Sunday, August 29, 2010

James Garrow's "Pink Pagoda" Program

The article over the weekend in the Guelph-Mercury News on James/Jim Garrow allows me to finally come forward with what I know about James and his "Pink Pagoda" program. I became aware of Jim in early June 2008 when an article published by "Mimi Magazine" was forwarded to me. This article, still available on Garrow's website, goes into his "Pink Pagoda" program, a program that supposedly has brought over 24,000 baby girls into China's orphanages.

The sheer number of children Garrow claims to have "saved" raised red flags in my mind of course. 24,000 children (now supposedly 34,000) represents approximately half of all the children adopted internationally from China since 2000. But the basic assertion -- that Garrow's employees were passing out vouchers in China's countryside offering financial payments for relinquishing a child -- fits very comfortably into what we know about incentive programs in China generally. In other words, one could not dismiss his assertions out of hand.

The following day, I called Jim,1 using an alias of "Lance Davis" (I suspected he may have already heard of Brian Stuy, and thus wanted to use an unknown alias), an adoptive father with a child from Xiushan, Chongqing. I asked him about his "Pink Pagoda" program, and how exactly it worked. He largely confirmed what was written in the Mimi article, but added a few new insights. In our conversation he admitted that he worked extensively in Chongqing Municipality, particularly with the Chongqing City orphanage. Readers of our subscription blog know that most of the Chongqing-area orphanages display patterns consistent with "non-random" findings, so Garrow's assertion that he works in Shapingba and other areas of Chongqing was plausible. According to Garrow, he is responsible for 80% of the children that have been adopted from the Chongqing area, especially from the Chongqing and Fuling orphanages.

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James Garrow's claim that he is protected by politically powerful people inside China is also very interesting. In the following interview he goes into this in more detail, revealing that his protector is none other than Hu Jintao, China's President. According to Garrow, President Hu's niece attended one of Garrow's schools in Shenzhen, where they met. Also according to Garrow, connections resulted from this meeting, as well as from the "Lucky Money" (bribes) envelopes that he subsequently "liberally" dispersed to various officials.

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During this time I contacted a number of press outlets to initiate an investigation into Garrow's program. It was hoped that either the press or the Canadian government (who was also notified) could thoroughly investigate the situation without alerting Jim. Unfortunately, in the midst of this Jane Liedtke was made aware of Jim's program, and began to raise concerns on her various adoption groups and newsletters (I got Jim's side of that issue in the second conversation). This caused Jim to begin removing references to his program from his websites and to begin covering his tracks.

At the end of the second interview, Garrow introduces another program that he had just started the previous April (and which he completely denies in the Guelph-Mercury article) -- the smuggling of Chinese infants directly into Canada and the United States. At the time of our conversation he alleged that he had smuggled over 30 children to Canadian and U.S. families, which then re-adopted the children (using fabricated paperwork). We arranged another phone call to go more into that program. I edited this interview to eliminate the caller's voice out of safety concerns. For that reason, the conversation tends to jump as questions are asked, but the details of Garrow's smuggling program are evident.

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It is clear from Garrow's account that what he says is possible. Having had experience with immigration procedures myself, it is very possible to see how immigration officials would not pay close attention to infant visas, allowing someone like Garrow to smuggle a child using a Chinese student.

Is James Garrow really doing what he says he is doing, offering poor Chinese families money vouchers to turn their children into the orphanages for international adoption? It is very possible. Is he doing it with the full knowledge of the Chinese government? Also possible. As we saw in the Hunan scandal, the government is less concerned with stopping the baby-buying than it is with saving face in the international community. The abduction of children unwillingly from birth parents seems to be taken seriously by the CCAA and the rest of the government; but the willing relinquishment of children for money to IA orphanages is systematically ignored, and even encouraged by the government. Thus, there is every possibility that the Chinese would allow a program such as Garrow's "Pink Pagoda" one to operate freely in China's orphanages.

In the end I don't know if Jim Garrow is actually doing what he says, or is simply seeking attention and money. Reporters from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, as well as Dateline have investigated and found no substantiation of his program in China. But it could be happening on a localized and informal basis. What is needed is for someone to look seriously at these assertions: Did the Bethune Institute pay students to smuggle infants into Canada between March and June 2008? If so, who adopted these children? Has anyone in the Canadian Government audited the citizenship applications for Chinese children adopted in 2008? What about Chongqing? Has anyone investigated Garrow's claims about funneling infants through vouchers into the Chongqing and Fuling orphanages? This program, if indeed it exists, is not a new program -- advertisements for his "Certification Programs" discuss his "Pink Pagoda" program as far back as 2004. There must be many people aware of his "voucher" (baby-buying) program in these areas, if it exists.

In the end it may be that Garrow is a fraud, and to be ignored (it is easy to claim a Nobel Peace Prize nomination, for example, since the nominees aren't revealed for 50 years). But if what he says is accurate, it would mean that the entire China adoption program since 2000 existed largely as a result of children being purchased for "significant" sums of money by orphanages, working in connection with a Christian crusader driven to "save China's children", and fully supported and protected by the President of China himself.

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1) All phone calls were recorded by myself, and are protected activity under Federal law, since Utah is a one-party State under Federal taping guidelines(http://www.pimall.com/nais/n.tel.tape.law.html; http://floridalawfirm.com/privacy.html). These recordings were sent to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and are part of their investigation.