Pondering Something

Maybe somebody can help me out here.

I just read some posts on an adoption board that I frequent, and have a question.

The post was about gathering enough new $100 dollar bills to pay an international adoption donation. From the writing I assume these donations have to be made in cash. Specifically new bills.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but we are basically talking about money laundering here, aren’t we?

Obtaining thousands of dollars in new US currency and turning it over to an eninity in another country. One would think if everything was on the up and up a simple wire transfer would suffice.

Two problems here.

First, it was indicated that neighborhood banks don’t have a problem requesting these new $100 dollar bills from the Federal Reserve Banks. While it seems that the amounts requested fall just under the $10,000 mark. $10,000 being the amount at, and in excess of, that all cash transactions must be reported to the IRS. Wouldn’t it flag something within the Federal Reserve System? Terrorists and drug dealers love great big wads of cash. Where is homeland security in all of this?

I assume some of this money is being pulled from IRAs, 401ks, CDs, and federally insured savings accounts. Are they told to do this slowly, over a period of months? Exactly how is obtaining all this cash presented to these people? Are they told how closely they are skirting the bounds of legality?

Secondly, do they even wonder why it has to be cash? I would. International electronic transfer is much easier than obtaining that kind of cash. I cannot see how one wouldn’t be left to assume that this money will not be used for less than good. As I said, drug dealers and hitmen don’t take checks either.

Do they ever actually think about where this money really goes. There is no doubt that they are feeding the underground economy. The money is pretty much untraceable. One would think that an orphanage with rich Americans adopting right and left would have no problem accounting for a large amount of donations. If not, one could easily assume the money is going elsewhere. Where would be anyone’s guess, but I think I can put forward a few possibilities.

The first would be simply to line the pockets of all the people that took part in the facilitation of the adoption, everybody from the children’s caretakers to the bigwigs in the charities and government. Graft usually gets spread around, a little here, alittle there, keeps the wheels moving smoothly.

Reinvestment also comes to mind. Everybody knows that if you’ve got a good thing going, you have to keep it going. Somebody has to keep finding those abandoned babies, and a little incentive never hurts.

Protection. There has to be a reason that rich Americans can go into what they describe as a living hell that children must be saved from without a scratch. And trust me, it ain’t always the good hearts of the friendly natives.

Women, Booze, and Dope. Kind of just goes with protection eventually doesn’t it?

And also there is always the possibility of supporting factions that would seek to end the very system that is being taken advantage of. Money knows no loyalty.

This leads me to think that the money spent rescuing one child could surely contribute to the reasons why that child needed rescued.



45 thoughts on “Pondering Something

  1. Addie….sounds like a scam to me. I would never donate to something like this unless it was a legitmate organization who in turn guarentees that the money will be going for a specific purpose. I get emails every week about folks needing money in Africa and while I don’t doubt they do, I know that its a scam. I would be very cautious before giving 100 bills out.

  2. If I am remembering correctly from reading posts years ago about this it is for the mandatory “donation” to the orphanage in China that their child comes from. The amount is $3,000 and yes, they request it in cash. I’m not sure if any other fees are requested in cash or not. I’ve seen very few people question it and any time I’ve brought it up it’s been ignored. People don’t care as long as they get their child. Considering the cost of living in China and the amount of adoptions going on, these orphanages should look like mansions by now. Hmmmmm, I wonder what the directors homes look like????? I think there were around 6,000 adoptions from China to the U.S. last year – so this is not including other countries. 6,000 adoptions w/$3,000 in donations – that’s $18,000,000 a year that supposedly goes to the orphanages – yeah right. Got me as to why it’s okay and legal. And on top of that there’s lots of APs who keep sending money to the orphanages after they get their kids – and buying necessary items that they need like washing machines and such. $18,000,000 can’t buy washing machines? I’m not saying it’s a bad thing that they are trying to help those kids still living there by sending donations but I find it highly suspect that there is still a need for the money after all that has already been given.

  3. dory,

    The number I saw being mentioned was $6,000.00, so double your figures.

    If I were a PAP, I would sure as hell be wondering why conditions in those orphanages were so appalling.

  4. I think that money is to help with translators on the other side. I know when we considered adopting from Ukraine they wanted american cash (new) to give to the facilitators/translators there and it was at least $6,000 if not more. It is a pretty lucrative operation they have going with international adoptions.

  5. No paper trail? Therefore, no legal record of the adoption or the child or any other legal or illegal activity?

    Yes, money laundering and human trafficking.

