Lawyer denies 'fixing' Romania baby adoptions

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The Independent Online
A BRITISH lawyer yesterday defended her role in the Romanian baby smuggling controversy as a couple she advised were told they would stand trial in Bucharest within 15 days.

Amanda Page denied being the 'Mrs Fix-it' who adoption agencies believe is cashing in on the trade in foreign babies, but she admitted helping Bernadette and Adrian Mooney try to adopt two children from Romania. Mr and Mrs Mooney, of Wokingham, Berkshire, were charged with illegal adoption and trying to take a person out of the country fraudulently when they were caught leaving Romania with a five-month-old baby.

Yesterday, Bucharest's chief prosecutor, Emil Dinu, said the couple had allegedly paid pounds 4,000 for the baby, Monica Baiaram. If found guilty of the charges, they face up to five years in prison. Last night the baby was shown on ITN's News at Ten apparently healthy and well in a Bucharest orphanage.

Mrs Page, who has a son adopted in Romania and a daughter of her own, was taken to hospital yesterday to have her third child but she issued a statement saying she had helped the Mooneys four years ago when they legally adopted a daughter, Grace, in Romania. But she had not advised them before their latest trip and she had never charged for her advice.

Mr Dinu said the couple told him that Mrs Page, of Marcham, Oxfordshire, had arranged the adoption and he wanted British police to interview her. But she said: 'I was in no way connected, concerned or involved in anything in Romania . . . I have received no money from Mr and Mrs Mooney, nor for any work other than in respect of UK adoptions (of Romanian children) for which I charge between pounds 10 and pounds 20 per hour.'

Mr Dinu said: 'The Mooneys have been charged under the adoption law . . . and with violating border laws. Within 10 to 15 days we hope to finalise the case and indict the British couple.'

He said the Mooneys were being held 'in normal conditions' at the nearby city police headquarters.

The British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering last night said it stood by its earlier claim that a woman in the Home Counties has been charging couples for illegal inter-country adoption services. The unnamed woman, who adoption workers are trying to identify, was not Mrs Page, said Chris Hammond, the agencies' director.