The price we all pay

A new piece from Conducive by Kevin Minh. The Price We All Pay: Human Trafficking in International Adoption.

Adoption is already steeped in the legacy of loss for the child and his family. Add to this the recent revelations of the selling of babies for adoption in countries like Vietnam and India, and one needs only to reconsider who exactly is benefiting from adoption. Kevin Minh Allen, a Vietnamese adoptee, explores ways to effectively address this element of human trafficking. These include, but are not limited to, having the U.S. government sign the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and diverting funds away from the adoption industry and into worthwhile child welfare programs in their home countries.

Noteworthy, is that the U.S. State Department does not consider the procurement of a child for adoption through either coercion or other forms of intimidation, or the adopting out of a child for profit, to be human trafficking.

Read the rest of the article here.

Dutch agency director told to keep quiet over unethical adoptions

Director of biggest adoption agency in the Netherlands resigns after pressure of
Dutch government to keep quit about the Chinese Adoption Scandals.

Ina Hut, the director of Wereldkinderen, says that the Central Authority in the Netherlands forced her not do to any investigation regarding the Chinese Adoption Scandals because it might hurt the relationships with the Netherlands.
Due the difficult relationship between Ms. Hut and the Dutch
government, to keep a transparent overview of the adoption process,
especially regarding Chinese Adoptions, she could not continue her work
with a clear consciousness she said in an interview on television last

Hut says, that the economic interest and the push for children by
prospective 'adoptive parents' are more prevailing than the interest of
children. After almost seven years of fighting, against the corrupt
system, from within, she is tired, says Ina Hut in Trouw this morning.

The ministry of justice said in an official response
of Hut her resignation, that she wanted to do an 'undercover
investigation' and that such a activity would compromise the
relationship with China.
Ina Hut answered that; she never spoke about an undercover operation
but just wanted to have clear answer from both Central Authorities
about the stolen and 'trafficked' children from China. Due the unclear
situation after the visit of the Dutch Central Authority to China and
the ongoing messages of stolen children from China, Ina Hut was
questioning the adoptions from China. Wereldkinderen stopped adoption
from China this year, except the so-called 'special needs' children.

Read the article here from the UAI website

A Dutch article about Hut.

** ETA 2:11 p.m. Thanks to reader Mirjam, who passed along this information to me.

The "homo-lobby" is about adoption from
the USA to the Netherlands. The only country that allows adoption by homosexuals
is the USA, so when Hirsch Ballin (minister of Justice) announced he wanted to
stop adoption of newborns from the USA 
there was an online petition, signed by 16534 people. (click here for the petition).
In the end Hirsch Ballin gave in. (here is the press release) 
Another article in English on Ina Hut.

Liberia: What happens to the Child When Adoption Fails?

Read this compelling article in the Liberian Journal by Heather Cannon-Winkleman. I had the fortune to meet Heather when she was in Minnesota, before she returned to work in Liberia. Heather is intimately knowledgeable about international adoption/orphanage care in Liberia. She has been actively working to educate people both in Liberia and around the world about some unethical practices that are happening in the country. Heather's positions about adoption have been formed by actually working in orphanages in Liberia, including one that used to focus on providing services to children in orphanages until adoption proved to be more profitable. In our conversations I have learned about some very unethical practices happening in the country.

Heather writes,

What is most startling is that many of these disruptions occur under the radar. Currently, there is no universal tracking or monitoring system to determine how many children have experienced failed adoptions and where they are placed. Also, there is no system that ensures these children are receiving the quality care they deserve and the necessary counseling or therapy to treat their mental health issues causing their displacement. This lack of an oversight mechanism has caused many children to become lost in the system and eventually forgotten. For right now many children are being processed through underground networks in attempt to re-adopt them without going through proper or legal channels [7]. These attempts to cover up the disruptions are often from the efforts of adoptive parents or placement agencies who are avoiding to disclose this unfavorable fact. This is probably how so many children adopted outside the U.S. are put on planes and returned to their birth nations to languish in uncertainty.

There are some organizations that provide help for distressed adoptive parents and adopted children. They can find solace from a few adoption disruption resource providers that can help with counseling, re-adoption, disruption prevention, and respite care for the children or parents. However, these providers either specialize in children with special needs, up to age three, certain nationalities and various states [8]. This is why there needs to be a global system that helps children of all ages and from all nations with or without special needs, that oversees all aspects of the pre- and post-disruption process to guarantee the rights of the child.

As the issue of disruptive adoption continues to go unmonitored, there has been little attention given to this real concern in the many online forums or blogs of adoption advocacy groups who seek to gain from this highly profitable industry.

Heather blogs at Uniting Distant Stars.

Update: Heather has asked that I link to this website, which is an account of a group of people advocating on behalf of a group of Liberian-adopted children being abused by their adoptive parents. Please check out the website for more information on how you can help.

[7] Underground Network moves children from home to home. This 2006 USA Today article investigates the issue of Tennessee couple running an underground network for a disrupted adoptions and also being charged with abuse of their own adopted children. Ronald Federici, a neuropsychologist in Alexandria, Va., and author of Help for the Hopeless Children who has adopted seven children was cited saying "Dump and run — it happens all the time." says Ronald Federici, a neuropsychologist in Alexandria, Va., and author of Help for the Hopeless Children who has adopted seven children…. He says there are hundreds of e-mail chat rooms in which people who adopted children are trying to find new homes for them outside the public system…. "They don't want to sell the kids. They just want to get rid of them," he says, explaining the children may have health problems the adoptive parents never expected. "It's not the merchandise they bought." He says many of these parents are looking for the cheapest and fastest placement. USA Today 18 Jan 2006 by Wendy Koch.

