Shore. Looking back it really bothers me that I let them treat me in the manner in which they did, but I was afraid that if we caused any waves they could somehow make the wait for our baby even longer. I am not surprised to hear that Sara went on to work for Mary as I do know that they are "best friends" as Sara did mention that to me at one time during a conversation. Adopting Papi...I really feel for you and what you are going through. The wait for your child is so hard and when you are dealing with an Agency and/or Facilitator that treats you in a cruel and unprofessional manner, it makes the wait all the more difficult. I truly hope you get your baby home soon!

Posted by: gca at February 14, 2007 01:31 AM

Am I missing something? How can people post great things about Mary, when the evidence is so clear. The child was not with the adoptive family!!! Families sharing their negative experience, thanks a million for your postings, though I know it must be difficult to write about it and some of you are actually scared to do so, thank you for your bravery. You are not alone. Maybe these other people will get a reality check! It's not only the horror that these families were put through, but the future implications that this case may have for us all. I along with another poster (David), also strongly think that instead of all the raving about how great Mary is, to look at the effect this might have on the future of adoptions in GT. Don't these other folks know that the same thing caused adoptions to stop IMMEDIATELY in Costa Rica, Cambodia, Romania, etc.,etc.etc.!!! Even the so-called sanctified "IN-PROCESS" cases, families were left with no children at all and the children were left in hospital hallways! This was on CNN. Is this the future you want for us all and the children of Guatemala!?! Next time, think twice before you decide to rave about someone or profess about civil liberties.
Marie

Posted by: marie at February 14, 2007 07:05 AM

My comments aren't related to Mary Bonn. David K. mentioned a birthmother search. I'd like to hear from anyone who has done a search. I'd like to make contact, not because of suspicion of wrongdoing, but because my new daughter is 5 and can remember her birthfamily. Kelly and Kevin, if possible this would be a good and useful thread, to start.

Posted by: Kate at February 14, 2007 09:17 AM

A little OT:
I find it a disturbing trend among adoption agencies to use intimidation against clients. I think this is more widespread than we realize, partially because people who are subject to such treatment are not free from retaliation when they complain. Online message boards often will not allow negative reviews to be posted, partially because of problems with fraudulent postings and partially because the sites themselves are threatened by agencies. Even personal messages can find their way back to the agencies, resulting in retaliation. (note this is mentioned in the press release for RAI) It is sad that so many clients of Mary Bonn are now coming forward to say they too were subject to her abusive treatment. If they had been able to voice their complaints earlier, who knows how much further heartache could have been avoided.
It simply shouldn't be allowed to happen. We need a regulating body, that does not allow agency employees to serve on its board (HELLOOOOO JCICS), to protect parents from these abuses.
Where else are we going to turn? Right now there is nowhere to take such complaints....

Posted by: Anonymous at February 14, 2007 11:25 AM

I had a long (13 month) and difficult adoption process to bring my beautiful little girl home over 2 years ago. Mary was the facilitator and we discovered 7 months into the process that all reported progress was fabricated by Mary and the lawyer. We found this out ourselves after becoming increasingly frustrated with the agency's lack of competence and communication. I empathize with many of the people posting here. An agency must be liscenced in the state of Virginia and we got the most attention from them when we threatened to call the state liscencing board. Adopting Papi, this might be a good idea for you to try, although it may not help to speed up your case, it may keep anyone else from having to go through what you are right now. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I maintained my sanity throughout the process by connecting via email with other victims of Mary (and my now "banned" crooked lawyer.) I hope you can do that too. My awful process is now a distant (thank GOD!) memory but hearing about people in situations similar to ours is heartbreaking. Hang in there and I pray you will get your child home soon.

Posted by: malynn at February 14, 2007 01:09 PM

In regards to birthmother searches. You might consider using the forum and start a thread. http://www.guatadopt.com/discussions. Just remember that there are so many possible consequences and people to consider before you take this step.

Posted by: Kelly (guatadopt.com) at February 14, 2007 02:05 PM

I just want to express my thanks to God that I have had my 3 year old daughter home since July of '04. I not only used RAI, but Mary Bonn and Sara Shore, and none of it went smoothly or in my opinion, ethically. As a matter of fact, I ended up hiring someone independently in Antigua to facilitate the finalization process and get us home. Needless to say, I have not been reimbursed by RAI for that service which they were paid to deliver. But when all is said and done, I'm so glad I'm not going through this now. My heart goes out to all of you who have the misfortune of being connected to people who may have questionable morals and ethics and make choice that are not in the best interest of the children who have no voice, and now, may not ever find a home.

Posted by: nora at February 14, 2007 02:32 PM

Anonymous,
Hear,hear! Six years ago after the adoption of our daughter who had Tracey and Mary Bonn as "facilitators"(ironic term given the lack thereof shown in so many cases)we contacted everyone we could find to lodge complaints. There were many people who gave us the "we're familiar with them" answer so several other families felt enboldened enough to join us in filing complaints. Naively, I thought that would be enough to save other families from what our group had gone through.... so thinking the word was out I dove into motherhood. Now, as I initiate a search for my daughter's birthmom I come back on-line after several years and find this! The attorney's they worked with six years ago were getting banned by the embassey!Why? It would be nice if there was a "safe" place to report so that the anecdotes here could be quantified and responsive actions could be meted out in a measured manner.

Posted by: Suz at February 14, 2007 03:42 PM

After hearing about this situation I panicked since Mary was our coordinator too. We gave her $3000 for the referral of our baby girl. Our agency has assured us the viewers in PGN have no information as to the name of the facilitator on any one's case and that our case will not be "scrutinized" during PGN. We've never been in contact with Mary and our agency has always been forthcoming in answering any of our questions. Our agency is now working with an assistant of Mary's. It's scary to hear that people have been in contact with the coordinator, more so than the agency. I hope that our agency will keep up the work they've done and we will have no problems in the near future. I think it's a sad situation as to Mary's allegations, she will definitely influence current and future in Guatemala.
To Papi's mom, I pray that you get your son home quickly.
TC

Posted by: trish at February 14, 2007 03:50 PM

We are working with RAI currently and Mary Bonn is our facilitator.
I was told by another source (not RAI) that Mary Bonn has over 400 cases in PGN that she is involved with.
RAI only has 5 or 6 Guat. clients right now.
My point being that there are many agencies that are working with Mary and not just RAI.
I feel like I have been hit with a "double whammy" and cannot believe this is happening.
I just want my daughter home - all of us just want our children home.
I don't know Mary well, but she was always helpful and I felt honest with me.

Posted by: Amber at February 14, 2007 03:58 PM

Trish,
I hope that you don't feel I am picking on you, and I am really not. I also realize that my point may be small in the light of these larger things, but I think all of us adoptive parents need to be careful of the language we use, and how it may affect our children one day, or others who are not involved in adoption.

