A Caution Against Potential Child Traffickers
Throughout history, it has been a habit for adoption facilitators to flock war-torn nations, gather and label children as-if “orphans waiting to be adopted” and expedite them to foreign territories. To the detriment of mothers, fathers, and communities, the word “orphan” in adoption law has been expanded to include children of single or poverty-stricken parents. This means that almost any child is at risk of being labeled an orphan and legally processed for overseas adoption—even yours.
You might have read the newspaper article from the Seattle Times on Pastor Matt Shea who is in Poland and already claiming ownership of more than 60 Ukrainian “orphans.”
If history is repeated, the Ukrainian children will grow up as "adoptees" ~ forever separated from their Ukrainian families.
In the effort to protect children from being permanently torn from their Ukrainian families, the public must all be aware of Pastor Matt Shea’s past in the state of Washington. The FBI found that the former state representative and congressman “participated in an act of domestic terrorism against the United States,” and in the planning of “three armed conflicts of political violence” to seize control of a wildlife refuge in Oregon, and other intentions in Nevada, and Idaho. He has been linked to Christian Extremist Movements to place him as a governmental leader in a radical “intent on killing non-Christian males if they did not agree to follow fundamentalist biblical law….” The pastor is also known for the distribution of a four-page manifesto titled “Biblical Basis for War.” Pastor Shea was suspended from the State House Republican Caucus in 2019 After an FBI investigation but refused to resign. He started his own church called On Fire Ministries after serving as a previous senior pastor of Covenant Church of Spokane, Washington, for less than a year.
In Poland, Pastor Shea claimed to be working for Loving Families and Homes for Orphans, a nonprofit group registered in 2018, which hosts Ukrainian “orphans” in America with the intent to ultimately secure them for international adoption. Despite its purpose to “provide loving and caring homes and families for the orphans from other countries for a short time period,” the nonprofit, also referred to as Loving Homes and Families for Orphans, is not listed with the Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity (IAAME).
When asked what he was doing around the children, the pastor acted as if he had authority while in Poland. He blatantly stated: “We are in direct contact with the governments of Ukraine and the United States, supported by the highest levels of politicians, international and local church leaders as well as dozens of companies from Ukraine, the USA, and Poland.”
I strongly advise the US State Department, IAAME, all anti-human trafficking organizations, the adult-adoptee community, and the global public to refrain from buying into Pastor Shea’s adoption-propaganda plan, proselytizing attempts, and any future advertising campaigns of his. The consequence of not being able to see past the savior mentality or the lovely charitable façade of agencies such as “Loving Families and Homes for Orphans” can result in a lifelong impact of separation on the children labeled as orphans. Thus, expedited overseas, their immediate and extended families are left behind, in particular, their parents are now stigmatized by the child market as “birthparents” with no legal right to receive information on the status of their children.
How do I know? As a researcher, author of Adoption History 101: An Orphan’s Research—along with numerous books on the adoption experience, including the compilation of Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists, and as an adopted person from overseas (previously labeled an “orphan” by the industry in the early 70s). I am also a director for Against Child Trafficking in the USA, cofounder of Adoption Truth and Transparency Worldwide Information Network (ATTWIN) —one of the largest peer-support forums on social media led by adopted people (instead of adoptive parents), and a minister. For these reasons, I have concerns about Pastor Matt Shea’s intention to extract children via international adoption.
Adoptees are forbidden from having any and all knowledge about their true identity and denied legal access to their biological family. Adoption laws—which ignore the inherent rights of children and just plain equal rights—will be enforced. This means that decades into the future, despite being an adult, adopted children are forced to find back their families on their own—and at their own costs.
I have witnessed the devastating aftermath of lifelong separation on the people most impacted by the sever—so-called orphans to be later stigmatized as “adult adoptees.” It is because of the blatant savior-mentality and audacious self-righteousness of certain clergy claiming to be the authority over other people’s children that an adoption trafficking awareness symposium is necessary. In collaboration with Against Child Trafficking and other adoptee-led organizations, we presented the first symposium in Washington State on June 18th, 2022.
I am also a director for Against Child Trafficking in the USA, cofounder of Adoption Truth and Transparency Worldwide Information Network (ATTWIN) —one of the largest peer-support forums on social media led by adopted people (instead of adoptive parents), and a minister. For these reasons, I have concerns about Pastor Matt Shea’s intention to extract children via international adoption.
If history is repeated, the children will grow up as “adoptees.” Adoptees are forbidden from having any and all knowledge about their true identity and denied legal access to their biological family. Adoption laws—which ignore the inherent rights of children and just plain equal rights—will be enforced. This means that decades into the future, despite being an adult, adopted children are forced to find back their families on their own—and at their own costs.
In agreement with Against Child Trafficking (Europe, India), the best interest of the children would be to ensure that the children remain secure with their families. If the children are separated, then all efforts need to be made to find next-of-kin, immediate, and/or extended family members, or to assign temporary guardianship. All efforts must be made to preserve the child’s true identity, culture, and family history. The consequences of not doing so are lifelong. In the case of people adopted from South Korea beginning as early as the 1950s, the permanent sever spans two to three generations. A number of narratives from these individuals can be found in the anthology The “Unknown” Culture Club: Korean Adoptees, Then and Now.
When I read about the tactics used by Pastor Matt Shea, my mind immediately takes me to the past. His confidence reminds me of the fierce, evangelical forces used by the adoption pioneers who flocked to South Korea. Sixty-plus years into the future, Korean children are now adult “adoptees.” We continue to be separated from our true identity, family, and culture—as if it was in our best interest—even though we didn’t get to see the contract nor signed it.
I’d like to tell the US State Department to stand up against the Matt Sheas of the world, and his determined fan base made up of prospective adoptive parent applicants audaciously or covertly “adopting for Jesus.” Fulfilling the wishes of evangelical applicants—regardless of how much they are willing to pay for “service” fees—is not the role of the State Department. In generations past the US Government had been unknowingly infiltrated by a fundamentalist child market claiming “God” instructed them to adopt. Followers of these sects blatantly told government officials to facilitate the immediate removal of children—and officials from both nations have obliged to what appeared to be charitable demands.
Today, government officials need to be given even more information on past infiltration techniques by these fundamentalist groups who claim they have a right to children. Calling the children “needy” or “orphans” has been a successful strategy. After setting up the child welfare system, the industry moved onto other territories such as India, Africa, and South America, donning an air of authority much like dignitaries. And the rest, as they say, is history.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, it has been a habit for adoption facilitators to descend upon war-torn nations, gather and label children as “orphans,” and transport them to foreign territories as if they do not have families. Let’s not repeat history. Let’s make history and install laws that will hold child traffickers accountable for what many adult adoptees call deceptive and fraudulent practices that have had a permanent impact on their lives. Report any suspicious adoption trafficking activity of Pastor Shea or others like him to your local FBI office, email@example.com, and IAAME.
LINKS TO OTHER SOURCES:
2019 report published by the WA House of Representatives accused Shea of domestic terrorism in relation to his role in a series of standoffs with federal authorities
"Washington State lawmaker's 'Holy Army' manifesto prompts FBI scrutiny". The Daily Beast. November 1, 2018. Archived from the original on November 3, 2018.
Sokol, Chad (November 2, 2018). "Washington state lawmaker Matt Shea defends advocacy for 'Holy Army' as Spokane sheriff refers his writings to FBI". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on November 3, 2018.
"Lawmaker says he distributed Biblical Basis for War paper". U.S. News & World Report. AP. November 1, 2018.
"WA Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib announces rep. Matt Shea has ..." KHQ.com. Archived from the original on April 25, 2019.