but will continue here: Romania for Export Only BLOG

President Basescu at the European Commission, 22 April 2010

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Book Review: Romania for Export Only

Roelie Post allows the reader a unique insiders view regarding the politics of international adoption. It was an eye-opening account that not many are willing to share to the outside world.

In her experience with Romania’s orphan care and international adoption program, Ms. Post begins her journey as many do (innocent) and as her knowledge about the politics behind international adoption grows-- revelations on the real truth behind the industry of international adoption becomes quite clear.

Never again can I look at the “black and white” pictures of the "poor orphans" that rely on us to “save” them with the same naïve eyes. This book offers amazing parallels into other international programs-- including China. Ms. Post talks about the points system, safe-haven drops, attachment studies on orphans, media attention and the pressure from outside countries and NGO’s to gain access to Romania’s children... all of which are familiar themes in many IA programs.

While it was heart-warming to know that there are many people who work very hard to preserve children’s rights, it is equally scary to understand the underlying situation that most will never get to see.

This is a must-read book for anyone entering into the world of international adoption.

Cathy Wagner

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Adoption Merchant - babies for sale

The American Way? Not only, Europeans adopt just as many children, and are promissed children in exchange for money (expenses).

But then thanks to the Hague Convention adoptions are now well regulated, no?

That's unfortunately one of the lies we love. The Hague Convention has replaced the traditional baby merchants by accredited adoption agencies. And anyway, most of the children still get adopted from countries that did not ratify The Hague Convention.

As I saw in Romania, the Hague Convention creates a full blown market. With adoption agencies making pink promisses, cashing the money long before any adoptable child would be even in sight. And indeed, when in such cases adoptions are closed down, the pressure for 'pipeline cases starts. And not only in Romania, the same could be seen in Guatemala, Nepal, Vietnam...

Thanks to Marley Greiner for putting this on her Blog The Daily Bastardette

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Baby J placed in Dutch care system

The Dutch court ruled today. Baby J. will be placed in the Dutch care system until further investigation.

Bought by a Dutch couple, I would say the right place for this child would be in the Belgian care system. And it should be up to the Belgian Court to decide on her future. TO be continued...

Dutch court says Internet baby to be taken into care

Fri Nov 28, 2008 1:19am IST

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Belgian baby bought over the Internet for adoption by a Dutch couple must be placed in the temporary care of the Dutch authorities, a court ruled on Thursday.

According to media reports, the couple bought the boy in July from a Belgian couple in Ghent. One TV report said between 5,000 and 10,000 euros ($6,450 to $12,900) was paid.

The Dutch couple denies buying the baby, saying on Dutch TV that they only paid the pregnancy costs incurred by the parents.

The court in the Dutch city of Zwolle said the couple had broken the laws for adopting foreign children, and had to hand the baby over to child welfare authorities.

The Council for the Protection of Children, part of the Netherlands' Justice Ministry, had asked the court to place the baby boy into temporary custody until a decision was made by the Belgian authorities on what to do with him.

"Clarity over your family history is of fundamental importance for a child growing up. Obscuring your true identity is harmful," the council said in a statement.

The public prosecution office in the Netherlands has started an investigation into the case, while Belgian authorities are also making inquiries, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Baby Donna & Baby J

The Netherlands are caught by another case of 'illegal adoption' where a Dutch couple procured a Belgian child. Baby J. was offered for sale on the Internet and bought by a Dutch couple. Yesterday night Netwerk broadcasted a documentary in which the Dutch couple was interviewed. According to them both the Belgian Hospital and the Dutch Youth Care Department were informed about the case. However, when asked about it by Netwerk, they denied any involvement.

Dutch MP Marleen de Pater called to include baby selling for adoption into criminal law, because like in many countries the buying of children for adoption in not a crime, as there is no intention of exploitation.

The proof of that came today, when the Dutch High Court put their final ruling in the Baby Donna case.

In 2005, a Dutch couple bought Baby Donna from a Belgian woman who had 'produced' the child as part of a deal with a Belgian couple.
For more of the harrowing details read The Sad Tale of Baby Donna

Today in its wisdom the Dutch High Court decided that Baby Donna can stay with the Dutch couple who bought her, for reason of established family life (article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights). The biological father will get, in due time, visiting rights.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Adoptions Down Under

Australia's first National Adoption Awareness Week has led to some interesting debates.

Orphan Angels are lobbying to increase the number of intercountry adoptions for Australian families. Not an easy task in current times, where intercountry adoptions are worldwide in a downward spiral.

Today's AP article shows how deep the adoption industry in in trouble
Foreign adoptions by Americans drop sharply

I'd like to complement Ian Robinson for the countering of the Orphan Angel's spreading of the orphan myth.

These Angels Aren't Telling the Whole Story

By Ian Robinson
18 Nov 2008

Deborra-Lee Furness wants us to import a lot more children from other countries for the Australian adoption market — but it's an ignorant and selfish approach to the problem of child poverty, writes Ian Robinson

In a recent Weekend Australian Magazine, Deborra-Lee Furness breathlessly told her interviewer that there were "103 million orphaned children in the world". "How can we have two-year-olds walking the streets," she asked, "fending for themselves, looking through rubbish for food?"
Indeed, how can such a distressing situation be permitted to exist?

Well, you'll be glad to know it doesn't. Furness is just manipulating the numbers to persuade you to support her campaign to import more third-world children to Australia for childless couples here. By preying on public sympathy for these "103 million" poor alleged orphans she is trying to garner support for her pro-child-procurement lobby, charmingly entitled "Orphan Angels", in their attempts to convince the authorities to make inter-country adoptions much easier and supply the local demand.

The truth is quite different and there is no need to panic.

What Furness didn't mention in her PR spiel is that while it is true that UNICEF does cite a large total of "orphans" in the world, the UNICEF definition, for complex historical reasons, includes children who have lost just one of their parents as well as those who have lost both, thus most of them are not orphans by our Australian definition. The UNICEF estimate for true "orphans", those who have lost both parents, is closer to 13 million.

This is still a lot of kids, but the image of this many toddlers scratching around alone for mouldy crusts in the rubbish dumps of the world is also totally misleading. According to UNICEF, "Evidence clearly shows that the vast majority of orphans are living with a surviving parent, grandparent, or other family member". Nor are they typically helpless two-year-olds: "95 per cent of all orphans are over the age of 5" says UNICEF — still pretty young, but already at the point where they're not really attractive on the Western adoption market.

In fact, UNICEF itself is rightly concerned about people misusing the orphan figures in this way because it "may then lead to responses that focus on providing care for individual children rather than supporting the families and communities that care for orphans and are in need of support."

For anyone genuinely concerned about the plight of children in developing countries there is an enormous variety of programs available that do help the families and communities to support and nurture their children in need and keep them with their own relatives in their own culture. Invitations to contribute to such programs appear in your letterbox often.

Although Furness concedes that "Adoption will only ever be a partial solution for the homeless and abandoned children of the world", and her group mentions some of these other initiatives on their website, it is clear that their main focus is not helping children where they are, but bringing them here to live with relatively well-to-do Australians.

The danger is, as UNICEF warns, that the focus on bringing an infinitesimal proportion of needy children to Australia (one thousandth of one per cent), tends to take attention away from the needs of the majority. The cost to an Australian parent of one inter-country adoption would ensure literally hundreds of children thrived in their own countries.

Moreover, there are significant problems with inter-country adoption that Furness and her group have not addressed in their publicity. The first is that it encourages child kidnapping. This practice is rife anyway in many of the countries the children come from and the presence of rich foreigners looking for "orphans" is an open invitation to unscrupulous criminals to supply their needs. The governments of the countries involved are too poor and often too corrupt to set up adequate protective mechanisms to guard against this.

For example, US professor and inter-country adoption expert David Smolin was horrified to eventually discover, after having taken all possible precautions and working through a seemingly authorised agency, that both the children he and his wife had adopted from India had been stolen from their parents.

He subsequently studied the inter-country adoption system in depth, and concluded "there are systemic vulnerabilities in the current inter-country adoption system that make [such] adoption scandals ... predictable. Further ... there are no actors in the inter-country adoption system with the requisite information, authority, and motivation to prevent abusive or corrupt adoption practices. Under these circumstances, 'reform' of the inter-country adoption system remains elusive and illusory."

It would appear that what is needed is more regulation and monitoring rather than less, but what Furness and her group are lobbying for is easier access and less "red tape", which can only exacerbate these problems.

The second thing Deborra-Lee Furness and her "angels" neglect to mention is that frequently adoption — in particular inter-country adoption — does not have a fairytale ending, but on the contrary can be quite problematic.