I think it would be better to say,
"I paid $3,000 at the time of referral" or something like that, rather than saying, "I paid $3,000. for my referral."

Lizzie

Posted by: EB at February 15, 2007 09:48 AM

I am so sorry for all of you that are currently going through this tough time. I am so sad and angry about what is going on. I too adopted through RAI and had Mary as our facilitator. When I read about what was going on, I was shocked... "this couldn't have been MY agency!" I was shocked! Luckily everything worked out with our adoption and we able to bring our little one home. We were lucky though. The cases filed against RAI were people who supposedly sent in their applications the same time we did. That could have been us!!! This is a sad and frustrating time, I'm sure.
Having said that, all the anger and frustration in the world will not make things go any smoother or faster for you. I don't know what your religious beliefs are, it doesn't really matter, positive thinking is all you need. I am asking everyone to join me in a prayer chain. I believe 100% that I would not have brought my daughter home had it not been all of my family and friends praying for us. You need to pray for all the people involved in your adoptions.
I pray that you bring home healthy and happy children. I pray your agencies work efficiently, ethically and honestly. I pray that those individuals work with peace in their hearts, that they keep the childrens' best interests in mind everytime they preform a duty for you. I pray that the Guat. officials do what is BEST FOR THE CHILDREN. I pray that they all have good days and that nobody cuts them off on their way to work (LOL). I pray for the foster families and hogar workers to take good care of your children while they are in their care, that they love them and play with them. I pray for your children to continue to grow and thrive. And mostly, I pray that you all find some comfort even though things don't look very good right now.
Complaining about things only works for so long. Now is the time to start thinking positively. THINGS WILL WORK OUT! Have faith and know you are not alone and have prayers being said for you.

Posted by: Sorry for you all... at February 15, 2007 01:30 PM

To "Sorry for you all"...
Thank you for the sentiments and the reminder to breathe. In a moment when everything is looking oh-so fuzzy, it was a great reminder to take a check and realize that this whole mess will get sorted out, one day. My husband and I are in our 20th month of waiting for our son to come home. The recent events have impacted our timeline even more. This has driven me straight forward into a mode of desperation and hopelessness. But, by God's will, we will see an end. I join you in praying that everyone sees a speedy resolve to the issues at hand. I also pray that no one is judged unfairly, but justice in it's truest since, be served. I am like all other families, I just want my son home.(preferably before his 16th birthday)
I wish all of you peace in a not so peaceful time and for those of us that are still waiting, the strength we need to push ahead! Take care of one another, we're in this boat together!
Gayle
P.S. for Papi...I have you in my prayers

Posted by: Gayle at February 15, 2007 03:05 PM

When I commented earlier, I wasn't trying to say that the agencies involved with Mary were "guilty by association."
I just feel that Mary Bonn being arrested for Harboring a fugitive, stemming from the case of a Legal adoption completed in Guat.-- takes an already highly emotional situation (adoption) and makes it even more so.
Many of us who have posted here have commented on having a lot of trouble getting information from Mary, whether it's her fault or not. And I'm sure the majority of agencies are ethical and legitimate.

The point I wanted to get across was that what Mary was arrested for adds insult to everyone involved in the adoption process, but especially to the parents and children.

We did research prior to contracting with our agency and talked to a family who adopted 2 children from Guat. through the same agency, yet it does not come even a bit close to preparing you for what you actually need to know. We assumed our agency would be handling all the contacts in Guatemala. When information became hard to come by, all the sudden we kept hearing about "getting information from Mary." We were like, who the heck is Mary?
Our agency didn't really explain much to us, so how do you ask questions about something you have no knowledge about?
So anyways, having been confused, misdirected, and not given many pieces of information by our agency, our emotions were hanging by a thread.
So add that experience I'm sure many have gone through, to all the questions we have now because of Mary's arrest, is it any wonder many of us are jumping to conclusions, blaming agencies and those associated with them?
(not that it's right, I'm just saying when people's emotions are dealt with in an inacceptable manner--by whomever it is--- be prepared for a highly charged situation).

Posted by: mary at February 15, 2007 07:35 PM

Folks...Mary has helped,literally, thousands of families adopt babies. I know the process is hard
(I adopted three), but, where else can you go to adopt? My husband and I spent months wasting time with other agencies. Mary has figured it out. She
has spent years abroad helping families. She has sacrificed time away from her own family to help others. If Mary is shut down, many families will never get the oppportunity to have a family.
How many of us would look the other way (legally speaking) to bring our babies home?
It is easy to criticize Mary when we have our babies home safe & sound....

Posted by: betsy at February 18, 2007 12:34 PM

Guatadopt is a wonderful place to get information about the Bonn case, but it is not the only online source to get info on Mary. Instead of accusing Guatadopt of being biased or saying they should tell the "whole story", all one has to do is google Mary Bonn on the web and see what comes up. I did this about six months ago when Mary's name was given to me. Needless to say I decided against using her as a facilitator.
Andrea

Posted by: Andrea Iskowitz at February 18, 2007 04:05 PM

You may have to add the words adoption or Guatemala to your Google in order to get more information. Also while I chose not to work with Mary, I would never get upset at someone who supports Mary. I do not think anyone should rush to any judgement about this case. There are details and opinions about Mary all over the internet and obviously they can't all be 100% accurate. I do , however, think it's important for everyone to do the research, find out as much as possible, remember she's innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and then draw their own conclusion.
Andrea

Posted by: Andrea Iskowitz at February 18, 2007 05:05 PM

Betsy,

If you think Mary Bonn has "sacrificed" to conduct the hundreds of adoptions she facilitates per year you are either extremely naive or simply a cohort posting in her defense. Hey, if I got $3000 for each child I facilitated I could probably "sacrifice" some time to take care of them too!

To imply that Guatemalan adoptions in the U.S. would grind to a trickle if Mary is out of the picture demonstrates a very narrow grasp of the Guatemalan process. There are plenty of people to fill in where she left off. I mean seriously, at $3000 a pop there's some serious motivation to fill that post.

But I suppose I should cut you some slack because perhaps you haven't had the pleasure of having your case held up for five months waiting for DNA approval while being told by Mary that she "is looking into it". Or maybe you haven't been scolded by her for not knowing enough about the process so therefore she shouldn't have to explain anything to you.

My baby is not "home safe & sound". I don't know what the status is on our case because no one will provide me with documentation.

Mary has it "figured out" all right! She knows exactly how to tell you what you want to hear so that by the time you figure out it was a lie she's ready with the next excuse and it all sounds just plausible enough that you can't call her on it. And even if you could call her on it, you don't dare because she will hold up the process even more!

