For more than a decade, Special Delivery Adoption Services has arranged for pregnant Russian women to come to Baton Rouge to surrender their babies for adoption.
The agency's brochure warmly describes the life the babies will have with adoptive American families: "Parents who genuinely want to offer their home and their hearts. Financial security. Opportunities for a lifetime of hap-piness."And it outlines the help birth mothers will receive - travel expenses, living arrangements in the United States, medical care and legal services.
It's attracted interest - from federal investigators. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services confirmed Wednesday it is looking into the practice of bringing women to Louisiana to give birth, but it refused to identify any subjects of its criminal probe.
A child born in the United States is automatically an American citizen regardless of the mother's citizenship.
ABC's "Prime Time Live" reported Wednesday about Special Delivery and the process of bringing pregnant Russians to the United States.
In a press release about the report, the network said: "Russian recruiters, thought to be connected to the Russian mob, collect up to $15,000 for each pregnant woman they sign up to go to the United States.
"The women are promised $1,000, a year's salary for some in their country, and a round-trip plane ticket to have their babies in the U.S. and surrender them to an American couple."
ABC said one Russian woman claims American lawyers, whom the network did not identify, coerced her into selling her baby.
Nina Broyles, executive director of Special Delivery, said no one is forced into anything.
"Our mothers are pleased to offer their babies to American families," she said. "I'm proud of our program. It's too bad about this. It really is a witch hunt."
She said the program offers options not available to the women at home.
"Russian women have two choices in their country - abortions or state-run orphanages where their child will probably never have a family," she said.
Broyles sought to prevent ABC from airing its story, saying the reporter misled her about the intent of the story and refused to keep secret the identities of birth mothers as he had promised.
A state district court Wednesday refused to block the broadcast.
Susan Wall Griffin, an attorney for the adoption agency, did not return phone calls.
Broyles said her agency charges adoptive parents a fee, which covers medical expenses of the birth mother and baby, travel and living expenses for the birth mother, legal fees and overhead expenses.