The most extensive research has been carried out in Sweden, where the practice has been going on longer, and where it was found that inter-country adoptees had significantly higher rates of suicide than national adoptees and both were higher than their non-adopted peers. Additionally, inter-country adoptees had higher levels of drug and alcohol problems; males had significant rates of ADD, while females had significant rates of depression, anxiety, and schizoid and delinquent behaviour.

The same negative outcomes are also becoming evident in other countries, such as the United States, but not as much hard research has yet been carried out there. One of the few Australian studies, on a group of 102 Vietnamese children adopted in NSW during the 1970s, reported that the majority of children placed between the ages of 4 and 6 had difficulties bonding or establishing family relationships, as did 40 per cent of the children placed at 18 months and above.

The truth is that no adoption, inter-country or local, can ever be an ideal or even an admirable solution to any problem. It is always a last resort and is always the unfortunate consequence and cause of more than one person's loss and pain.

All of this has been known for many years and has been studied in detail by plenty of people who have the best interests of the child at heart. But don't advance "pro-child" views in front of Furness or she'll label you part of the evil "anti-adoption culture" which is trying to prevent her group, and the well-to-do Australians they are lobbying for, from getting their hands on more lovely, cute third-world children.

Furness's heart may be in the right place but her polarising attitude and her refusal to come to grips with the limitations of inter-country adoption and its misuse by wealthy westerners has led her not just to see the world through rose-coloured glasses but even to be selective with her facts in order to convince us her campaign is a good thing.

There is a myth in wealthy countries that just as everyone is entitled to vote, have health care and so on, everyone is entitled to a child. The truth is that no-one has the right to a child and in particular no-one has the right to someone else's child. Children are not commodities to be bartered nor possessions with which to complete the perfect home. Other people's children are real people, not just "cures" for infertility.

The author would like to thank Christine Cole for helping with the research for this article.
Discuss this article

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Swedish Adoptees Speak Out Against Child Trafficking

Informal translation of yesterday's article in Aftonbladet.

Adoption may be child trafficking

12 foreign adoptees: Western needs should not allow human trafficking.

We support the Social Ministry's decision not to extend adoption agreement with Vietnam.

We want to protest against the Western-centric perspective that dominates the international adoption business, and defend our and all other adoptees right not to have to live with the suspicion that irregularities were committed in terms of our own adoptions, such as excessive commonly forged documents, false identities and invented stories, are writing 12 foreign adoptees.

The international adoption business since the turn of the millennium not only exploded in scale with the now nearly 40 000 adoptions per year, but was also shaken by a variety of reports on irregularities. Never before were so many children from the Third World adopted to the West, but at the same time, the business has never before involved so many corruption scandals than just in the 2000s.

Due to the falling birth rate in the West and growing prosperity in many countries in the Third Worldm international adoption is today facing an unprecedented situation: There are now more childless adults in the West who want to adopt, than there are adoptable children in the Third World. Then increasing sums of money in circulation have tagged this delicate situation for activities that increasingly are spiraling out in pure human trafficking.

Therefore, the adoption scandals were repeatedly documented over the recent years in leading countries such as China, Vietnam, India, Nepal, Ethiopia, Brazil, Paraguay and Guatemala. This has led many beneficiary countries such as Germany, England, Canada, Holland and Australia to terminate its adoption agreement with the most
corruption-stricken countries of origin.

In Sweden, which is the country in the world that proportionately adopted far the largest number of foreign-born children, have adoption organisations, however, chosen to ignore the destructive developments by expanding its operations into new countries that are notorious for child trafficking, and by continuing to adopt from such countries with the argument that the Swedes have a higher morale than other
Westerners. In 2002, for example Adoptionscenter got authorisation of the State Agency for International Adoption Affairs to adopt from Cambodia, despite reporting
about trafficking and the U.S. that stopped adoptions from the country.
The authorization was later lifted after the Swedish Embassy in Cambodia protested against this with reference to the extensive trafficking in the country.

Now this pattern was recently repeated by Social Affairs that decided not to extend the adoption agreement with Vietnam with reference to the presence of child trafficking, and that the country is not to enter the Hague Convention on Protection of Children in International adoptions. This convention back in 1993 meant to curb an increasingly uncontrollable adoption industry, but still Sweden has a number of
Swedish adoption agencies engaged in activities in countries of origin, including Korea, Thailand and Colombia, that not signed the Convention.

We wish to express our support for the Social Ministry's decision not to extend the adoption agreement with Vietnam. Western needs to receive adopted children should not steer the international adoption industry, thus risking that trade in human beings gets legitimized and legalized.

As foreign adoptees, we want to protest against the Western-centric perspective that today dominates the international adoption affairs, and assert our and all other adopted children's right not to have to live with the suspicion that irregularities occurred in terms of our own adoptions, as they are unfortunately too common,
with forged documents, false identities and fake histories, which is a consequence of the adult needs and profit-making governing the international adoption business.

Today's debaters
Daniel Cidrelius, socialantropolog and adopted from Sri Lanka
Gitte Enander, jur. Lawyer. and adopted from Korea
Charlotta Göthlin, Information and adopted from Korea
Daniel Hansson, jur. Stud. and adopted from the Dominican Republic
Linda Place, PhD, and adopted from Korea
Mikael Jarnlo, social and adopted from Ethiopia
Fatima Jonsson, PhD, and adopted from Korea
Patrik Lundberg, a journalist and adopted from Korea
Danjel Nam, a journalist and adopted from Korea
Helena Nilsson, behaviorist and adopted from Korea
Matilda Sjödell, teachers and adopted from Korea
Malena Swanson, jur. Lawyer. and adopted from Korea

Friday, 7 November 2008

Adoption under Fire

Justitiele Verkenning (Judicial Explorations) is published eight times per year by the Research and Documentation Centre of the Dutch Ministry of Justice. The central theme of this month's issue is: ADOPTION UNDER FIRE.

Adoption and prosperity; an analysis of the demand and supply of adoptive
children, B.M.J. Slot

The perverse effects of the Hague Adoption Convention, R. Post

The development of intercountry adoptees; a research survey, F. Juffer

Alternatives for (intercountry) adoption, P. Vlaardingerbroek

The adoption practice: is it in the obvious best interest of the child? A.P. van der Linden

The full Dutch text, as well as an English summary can be found by clicking HERE

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Adoption Business Explained: The Stork Market

There are people who, after reading my book, are left puzzled... By the intrigues, by the pressure, by all that surrounds intercountry adoptions.

To those interested in learning more about the issue I sincerely recommend Mirah Riben's book 'THE STORK MARKET':

Adoption Today Magazine Review by Denise Roeslle
Adoption Today Oct/Nov 2008(pages 58-59).

“The Stork Market: America’s multi-billion dollar unregulated adoption industry,” Mirah Riben, Advocate Publications, 2007

The Stork Market is not an easy read, whatever your perspective on adoption. Chances are you will squirm, gasp and shake your head in disbelief (as I did). Then, you will likely come to realize that this book is an important addition to the body of adoption literature — in fact, a must-read for every mother who is considering surrendering a child, every couple seeking to adopt, and every adoption professional and legislator in the United States.

You won’t find a more straightforward account of the adoption industry as it exists today. Concise, well researched and documented, The Stork Market offers a comprehensive history of current adoption practices, including the lack of regulations (no requirements for training, licensing and reporting) for agencies and facilitators in 47 of our 50 states, transgressions committed against both natural mothers and adopting parents (including recognizable names like Georgia Tann and Seymour Kurtz), varying international adoption policies, trends toward rushing mothers into the decision to surrender, unenforceable open adoption agreements, safe havens, foster care, and sealed records.

Mirah Riben’s conclusion (a view shared by Origins-USA, on whose board of directors she serves) is that family preservation is the answer — with kinship adoption and legal guardianship as viable alternatives to adoption by strangers, the end to amended birth certificates, enforcement of open adoption agreements, and a greater focus on finding families for older children in foster care.

“It is far easier for the general public to identify and empathize with the plight of someone who desires to be a parent and cannot, than with expectant mothers needing support,” Riben writes. Many in the media “lament the ‘shame’ of the lack of ‘adoptable’ babies, and describe painfully desperate attempts to adopt and ‘deserving’ couples being forced to endure long waiting periods, traveling overseas and/or paying exorbitant fees, and being victimized by scammers. What is overlooked is that the intended purpose of adoption is not to fix infertility but to find homes for children whose families cannot raise them.”