You're right, Betsy. It's easy to criticize. I only wish I was doing it with my baby "home safe & sound..."

Posted by: adopting papi at February 18, 2007 05:27 PM

Adopting Papi:

I am sorry you are having such a horrific time. I know what you are going through. Believe me. I was stuck in a foreign country for 2 months! I hated it!

I know one thing...I got three healthy beautiful babies from Mary.

We couldn't find another agency who had it "figured out".

Mary may be working too many adoptions at one time, she may be abrupt, she may not be as communicative as she should be...but, you WILL get your baby..
Try going somewhere else. Just try.. it is almost impossible..

I just know there are alot of happy
families out there with beautiful
healthy babies. Whatever Mary earns on this is not anyone's business. People don't HAVE to use her services. She lets everyone know up front what it costs.

you WILL get your baby from Mary..
and the pain that you go through
will be forgotten...I know. I have been there.

Posted by: Betsy at February 18, 2007 08:44 PM

Betsy,

You asked, "How many of us would look the other way (legally speaking) to bring our babies homes?" I can speak for my family. Our family did not and does not beleive in using less than ethical or legal means to obtain our children. Until you asked that question, I assumed that other adopting familes held the same conviction.

We chose to adopt from Guatemala for a number of reasons. One reason was because Guatemala had children available for adoption. Another reason was because the United States embassy required genetic testing to assure that our child's biological mother really wanted to give up our child. Our family then chose a "Christian" adoption agency. That agency was RAI. During our adoption process, our family became very concerned about some of RAI's practices. We didn't choose to "look the other way." Our family filed a complaint in Minnesota with the Department of Human Services DURING our adoption process. Since that point in time, our family has learned that many other families also chose not to look the other way and also filed complaints about RAI. Thanks to these families, RAI is now under investigation.

Several months ago, when we traveled to Guatemala to pick up our child, I discovered a problem when we were given the documents. Again, I did not choose to "look the other way." I had my husband immediately contact our facilitator / translator there and notify her of the problem. When she told me there was no problem, I did not choose to believe what I wanted to hear and what I wanted to be true. I looked into the matter further and it turned out that that she was giving me untrue or wrong information. I was promised that things would be fixed. When the problem was not noticed by the U.S. Embassy and we were granted a VISA to bring our child home, I did not just let things lie. I stayed in contact with my agency and Mary Bonn. After waiting more than two months and not getting anywhere, I notified Mary Bonn that if the document issue was not resolved, I intended on contacting the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala about the situation. I meant what I said! The day after the Minnesota Attorney Genreal Office's news conference in Minnesota, Mary Bonn told me that the new document was on the way to our family.

Our family thought our adoption nightmare had ended. Now, we learn that Mary Bonn is alleged to have brought a child into the United States by creating or through the use of fraduluent documents. How I would love to look the othe way because these are simply ALLEGATIONS, as the Mary Bonn fans advocate. My daughter has been home for months and I love her with all my being. I cannot tell you how much heartache and how many tears these allegations have caused me. However, personally, I don't think it would be ethical to simply ignore the allegations and not consider that they may have merit. The reality is Mary Bonn wasn't just arrested for a crime, she was criminally charged with a crime, and in the United States that means there must be some evidence (i.e. probable cause). My daughter deserves the very best from us and that means we don't just "look the other way" because she is home safe and sound. For that reason, we brought ALL of our documents to another adoption agency this past week. We have asked them to look at them and to be honest if they see any problems with the new document or any of the other documents. They are going to get back to us.

After everything my family has endured, words cannot express how absolutely mortified I am that any family would think it is okay to look the other way when adoption agencies or facilitators begin engaging in unethical or illegal behavior using the pretense that they are helping families. I can assure you that my family was not "helped" by these people. My adoption agency and Mary Bonn did not become involved in our adoption process out of the kindness of their hearts or because they were "sacrificing." Rather, we PAID a lot of money for their SERVICES. It's how they make a living. Its also very possible that they make a lot more money if they cut a few corners here and there and break a few laws. Just how far away are you willing to look?

Until ALL families are willing to say no to unethical and illegal adoption practices, there will be families and children who continue to be victimized by unethical people. There are plenty of people who are willing to help families adopt children without adoptive families having to turn to people who will break the law.

You asked, "How many of us would look the other way (legally speaking) to bring our babies home?" I ask, "Who wants to wonder for the rest of their life under what circumstances they received their children?"

Posted by: Kathy at February 18, 2007 09:44 PM

Kathy....we'll stated, I totally agree!

Posted by: B at February 18, 2007 10:03 PM

Betsy,

With no ill will intended, I'm curious if you could explain what you meant by "Try going somewhere else. Just try.. it is almost impossible..". Very few people experience failed adoptions or bring home children from Guatemala with relevant health issues. So I am really curious and somewhat perplexed by what you mean by this statement.

Thanks,

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at February 18, 2007 10:49 PM

I too am confused by the statement "try going somewhere else." Do you mean another country or another agency?
We did not try another country but we did go to another agency that did not use any of the Bonns as their facilitator. Our second came home at 7mos and extremely healthy. This is why I'm not sure how to understand the statement.

Posted by: Suz at February 19, 2007 12:58 AM

There was a story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press about Mary Bonn yesterday.

http://www.twincities.com/mld/pioneerpress/news/local/16718054.htm

Posted by: stacey at February 19, 2007 08:54 AM

When my husband and I elected to adopt, we went to quite a few agencies. Most of them offered
"support groups", home studies, help with paperwork, etc. We couldn't find any that were going to actually help us find a baby.
Mary helped us adopt three beautiful babies.

I have referred many friends to Mary. They have ALL adopted healthy children...and none of them have had wait more than a
few months.

I lived with Mary for several months while adopting these children. I know her short comings. Believe me.....but,
most of us went to her because
she had the program (Guatemala, Romania, Colombia) figured out.

We couldn't find another program as efficient.

I know most of you are very upset with the process (I went through
more than most)...All I am saying is that..when you have your babies home, the pain & heartache will go away. You will have your
family.

Keep the faith.

Posted by: Betsy at February 19, 2007 09:52 AM

Rather than trying to figure out which of Betsy's posts I found more offensive, I wanted to read and re-read Kathy's post. Kathy, I was moved to tears each time I read your words. My son is 4 and at an age where we have begun talking about adoption and how we became a family. Each of us adoptive parents will have to look these beautfil gifts in the eyes and tell the story. I could not do that if I had "looked the other way". Your post and your actions are an inspiration, Kathy. Our children all learn from us and what we do. I hope mine grow to be the kind of people that will take the more difficult but right road as opposed to someone who would "look the other way".

