“I don’t understand why someone is not in jail”

When internationally trafficked children end up in the child welfare system, it’s convenient to cover up a bad international adoption story with a good domestic adoption story. After all, the institution of adoption remains sacrosanct. If “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” then truly “adoption doesn’t harm children, pedophiles harm children.” Adoption = good. Pedophiles = bad. Unfortunately pedophiles adopting = a public relations nightmare.

Luckily the Masha Allen International Pedophile Adoption Nightmare happened not in far off lefty Oregon, where the United States Department of State failed in its effort to silence the local prosecutor in the William Peckenpaugh International Pedophile Adoption Nightmare, but in the home town of Bush loyalist United States Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan.

Buchanan, who is often described as a “rising star” in Republican politics, was a high-ranking DOJ official who is apparently angling for a federal judicial appointment or perhaps a shot at political office. She is also playing to her political sponsor Rick Santorum’s Republican base by aggressively prosecuting pornographers and considers “enforcing morality” one of her chief responsibilities as a U.S. Attorney. Her career has been carefully incubated in the Bush Justice Department, both under first Attorney General John Ashcroft, and later under Alberto Gonzalez.

Not surprisingly, Ms. Buchanan has a lot of enemies. She also has a full-time press agent — a novelty to her office — and has reportedly misused senior staff to ghost-write her speeches and articles, employing taxpayer dollars to further her own career. She has reinforced this impression by making court appearances in high-profile cases in which she has no personal involvement.

Who better to navigate the rocky shoals of Masha’s child-trafficking-international-adoption imbroglio than someone who could not and would not say no. Not to the State Department. Not to the Right to Life inspired National Council for Adoption. And not to the god and country child saving adoption industry. Throw in some child porn and Mary Beth Buchanan was uniquely qualified to spin a bad international adoption story into a good domestic adoption story.

After she told CNN’s Jonathan Mann about Masha’s “very, very wonderful life,” he asked her “if the adoption authorities had done a thorough investigation, would they have seen any sign of the horrible things that were to come?” Buchanan’s response, “Well. . . I can’t really comment on what the adoption agency did in their evaluation of him or in determining whether his home would be an appropriate home for the child.”

According to Buchanan, after the FBI rescued Masha from Matthew Mancuso “they then immediately placed the girl in a foster home, and after she was adopted by a family, they moved her out of Pennsylvania.”

Masha’s metamorphosis from international adoption outcast to domestic adoption success story happened in a mere eleven months, even while the average time to finalize any adoption in Allegheny County was 22 months and the wait was four years for a child Masha’s age.

Just days after Masha was placed in a foster home, a veteran employee of Allegheny County’s Office of Children, Youth and Families [CYFS] filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit claiming she was fired when she tried to tell the public how seriously children were endangered by the agency’s understaffing.

“I have personally experienced the dysfunction of the agency and I have personally experienced our agency putting children in our care at risk,” declared Penne Fabian. Among the statistics Fabian uncovered were those showing high caseworker vacancy rates resulting in workers visiting families only 42% of the time they were required to.

A little dysfunction, however, could not and would not stop Masha’s domestic adoption juggernaut. As Thomas Atwood, president of NCFA, chortled on CNN when speaking about Masha’s case, “think of the children, this is what it’s all about.” According to Masha’s case worker “the folks downtown pushed the adoption, pushed it as a good home and wanted it to happen. They agreed and made it happen fast.”

Making it happen fast included maintaining the myth of Masha’s Russian abandonment and orphan-ness. In the Child Profile Report for Masha written by Michele A. Cunko, Jeanne Smith of Reaching Out Thru International Adoption and Keith Wallace of Families Thru International Adoption all helped reinforce the presumed futility of Masha’s reunification with her real family:

“Masha is presumed to have been in the care of her birth mother for the first four years of her life. Masha’s birth mother was reported to have stabbed Masha in the neck when Masha was around four or five years old and Masha bears a scar from this injury. Foster mother advised that she was told Masha was hospitalized after having been stabbed in the neck by her birth mother and that Masha was placed in an orphanage when she was released from the hospital. Masha lived in an orphanage in Russia for about eighteen months while agencies sought an adoptive home for her.”

According to Masha’s Russian forever-sister-by-birth Oksana, all of this is a lie.

Although Masha told Cunko “that she has an older brother and an older sister and that she once knew their names but they were Russian names and she has forgotten them . . . there [was] no information in the CYFS files regarding Masha’s siblings.” Most astoundingly, “there are no other reports of any psychological or psychiatric issues or concerns.”

With Masha’s Russian family forgotten and disposed of, psychological and psychiatric issues and concerns minimized, and a “very, very wonderful life ahead of her,” Judge Cheryl Allen, a conservative Republican right to life rising star, made the good adoption happen fast.

Judge Allen, whose outspoken evangelical Christian views including prayer in her courtroom have caused controversy, even borrowed a page from her mentor Mary Beth Buchanan by grabbing a little press along the way. After helping former roommate-turned-Masha’s-foster-mother change her name to Allen, Judge Allen literally acquired naming rights in the Masha Allen epos, personally finalizing the adoption even while sitting in the criminal court.

Six months later, the FBI reportedly gave the newly christened Faith and Masha Allen a “fresh start” by moving them out of Pennsylvania. Had those pesky Canadians not intervened, raising the specter of the bad international adoption once again for everyone to see, this sad little story would have been the proverbial ride off into the happy adoption sunset (without anyone knowing any better).

Mere bureaucratic bumbling, (and not a cover-up?), forced Masha’s story back onto the front page. Buchanan offered this explanation on June 8, 2005:

“Well, the federal case ended in February of 2004, and it was at that time when the Toronto police released one photo of the child to federal enforcement. The child at the time was of a different age than the child was in the photos that had been part of the federal case, so that’s why it was very difficult to make a match between these photos, because the Toronto police only provided a very small sample.”

Even though United States Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan “couldn’t really comment” about the obvious shortcomings in the international adoption process three years after Masha was removed from Matthew Mancuso, what is clear is that one of the most aggressive federal law enforcement officers in the country utterly failed to indict a single agency or person connected with Masha’s international adoption.

During last year’s Congressional hearing into Masha’s international adoption, Congressman Dr. Michael C. Burgess’s summed it up best when he said “I don’t understand why someone is not in jail.” Perhaps he was asking the wrong person. Mary Beth Buchanan was nowhere to be found.

1 Reply to ""I don't understand why someone is not in jail""

  • Stephen Osborn
    March 16, 2010 (2:06 pm)


    I backtracked to this via pound puppy via an interview with Mirah Riben concerning yet another case of adoptions gone bad. I just want to add my incredulity to your not understanding why…

    Such is the state of affairs in the “child protective” world, that even as my blood boils and my heart breaks reading your blog, I hope you are fore real, and not another one who says the right things for personal advancement.

    So, if you and I and Mirah and the pound pups are for real, how can we come together and make an effort that will actually do something? Is there a way?