Three Arrested In Illegal Foreign Adoption Scheme in Armenia

Head of the OB/GYN department at Yerevan's Republican Hospital Razmik Abrahamyan
Head of the OB/GYN department at Yerevan's Republican Hospital Razmik Abrahamyan

Head of the OB/GYN department at Yerevan’s Republican Hospital Razmik Abrahamyan

YEREVAN (—The director of Armenia’s main maternity hospital and two other officials were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of forcing young women to abandon their babies who were subsequently adopted by foreigners paying bribes.

The Investigative Committee made the arrests as part of a criminal investigation launched by another law-enforcement agency, the National Security Service (NSS), earlier this year.

In a November 14 statement, the NSS claimed to have found evidence of three dozen Armenian children have been illegally adopted by Italian nationals. In particular, it said, in 2016-2018 several officials used threats, blackmail and lies to convince over a dozen pregnant (and presumably unmarried) women to abandon their expected children.

According to the statement, immediately after their birth the children were taken to state-run orphanages whose senior employees later arranged their adoption by foreigners through forgery of their medical records and other violations of adoption rules set by the state. The NSS said that members of the crime ring made sure that Armenian citizens could not adopt the babies.

The arrested suspects are Razmik Abrahamyan, the director of the Republican Maternity Hospital, his deputy Arshak Jerjeryan and Liana Karapetyan, the director of a Yerevan orphanage. The Investigative Committee said that they colluded with two other individuals for personal gain but did not give any details.

All three suspects were interrogated later on Wednesday. It was not clear whether any of them admitted involvement in the alleged child trafficking.

A spokeswoman for the Yerevan-based hospital, Vartuhi Simonyan, declined to comment on its long-serving director’s arrest. At the same time Simonyan categorically denied the medical institution’s involvement in child adoptions in Armenia.

Abrahamyan, 76, was already charged in April this year with giving a bribe to then Deputy Health Minister Arsen Davtyan. Unlike Davtyan, who was reportedly caught red-handed in his office, the veteran doctor was not arrested at the time.

According to government data, a total of 54 Armenian children were adopted by foreign nationals, most of them Italians and Americans, from 2016-2018.

The integrity of foreign adoptions in Armenia has long been in serious doubt. A 2011 news report by RFE/RL’s Armenian service suggested that U.S. adoption agencies continue to make hefty informal payments to Armenian officials dealing with adoptions. It cited a sample contract signed by one such agency with Americans wishing to adopt Armenian or Georgian children.

The contract, offered to a potential client in the United States in 2007, explained that almost $5,000 of more than $30,000 charged by the agency for every adoption would be spent on “gifts to foreign service providers and government functionaries performing ministerial tasks as an offer of thanks for prompt service.” It claimed that such gifts are “customary” in Armenia and Georgia and do not violate U.S. law.

“Gifts and gratuities” were also a separate spending category in a sample agreement that was offered by another American adoption agency.


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  1. Norin said:

    These scumbags don’t deserve to be arrested, they need to be hung from the nearest light pole.

  2. steve said:

    i have heard and seen news articles many years old of Italy and Italians adopting armenian babies from even during the genocide period.
    why is it largely italians adopting armenian babies ???
    im concerned what italians fancy about armenian babies.

  3. Robert Papazian said:

    Interesting article, the ob/gyn hospital was long known as a potential catalyst for faulty adoptions amongst Americans.
    Americans were no less guilty about these “abandonment” cases than italy. In fact, I was under the impression cash was given to the birth mother upon abandonment or signing of relinquishment papers.
    No one is less guilty of bribes, Americans more so have a sense of entitlement. Especially those with Armenian heritage among the worst culprits over healthier Armenian children.

    • Sonya Merian said:

      Hi Robert,

      Are you certain that the adoptive parents knew what was going on, or were they told that it was a legitimate adoption?

    • Tony said:

      Robert you have completely missed the boat on this topic. Congratulations, you tried to shed light on the topic but in turn stating that “Americans were no less guilty about these “abandonment” cases than italy” is the most ignorant comment you could have made. This is an ARMENIAN problem, not an Italian or American problem. The typical conventional Armenian mentality comes through loud and clear in your comment…finger point, scape goat, divert responsibility, cover up, stay the course. The reality is, don’t allow country X, Y, Z to come and do these things! How do we do that? Make sure this sort of corruption doesn’t lie within our own country of Armenia. It may mean that we need to face the truth, and that isn’t 10K kilometers away in America or 3K kilometers away in Italy. The truth is found within, within our own country. I’m Armenian and the biggest problem in Armenia is generational, once this mentality has been taken over as today’s youth grows older, Armenia will thrive for the first time in its existence.

  4. HAGOP said:


    • Ak said:

      Most of these people have been influenced by Russians. We see it in America as well yet most of us are afraid to call them out because somehow that’s not how we unify as Armenians which is a primitive way of thinking.

  5. Robert Papazian said:

    Rather Italians than American evangelicals. They are most like our culture and have strong social programs to care for children. Met one italian couple who adopted a 10 year old who needed heart surgery. In italian the surgery was scheduled and ready to go weeks after his arrival in Italy.