Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Morals and Ethics in (International) Adoption Part III

EJ Graff in The Nation, Aug 9, 2011, "That Was the Last Time We Ever Saw These Children"
writes a very fair and balanced investigative report that tells both sides of allegation that children in Sierra Leone were stolen and wound up adopted by Americans.

The people who ran the orphanage claim the families were clearly explained that their children would be adopted and now want money. The families claim they were told their children would receive food, medical care and an education. Mothers visited and breast fed their infants in care. Fathers, uncles and siblings visited and stayed all day.  They claim no one mentioned adoption. As I have reported in my book and articles, the word adoption as we know it does not exist in most of Africa while temporary care is common.

Graff goes on to report:
Sometimes these welfare centers do genuinely care for children in need. But sometimes, when humanitarian aid is one of the main sources of money flowing into an economy, people have been known to open an "orphanage" not to help children but in order to attract, and skim off, this revenue stream. An institution of that sort might solicit international donations to feed children—donations that are absurdly large compared with local incomes, and easy to embezzle. In some cases, such people have realized that by offering a child for adoption, they can get not just hundreds but thousands of dollars or euros, enough to pay off bureaucrats for the necessary paperwork and still make them wealthy by local standards. Such fake orphanages have been documented in a number of Africancountries, as well as in Cambodia, Nepal, and Vietnam.

Some of the US agencies "naively trust that their foreign partners share their own humanitarian mission. Some, over time, begin turning a blind eye to local methods so long as adoptable babies and toddlers arrive regularly enough to pay the overhead. Even the best ones cannot monitor local actions day in and day out, especially during a civil war. And, as I have reported elsewhere, U.S. laws and regulations pertaining to this global trade are inadequate" reports Graff.

Documents have been produced because of the families insistent inquiries and demanding criminal perosecution, and they are clearly forgeries and claim living parents are dead. Again, the foreign orphan reps claim that families lied to get their chidlren in - to get them educated etc. 

So it's they said / they said, right? Except....the adoptive parents report being fed lies!

Graff concludes:
Gbla and HANCI may or may not have lied about the child welfare center's purpose. The families may or may not have misunderstood whatever they were told, conceivably believing that their children would come home after being educated in America. But even if HANCI fully briefed the families on adoption, and even if everything else happened precisely as Gbla says it did, HANCI and the Ministry of Social Welfare still separated families that might otherwise have lived together again. Inviting families to send their children to the United States could violate the "best interests of the child" guideline that underlies the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, the document that codifies international agreement on minimum standards for intercountry adoption. The convention says that nations must take "appropriate measures to enable the child to remain in the care of his or her family of origin."
Even taking HANCI's version of events at face value, the Makeni children had homes before they were given false histories and shipped away to the United States. Their adoptive families paid thousands of dollars in placement fees, some of which was supposed to go to fund humanitarian aid, and some of which surely went to cover expenses. But even allowing for expenses, these thousands of dollars were vast sums in an extremely poor country suffering a civil war. We don't know what happened to all of the money. We do know that some people lost their children.
These incidents are not isolated or anomalies. Children are stolen to meet a demand for adoption in China, Guatemala, and elsewhere. Corruption is ROUTINE in international adoption and continues today despite the Hague.  

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