    Our little blood diamonds.

  6. LeRoy,

    Do you think that being in translation might be a bit like being in waste management, vending machines, or personal loans?


    Great minds.

    Oh and Suz, thank you for translating for me.

    I’m gonna need a couple of days to come up with…..

  7. This was one of my biggest reservations about international adoption. Every single country…every single one requires some kind of cash “donation” be made to either government or agency officials. They even go so far as to require donations go to translators, facilitators, foster parents, and sometimes even mandate the transfer of donated goods, like medical supplies and antibiotics.

    Now where does an everyday schmo go and buy, say, 10 cases of Augmentin…and who in the hell could afford that? The whole thing seemed like legalized blackmail to me.

    The sad part is, we ended up adopting domestically because we thought it was more ethical. *eye roll*

  8. I did precisely this. When I adopted DD from China we were told the orphanage donation was $3,000 and that it had to be in cash. We were told that in the past the officials would reject ragged looking billls, so to order new bills. If they were robbing us, they did so in the province’s civil affairs building.

    Now, with adopting our DS, also from China, this agency is able to wire the money. We will bring almost no cash this time, should our adoption go through (which is questionable due to changes in Chinese international adoption law).

    I am assuming this couple is bringing 6K because they are adopting twins….although I’m not sure you are talking about China.

    When in China we were given receipts for everything and tons of legal papers with translations. We were able to use these papers in this country, as well, for legal purposes such as obtaining my DD’s passport and certificate of foreign birth. I mentioned this because someone mentioned not leaving a paper trail and illegal activities. The paper trail is enormous. We could not erase the legal adoption of our daughter if we wanted to.

    We were told where the money went. Part would go to the orphanage that we were adopting from. Part would go to other orphanages. Let me say that the orphanages have improved greatly over the years. They are no longer the “dying rooms”. They are still a far cry from a foster family however.

    Someone mentioned $18M in donations in China – this doesn’t go very far in a country of millions of orphans.

    Also please keep in mind that if this were such a lucrative business for the Chinese then they would not be attempting to dramatically slow down the number of international adoptions. The new rules are designed to cut down the number of applications because there are not enough children to be adopted out of country. People don’t realize that most of China’s orphans are kept in China.

  9. Margaret,

    Just one question, and it is a sincere one, were you able to deduct your donations from your federal income taxes?

    And yes, I do realize that most adoptable children (let’s not say orphans, because that would be the same as calling me an orphan, in most cases, and I was never an orphan, I was simply adoptable) in China stay in-country. I think that’s a good thing. It shows the country is growing both socially and economically, they are taking care of their own.

  10. The big problem adopting internationally is that just about any information on the child and/or parents is severely limited and suspect. That in additon to the translator/facilitation fees, immigration application/fees, visas, travel costs, in-country costs and then absolutely no pre-placement period to determine how well the child will fit into the adoptive family and/or vice-a-versa. Way too many unknowns. A person is literally flying on faith and usually blind faith that they will be able to bring a child back. Some even require several trips. Many countries have slowed down the international adoptions because of what it appears to be: trafficing babies and also abuse reports on this side of kids internationally adopted. They don’t want their kids coming here and then being abused….a few horror stories of Russian kids adopted here that were abused by adoptive parents that didn’t go over well there or here.

  11. jeffandjen,

    See, you saw something that seems very obvious to me. And I don’t think that all international or domestic adoptions are unethical, I think that people that think about what they are doing, like you did, can do it right.


    Sorry. I just got thinking.


    Yes, I see what you are saying. Not to mention what kind of either stupidity or big ones it would take to board an international flight with that much cash. What do you do? Put in your carry-on or check it? Yikes. I’m thinking Midnight Express here, KWIM?

  12. That’s a good question, Addie. That’s something we are trying to figure out. Actually, in our case it won’t matter because we spent so much that we’ve maxed out on what we will get back in our return.

    I’m going to try to look it up now.

    And I totally agree about Chinese domestic adoption. I know from my reading that there traditionally has been quite a bit of unofficial adoption in China……unofficial because the gov’t would not make it easy for these families if they found out about the other child living in the home. They could be seriously penalized. Now, I’m hoping that’s changing.

  13. I personally think it is a great idea for these countries to establish either foster/adoptive homes in their own countries rather than have the children adopted out internationally. The culture, language, race and all the rest makes for a hard transition.

