BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ Federal investigators confirmed Wednesday they are looking into adoption agencies that bring Russian women to Louisiana to bear children for adoption in the United States.

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services said it is conducting a criminal probe, but refused to identify its subjects.

One agency that has been conducting such adoptions is Special Delivery Adoption Services of Baton Rouge, the subject of an ABC ``Prime Time Live'' segment which aired Wednesday night.

The agency has been paying pregnant Russian women since 1987 to come to Baton Rouge to give birth. Any child born in the United States is an automatic citizen here, regardless of the origins of the mother.

According to an ABC statement, ``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 head of the agency denied those allegations.

The ABC news release said: ``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, took issue with the report.

``Our mothers are pleased to offer their babies to American families,'' she said in a telephone interview Wednesday. ``I'm proud of our program. It's too bad about this. It really is a witch hunt.

The agency sought to prevent ABC from airing its story, but a state court Wednesday refused to block the broadcast.

``Special Delivery has never engaged in nor participated in the buying and selling of any baby,'' Broyles stated in her court action.

Broyles said her agency charges adoptive parents a fee to cover medical expenses, travel and living expenses for the birth mother, legal fees and overhead. The mothers receive no money for their babies, she said.

Broyles said her agency placed nine Russian babies last year.

A U.S. State Department bulletin last year suggested that some Russian women may be using improperly obtained visas to come to the United States to put their babies up for adoption.

And the scheme may be growing, said the bulletin, which didn't name specific agencies.

``U.S.-based adoption facilitators will see that in many ways it is easier and more profitable to bring an economically challenged foreign pregnant woman to the U.S. to give up her baby in a private adoption than to deal with the myriad of laws and regulations involved in legitimate international adoptions,'' the bulletin said.