(CN) – A Greenville, South Carolina, couple seek damages from an adoption agency at the center of a human-trafficking investigation, saying its ethical lapses have cost them thousands of dollars and jeopardized their attempt to adopt two children from Uganda.
In a complaint filed in the Greenville County Court of Common Pleas on Jan. 27, Tyler and Allie Sloan say they contacted defendants European Adoption Consultants and Debra Parris, the director of its African adoption program, in December 2014.
As recounted in the complaint, 14 months passed after the Sloans were accepted to participate in the defendant’s program when Parris told them in 2016 that two children were available for them to adopt: a 7-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy.
The Sloans claim Parris explained at the time that the children’s father had died, and that their mother was relinquishing them.
They say Parris and EAC assured them that an independent inquiry had been conducted to verify the status of the children.
Based of those assurances, the Sloans began the legal adoption process in Uganda. After traveling to the African nation in April, the Sloans stayed six weeks to pursue a guardianship of the children and move the adoption process forward.
The Sloans say they learned that fall that numerous children adopted by U.S. families had been returned to Uganda because EAC had failed to perform proper investigations of the children’s adoptive statuses.
They say they had already bonded with the children they were trying to adopt when they learned that the U.S. State Department and the Ugandan government had classified some of the children whom EAC had placed with other families as trafficked children.
The State Department temporarily debarred EAC in December, citing allegations that the agency used bribes to fraudulently induce parental consent and falsified documents to deceive the U.S. government and others regarding the eligibility of children for adoption and immigration.
In its charge against EAC, the U.S. Department of State demanded the agency to cease all adoption processes, including the Sloans’ case.
The Sloans say they’ve already spent tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours trying to adopt the two children, who they don’t believe were trafficked.
Though the couple has called on EAC to reimburse the money they spent on the adoption process, they say the agency has yet to respond.
The couple are seeking unspecified damages on claims of negligence, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentation and unfair trade practices.
They are represented by W. Harold Christian Jr. of the Greenville firm Christian & Davis.
A representative of European Adoption Consultants did not immediately respond to a phone call requesting comment.