    Many folks place the money on a money belt that they wear around their waist and never take it off until they are giving it up over there. That is my understanding of how they get the money there.

  14. Addie, here’s what I’m finding. This is an agency site that claims the 3,000 donation is deductable: http://www.nightlight.org/internationaladoptionfaqs.htm#Expenses

    Here’s another site linked with an adoption agency that says the orphanage donation for Russia and Ukraine are deductable, but they don’t make this statement for countries like China and Guatemala.

    I also looked up the instructions for form 8839 on the IRS website. They have a list of eligible expenses and ineligible expenses and neither list mentions the orphanage donation.

    So, I really don’t know.

  15. m,


    That does make it hard to tell. We all know agencies are to be taken with a grain of salt. I’m no tax advisor, but I would think that if it were permissible from one country, it would be from another. And from what the IRS says, I would think it might not be permissible at all. One of those gray areas, maybe.

    Someone, probably someone reading this, knows the answer to that question. I’ll dig around.

  16. I really wish I could remember the name of the first agency we researched for international adoption…it detailed exactly what donations would be expected in each country they serviced. Like a laundry list! Add the donations to the already exorbitant international fees and travel costs…the additional “donations” made it impossible for us to really consider an international adoption very seriously.

    Damn. I wish I could remember the name of that place, because I know they have a website.

    Oh…and we weren’t really looking into China. China appeared to be one of the better countries to deal with.

  17. I was told and I believe their is an eligible tax deduction for adoption expenses up to $10.000 per child but I would need to research it. I am almost positive that is what the faciliator’s website said.

  18. Okay, I got thinking about this, the “donations” if tax deductible under the adoption tax credit or as part of dependent deductions, are not considered donations, they are considered expenses. If they were considered charitable donations, they would come off of another line on the form.

    That clears up a lot, at least in the eyes of the IRS, so-called donations are expenses.

    Back to what I was pondering, is calling this a donation merely a sales technique used by the agencies, etc?

    I would think so. It’s a real standard thing in any type of sales. I’ve seen it used from food products (all natural, yeah so is arsenic), to mutual funds (when I was a broker one of the so-called “green funds” had Halliburton subsidiaries in it).

    And it still doesn’t explain why, if considered donations in another country, sometimes,it has to be cash. Some of the nations that adoptions are taking place from have very sophisticated banking systems. More so than here, even.


  19. I am guessing you are correct in your assumption Addie. These donations are considered adoption expenses much like hotel rooms, airfares, visas and the like but I would think they would need a receipt for the cash donation so they can claim it here on an IRS form (in the event of a tax audit). I am betting that this donation/expense money is not claimed as earned income by anyone in the foreign country because the transaction is done all in cash. I really wonder just how far the IRS goes in checking these donations/expenses out. Plus in most of these cases, these folks have an office setup in the states to coordinate activities here with PAPs and it could be that the reciept is done here under a non-profit corporation. That way the IRS would probably not question the receipt and the deduction would become legitimate.

    One could argue that no matter how the expense is accounted for when it comes to the IRS, the expense was incurred by the PAPs for adoption purposes. It seems to me the foreign governments are losing out because all of this is done in cash and no one is likely claiming it as earned income in their country.

  20. “One could argue that no matter how the expense is accounted for when it comes to the IRS, the expense was incurred by the PAPs for adoption purposes. It seems to me the foreign governments are losing out because all of this is done in cash and no one is likely claiming it as earned income in their country.”


    No accountability.

  21. What makes sense is that the donation is considered an “adoption expense” because it is mandatory.

    Someone mentioned receipts. We received a receipt from the Chinese authorities, not our agency.

    How does China “lose out”, especially given that agencies are moving toward wiring the money to the government? Donating in cash is being phased out.

  22. So if it’s mandatory, by definition, it is not a donation. Donations are made of one’s own free will, it’s obviously a fee, call it what it is. I don’t like Rush Limbaugh, but he does say one thing I can get behind, “Word mean something.”

    If you didn’t have to pay this money, and would still be allowed to adopt, it would be a donation. If you are not allowed to adopt without paying this money it is a fee, or if you really want to use plain English, more likely an institutionalized bribe.

    So no receipts for this money went through American organizations, in your case. That would lead me to believe that the books of on the American side of the agency do not show this money. Makes sense from their end, if these fees showed, it would have the possibility of bringing their non-profit status into question.