After reading The Stork Market, I believe family preservation is an aim worthy of our consideration and effort. At the very least, major reforms are in order. Riben (along with Evelyn Robinson, a social worker, author and speaker on the long-term outcomes of adoption separation, who has lived and worked in Australia since 1982 and wrote the book’s foreword) cites Australia’s Children’s Protection Act of 1993, an adoption alternative model based on the best interests of children that might well provide a road map for changes here in America. The act makes private adoption illegal, bans commercial adoption agencies and payments of any kind connected to adoptions, encourages and supports expectant mothers in raising their children, requires counseling after birth at least three days prior to consent for adoption, prohibits consent for adoption until the child is at least fourteen days old, and includes the names of both the natural and adoptive parents on the birth/adoption certificate.

Change of this magnitude takes years. In the meantime, The Stork Market provides vital information on mothers’ and fathers’ rights and how adoptive parents can avoid being victimized by unscrupulous agencies and facilitators.

“Adoption is a very personally and emotionally charged issue for those touched by it,” Riben acknowledges. “Few can think about or discuss it without passion. For that reason, this may be a difficult or painful book for some to read. It may make you sad, it may shock you, or it may make you angry. But it is for just these reasons that you might need to read it.”

Monday, 27 October 2008

The French Adoption Reform Further Explained

Some days ago Secretary of State Rama Yade announced further details of the French adoption reform: a new Central Authority will be set up in spring 2009. headed by Ambassador Monchau. Minister of Foreign Affairs Kouchner will make available 3 million euros for project aid and assistance to adoption agencies.

For those not mastering the French language, here an informal english translation of Ms. Rama Yade's speech of 28 July, during which she unfolded at first the French intentions.

Note: there are some 30.000 French families accredited to adopt, and intercountry adoptions and national adoptions are going down.

For the original French text CLICK HERE.

Launch of Network of voluntaries for international adoption
Joint press conference by Secretary of State for foreign affairs and human rights, Ms. Rama Yade, Mr. Jean-Marie Colombani and Mr. Gérard Depardieu

-------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------

Introductory Mrs Yade

(Paris, 28 July 2008)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Jean-Marie Colombani,

Dear Gérard Depardieu,

Dear Mr. Zannier,

Dear all,

"We have to imagine initiatives ...".

It is a call to action and by these words that the president wanted, as well as Prime Minister in the engagement letter addressed to you, dear Jean-Marie Colombani last October, stimulating reform of the adoption in France.

There was urgency in effect while it represents 80% of adoptions in France international adoptions decline since 2005.

The stagnation of national adoptions aggravates the hardship and frustration of our compatriots who want to adopt, it is obvious. The President has understood immediately that we could not remain inert. The failure in politics is still a lack of imagination.

I would therefore like to announce today the launch of "voluntary network of international adoption."

This is an initiative of the ground, because it is also on the in these countries, we are failing.

These volunteers will be a sort of "peace corps" where we train will young people to use their generosity and talent to a beautiful cause: children without families, abandoned or orphaned.

It is also a shared initiative, and it's up to you dear Gérard Depardieu that we must be able to immediately associate partners in this project. You know how happy I am for your commitment to serve all these children, all families. You are a fine example of generosity and solidarity. You have put your heart and your humanity, and for that I thank you.

In this project, the state actually could not act alone. In today's world, we must be able to act in partnership with associations and companies. And by setting the highest standards of ethical requirement. I wish to commend and thank those who have agreed to commit to our side. They are with us to possibly answer your questions.

I think first of all to Mr. Jacques Godfrain, president of the French Association of Volunteers of Progress without the competence and expertise which the project could not see the day.

Roger Zannier, who is also honorary president of the Foundation Zannier-Holybaby, which agreed to finance the first program we will open next month in Cambodia.

Mrs Janice Peyré and Helena Mahéo respectively presidents of the Federation of Children and Families Adoption and the Movement for Adoption Without Borders, who have agreed to combine their movements to the Committee of Experts on the network to train volunteers and carry with them ongoing mentoring throughout their missions, thus ensuring ethical thing especially when acts with children.

The parliamentarians, who are often asked by families who were willing to contribute to our thinking in working with us, with heart and also with conviction and in particular Ms. Michèle Tabarot, member of the Alpes-Maritimes, president of the Higher Council of 'Adoption and co-chair of the Group of Studies at the National Assembly on the family and adoption. She was kind enough to join us today. I also think Mrs Patricia Adam, member of Finistère, also co-chair of the Task Force.

And of course you, dear Jean-Marie Colombani, who have spontaneously offered to chair the conference of contributors that we meet to complement the financing of state funding of local authorities, if they wish, and companies that agree to join us in this great adventure.

The mission of these volunteers, what is it? It is clear: we must help children out of institutions with the partnership of countries of origin of course. For help and support of an institution, as perfect as it is, does not give the affection of a family. It is the child, family, I want to put at the heart of this project. With ethics-driven, it is important.

The effectiveness as a mode of action. Happiness for children and families is the goal.

We must therefore focus on two things: speed up the release of children in these institutions in order to accommodate others, abandoned or orphaned, and help them build a family life the most viable and as soon as possible.

The volunteers will primarily seek all opportunities existing in the country of mission.

When these are insufficient, and we know that this is still often the case, they will support projects of international adoption.

The needs are immense. I think we should stop saying that the number of children without families falling. Wrong. We must increase our efforts to find concrete solutions, local and international adoption are complementary. What counts anywhere and any time is the interest of the child. That is the message I want to bring the countries where we operate, together with Nadine Morano who is also working remarkably on the topic of adoption, ithat s the message that will have the volunteers on the ground and it is a great ambition.

This network, we will explore with Bernard Kouchner, my minister, to bring this network close to the committed humanitarian embassies. Real synergies can be built.

It is an idea on which Bernard Kouchner is keen, and I will make sure to respect that.

I announce the launch of the first program of this network, in Cambodia next month.

There is a great tradition of solidarity with children between France and Cambodia. I've found with Michèle Tabarot when we visited Cambodia. I also believe that Gérard Depardieu was there also this summer.

But this country, Cambodia has suffered from the excesses of some often committed out of desperation in processes irregular adoption. Although these are very isolated behavior and a minority, where distress has its share, everyone pays the price: children, families, all those who work with heart and generosity for children on place.

So we must be uncompromising with the abuses. You do not play with children. There are major international conventions, including that of The Hague and they must be respected. The texts are valid only when applied. It is time to show that Cambodian families in France do not market children at home but on the contrary, working with them for the benefit of children. This message and the exemplary behavior in the name of the Government and in consultation with Nadine Morano, I would like, and I share whenever I visit a country with which France practices, or enters into discussions on , foreign adoption.

That is also why, along with sending a first volunteer in Cambodia next month, I also decided to reserve 400 000 euros to support financially the work of UNICEF in Cambodia. UNICEF Cambodia pilots the establishment of procedures for the Hague with the Cambodian government.

In 2008 again we will launch four other programs which will subsequently be expanded to 20 countries in 2009.

This experimental network will be an additional tool to serve the strategy for international adoption recommended by the report of Jean-Marie Colombani.

Dear Jean-Marie, you've actually done a remarkable job, which now gives us a lot! And so much the better! Because as you know the Ministry of Foreign Affairs agrees with your conclusions on international adoption and applies to its building since the submission of your report in March.

I am also pleased to present Ambassador Jean-Paul Monchau, who was appointed last June 25 in the Council of Ministers' ambassador for international adoption "with the mission, as you proposed, Mr Colombani, to develop a concerted strategy for international adoption in 2009.

At the beginning of next August 21, it is anticipated that there will be a joint submission with Nadine Morano. We will present all this communication to the Cabinet and it will review the findings of the report Colombani.

I can confirm that this ministry will reform in the sense that you proposed to fully assume its responsibility to pilot France's action in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.

We try to give us the means, especially with Alain Joyandet, we decided to make the protection of children neglected an important focus of our policy of international cooperation and development assistance. I asked the ambassador Monchau to consider training for international adoption of our agents abroad. Proposals will be made to improve the functioning and capabilities of our operators, whether the French Agency for Adoption or OAA, ie private organizations dealing with the Adoption.

Finally, as announced by my colleague from the family, these actions will well in a wider reform of the adoption in its two components, national and international, driven by an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Adoption decided by the President of the Republic and chaired by the Prime Minister.

Ladies and gentlemen, I talked a lot but there was so much to say! I took the problem of international adoption to grips since my arrival in trying to understand why it was a road of the cross to adopt in France. We deblocked a lot of individual files with the collaboration of the Quai d'Orsay which proved exceptional in that groundwork and finding new solutions. You are more than one by helping us to find solutions.