Posted by: Maureen at February 19, 2007 09:56 AM

Maureen:

My words were not intended to be offensive.

If defending Mary is offensive, I apologize. I didn't know this was a site for only those who want to complain.

My intention was to give hope to those who are still waiting...

Good luck to you all.

Posted by: Betsy at February 19, 2007 01:16 PM

I would highly reccommend that anyone interested in this situation read the article that Stacey posted the link to. This does shed quite a bit more light on the situation.

Posted by: Cathy at February 19, 2007 03:18 PM

I have sat here for several days reading posts. None have angered me more than the following statement......


"Mary may be working too many adoptions at one time, she may be abrupt, she may not be as communicative as she should be...but, you WILL get your baby.. "

REALLY????? Because, I waited for a YEAR to receive permission to test DNA. GUESS WHAT PEOPLE??? IT NEVER HAPPENED. I was lied to SEVERAL TIMES. I was told I was "in family court", I was told I "exited family court"... I was told... repeatedly that "next week, your attorney is going to the embassy", this went on for MONTHS!!!! "today is a day to celebrate"... these were all
LIES!!!

It wasn't until I hired an outside source to look into my case that I found out the truth. My dossier had sat on a desk since Feb. 2006. With nothing done on it!!! Nothing... no translation, no NOTHING.

I'm sorry you were "stuck in a foriegn country for two months", but let me ask... were you caring for your child at the time?? The child that you got to bring home??? I WISH, I had been "stuck" with the little girl that will NEVER come home to me. That's right... NEVER!!!! I guess for me, "Mary WILL get your baby", means absolutely nothing. Since my process stopped in it's tracks! And guess what.... she's NEVER coming home! The little girl that I have grown to love, will NEVER call me, "mommy". I just pray that she is happy and healthy and loved.... wherever she may be.

Posted by: tami at February 19, 2007 05:45 PM

My story is exactly the same as Tami's. Identical. My baby never will come home either. We have grown to love her so much over the course of a year and even visited her, held her, cared for her and longed to bring her home. But that will never be. Betsy, you have no idea the pain that many of us have been put through. It's been a living hell. Constantly wondering when we would get moving in the process and constantly being told that any day it would happen! Well it didn't and we are left with empty arms and aching hearts.

Arvella

Posted by: Arvella at February 19, 2007 08:05 PM

Stacy, thank you for listing the link to the Pioneer Press article. It was very informative. The information provided very much reflects the "Mary Bonn" I worked with last year. I had a very positive experience with Mary. She was a strong advocate for our case and went above and beyond for our family.

Kathy and Maureen, I'm sorry that you had such a negative experiences in your adoptions. Kathy, I was touched by your post, and I agree that "looking the other way" is not a good policy to live by, but with regard to the allegations made against Mary Bonn, I think she did anything BUT look the other way. She saw a child in dire circumstances and stepped in to save the child. Whether you agree with her decision or not, and obviously many here don't, I don't think anyone can say she looked the other way. She made a very difficult decision to take care of this child. She may very well have saved the child's life.

Maureen, when my child is of the age when sharing her adoption story is most relevant, I don't see any issue with telling the truth as I know it. It has nothing to do with Mary Bonn's current situation and has everything to do with her birthmom not being able to care for her and God's plan to have her join our family. I plan on mentioning Mary some day, but only in the true context of my experience with her. There was nothing about my experience that would suggest that her adoption was less than ethical.

Maureen, I hope my children will also grow up and take the more difficult "right" road. I believe in this case, that is exactly what Mary felt she was doing though.

I realize not everyone shares my experiences or opinions. I do not minimize the feelings of those who are in disagreement. I will pray that all of those waiting for their children continue to make progress in getting their blessed loved ones home as quickly as possible.
Sara



Posted by: sara at February 19, 2007 08:56 PM

Tami/Arvella:

I am just sickened by your messages. I am soooo sorry that you are going through this.

I remember the feeling of wanting my children home.
I couldn't think of anything else.

I know of so many people who have adopted from Mary.
They all have children. I pray that both of you, one day, will have the family that you are dreaming of.

My eyes are being opened by all of your postings.
I will be thinking & praying for you all.

Please, keep up the fight. Your children are waiting for you-

Posted by: Betsy at February 19, 2007 09:15 PM

I wanted to clarify...I was just moved by Kathy's post. My first adoption was difficult but had nothing to do with Mary...and, for all the difficulty during the process, I can have peace that there was nothing wrong about how he came home.

I read with great interest the article and was glad it gave more of a glimpse into both sides of the story. My heart truly goes out to everyone in this siutation with Mary...EVERYONE.

Posted by: Maureen at February 19, 2007 11:51 PM

What part of these posts aren't you getting? Though you might have had a "positive" experience with Mary Bonn, there are many writing to say that they didn't. Why would you negate that? To say that, "you too will get your child", when they are telling you that they won't or don't even know the whereabouts of their child, is unthinkable. Marie

Posted by: marie at February 20, 2007 04:50 AM

Hi Betsy,

Thank you for your understanding. I had a real zinger of a post ready then woke up this morning to see your last message and it made me smile. I'm really glad things went well for you with Mary Bonn but lately it seems that that is the exception rather than the rule.

I'm going to say what I wanted to say in my first response because I want to make a few points in general so while I may use a few examples from your posts please don't take it personally. It takes a lot of courage to tell us how our posts have opened your eyes and I have the greatest respect and gratitude for that.

In Mary's case, I can't even try to guess what happens to a person that they lose sight of what's really important which is the welfare of these children. I mean, these aren’t backorders for a new car we’re talking about!  These are living, breathing human beings who are growing older in someone else’s home.  They are learning that the sights, sounds, smells and people that surround them are those of their own home.  Just as they are learning to rely on that family it will all break apart.  The people they are growing to love will be gone forever and they will have to start all over again. So you can see how saying that it's O.K. because we will get our babies kind of falls short of the mark.

It also feels a little hollow the hear how we will forget the pain when we get our children home. Maybe my pain will go away but I guarantee you I will never forget.  I will make it my life’s work to help put an end to people like Mary Bonn and the agencies that work with them in the adoption industry.  There are a lot of people out there who have “figured it out” and seem to be able to conduct the adoption process without the pain and dishonesty that characterize Mary Bonn’s cases.

I also want to make a point about the notion that adoptive parents may "look the other way" and use whatever means necessary to complete the case. It seems to have become par for the course with Mary Bonn and is symptomatic of the callous indifference she displays toward anyone who dares to question anything about their process.

One last thing, (and please, this is not meant as an attack on you, Betsy. It just brings up a point.)  you said, “ People don't HAVE to use her services.”

