Client’s Challenge: An American Family Seeks to Adopt an Orphan in a War-Ravaged African Nation

After viewing a major U.S. news network’s documentary on one of the world’s most war-ravaged nations and the enormous cost on its people, one high net worth American family was so deeply moved by an orphan girl whose parents had been murdered in front of her, it decided to seek her adoption.

Our Solution: Cutting Through Governmental Red Tape – and Putting a Covert Operative on the Ground

The U.S. State Department, while supportive, advised that what we were attempting was “essentially impossible.” However, its Overseas Advisory Council hosted a meeting with officials representing its division and other key American leaders responsible for U.S. policy in this particular global region. The same week, the country’s U.S. embassy suspended operations and the U.N. dispatched thousands of troops to the nation to stem the violence.

Hillard Heintze arranged to have a special operative inserted into the region – an Israel Defense Forces-trained, military expert specializing in close protection, hostage rescue, and counter-terrorism, who had grown up in the country and spoke the language – inserted into the region. Under extremely dangerous circumstances, he made contact with the orphanage temporarily caring for her as well as a relative serving as her legal guardian and explained the circumstance that, if successful, could bring the child safety and a new life in the United States. Within weeks, we arranged for our client to meet the child in a neighboring country with her guardian and had the operative return to escort her out safely.

Impact on the Client: A High-Risk Operation Yields Optimism – and Hope

By any measure, this has been a high-risk operation with a very low probability of success. At critical junctures, loss of life – for the child and her guardian as well as the professional – represented very rational reasons not to persist. So did acute concerns over operational security, the risks of kidnap and ransom, and the possible murder of the girl’s relative by in-country elements seeking financial gain. The team and client, however, was optimistic and intended “to see this through, under all odds.” All were concerned about the risks to the child if she were not brought out of the war zone safely – and legally – at the earliest moment. It may take up to another 18 months for adoption procedures to be finalized.

Unplugged: The Project Manager's Post-Engagement Perspective

“Like any attempt to achieve the adoption of a child from this war-torn country by a U.S. citizen, we confronted multiple bureaucratic obstacles.

To put it into perspective, there have been only two successful adoptions out of the nation over the past 10 years. Any deviation from a prescribed set of procedures in an effort to remove the child from the country would be kidnapping under international and U.S. law.”

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