So today let's give this ministry the means for a great policy that balances the adoption of both generosity, efficiency, clarity and ethics and that puts the child at the heart of our concerns and that does not rock illusions of families. This is a diplomacy of action in the service of people, confronted with reality.

Thank you.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Adopting 'Orphans' - The Lie We Love

It is not without reason that my book subtitles the untold story of the Romanian 'orphans' -
The children in Romanian children's homes were no orphans.
Slowly the world starts acknowledging where the orphan myth is leading to: to demand for adoptable children.

The US and Unicef definition of 'orphans' is that children with one parent are also considered to be 'orphans'. Unicef recently acknowledged that it is time to revisit the use of the term `orphan' and how it is applied to help overcome the confusion.

Unicef- majority of orphans have families

See also:

The Lie We Love

By E. J. Graff

November/December 2008

Foreign adoption seems like the perfect solution to a heartbreaking imbalance: Poor countries have babies in need of homes, and rich countries have homes in need of babies. Unfortunately, those little orphaned bundles of joy may not be orphans at all.

Who's your mommy?: Parents might never know if their adopted child is truly an orphan.

We all know the story of international adoption: Millions of infants and toddlers have been abandoned or orphaned—placed on the side of a road or on the doorstep of a church, or left parentless due to AIDS, destitution, or war. These little ones find themselves forgotten, living in crowded orphanages or ending up on the streets, facing an uncertain future of misery and neglect. But, if they are lucky, adoring new moms and dads from faraway lands whisk them away for a chance at a better life.

Unfortunately, this story is largely fiction.

Westerners have been sold the myth of a world orphan crisis. We are told that millions of children are waiting for their “forever families” to rescue them from lives of abandonment and abuse. But many of the infants and toddlers being adopted by Western parents today are not orphans at all. Yes, hundreds of thousands of children around the world do need loving homes. But more often than not, the neediest children are sick, disabled, traumatized, or older than 5. They are not the healthy babies that, quite understandably, most Westerners hope to adopt. There are simply not enough healthy, adoptable infants to meet Western demand—and there’s too much Western money in search of children. As a result, many international adoption agencies work not to find homes for needy children but to find children for Western homes.

For the full text CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Chinese children's homes pay money to finders who bring children to those homes

Tonight NETWERK reported again on Chinese adoptions on Dutch TV. Informal translation of Netwerk
Chinese children's homes pay money to finders who bring children to those homes

This is evident from an investigation of the Ministry of Justice in response to a Network documentary on adoptions from China. According to China it are "symbolic amounts." Network got their hands on the content of a draft letter on this subject from Justice Minister Hirsch Ballin to the Lower House [Second Chamber].

In this letter he addresses the fuss that arose in March about adoptions from China in response to a documentary from Netwerk. In that documentary it was shown that children's homes in the Hunan province pay for children who are being brought in. From this Province come many - also Dutch - adopted children. Subsequently, the ministry started its own investigation.

In the draft report the ministry calls the Chinese adoption system 'vulnerable'. "With a certain regularity possible new irregularities are reported," says the report. The Chinese adoption agency has acknowledged to the ministry that "symbolic sums" are paid to finders who deliver children to orphanages. The Network broadcast of last March showed that finders were paid half year salaries.

According to the Hague Adoption Convention that both the Netherlands and China have signed, it is forbidden to pay finders of children. 'Not a dollar, not a cent," said the Hague Permanent Bureau of the Adoption Convention to Network in March. From the letter to the Second Chamber it appears that Justice has doubts whether this prohibition is respected in the provinces. 'Many children's homes are located in poor regions where small amounts may be of great significance, "says the report. That could encourage trade in children.

Emeritus Professor Rene Hoksbergen speaks of a critical report. " He has his doubts on new adoptions from China. Hoksbergen: "It is extremely difficult for the Netherlands, after this report, to proceed in the same way. But it is up to the adoption agencies here to take a a decision about this. " In the broadcast of Network of this evening, also a Chinese couple reacts on the findings of the Ministry. In March the couple told Network that their child had been taken by the Chinese authorities because of the 1-child policy. In the draft report Justice writes that China denies the story of the parents. The ministry limits itself to the observation that "the reading of Network differs substantially from that of the Chinese authorities."

Hirsch Ballin sees on the basis of the report no reason to stop adoptions from China. He called all parties concerned for "continued vigilance and the critical monitoring of adoption"

I just watched tonight's programme. Apart from the above, there was also an interview with Brian Stuy who confirmed the payment of finders and estimated that some 50% of the Dutch adoptions were actually from children's homes involved in such payment schemes. The programme is not yet available online, and is in Dutch, but below some material from Netwerk from March this year.

William Duncan

Brian Stuy

Friday, 29 August 2008

'Stolen' kids traced to Dutch orphanage

'Stolen' kids traced to Dutch orphanage
8/28/2008 6:47:40 PM

Dekla - mother of Lisa (18) and Kapil (17)
The case of stolen children sold to foster parents abroad by a child adoption agency Malaysian Social Services is getting murkier. The parents of two children allegedly 'sold' to foster parents in Holland have revealed to TIMES NOW that they had received a letter after 12 years from their children that were abandoned at an orphanage in Netherlands.

The revelation has come as a sharp contrast to the assurances given to them by the adoption agency -- the Malaysian Social Services that their children were safe and with affluent families abroad.

Many adoptions by foreigners through this agency between 1991 and 2002 have come under the scanner after allegations that children were 'stolen' from their parents and handed over adoptions 'illegally'.

Though there are still no records as to how many children were kidnapped, the Central Bureau of Investigation and Tamil Nadu police had re-assured that biological parents - mostly slum - dwellers - that their children were safe with affluent families abroad.

TIMES NOW tracked down two kids who were victim of the illegal adoption racket. These kids were given away in 1996 to a family in the Netherlands. But shockingly, the two children were forsaken by their foster family and put in Netherlands state orphanages.

TIMES NOW is in possession of a letter written by 18-year-old Lisa on April 24, 2008, who was taken away from her mother when she was 6-years-old.

The letter read: "Dear mother, I'm so touched to hear that you have been waiting for me all these years. I'm desperately waiting to see you again. We are no longer with our foster parents. Please send a photograph of yours. I love you very much and I'm sending you kisses. - From me and Kapil."

Both Lisa (18) and Kapil (17), children of an impoverished couple in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu had been sent to foster parents in Netherlands. Their mother - Dekla was promised that they were leading comfortable lives there, till the children contacted their mother through a letter.

Reacting to the letter, mother Dekla said, “It has been twelve years since they have been separated from us. We are waiting to see them. With the government's help we want to see them at least once."

Another case of 'illegal' adoption has been tracked down tot he United States of America, of an 11-year-old Subhash. He was allegedly stolen when he was a baby in 1999; and sold to a couple in the US by the Malaysian Social Service agency.

Subhash's father - Nageshwar Rao is now fighting a legal battle to get his son back.

Earlier, TIMES NOW had reported about 14-year-old Zabeena, who was stolen when she was three -years-old and sent to Queensland in 1998, where she was adopted. Fatima - the mother of Zabeena had appealed to be re-united with her child, who was later traced to have been stolen for adoption by the Malaysian Social Service.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Cambodia - Madame Adoption

Translated from Le Figaro


Facilitated Adoption

Clemence Fournier, 25, is the first Madame Adoption in Cambodia in view of the simplification of procedures for foreign adoption. From the first quarter of 2009 other young volunteers will join the "Peace Corps" of the French and will be placed in the French embassies in some twenty countries. Their missions? Supporting adoptive families in their search on the spot and to avoid irregular situations.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Intercountry adoption: France prepares to beat its competitors

ADOPTION: France wants to address its lagging behind

Unofficial translation from Le Figaro

Thanks to the funding of humanitarian projects, the USA, but also Italy and Spain, host many more children from abroad

Paris prepares itself to copy their more efficient methods.

Everyone starts doing it. In respect of Intercountry Adoption, competition is rife among the receiving countries in recent years. With some delay, France is preparing to change its methods after a decline of 20.5% last year, with only 3 162 foreign children adopted by French couples.

Nadine Morano and Rama Yade, respectively secretaries of State for Family and Foreign Affairs, today present their plan to revive adoption (see below). Other countries, thanks to a very proactive policy, succeeded in reversing the declining numbers of international adoptions. France, despite all being in the top three of receiving countries, is thus far behind the USA and has been overtaken by Spain where the number of adoptions has quadrupled in less than ten years. While there are several possible reasons for this decline: growth of domestic adoption in countries like China, slowing adoption procedures to adapt to the Hague Convention, which regulates the practices… But in this context, Italy has still seen its international adoptions jump by 9%.

