The Irish couples innocently caught up in an adoption scandal in Mexico have returned home – heartbroken, shaken and childless.
The Sunday Independent reports that the 11 couples are now back in Ireland after police smashed the child trafficking operation in Guadalajara.
Legal representatives of the prospective parents have assured the Independent that their clients traveled with paperwork from the Irish authorities allowing them to legally adopt in Mexico.
Their lawyers believe that the Irish couples, in their 30s and 40s, are just the latest victims of a child trafficking operation that has been ongoing for up to 30 years.
The prospective Irish parents paid over $50,000 in fees and expenses according to their lawyers who also stated that the Mexican authorities have cleared them of all wrongdoing.
Seven Mexican babies were taken from the Irish by police last week after they smashed the operation and took 10 children in total into care. Four of them were subsequently found to have been sexually abused while they were in the care of the Mexican gang.
Mexican lawyer Carlos Montoya, who is acting on behalf of the Irish couples, insists they did everything by the book and paid thousands of dollars in fees.
“These couples were desperate to have children. All they wanted was the affection that goes with having a family of their own, so they handed over the money,” he told one local newspaper.
“They had all the necessary papers required from the Irish authorities to adopt a baby from another country.
“They alerted the adoption authorities to their intention to adopt in Mexico.”
According to the Independent report, the Irish couples trawled the internet for a legal adviser and employed a US firm, which in turn referred them to a lawyer named Carlos Lopez in Guadalajara.
Lopez has told the Mexican investigators that he has arranged adoptions for about 60 Irish couples over the last seven years with couples paying upwards of $30,000 (€23,000). He also claims he was duped by the gang.
The Independent report states that babies were pledged before they were born and prospective parents were sometimes asked to pay for the pregnant mother’s medical expenses.
When the babies were born, they were asked for more money upfront and urged to fly to Mexico within 15 days.
Lawyer Montoya claims the sums involved were in the thousands.
“When they’d arrive here, they would be charged more money for expenses, about $4,000 extra,” he said.
“They would also have to pay the lawyers’ fees, which would be another $4,000. They had to pay $38 a day in nanny services for the children already born. And for the unborn children, they had to pay the mother’s hospital costs before she gave birth.”
The Irish involved were told to stay in a hotel in Guadalajara and then travel from there to Ajijic, a tourist resort on the coast, where the babies were delivered to the couples in their hotel rooms.
The Irish parents believed that the babies were unwanted and had been left by their mothers in welfare centres for adoption.
The scam was discovered when a woman reported her sister-in-law to police a fortnight ago for allegedly trying to sell her babies for adoption.
Police have since detained seven women and two men.
On Thursday last, 15 Irish men and women gave statements to the police in Mexico after which they were urged to return to Ireland by their lawyer Montoya.
The Mexican authorities believe the Irish couples are innocent. The state prosecutor reportedly said that the Irish had “done nothing illegal."
Ireland’s Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, told the Sunday Independent: “Obviously, for any couple who have been caught up in this, it’s a nightmare scenario. Inter-country adoption can be fraught and this is why you have to have procedures.
“If a baby has been registered here and if the Adoption Authority has satisfied itself that everything has been done according to the procedures, then clearly one would expect that those are de facto legitimate adoptions.”
It has also transpired that Ireland’s Adoption Authority issued seven advisory notices in the last 15 months warning prospective adoptive parents not to enter into private arrangements in Mexico.
The country recently signed up to the Hague Convention, which allows for inter-country adoption between signatories such as Ireland.