Saturday, July 19, 2003

What Raffi N. wrote about in his last log about "orphanages" in Gyumri had to bother our readers a little bit. For those that were not too disturbed by Raffi's findings, let me add some very relevant information.

According to Dennis Loze, Project Coordinator for Mission East's Mosaic Program in Armenia, 85% of children residing in Auxiliary Boarding Schools are falsely diagnosed with having mental or physical challenges.

Due to economic hardships at home, parents pay doctors to provide a false diagnosis, which enables them to enroll their children into residential institutions.

As for the new orphanage that will enable 30 children to live in the palace that Raffi saw, this could in fact be a new institution that is being established to help "vulnerable families" lighten their load and put their children at risk of being registered at some later date as "orphans" and then adopted by people in the West.

This would also be another orphanage that people like the Armenian facilitators Gagik Dumanian and Hasmik Hambarian would search for possible "orphans."

Take in consideration what Jan Barlett, the woman who in June adopted a 6 year old girl from Gyumri told Jennifer Smith: "What I plan to do is take pictures of children at Gyumri who are adoptable. I know of people here in Iowa and Arkansas who are interested also. If you decide you want to see pictures just let me know. Of course I will be with Hasmik and Gagik, so they will be very aware of the children that are available."

One other bit of information that Jan shared with Jennifer was that: "Mariam is 6 and in an defective child's home, although nothing is wrong with her." And in another message said: "By the way there is nothing wrong with her [Mariam], many children are stuck in these types of orphanages with misdiagnosis. If they do not get adopted their future is bleak. For example in the blind school, there are children who can see just fine."

These statements confirm Dennis Loze's claim of 85% of children found in Auxiliary Boarding Schools are falsely diagnosed with having mental or physical challenges.

Another role that Hasmik and Garik played in Jan's adoption of Mariam was to find Mariam's mother and convince her to relinquish her parental rights so Mariam would be adoptable and have a more promising future in America with Jan and her husband Chris. Jan wrote to Jennifer: "So once the paper work is cleared up for Mariam and we choose her then the adoption is finalized." In a later message Jan wrote: "As for Mariam, it is going great! Our paperwork went straight through and we had approval in a month. Our challenge was to get Mariam registered as an orphan so she could be adopted. H & G are tending to all of this now. The delay is that Armenia just had their presidential elections and there will be run offs on March 5. Apparently there have been citizen complaints and the courts are tied up. We had hoped for H & G to go to Gyumri, where Mariam lives, this week. Once the committee in Gyumri approves of her status then the papers come back to the government adoption committee for approval and then the president signs the adoption."

On top of all this Jan believes and informs Jennifer that "H & G AREE VERY ETHICAL."

When I take everything stated above and what Raffi said about the new orphanage and all the information I have, here is what I suspect could happen.

The "orphanage" that will house 30 normal children from vulnerable families will become a place where people from the West can find normal children to adopt.

When need be, people like Gagik and Hasmik will work to convince the parents who are living in deplorable condition to relinquish their parental rights. For the sake of their children and a promising future, the parents sign the papers so their child can then be sold to the highest bidder in the West.

For those readers who are still not convinced or effected by what Raffi and I have written, then you may want to check out this article I came across printed in the Armenian Weekly that confirms much of what we�ve said. It is titled "Suffer the Children." (

By the way, I had not logged this, but a week before the article about adoptions was printed, I visited Gagik and Hasmik at their office on Victor Hambardzumian Street (which was very nicely furnished and very Western looking) to consult with them about doing a genealogical study of my roots. It was clear that they are educated (Jan said that they both have Ph.D.s) and were easy to talk to.

If I was looking for someone with communication skills to convince someone who would never consider relinquishing their parental rights, the people I would hire is Gagik and Hasmik and for that reason they are very dangerous to vulnerable families who are trying to keep their families together and improve their lives.

For those people and organizations interested in helping vulnerable families who are at risk of relinquishing their parental rights out of desperation, please e-mail me and let's formulate a plan to help create an social and economic environment that can sustain the families and not the "orphanages."

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