Competition can be played within orphanages. In its bilateral agreements, Vietnam, for example, requires funding for a humanitarian project. "For a project, the French agencies approved for adoption (OAA) can give about 15 000 euros. The Americans will have an envelope at least twice as large. Their adoption agencies operate like private businesses, "says someone from Doctors of the World. "The orphanages say that children are not assigned based on money received, but there is a principle of reality that we can not ignore," he yet deplores.

The financial weight of the USA, which generates more than half of international adoptions, can not be ignored. "France, can invest in major works such as construction of a hospital but did not provide money for projects to link more directly with children and adoption," another OAA regrets.

Italian families less demanding

Projects that sometimes flirt with the limits of the framework imposed by the Hague Convention. "When agencies are working on programs to prevent abandonment and are also doing adoptions, how do you know if everything is done for a mother to keep her child? Especially if there is a financial issue behind "asks Stephanie Romanens-Pythoud, a lawyer at the International Social Service.

In terms of humanitarian projects, Italy, for its part is illustrated by an effective policy, with funding from the central authority. Actions which are also valued by diplomatic channels. "The State finances the full cost of Italian OAA – offices, local correspondents - which leaves them the money to build search teams," says Gilbert Bayon, president of Les Enfants de reine de miséricorde, which operates Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. "These research teams criss-cross the country to find small orphanages not identified by authorities hosting adoptable children." Even if it is then the Government of Burkina Faso that "assigns" the children in hosting families, "this aid for the census weighs heavy, "points out Gilbert Bayon.

But "good" results of Italy have another cause: the host families have understood that they had to be less demanding. In France, only 23% of adopted children are more than five years. In Italy, this figure exceeds 50%. However, this practice has been directly encouraged by the Italian authorities. In Peru, the "Angel che guardan" programme was created to boost the adoption of already big children. Finally, the good implantation of Italian nuns in orphanages in countries of origin would also favours assigning children to their compatriots. The Spanish enjoy the same advantage.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

The future of Cambodian adoptions

I am still somewhat puzzled by the French Peace Corps, young volunteers who will have as mission to find adoptable children for French families. The first targetted country is Cambodia.

Rereading the Colombani report of March this year, I noticed the following:

[translated from French]

In Cambodia, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has explained the
[French] mission early January 2008, that now several years after the war and, in a certain way, thanks to the massive aid from international NGOs, but also because of an economic development in the order of + 10% per year, the number of truly orphaned and adoptable children decreased, and the time would come quickly where Cambodia "will keep its children as future members of a community that will have developed and where they all have their place.

Original text:

Au Cambodge, le secrétaire d’État aux Affaires étrangères a expliqué à la
mission, début janvier 2008, que plusieurs années désormais après la guerre et,
d’une certaine manière, grâce à l’aide massive des ONG internationales, mais aussi
du fait d’un développement économique de l’ordre de + 10 % par an, le nombre
d’enfants réellement orphelins et adoptables diminuait ; et le temps viendrait
rapidement où le Cambodge « gardera ses enfants comme membres futurs d’une
collectivité qui se sera développée et où ils auront toute leur place.

ABC News: children allegedly stolen for adoption

With courtesy to Zench, who linked to this video in his comment

Stolen for Adoption - Australia

Friday, 22 August 2008

Stolen Children - shipped to Australia

Since beginning of last year there is much debate about intercountry adoption in The Netherlands. It started with the news of a stolen, kidnapped Indian child who allegedly had been adopted by Dutch citizens.

Today, Australia was hit by similar news. It is worthwhile reading the full article that explains how this child trafficking took place:


Stolen Children

Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008 By RORY CALLINAN/CHENNAI

YEARS OF HEARTBREAK: Zabeen's birth mother Fatima at a local tea shop; her daughter was taken as she played outside

BuzzFatima thinks it was her daughter Zabeen's beautiful smile that attracted the child stealer. Playing outside the tea shop near their home in the north Chennai suburb of Washermanpet, with only her four-year-old brother watching, the bright two-year-old was an easy target. While Fatima popped around the corner to the market, Zabeen was bundled into a motorized rickshaw and vanished into the mass of humanity that swirls through the city's squalid alleyways and slums. Full text

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

French Adoption Squad soon to arrive in Cambodia

The below translated article explains the French initiative to get a bigger share of the international adoption market. As stated, this policy goal was set by the previous French government, in 2004, the same year it became clear that Romania´s door would formally remain closed, and Bulgaria informally slowed down.

Informal translation from :
Le Point
Published on 31/07/2008 No. 1872 Le Point

Adoption - The Rama Yade Plan
Alexander Holroyd

In a fortnight, Clémence Fournier, 25, will fly to Cambodia with a specific mission: to facilitate adoption of foreign orphans by French parents. Based on her experience in India, Madagascar and Cambodia, where she met Rama Yade, the French state secretary in charge of Human Rights, the young humanitarian´s profile fits the "job." She will be the first "international adoption volunteer." A squad of young "ambassadors", recruited on the model of the U.S. Peace Corps, will be present in twenty countries starting next year in order to make the link between adoptive families and local authorities and avoid excesses like Arche de Zoé ... Accompanied by Gérard Depardieu, the father of this program, Rama Yade announced the dispatch of these volunteers during a press conference at the Quai d'Orsay.

She is not the first to tackle this thorny issue. Three years ago, Jean-Pierre Raffarin pledged to double the number of foreign children adopted in France. To be followed by a vast reform and the opening with much fanfare of the French Agency for adoption (AFA). In 2007, the disastrous results of AFA broke out in broad daylight: -20% of international adoptions over the previous year, while Italy, that also mobilized on the subject, showed an increase of 9%. In this context, Jean-Marie Colombani, the former director of Le Monde, last March presented the government with a highly critical report on the state of the adoption in France.

Funded for more than 55% by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the establishment of this network of intercountry adoption volunteers in any case demonstrates the renewed interest of the Quai d'Orsay for a subject hitherto considered not a priority.

So Cambodia is the first of twenty countries this adoption squad will enter. Interesting choice, as most receiving countries stopped adoptions from Cambodia in 2003 following reporting of corruption, child trafficking and visa fraud.

But in 2005 a scandal broke out in France when the French government allowed private adoptions of French couples, despite the closure. The French organisation of adoptive parents rang the alarmbell titled ´When France forgets ethics in adoption´
In February this year, the French adoptive parent organisation wrote again a burning letter to Kouchner, cc Rama Yade, with the same message: again adoptions had been allowed from Cambodia in conflict with laws and procedures, that allow no French private adoptions, but only through adoption agencies or the French Adoption Agency (AFA).

So, are these adoption volunteers going to work for AFA, or for the adoption agencies?

Apart from the French, also the Italians are adopting from Cambodia. The US and most European receiving countries still do not allow adoptions from Cambodia. The UK reviewed the situation in Cambodia in April this year and came to the conclusion that (full text here):

adoption legislation, practice and procedure in Cambodia remain insufficient to ensure the proper protection of children and their families; lifting the suspension at the current time would expose Cambodian children and their families to an increased risk of improper practices that are contrary to the principles of the Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption (the Hague Convention) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This is the environment the young French will need to find adoptable children...

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Dr. Boas stands up for Korean unwed mothers

A number of adult adoptees, adopted from South Korea, has organised themselves in order to call for Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea (TRACK). Their website is worth visiting and a participation form can be downloaded; the below video can be seen there too:

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The Gallic Peace Corps in the footsteps of Zoe's Ark?

Thanks to Abandon & Adoption it is easy to follow what is happening on the French adoption front.

Going through the many comments on the French initiative to send in the troops of young volunteers to find adoptable children for French couples, Zoe's Ark re-appeared.

Who doesn't remember the French humanitarians who tried to save 100 'orphans'who appeared not to be orphans after all. This link is interesting reading to refresh the memory: Untangling The Zoe's Ark Affair

At the time politiciens and adoption experts alike were clear that this kind of rescue missions were not done.

But now, six months later, the French government has formalised this practice: a Gallic Peace Corps will invade poverty stricken nations with one goal: to find adoptable children for French families. French families who adopt independently, so without the involvement of an adoption agency. But with the assistance of the French Adoption Agency (AFA), a governmental body that accompanies such adoptions. It is not totally clear to me AFA works exactly. It is not an agency, it is not the French Central Authority. It is what the French call The Third Way (besides agency and private adoptions).

Mr. Colombani, in his report for the French President Sarkozy, had noted that the French adoption agencies were in a difficult position, as they were needed to compete with other countries who dressed up their adoption requests with humanitarian aid.

