Bangor Daily News reports:
Maine Adoption Placement Services (MAPS) is being investigated by Sierra Leone regarding the disappearance of approximately 30 children.
During the country’s decade-long war that ended in 2002. Rebels burned villages, raped women and turned kidnapped children into drugged teenage fighters. Tens of thousands of civilians died and countless others were left mutilated after rebels cut off body parts with machetes. The U.S. State Department says 134 children were adopted between 1999 and 2003, the year after the war ended.
Last month, the children’s biological parents stormed the office of Sierra Leone’s social welfare minister, demanding the government help them find a way to communicate with their children. A spokesman for the parents said they had traveled from villages in the north nearly 100 miles from the capital.
One mother reported sending her child to a center in northern Sierra Leone so the 5-year-old could receive an education and food and stay out of harm’s way during the West African country’s brutal civil war. The mother visited Balia at the Help A Needy Child International center, known as HANCI, regularly for two years until 1998, when the children there were taken to Sierra Leone’s capital for medical examinations. They never returned. Instead, a Maine agency facilitated their adoptions in the United States. Parents of about 30 children at the center say they never gave permission for the adoptions.
MAPS says it placed 29 of the 33 children from the home with adoptive parents in the U.S. Their parents beleived them dead and did not know until 2004 that they had been adopted by Americans.
The Government of Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs suspended adop-tions on May 29, 2009 due to concerns on the legality of adoptions and the welfare of adoptees.