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Friday, March 1, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Agency Blamed for Pakistan Adoption Failure

(CN) - Pakistan authorities charged an American with child trafficking because her Michigan adoption agency failed to fully investigate its partner program, she claims in court.

Nancy Baney says that she contacted Lighthouse Adoptions in October 2008 about adopting a child from Russia. After experiencing significant delays, however, Lighthouse president Lorien Wenger allegedly "recommended a new country program for the adoption of children from Pakistan."

Baney says she was "hesitant because she had strong heart ties to Russia after having adopted her son from that country."

"Defendant Wenger told plaintiff that she had been 'working for a year' to develop a Pakistani adoption program," the complaint in Washtenaw County Circuit Court continues.

"Defendant Wenger told plaintiff that she had partnered with a Non-Governmental Organization in Pakistan for Christian adoptions.

"Wenger also promise to forward pictures of recent referrals who had been placed through the partner program she was using."

Baney says that Wenger repeatedly spoke of her research on and comfort with the Global Adoption Services.

The adoption worker also allegedly detailed how a Swiss couple had successfully used the same program in Pakistan.

After Wenger offered Baney the chance to adopt a 1-month-old baby in 2009, Baney says she wired over $14,000 for the adoption and spent a nearly month in Pakistan as one of the first families for the Pakistan pilot program, according to the complaint.

"Plaintiff was to spend the time in Pakistan bonding with her baby daughter and visiting the birth city and to complete an IR-4 adoption immigration visa to bring baby Marina back to the United States," the complaint states.

"On or about October 12, 2009, plaintiff was awarded a permanent guardianship for Marina by the Pakistan court.

"Two days later, on October 14, 2009, the US Embassy denied plaintiff's application for an IR-4 adoption immigration visa for Marina. The denial was based on an I-604 investigation that confirmed that two (2) of Marina's identity documents were forgeries.

"The US Embassy also confirmed for the plaintiff that Global Adoption Services was a front for a large child trafficking ring located in Faisalabad, Pakistan. Faisalabad was the city of Marina's birth."

Ultimately, the complaint says "Marina was taken from plaintiff's arms while plaintiff sat at gunpoint by the Pakistani Federal Investigative Agency," according to the complaint. "Marina was placed in an orphanage while her mother, the plaintiff was investigated for child trafficking."

Baney says that she was "heartbroken, scared and terrified by the experience in Pakistan. She feared for her life and the life of her daughter who she would not adopt."

U.S. immigration authorities later cited the unresolved custody case when it rejected Baney's petition to classify an orphan as an immediate relative, according to the complaint.

Lighthouse Adoptions and Wenger allegedly "became acquainted with Global Adoption Services and [its director] Sadeem Shargeel through unsolicited e-mails that he sent ... offering his services."

Baney says they "failed to perform a substantial part of the bargain by not investigating the in-country representatives who would receive the money for the adoption."

The woman seeks compensatory and exemplary damages for breach of contract and fraud. She is represented by Joni Fixel in Okemos.

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