Therefore, the Gallic Peace Corps will need money for humanitarian projects. The first private funder is a French industrialist, Zannier, who founded the Holy Lola orphanage. And actor Gerard Depardieu will do the fundraising, so that not only the rich and famous have easy access to adoptable children.

Did I already mention that since June this year France is having a real Ambassador for intercountry adoption: Jean-Paul Monchau.

To me the Gallic Peace Corps looks like another Ark, and not only to me. A French reader of Le Monde proposed to call the "Peace Corps à la française" : « Yadé's Ark ». Yadé is the French Secretary of State who initiated the Frenc Peace Corps. Her boss, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner remains silent.

However, let's not forget this:

France’s new foreign minister, Dr Bernard Kouchner, personifies the ‘right to intervene’ that was invoked in the ‘humanitarian military interventions’ of the 1990s and in post-9/11 arguments for ‘regime change’. It is a prescription for mayhem, and now that he has taken on a powerful role in a powerful state, we should keep a close eye on him.

Now that France has the EU Presidency for the next six months, let's keep a close eye on the French.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

The European Adoption Battlefield

I know I announced updates on the French/Italian call for European Adoptions... and it is still to come.

In the mean time it is worth reading the excellent blogposting of someone who well understood what I described in my book, and, more importantly, he even better understood the European Adoptions agenda.

The Romanian battlefield for children
By Niels
In many of the discussions I follow on the internet, the Romanian situation keeps returning when talking about banning inter-country adoption. Not so much by those that oppose inter-country adoption as an example of a successful ban, ...
Pound Pup Legacy blogs

To better appreciate the French hunger for children, it's worth reading about the new French initiative to send in the troops of the 'adoption army'

Gap-year mission to find baby orphans for France Options

Peace Corps or adoption army

Friday, 27 June 2008

Allez Enfants...

France will have the EU Presidency for the second half of 2008. In their desperate desire for adoptive children, the French are likely move this issue up to the European agenda.

One of their motives is the stoppage of Romanian adoptions.

Stay tuned - in the next days the French agenda will be unveiled right here.

Part of this agenda is 'European Adoptions' as announced at the last page of 'Romania - For Export Only'.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Subsidising intercountry adoption

Intercountry adoption has become a full-fledged market, so much is acknowledged by most parties. And a competive market

My book outlined the market of Romanian children. And at the time, around 2001, almost everyone agreed that a market, in Romania's case based on points gained in return for money or project aid, was not desirable. For details see Romania-For Export Only.

That has changed. Accepting the market system, importing countries now struggle on how to get their share of children in this competitive market.

Israel recently agreed to increase the amount of money allowed to pay for adoptable children. They now regret that decision. Not because baby-buying should not exist, but because the the price of 22.000 to 24.000 euros means that not every Israeli family can affort it. One of the ways to solve it could be to have the State subsidise poor family's adoption.
Read the full article here

A Dutch expert Committee's proposal even went further: subsidising adoptive families AND subsidising adoption agencies - motivated by the ever increasing costs of adoption - and following the example of Sweden and Denmark where adoption subsidies of aproximately 5.000 euros exist already.

And where does the money go? On salaries of those who facilitate this business, on payments to 'orphanages', on foreign trips to have poor countries' official come over, on (small) bribes - because, yes, the Dutch expert committee felt that paying bribes, if part of the local culture, should be acceptable in cases of intercountry adoption.

And last but not least, development aid needs to accompany intercountry adoptions. The US, Italy and Sweden do it, France wants it, and it is what the Dutch expert committee prosed (although the latter motivated this as a way to ethically justify adoptions - mindboggling if you ask me).

And then we are back at a 'point system', although after the Romanian fiasco, that word will not be officially used by other countries, I guess.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Dutch Anouk hails modern world of adoption

Well these days adoption is a hot thing,
you can get a child for nearly nothing.
You take them home to a nanny,
buy off ur guilt with toys and candy.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Towards a supermarket for adoption?

End March Jean-Pierre Colombani, former Director of the French newspaper 'Le Monde' and adoptive father, handed his report on adoption to President Sarkozy. The latter had asked him to explore how more children could be found for the French families waiting to adopt. After all, the French target set by the former French government was to double adoptions from 4.000 to 8.000. I reported on this before
French Adoption Agency has difficulty in satisfying waiting families.

The 380 pages report holds over 30 recommendations, mainly on how to get more children from abroad, but also on how to make more French children 'adoptable'.

French adoption expert Pierre Verdier comments on the Colombani report in an article titled 'Vers un supermarché de l’adoption ?'

For the full article in French: Abandon & Adoption:

Quote (informal translation):

Pierre Verdier questions the arguments advanced in the Colombani report like the fact of announcing the number of " 2 100 small children who could be the subject of a project of adoption". This number, he says, comes from nowhere. Would it be the pernicious idea to make believe that many adoptable children suffer in their children homes because of administrative blockings and the practices of social workers who would give priority to the bonds with the family?
This assumption is not eccentric when one takes this sentence from the report literally: "One should not give up evolving the practices in order to increase the number of children likely to be adopted." Pierre Verdier sees this advertisement as an effect of the politics of quotas.

Another avenue proposed by M. Colombani: EUROPEAN ADOPTIONS
To be continued...

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Dutch couple re-arrested for illegal Sri Lanka baby trafficking

The Dutch couple who got themselves involved in a case of child trafficking of a two-week old baby in August 2007 got arrested again. This time by the Dutch authorities.

The two had been in prison in Sri Lanka until October 2008, when they were released on bail. February this year they arrived back in The Netherlands. Their role as witness in the courtcase against the Sri Lankans accused of the trafficking had released them of the charges against them.

According to today's news alleges that the Dutch couple, in October 2008 - so when just out of prison - AGAIN falsified paperwork in an attempt to still adopt the baby.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Vietnamese 'Orphans' - For Export Only

The US have investigated the Vietnamese adoption system. The outcome is devastating, but to me no surprise. I recognised much of the Romanian 'orphans', created 'For Export Only'.

Since Vietnam and the US sigened a Memorandum of Understanding in 2005 to re-open adoptions (suspended since 2002 because of corruption), the number of adoptable 'oprhans had exploded. Now why was that?

- obligatory donations (= MONEY) of adoption agencies to orphanges
- in return for these donations children needed to be given

Hence the demand created the offer. Just like the Romanian 'point system'.

As a result:

the children's background often got faked

parents were paid to place their children in orphanages

parents were told their child would return home at a certain age, or will send them money from the US

children were picked up from the streets by 'child finders; and, against money, handed to orphanages

The advertisements placed to locate the parents, were done in such a way that it was rather unlikely for the parents to see

maternity homes had links with orphanages and paid for children

when mothers could not pay a hospital bill, their child would go for adoption

The same story all over again. Similar stories, or some of the elements, could be found in Romania, and can be found in Guatemala, China, Ethiopia and other countries were children can be found for adoption.

Children are not 'waiting' to be adopted, they are not abandoned and in need to be rescued. No, they are 'found' and declared abandoned, because of the demand for adoption.

The countries that adopt from Vietnam: Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and last but not least: the US.

AP Exclusive: US report alleges baby-selling, corruption in adoptions from Vietnam

A summary of the US report can be read on the US Embassy's website

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Adoption Agencies in a competitive market

The Center for Adoption Policy reports that
for the last ten years, Intercountry Adoption has appealed to many U.S families because of its relative reliability, ease and lower costs. However the closing or constriction of almost every international adoption program, including Guatemala, China, Ukraine and Russia, has left American families disillusioned with if not disbarred from participating in ICA. As a result domestic adoption has begun to seem a more reliable and predictable as well as equally affordable alternative.

With the number of intercountry adoptions going down, adoption agencies are having a hard time. Their organisation, their income, depends fully of adoptions. At least in the US adoption agencies can attempt to increase their national adoptions, as the US has 'adoptable children'. That is not the case in most countries in Europe, or in Israel, where children are rarely 'freed for adoption'.

In Israel The Knesset has acknowlegded the difficulties of the adoption agencies in this highly competitive market. They approved an increase of the cost of foreign adoptions by 75 percent; the maximum payment Israeli agencies can spend on adoptions abroad will be raised from NIS 70,000 ($20,000) to NIS 125,000 ($35.000).
A second decision was to change from dollar payment to euros.

Read the full article Knesset increases costs of foreign adoptions by 75 percent

Monday, 7 April 2008

US joined the Hague Convention on Adoption

But will it make a difference?

All adoption agencies were formally screened in order to get a Hague accreditation. It was mainly a peer-review. Some agencies did not make it, but does that really matter?

Perhaps not, as some US agencies have a habit of umbrella-ing, meaning they use other agency's accreditation for their own clients.