    China could possibly be losing out because, assuming this goes to those fees go directly to the Chinese government, do you really know how it’s distributed? Communist governments really don’t have to release their budgets to the general public like the US does.


    Estimated military expenditures have more than doubled since 1999, putting them second only to the US. Maybe that’s where it goes?

    Who can really know?

  23. Well, they usually say “donation”. Of course we have no choice about this. But, this is commonly understood from the get-go.

    There is no way for me personally to how the Chinese government distributes the money. Orphanages have improved dramatically though.

    If they are making such a killing though, I’d have to wonder why the figure is so low. 3K is not that much at all, especially given what people spend for an adoption. Why not rook us for all they can get then? Why slow down international adoption then?

  24. They probably don’t take more because the first rule of any con is, don’t get greedy. They have found a number that people are willing to pay for what they have to offer that will create the volume that they are able to fill. I’m sure competition from others offering a similar services factors in along with the perceived value to their consumer demographic.

    Why slow down international adoption?

    Let’s see, we have established that there is no accounting for a good hunk of the money that disappears from the US. Granted it’s not much money in the scheme of the international underground economy, but it is probably the easiest to stop.

    In the big picture international adoption does little or nothing to actually improve the conditions in the countries that it’s practiced in. In fact, creating the service may contribute to the worsening of those conditions. Anytime a resource can be obtained cheaply due to the comparative economic disadvantage of it’s source to a stronger economic power, that stronger power will bring forces to keep that country at an economic disadvantage. It works the same way with bananas, oil, or babies.

    Leading to the fact that I would like to see these nations take care of their own. There is a moral issue at work beyond the economic issues. As an adult adoptee, I know the problems I faced being adopted less than 20 miles from where I was born. The mass of international adoptees has yet to come of age, it is a social experiment played out with subjects without their permission. Adoptions of my era have been called by many a failed experiment, I worry for the ext generation of subjects.

  25. Add to that Addie the transracial adoption piece and things even get dicier. These kids are stripped of family, relatives, culture, country and placed in a totally different world then whence they came. They will be treated differently as well to be sure. Read any blog from someone who is a transracial adoptee and it soon becomes apparent they have another heap of stuff to deal with.

  26. LeRoy (first class petty officer?)

    I have read about the challenges that some of the adult international trans-racial adoptees face. And yes, I agree, they have all my issues plus another whole heap of stuff. That is the main reason for my concern.


    I think it’s because it makes them feel better, most of those kids are no more orphans than you or I. It’s kind of like calling fees (and I’m being kind here) donations. It’s nothing but happy talk.

  27. Addie…close: Second Class Petty Officer. I was only in for four years and I believe at the time I was in the Navy, you had to be in at least 6 years to get to First Class unless you were in a war zone, which I fortunately wasn’t even though I was serving during the Vietnam Conflict as it was called rather than a war……

  28. My a-Dad was a First Class Petty Officer at Atsugi during the Korean conflict. Must have been easier to get then, he did 3 years. At re-enlistment time an officer asked him what he wanted out of the Navy. His answer, “Me.”.

  29. Wow…Can only imagine how that made you feel when you were old enough to understand that. And, of course, that was really the “closed era” of adoption in those days. I do not know where Atsugi is but I was in Korea while in the Navy…..Do you know?

  30. Very nice…so he was a storekeeper? If so, that was what I did as well! I have been to Japan many times while in the Navy but have not heard of that Base. It must be near Yokota Air Force Base.

  31. ow…Can only imagine how that made you feel when you were old enough to understand that. And, of course, that was really the “closed era” of adoption in those days. I do not know where Atsugi is but I was in Korea while in the Navy…..Do you know?

    I think we have a slight misunderstanding here, sorry I didn’t catch it last night. I’m very very tired. My Dad was talking about his feelings for the Navy. I’m a bit younger than that.

    I was probably born while you were in the service.

  32. Yes, ahem, donations. We are speaking of a country (china) from which you can apparently purchase organs. Which is under criticism from every human rights organization because these organs potentially come from executed political prisoners- (this includes religious prisoners)- and in some cases these organs are harvested while prisoners are alive, and transplanted into Westerners (those with the cash).


    How does one ensure that babies have not been stolen and sold to the highest bidder?

  33. This has been a really, really interesting discussion. Too many things I want to comment on, but I don’t want to leave a long-ass comment.

    I think its great that we (adoptees) are engaging in critiquing all aspects of adoption, not just those personally reflective of our own situations.

    I enjoy your blog a lot!

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