That is true enough, but I’m thinking most people don’t know they are working with Mary Bonn when they sign with an agency.  They (like me) are simply told they are working with a facilitator (that word seems like an oxymoron in this context) who helps make sure the case moves along.  (anyone else laughing at the irony of that statement ;-} )  Even if her name is mentioned it wouldn’t mean anything to a novice adoptive parent.  You have to be a battle scarred veteran of “Guatemalan adoptions gone wrong” to appreciate the import of that name.  My point is, most of us don’t find out until it’s too late.  It’s not like we were given a choice or would even know what that choice meant.

All this just goes to illustrate that there needs to be more transparency about the process, more regulation of these freelance “facilitators” and more accountability on the part of adoption agencies to provide clear, unambiguous documentation of every step of the process. The recent fracas with Reaching Arms International is a classic example.

Anyway... I guess you can see how many of us don't consider Mary Bonn to be a wonderful resource.  She's more a bit like making a pact with a loan shark. With friends like that........ you get the picture.

Again, thanks for understanding. I'm praying each and every day for a quick resolution to all our cases.

Posted by: adopting papi at February 20, 2007 10:14 AM

Adopting Papi - -I think it is a gross overstatement to say the it is the "exception" for a Mary Bonn case to go well. Keep in mind that the happy people get their kids and go on with their lives...the unhappy people spend a lot of time on the internet. Cases go bad with EVERY facilitator, every attorney, every agency...international adoption is not for the risk adverse. Each personal story of a family's heart ache is so sad. Dozens of people are involved in each adoption case. All 24+ of them need to do their jobs to get the process done. Many are unaccountable to the others...many may interpret situations differently. On this list I see maybe 5-6 people have posted with "bad" experiences. Mary probably facilitated several hundred cases last year. These happy people like me are the rule in reality. These people were lucky to have good processes - some of which was influenced by Mary. These folks are NOT home reading Guatadopt. You have every right to share your experience but I just see no point in exaggerating for effect.
Jane

Posted by: Jane at February 20, 2007 02:14 PM

There are always going to be those that support Mary, like myself, and others that do not. No one is going to change anyone elses mind by posting nasty comments or making a judgement. Until BOTH sides can tell their story firsthand no one will know exactly what happened. I am sure both Mary and the family are being advised to keep quiet for now.

I don't understand why all the resentment, Mary is NOT in charge of these adoptions. She is a tiny piece of the puzzle. I stated earlier that I had adopted another child from India and there was no one to give me updates, there were no medical reports or milestones that were sent, we were told we were lucky to get a referral photo. Over the course of 22 months we received 3 photos from the agency. We had friends that went to India and saw another child that the Indian government tried to pass off as our child. They had changed our daughters name when she was seized from her Christian Orphanage. A scandal had erupted and things were out of our control--should I have blamed the agency we started the process with? No, did I take action and go and fight for my child? Yes!

As far as a child not passing an exit medical, they would have to be very ill. My daughter came home just shy of her 2nd birthday and weighed 14 pounds-she could not sit or stand or hold up her head. She could not drink from a bottle. She was in terrible shape but the doctor agreed that getting her to the US and seeking medical help was the answer.

Did my husband and I "sign up" for a special needs child? No, we did not. The point is--there are no guarantees when adopting or having a birth child. Did we end up with an amazing daughter that was diagnosed with CP, ataxia, sensory defensiveness, post tramatic stress, speech delays and attachment disorder-yes! And the thought of being "scared" or leaving her in India while I decide whether or not I wanted her makes me physically ill.

Any info that Mary had access to from the attorneys would be sent to the agencies. I don't understand how everything that went wrong is being blamed on her? There is a risk with adoption and things are out of our control but that is made clear by your agency when you start. Birth mom's change their minds, some babies die, many things can happen but how that is Mary's fault is very confusing to me?

Either you are up for adoption or you are not. There is nothing wrong with not being able to travel down the adoption road. It is emotional and can be devastating. My heart goes out to those that are still in process, I know how you feel--we were in limbo for 22 months and I will pray that you will all bring your babies home.

Angie

Posted by: Angie at February 20, 2007 03:37 PM

Betsy,

I too am baffled by your comments about just try to find someone else to get you a baby home in a reasonable time. Huh?????? Are you kidding me? Do you think Mary has the inside track on this one?

I brought home my daughter in Aug at the age of 5 1/2 months with the help of a completely ethical agency without ties to Mary. So, how can you imply she has the market on that?

There are far too many stories of lies and deceit involving her for me to feel it's all some terrible coincidence, the current arrest notwithstanding.

Posted by: ACS at February 20, 2007 05:17 PM

To all of those readers who are hurting today, I will pray for you. I can tell from so many posts that many parents are frustrated and angry about problems they have run into during the course of their adoptions. International adoptions are much harder than many adoptive parents expect when they sign a contract to adopt. Adoptions are rarely as "black and white" as many people expect when they begin the process.

After reading through many of the comments above, I have some opinions on the posts. First, obviously many people are hurting right now. The pain of losing a referral is real. I lost referral too (though not through Mary) and no doubt it is painful. But, for those posters who have lost their referrals, Tami and others, did Mary get you a new one or did she abandon your family? I suspect a new referral was sent your way. While you will NEVER forget the loss, have you chosen to move ahead with your adoption? It's easy to blame Mary for a lack of progress and get caught up in the anger and bitterness, but it's self-destructive and the anger is misdirected.

While I know many of the posters may not want to hear it, it really seems that too much blame is being placed on one person. Ms. Bonn is not responsible for all of the problems she has been accused of. She is the "go-between". She's not omniscient or omnipotent. When she sends a referral out, she has no crystal ball to say if the client is going to have the "perfect" adoption, or one that runs into some problems and delays. There is no way to predict when a birthmother won't come in for DNA or when a child becomes ill. Adoptions are not fully in her hands, although I'm sure she would like if they were because she'd have a lot less aggravation to deal with.

The fact is, all agencies lose referrals. This is one of the risks that people take when they choose to adopt internationally. Adopting, unfortunately, is not like going into Toys R Us and picking up a Cabbage Patch kid. It's a process that involves many people and two countries, lots of time, lots of money, and sometimes lots of heartarche, and there still are no real guarantees, regardless of who you choose to work with. It's a risk that we choose to undertake because we want to welcome a child into our homes.

Mary does what she can to get the babies home. I've seen that firsthand. She works with attorneys and most of the time is very successful.

I had a very positive experience with Ms. Bonn. I don't attribute that to luck. She worked hard for my family. It seems that I am clearly not alone in this sentiment. Although there were times in the process when it would have been easy to blame her for delays with our case, I often waited a day, stepped back and realized that Ms. Bonn was not the cause and she never deserved my anger. She was on my side and she was working for me. I give her credit. I definitely don't have the fortitude to do what she does. Her efforts were tireless and my family has enjoyed the most precious of treasure as a result: a baby to love and call our own.