Read all about it here:

Janus under the Umbrella

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Chinese adoptions - donations

Today Brian Stuy explains 'What the "Donation" Really Is' .

I agree with his conclusion that to increase the fee/donation with 2,000 dollars will only add fuel to the baby-buying problem. Because, think of it, where would directors of orphanages otherwise find the 350 dollars to pay for the purchasing children, as was recently uncovered by the Dutch TV programme Netwerk.

What is interesting is that it are the orphanage directors who seem to decide the amount of the donation. Not the Chinese Central authority.
And it are the adoptive parents who, mostly, directly pay this donation CASH to the orphanage director, not the adoption agency.

And the Central authorities of China and the receiving country look the other way.

Both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention state no unreasonable financial gain can be made on adoptions. Remains to be explained what is reasonable. On one of the Dutch discussion groups I read that in case of a private adoption, the Dutch Ministry of Justice only allows for a 100 dollars donation to the orphanage, otherwise it would be considered corruption. But that rule is obviously not applied in case of Chinese adoptions.

Later more on the donations China receives for medical care for 'orphans'.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Adoption des enfants chinois - un trafic exposé

Courtesy to

Résumé Trouw - 11 mars 2008
Les Pays-Bas obtiennent des enfants adoptés d'un foyer chinois par des enfants qui sont pris à leurs parents. Les enfants sont retirés à leurs parents suite à la politique chinoise de l'enfant unique. Selon le journaliste d'investigation Deng Fei, ces enfants sont tombés dans les chaînes de l'adoption. Netwerk a effectué une enquête concernant les adoptions de la province chinoise d'Hunan.ChristenUnie veut un débat urgent avec le ministre Hirsch Ballin de la Justice au sujet de cette affaire et estime que les adoptions venant de la Chine doivent être suspendues.
Ina Hut, directrice de l'organisme d'adoption Wereldkinderen, dit qu'il n'est pas exclu que des enfants enlevés soient aussi arrivés aux Pays-Bas. Les organisations d'adoptions aux Pays-Bas sont préoccupées depuis plusieurs années au sujet de la Chine. Mais elles n'obtiennent pas d'informations du CCAA, l'organe d'adoption central de la Chine.

En mai 2006, le ministère de Justice avait déjà demandé à la Chine des clarifications lorsque que le grand scandale des traffics d'enfants d'Hunan fut découvert. Le gouvernement chinois répondi qu'il n'est seulement question d'erreurs de procédures et qu'aucun enfants n' a été envoyé vers les Pays-Bas. Ceci ressort du rapport de la visite de la délégation de Justice que Netwerk dispose. Mais selon le journaliste Deng Fei et l'avocat des commerçants soupçonnés de traffic d' enfants, les propos rassurants du gouvernement chinois ne sont pas exacts : il s'agirait de centaines et voir jusqu'à des milliers d'enfants qui sont enlevés, négociés, commercialisés.

"Il est permis de s'interrogé sur la valeur de ces déclarations chinoises", affirme René Hoksbergen expert en adoption internationale."La Chine ne veut pas perdre la face, surtout pas alors que les Jeux Olympiques sont en vue. Les témoignages des trois couples chinois à Netwerk sont choquants et j'estime que les Pays-Bas devraient suspendre les adoptions d'enfants chinois. Il ya un doute raisonnable quant à la fiabilité des autorités chinoises. C'est pourquoi la justice doit avoir le courage de dire: nous allons d'abord enquêter pleinement sur cette affaire ", selon Hoksbergen.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Chinese Adoption - the Dutch Documentary

This is an extract of the programme, in Dutch. First see the parents and the girl whose twinsister was taken away by Chinese authorites because of the one-child-policy, and adopted abroad. Then the Director of Wereldkinderen (Children of the World) who considers it not impossible these children ended up in the Netherlands; she asks for international investigations. Professor Hoksbergen is of the opinion Dutch adoptions from China need to be (temporarily) halted, as these practices are against The Hague Convention.

Chinese adoptions - a look in the kitchen

The below videos are from the website of Netwerk

Brian Stuy - researcher:

And William Duncan - Hague Convention

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Adoptions from China - Dutch TV

The Dutch TV programme Netwerk broadcasted tonight their shocking documentary on Chinese adoptions. It showed the families of children taken by the authorities, it unveiled that children were taken by the authorities and sent abroad. And that orphanages pay for children delivered to the orphanages.

Some of the children are said to have ended up in the Netherlands.
But this scandal effects other countries too.

The Dutch documentary is not yet available online, but some extra material is:
- interview with Professor Hoksbergen (Dutch)
- interview with Brian Stuy, researcher (English)
- interview with William Duncan of the Hague Conference (English)

To watch the extra material clich HERE

China - Breaking News on Intercountry Adoptions

This morning I read the Testimony of Acting Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs
Catherine M. Barry
, which she gave on June 8, 2006 during a Hearing in the US Senate on Asian adoptions. Here a quote:

'In another important and extremely positive development, the People’s Republic of China – not only the world’s most populous nation but also the largest country of origin of children adopted by Americans internationally – ratified the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention on September 16, 2005. The Department of State and the American adoption community have long viewed China as a country of origin with clear, uniform procedures that are transparent to adoptive parents and their representatives. We also know that the Chinese government has strict measures to verify the identity and status of children available for adoption. In February 2006, the Chinese government realized that some measures had been compromised by rural officials in Hunan province. A number of these officials were sent to jail pursuant to criminal convictions. The Chinese government subsequently assured U.S. officials that none of the children erroneously put forward for adoption had been adopted by American families. The Chinese government also assured us that they have reinvigorated their internal controls. China’s Hague Convention ratification bolsters even further our level of confidence in China’s commitment to equitable, legal, and transparent adoption procedures that meet the best interests of children, nearly 8,000 of whom came to the United States last year.'

Today's Dutch Breaking News might counter this positivity. Newspaper Trouw announces that tonight the Dutch TV programme Netwerk will broadcast a documentary that will uncover how chinese children are taken away from their families by the Chinese authorities - and then are sent abroad for intercountry adoption.

So, where are these children. In the Netherlands, in the US, in Spain, the UK or perhaps in France?

Below an unoffical translation of the Trouw article:

Chinese adoptions again in the news
Authorities are said to take children away from their parents
Trouw, 11 March 2008
Iris Pronk

The 7-year old Zeng Hong from the Chines province Hunan has a twinsister. But she and her parents have no idea where the girls is. In fact, in April 2002, Zeng’s little sister was taken away by a civil servant, because her parents could not pay the fine. That fine is part of the one child policy, that limits the number of children Chinese couples may have.

The parents of Zeng Hong. | Foto: Netwerk, EO

The parents of the girl tell their story tonight in the TV programme ‘Netwerk’.
When father and mother later had saved the necessary amount of money to pay the fine, they claimed their daughter back. But the local authorities said the child had been adopted abroad and would and untraceable.

’Netwerk’ got two other Chinese couples in front of the camera, with a similar history: their (grand) child was also taken by someone of the office for family planning. He brought the childen to the Shaoyang Social Welfare Institute in Hunan, from where it probably got adopted by a foreign couple. Without consent or knowledge of the parents.

Two Dutch adoption agencies did in 2003 business with the Shaoyang children’s home. Through Wereldkinderen [Children of the World] seven children came from this home to the Netherlands, through Meiling ten. It is not sure of proven that these cases concern children that were taken away.

Last year Trouw reported on another adoption scandal in the province Hunan: child traders earned for many years big money with the sale of possibly hundreds of children. China has always assured that none of these trafficked children ended up in the Netherlands.

It is, however, to be questioned how much value these Chinese statements have, says adoption expert René Hoksbergen: „China does not want to loose its face, especially not with the Olympics in sight.” He calls the witnessing statements of the three Chinese couples in ’Netwerk’ shocking and considers that the Netherlands should suspend adoptions of Chinese children. „There is reasonable doubt about the trustworthiness of the Chinese authorities. That’s why Justice must have the courage to say: we will first investigate this fully”, according to Hoksbergen.

Stay tuned - more after I watched the programme...

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

My comment on James Marsh' Blog - ChildLaw

Yesterday I left the below comment on James Marsh' Blog. As I received many supporting e-mails as reaction, I'd decided to publishe this comment here too:

'Quite a story.

I had my own bad experience with Deb Schneumann and Lynn Wetterberg when they were so fiercefully lobbying to keep Romania open. And then to try and reopen it. Nothing was too much. Romania was not allowed to move on, to develop. No, the children in FTIA's children home needed to go home - to the US - their tickets had already been paid. The methods used and the powers these people have on politicians is incredible. Deb and Lynn, I hope you've read my book... you are all in, UNCENSORED as are so many others (Bush, Powel, Prodi, Berlusconi, Frattini, Raffarin, US Senators, Members of the European Parliament, a Prince - the sky was the limit when pushing for adoptions...

