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President Basescu at the European Commission, 22 April 2010

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.

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