Tami, I'm sorry that the baby you dreamed of bringing home will never come home. I know that pain, but I'm sure that Mary has provided you with a beautiful new baby that will bring you more joy than you can ever imagine. Celebrate that little one and stay focused on the end of this adoption road. You'll get there.


Posted by: Maura Wright at February 20, 2007 06:38 PM

I brought home my little Guatemalan daughter when she was a little over a year old. She wasn't walking or crawing. She was barely able to sit upright. When I arrived in Guatemala, I expected her to be more like the American babies I knew. I expected her to be strong and healthy. After all, wasn't foster care a guarantee that she'd be doing great and would be on target with her peers in America?

I guess not. I was disappointed. After months of waiting, the baby in front of me was not the way I pictured. She was smaller and weaker.

Of course, we brought her home anyway because I had faith that things would improve. I also knew that she was my daughter. When I accepted her referral, I made her a promise to be there for her through thick and thin. I made the same promise to my biological child a few years before when I held her in my arms after giving birth. To accept a referral is to accept everything about being a parent. It's not easy and issues come up. You deal with issues and you don't turn your back on the child. Just like with biological kids, there are no health guarantees.

I knew that a mother's love could do wonders for a baby experiencing delay. I brought my daughter home from Guatemala and never thought twice about the issues that came up. I called Early Intervention and got her the support she needed. Soon after coming home, she started to gain weight and crawl. Now she's pulling herself up and ready to walk. She is very inquisitive and thriving in all areas. It's amazing what a mother's love can do for a child.

I know I'm not in the majority here, but I can honestly say that I respect Mary for doing what her heart told her was right. She knew what this baby needed and gave it to her. It seems that the baby Mary brought to her home was similar to our child. She wasn't malnourished but she was small. She wasn't facing a serious medical condition. She just needed care and love to thrive. There was no way that the baby would get that in a national orphanage.

For days now people have been questioning the ethics of Mary Bonn. I have a question of ethics too, but it's not Mary's values I question.

Posted by: sara at February 20, 2007 07:45 PM

Sara,

When I wrote the post regarding "looking the other way," it was in direct response to Betsy's question, "How many of us would look the other way (legally speaking) to bring our babies home?" I thought it was important for Betsy to know that there are families who are not willing to sacrifice their ethics to obtain a child.

With respect to Mary Bonn, our family needs to take the allegations against her seriously because of our document issue and the fact Mary Bonn is now alleged to have used fraudulent documents to bring a child illegally into the United States.

Since you seem to be intimate with the Mary Bonn situation, I have a question. I have read the criminal complaint against Mary Bonn as well as the article in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. I have also read all the posts regarding Mary Bonn. This question is one that nobody seems to be answering and I think it is the most important question of all. How did the child become so malnourished and in such a bad state? It was our family's understanding that Mary Bonn goes to Guatemala frequently, sees the children, and receives information regarding their weight gain and progress, among other things. Thus, I don't understand how Mary Bonn did not notice that this child was not growing and not thriving because of the poor foster care she was receiving. It just seems that Mary Bonn should have noticed something was wrong BEFORE the child reached such a poor state of health. It seems if she had been paying any attention to the child when she saw her, this poor baby girl would NEVER have been made to suffer the way she did. I am bothered by how much this child must have endured in her foster home. How did nobody notice?

Posted by: Kathy at February 20, 2007 11:17 PM

As a follow up to the comment that "happy families" are home with their children while "unhappy families" are on the internet complaining!!!
I would put myself squarely in the unhappy camp and I was home for the past five years not "complaining" on the internet. It is when we decided to do a search for the BM that I came back to these sites only to find a member of the Bonn family was AGAIN causing more heartache. Five families adopting at the same time in 1999 all had different attornies but the facilitator was the same. Two had attornies who were KNOWN to be on the embassy's list of attorney's under investigation but were NEVER told by the facilitator. She lied by saying the embassy was the hold up. Our fosterfamily told us that our child was physically seen by the facilitator only once in her eighteen months of age while we were sent repeated e-mails on how she had just been seen by the facilitator and how we were getting such a cute, healthy daughter.
I would like to re-iterate the question of where was Mary when the update photos of the child in question were being taken? What did Mary tell the AP in her update calls and e-mails? She was probably busy being so helpful on her "easy" cases because it seems like she was decidedly untruthful and unavailable to the clients having "hard" cases. My posts represent four other "unhappy" families who have moved on with their children despite the huge sum of money wasted on Mary Bonn the "facilitator" who also took their sense of trust away from them. The difference in our two experiences with adopting from Guatemala had EVERYTHING to do with the honesty and ETHICS of the two agencies we chose. One lied for 11.5mos and by LUCK we got our daughter home the other was open and WORKED with us to get our second daughter home.
By the way, did any of Mary's supporters do the MATH as I did? In law we look at motive and I'm thinking that 400 cases in the PGN X $3000 dollars per case seems more likely a motive than a pure desire to help the children of Guatemala. If her motive was so pure then why $3000?

Posted by: Suz at February 21, 2007 01:15 PM

I have a question for all of you...Why do you think Mary did this? Why do you think she risked
her career to bring this baby to America?

Did she do it to anger the adoptive family? Did she do it to adopt another baby? (she already has eight).

I am not going to pretend that I know what Mary's intent was, but, both my husband and I had the same reaction when we read the St. Paul
paper....that Mary wanted to help this baby.

I couldn't find anything out about the condition
of this baby (Karen), but I would bet she was in better condition after she left Mary's home...

Anyone have thoughts on the motive?

Posted by: Betsy at February 21, 2007 01:28 PM

Kathy,
I'm sorry you're dealing with a document issue. That must be frustrating.

It is my understanding that the baby did have an exit Visa medical and any problems must be listed on that medical by the embassy doctor.

Based on my experience, Mary travels to Guatemala every 2-3 months. She forwards medical information she gets from the attorneys to the agencies who forward that to the clients. This is how I monitored the progress of my child.

Given the amount of time that Mary actually spends in Guatemala, I don't know if I would be comfortable leaving the job of monitoring the foster care situation only to her. The attorney who places the baby with the family would be most responsible if there was a problem with a case.

Posted by: sara at February 21, 2007 03:58 PM

Well, it would certainly seem that this issue is concerning enough to the DOS to put some pretty strong words on their website about Guat adoptions moving into the future based on their investigations and this arrest.

So, say what you will in defense of Mary and her love of the children, but something smells rotten in the state of Denmark, IMHO!!