But there were also some standing at the right side, like Sweden's Queen Silvia; here a quote from my book:

  • 'Queen Silvia opened the conference by reminding the audience of Sweden’s history. Sweden had in 100 years moved from a relatively poor country to one of the richest countries of Europe. A hundred years before, Sweden had had 400 children’s homes and many children were placed for adoption, including intercountry adoption to…? Latvia. It was when women were given equal rights and support for single mothers became available, that children’s homes could be closed. Hardly any Swedish children were adopted nowadays. Instead Sweden had become the European country with the highest number of children adopted from abroad. Turning to the rest of the world, the Queen said there were too many children in residential care and she especially mentioned Guatemala, Romania and Russia. Some were orphans (Africa), some had parents, but were abandoned because of drugs, alcohol or poverty.

  • The Queen advocated for social support and training. Instead of institutions, foster care and family-type homes were the solutions.'

She did not say those children should be derooted, taken out of their country.

Helping children has nothing to do with the current competitive adoption market that has, at the very least, some very nasty side effects. Not only it attracts nasty people... it incites abandonment, sometimes children are literally stolen. And there is no follow up whatsoever. Masha can testify on that, and how many other Masha's are there - who were not found (yet).

BUT: this adoption business also fully hampers the development of a just social system and that is in my opinion just as big a crime. '

Monday, 3 March 2008

Intercountry adoption & the trade in organs?

Mid February the UN held their first Conference on the trafficking of human beings. Trafficking for sexual or labour exploitation, and for adoption, false marriage and human organ donation is believed to be the third largest illegal trade in the world after drugs and arms smuggling.

It was longtime denied that trafficking for organs happened for real, and especially a possible link with intercountry adoption was fiercefully denied by the adoption lobby.

But it may well be the sad reality:

There is also considerable evidence that infants and young children are kidnapped for the adoption market. At the same time, older girls and boys are sold or kidnapped (again, the relative percentages are unknown) for the sex trade. If children are abducted for adoption or for sexual exploitation, it is argued, it seems logical that they are abducted also for their organs. Although this charge has not been proven, it does contribute to a more general suspicion of organ donation and transplantation.

When writing the book I hesitated to address this issue, but I did. Read page 156:

  • Monday, 25 May 2003
    According to the Italian press trade in babies is taking place in Italy. Young women and girls from Eastern Europe, not so far by sea, were persuaded to come to Italy under the promises of jobs, but often ended up being illegal and sold into prostitution. According to the Italian priest Father Cesare Lo Deserto, their babies, mistakes of their profession, were prey to the criminal gangs. When for adoption, children would go to Western couples with the money and contacts to bypass official waiting lists. In the case or organs, such as livers and corneas, the destination would often be privately run clinics in Israel and Turkey.

  • Were abandoned children trafficked for their body parts?
  • I have long-time not really wanted to hear about it. But the more I read, the more I worry.
  • The ‘baby parts’ rumour probably arose spontaneously as an ‘urban legend,’ a false but widely believed form of modern folklore. That is according to the US government’s info website.
  • But a fresh report of the Rapporteur of the Council of Europe’s Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee says differently: worldwide, the issue of organ trafficking is not so new. In the 1980s experts began to notice what was to become known as ‘transplant tourism’ when prosperous Asians began travelling to India and other parts of Southeast Asia to receive organs from poor donors. Since then other routes have opened up, such as to Brazil and the Philippines. Allegations are made against China of commercial use of organs from executed prisoners. Organ sale continues in India despite new laws, which make the practice illegal in most regions. Organ trafficking, like most criminal activities, is difficult to prove. But it should not be left to the media alone to investigate. According to this Rapporteur, the Member States of the Council of Europe have a common responsibility to deal openly with this problem nationally, but also through multilateral co-operation at the European level.

  • It is most likely not without reason that Europol’s definition of child abuse refers not only to sexual abuse, prostitution, forced labour, kidnapping, parental abduction, ritual killing and illegal adoption, but also to the trade in abandoned children and the trade in organs. That probably means such abuses exist. So why would Romania’s abandoned children not have been victims of such crimes?

And now read this:
  • Saturday, 31 March 2001
  • In private many people admitted it was not easy for Romanians to adopt and the healthy children were ‘saved’ for abroad. The selection of children by foreigners was sometimes very thorough. The Israeli, for example, were nicknamed ‘the vampires’ as they took blood samples of adoptable children, which were analysed in Israel before they were accepted.

And this

Romania probes Israeli adoption agency link in organ trafficking

A rumour... that probably arose spontaneously as an ‘urban legend’, a false but widely believed form of modern folklore, according to the US State Department.

I truly hope so.

The Silence of the Advocates for Intercountry Adoption

The Adoption Policy Center, the Joint Council on International Social Services and Focus on Adoption have no news to bring.

The silence is noteworthy.

Every day I visit heir website, in order to keep up to date.

But PPL has taken over their role - and they are a true watchdog:

The list is out - the Hague accreditations of the US State Department

Sun, 2008-03-02 17:45 — Niels

Friday 29 February 2008 the US state department published the agencies accredited or approved for the Hague.
Some of the agencies that didn't make the list are:
Adoptions International (Hannah Wallace)
Children of the World, Inc. (Rudy Rivera)
ChildPromise Inc. (Jeannene Smith/Debbie Spivack/Cynthia Peck)
Small Miracles International, Inc. (Margaret Orr)
Rainbow House (Donna Clauss)
World Child International (Carl Jenkin)

In short, the rogues gallery of Focus on Adoption (FOA) didn't make it!!!

And I can add that Uniting Families from Lynn Wetterberg, member of the Board of the Joint Council is also not on the list.

Friday, 29 February 2008

Untangling the Adoption Industry

It is true that my book holds so much information that, even for me, at times I could not see the wood for the trees.

But with the help of others, the players' backgrounds become clearer now.

Here a quote from my book - 30 March 1999

  • 'I spent three days searching the Internet about intercountry adoptions and found an incredible number of sites, mostly of US-based adoption foundations often with religious calling. Even at places as far away as Hawaii and Alaska.

    Children were offered on a silver plate: with pictures, with birth dates and short descriptions: healthy, cute, intelligent, slight handicap, ready to help in the household. The US agency United Families offered the most detailed price indication: between 20.000 and 40.000 dollars (‘Gypsy’ children were cheaper). Their Romanian partner: Copiii Fericiti. No wonder the European countries, who according to the Hague letter paid between 2.500 and 3.500 dollars, had no longer received children!

    And there was Adopt an Angel, a US Agency that worked with an American-Romanian adoption facilitator, David Livianu. Adopt an Angel was set up by a woman who adopted a child after her own child had died. Its website had an extraordinary statement:
    ‘Even though we do have children waiting for adoption we do specialize in providing a child search designed especially for your needs.’

    I also found the ‘US Embassy Guide to Adopting in Romania’ with a foreword of the US Ambassador, James Rosapepe. He wrote Romania had become one of the most popular places in the world for adoption by US citizens and other foreign families. In 1998 alone, American families had adopted 630 Romanian children. That figure was expected to climb significantly to as many as 900 or even 1,000 Romanian children this year. According to the US Ambassador the new adoption system had proved to be extremely successful. The US had not yet ratified the Hague Convention, and therefore had no Central Authority in place in the US. Therefore the US Embassy in Bucharest played a key coordination role between prospective US parents and Romania’s adoption authorities. The rest of the Adoption Guide was a warm invitation to adopt, explained all procedures and held a list of all US adoption agencies and their Romanian partner adoption NGOs.'
So it was United Families that caught my attention and made me clear there was big business going on!
United Families is owned by Lynn Wetterberg, who as I described on 19/2/2008 was at the basis of the US agency lobby to reopen Romanian adoptions. I wrote she was a member of the Board of the Joint Council of International Children Services. Thanks to Guidestar I know now she was in fact VICE-PRESIDENT of that lobby firm in 2005! And her colleague Deb Murphy-Scheumann was PRESIDENT. Not very transparent to hide as being SOS for the Children and to make Linda Robak present the 'drama' in their place at the European Parliament - which since then has turned in an international adoption lobby group themselves. First calling for the resolving of pipelinecases and now for a European adoption policy - just to re-open Romanian adoptions.
Read more on Deb Murphy-Sneuman's activities in the global curruption in the global (adoption) village in James Marsh' splendid Blog.
Stay tuned - more will follow.

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