Posted by: ACS at February 22, 2007 04:31 PM

Mary Bonn has done NOTHING to help any of us still trying to complete our adoptions. Her actions will result in longer processing because now the governments (Guate and USA) are going to be more suspicious and going to take even longer to review the paperwork. Say what you want to defend her, but a lie is a lie, fraud is fraud, crime is crime and she deserves everything she gets from our court system....As always the innocent (in this case the children) will suffer the most! THANKS MARY!!! THANKS FOR NOTHING!!

Posted by: B at February 22, 2007 07:09 PM

According to the U.S. Department of State web page: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/intercountry/intercountry_3147.html, baby smuggling is only one of the findings against Mary. They also found evidence of fradulant documents concerning adoption and misrepresentation of the health condition of children involved. This does NOT sound like a women who is at all concerned about the welfare of Guatemalan children. This sounds like a woman who was manipulative, underhanded, and thought she was above the law. For all you that recieved beautiful, healthy children thanks to Mary, consider yourselves lucky. For those of you who were not as fortunate, my heart goes out to you. I will always keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Andrea

Posted by: Andrea at February 22, 2007 10:01 PM

Kathy,

You said that you have read the "criminal complaint" against Mary. Is the actual complaint public record? May I ask where you read it?

Beth

Posted by: Beth at February 22, 2007 11:33 PM

What are some thoughts out there on wether to accept a referral from Guatemala today? My wife and I just accepted a referral, however, after reading all of the info. over the last two days, wonder if it will actually happen. We would appreciate ANY thoughts on whether to still go through Guatemala or what kind of delays we could be looking at? We are going through an agency in CA....

Posted by: Mike at February 22, 2007 11:35 PM

I made a mistake!!!!!!!!
I meant to write 40-50 cases NOT 400-500 cases.
So I am sorry that you took the time to do the math because you had the wrong information.
My fault.
I hope that I did not hurt Ms. Bonn further by posting this wrong information.
By the way have any of you read the article that was in the Pioneer Press.
The link is in a post above.
I can totally see Mary's side.
Mary has been nothing but helpful to me.
I am so sorry that I wrote the wrong information and gave fuel to the fire.
Mary has my support.

Posted by: Amber at February 23, 2007 01:20 AM

I meant to post 40-50 cases NOT 400-500.
Why did my longer post get held back for moderator approval?

Posted by: Amber at February 23, 2007 01:22 AM

I agree with B,
Because Mary decided to save ONE little girl,
all of our children will come home a few days older.

Posted by: Angel at February 23, 2007 11:50 AM

For Betsy and Jane,

Now that the DOS website has made it so perfectly clear that there must be some substance to the investigation into Mary's activities and the way in which she pursued them, perhaps you could try a bit harder to recognize that many, many people have *not* been helped by Mary as facilitator. Jane, you imply that those sharing negative experiences have nothing better to do than sit on the internet and complain. I sit with an apron on as I prepare a meal for a sick neighbor and prepare to review our bio son's homework. If it were not for Guateadopt and the Big List, we would never have been able to determine definitively what was happening in our case. Let me tell you that it held no resemblance to the update information from Mary, when we could get it. I seek out info on the internet because we've precious other resources to determine what else we can do on our own to see if our child can come home after over 2 years of waiting. Some of the delays are not anyone's fault, but some are.

Betsy, I have no idea what Mary's possible motive may have been. I don't know why she would put her own family at risk of being without their mother by her actions, but I seriously doubt that the *only* recourse she could take in a difficult situation involved breaking the law. And now...look at the consequences for so many, including the beautiful Guatemalan children that must wait longer to join their waiting families. Apparently, Mary hasn't treated all clients as well as she treated you and your friends that got their children home in *months*. I certainly didn't receive even courteous responses or timely ones in our repeated requests for status reports. Mind you...status reports - not projections or promises. In 2 years, we've not had a medical update. Videos confirm that our child *looks* ok, but could a family have been made to expect a healthier child than they found at p/u trip?

Now, thanks to the extra scrutiny promised, we have worries of whether our child will ever come home even though we do believe that our attorney has complied with all laws. You ask us to imagine what motive Mary may have had in her actions. Frankly, I don't care what her motive was. I wish we weren't going to suffer as part of the consequences for her actions and I certainly had nothing to do with her choice.

I'm also sorry for Mary and her children. She made a really tragic error that impacted much more than just herself.

Posted by: mamiypapi at February 23, 2007 04:22 PM

Mamiypapi,

Since your attorney (not Mary) prepares all your paperwork and you believe he/she has complied with all the laws, you shouldn't have a problem bringing your child home even if scrutiny is increased by our government. I hope you will continue to see progress with your case. I know how difficult it is to wait to get your baby home.

If there is going to be increased scrutiny, we (the adoption community) should demand increased staffing to keep up so those people still in progress can get their babies home as quickly as possible.

Posted by: Sara at February 23, 2007 07:36 PM

I'm sorry to hear all the heat in these posts and I hope as time goes on there is more light and peace shed on this particular case it's clear that many people are hurting.

I adopted my daughter 9 years ago with Mary and Tracy as our facilitators. I found Mary's communication brusk, opionated and at times off putting. Yet I received regular pictures, communcations and a relatively smooth process. Mary did have a stern eye toward adoptive parents particularly those who she seemed to percieve to be "shopping for perfect children." I recall while I was in Guatemala another adoptive parent was disressed to see how "dark" her daughter was. Mary was not very tactful but I thought "right on" with her feedback questioning the parent fitness to adopt a child from Guatemala. I never for a moment doubted her love and compassion for the kids in here care. When I met her they had recently taken over a local orphange. When I visited I was impressed with the high standards: child/adult ratio, physical site, music activities, many times better than what I had seen when adopting in China. So it seemed to me that what she lacked on her customer service to those paying the bills, (clearly a foolish business proposition) was balanced by what she was doing for the individual children in her care.

Based on the Pioneer Press article, I understand parents are sometimes faced with heartbreaking situations. I can imagine that Mary may have been furious and motivated out of conern for a sick child taking matters into her own hands. It sounds like her judgment was was seriously flawed but I won't assume that her intentions - for the child were anything but to provide the best immediate care possible.

On a final note regarding how many people have had good or bad experiences. It's curious that seeminly so many agencies have contracted with her if as this page would suggest most people have bad experiences. My guess it that the good experiences are significantly under represented here, not that a good experience necessarily offsets a bad one but I know of several families who did have good experience working with Mary.

I wish the very best for the waiting parents on this list.

adoptive parent in MN.

Posted by: R.E. in MN at February 23, 2007 10:19 PM

R.E.

I'm not sure why so many agencies continue to knowingly be associated with Mary. I can tell you that my agency has said they have never and would never work with someone like her. Hmmmmmm.

Posted by: ACS at February 24, 2007 11:58 AM

R.E.,

I personally know many families in support of Mary but they are not willing to post their opinions on this site in fear that they will be attacked by others. I cannot blame them for not being vocal online.


Angie

Posted by: Angie at February 24, 2007 02:16 PM

Beth,

I know the criminal complaint is public record. Someone who knew about our family's adoption situation sent it to me. Unfortunately, I don't know how they obtained it.

The criminal complaint contains limited information. It contains only facts regarding the one charge of Harboring an Illegal Alien against Mary Bonn. From the DOS website, there appears to be an ongoing criminal investigation. Additionally, I believe many federal cases (if not all) end up going to a grand jury and so it may be some time (if ever) before anyone knows the full extent of what happened. This is especially true if the case presented to the grand jury will involve multiple defendants and/or multiple charges.

Sorry I cannot be of more help. I am praying that the investigation is over quickly and that everyone finds out the truth.

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy at February 24, 2007 02:18 PM

Mary has been an excellent mother to her adoptive children! The family of the little girl Thought she was too poor in health to keep this child. They didn't want her once they got her. Mary took her in to provide the child with a good home and get her in good health. I stand behind Mary all the way. She always does the best there is to be done. People shouldn't be so picky over the child they are given

Posted by: Jaelyn at February 24, 2007 04:37 PM

Angie -

and vice versa, Angie...and vice versa.

Posted by: J at February 24, 2007 06:06 PM

As far as R.E's comments go - The questions should be the following: Why was Mary dropped from so many agencies throughout the years, why were there soooo many families who had bad experiences with the common thread being Mary, and why on the is DOS homepage is there information about an investigation regarding Mary and MANY violations?

Posted by: Andrea at February 25, 2007 01:37 AM

Andrea,

I agree with you! There are far too many people reporting stories of their cases going on and on and on with Mary. Too many reports of lies and deceit ,etc.

I'm not talking about an occasional person who may have had a personality conflict or something of that nature. That I expect with anyone who deals with a large number of people in any business.

But, so many people talking about big, big issues they've had with Mary.

I should hope there is a LONG line of happy people who haven't posted. But, I expect to not see anyone complain about lies and deceit. Period. We're not talking about used cars here.

Posted by: ACS at February 26, 2007 03:45 PM

Kathy,

You were right on the button when you asked why if Mary was visiting with this child and providing updates to the adoptive family, was the malnutrition not brought up?
I wonder how much information was really presented about the baby's health to the adoptive family before they went to Guatemala ?
Many of us here have mentioned the lack of information given to us by Mary/the attorneys, and it just seems the family may not have been given information they deserved to have.

I agree that when you give birth or adopt, you have no guarantees about a child's health. But to be hit with this information suddenly, when you maybe were led all along to believe the child was healthy, is a blow.
Also, not every adoptive family has the resources to care for a sick or special needs child. We knew before we accepted a referral we couldn't knowingly be referred to a special needs child--these children deserve all the love and attention any child deserves--but we knew in our hearts we were not the parents these special children deserve.
When I read the St Paul article, everything makes so much more sense to me. I can see why Mary thought she had to do this, but it still doesn't make it right.

I can also see why the adoptive parents may have balked about bringing the child home. However, once you have the pink slip and you travel to Guatemala to meet your child, the Guatemalan government legally considers you the parents, and in a sense the parents abandoned the child (I'm just not sure how someone could willingly leave a child once meeting them, and getting to know them all those months).

Anyways, it all goes to show you how important CLEAR information needs to be communicated to the adoptive parents, and once again it doesn't sound like that was happening.

Posted by: mary at February 26, 2007 06:05 PM

Hello.
I am not very familiar with the details of the case nor do I want to say I support Mary for what she did, however, I would like to say I had a very strange adoption case and I have nothing bad to say about Mary or Sara. They were very supportive to my adoption and let it be known because of my struggle Mary did not charge me the $3000.00 fee and has been a person I've known to truely love children. And really just wanted the children to come home. I hope many of you can find it in you hearts to forgive her. (PS I had a horrible adoption experience that was actually trafficing minors from Costa Rica)

Posted by: margie at February 26, 2007 07:58 PM

Did she ever work with the agency Building Blocks Adoption Services of Ohio?

Please does anyone know??

Posted by: Me at February 26, 2007 10:26 PM

Hello Maura and others...

Sorry I haven't responded sooner, but I was out of town. And I just now read your post.

When i had my "rant" post, I was simply taking out my frustrations caused by a previous poster. I let my emotions get the better of me, and i do regret it.

I do not blame Mary for everything that has gone wrong with losing my first referral. As you said, "she is the "go-between"". She passed on to me, the information that was given to her.

I am happy to report "to the world", that Mary did not abandon me, and she has given me a new referral, and I now have an excellent attorney. I am quite happy. My adoption is moving forward at a rapid pace.

Posted by: Tami at February 26, 2007 10:40 PM

My son's adoption was processed by Reaching Arms and Mary Bonn. After reading about this tradegy, I reviewed my son's adoption paperwork and have found several out right lies. As my son's adoption was completed in Guatemala, he was re-adopted under US state law, and has been with us for some time, should I take any action?

Posted by: Dianne at March 4, 2007 11:33 AM

Wow-- after reading all of this, it scares me to death to continue with our process. Like many people, if we loose our money, it will be it for us, we will not be able to save this money a second time. We are currently using Faithful adoptions and we are trying to keep updated to the news, but so much of it's negative. Are people still trying to adopt with success????- this is my first post and reading others stories is so heartbreaking. I think worst case for anyone is to have a child out their in limbo with no way to bring them home--- is this happening alot. We don't want to switch adopt countries, but I need help to be more informed. Could anyone help me out???? Very concerned, hopeful adoptive parent. Kat.

Posted by: Kat at March 13, 2007 04:54 AM

Don't forget Mary is innocent until proven otherwise. We worked with Mary for both of our adoptions. She was professional and very upfront with us. It is totally unfair that she is being tried on the internet

Posted by: Christine at April 18, 2007 04:25 PM

I adopted my first child from Guatemala over 13 years ago and my second 11 years ago . I used a facilitator for my first - it was a living hell with unethical guatemalan attorneys and a facilitator who got arrested the night she gave me my baby. I would NEVER use a facilitator again. My second adoption was through a very reputable agency in Texas- a totally different experience- I cannot say enough good things about that experience. The bottom line is that these facilitators are largely unethical- if Mary Bonns assistant there was the sara I know - God help you all - anyway - my children are my life - wonderful kids - and if I were younger Id do it again- sadly Guatemalan adoption is still infested with people who are in it for the money

Posted by: dot at November 13, 2008 03:38 PM
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