[8] The Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) website lists eight adoption disruption resources offering a range of services.

Guatemalan women demand justice for children stolen for adoption

I have been given permission to post an email I was sent via Marie from Stephen Osborn, who along with his wife Shyrel have been working in Guatemala with their organization, Love the Child/Amor del Niño. For more information, check out Stephen's blog.

As long as adoptive parents turn a blind eye to this, then they are condoning these practices.

consider sharing this wherever you can.  The good name of
adoptions is being ruined because the "Christian" adoptions agencies
and fearful adoptive parents will not distance themselves from those
who would perpetrate and profit from serious crimes.   While
the U.S. Adoptions community debates the rights of the adoptive parents
to privacy, the rest of the world lumps all Americans together, and
believes we condone stealing babies from their mothers.

I just left my wife, Shyrel, in
the middle of Guatemala city, and drove away with more than a lump in my throat,
past prostitutes and pimps, and drunks, and all sorts of night people..  She is sleeping in a small tent in front of
the Supreme Court of Guatemala.   She and
a small number of women have engaged in what the press is calling a hunger
strike.  The participants say it is
fasting and praying.   They are seeking
justice.  They are so vulnerable there in
that tent tonight.   The “Palace of
Justice” towering above them is locked tight, with a high tech security
system.  They look so helpless during the
day too.  Among the hustle and bustle of
the high court litigants and supplicants, they maintain a humble stance, and a
broken hearted vigil.  In other words, she
is practicing true religion.  But it is
out of step with the Christian world in Guatemala.    There are no Pastors here, no church
leaders.   Just my wife and these other
women.  Three of them are mothers whose
children were stolen.   They have not eaten since Tuesday, and will
not until the judges respond to their request for a review of the cases of
their stolen children.


Shyrel’s determination to do this
has moved our theological discussions from theory to reality.  Once again, I find myself trying to wrap my
head around her motives.  Frustration at
a failed system?  Yes.  Sympathy for the completely helpless
women?  Yes.  But I think in the end, she knows it is what
Jesus would have her do.   Love your neighbor
as yourself.  What does love look like
when your neighbor’s child was stolen? 
Maybe it looks like empathy.  
Jesus put himself in our shoes, didn’t he?

What would you do if someone stole your child?   What would you do if you knew where your stolen
child was?   As a Red Blooded American
male who believes in truth, justice, and the American way, I would take up my
constitutionally assured arms, and go resolve the issue.  If that might not be the best tactic, then I
would go to my police, the FBI, or Interpol if needed, and they would for sure
hear my case, or my congressman and Senator would be all over them.  I would have my child back.   When something bad happens to us who are privileged,
we have resources.   We will get justice.

Now, try to imagine you are a poor Kachikel woman in Guatemala.   The last thing you remember is that you were
offered a cool drink on a hot day by a woman who offered to help you walk from
your bus stop to the bus stop that would take you to a relative’s house.  Seeing your Bible, she had remarked that she
too was a Christian.   Now you realize she
drugged you, and stole your child.   When
you went to the police station, they laughed at you.  The Justice Ministry suspected you were one
of those women who sold your baby, and now want to complain when the lawyers
tricked you out of what was promised.  
Spanish is not your first language, so your attempts to explain your
predicament are difficult.  You are
humiliated rather than helped by the authorities.  Then you learn that your child was sold to
people in another country.  You identify
her from a series of pictures presented to you. 
But still.  No one will do
anything.   Justice is a word that has no meaning in your

Now; imagine you are a follower of Jesus. 
You have promised, that in exchange for salvation of your soul, you will
obey Him, and live by His rules.   You
hear that there might be a number of poor women who have been robbed of their
children.  You hear the testimony of this
mother.  You wince as you fear that their
children may have been put into the frenzied market that is the Guatemalan
adoption world.   But you know people who
have adopted from Guatemala.  And isn’t
adoption a good thing?  You heard for
years that there were rumors of “corruption”. 
You relegated those rumors, if true, to be simply that of government
officials accepting bribes.  You didn’t
ask why there would be a need for bribes if everything was above board.   Let it lie, you say.  Focus on the good.  Ignore the bad.

There are way too many Christians in the United States, that pre-eminent
country, who heard rumors about Guatemalan adoptions, but went ahead, and got
that baby.  Now, with at least 3 cases
proven of stolen children having been processed for adoption, these helpless,
hopeless, vulnerable women make them feel very uncomfortable.   This may be only the tip of a sordid ice
berg.  So they do not want justice.  They want it all to go away.

In Matthew 25, Jesus relegates to outer darkness those who ignored the needs
of the least of thes.  He doesn’t say
they actively engaged in anything wrong. 
I think He would approve of the saying that for evil to prevail, all
that is required is that good men do nothing. 
I don’t think, as I read Jesus, that He would approve of Good Men who do
nothing.  I don’t think He would buy the
excuse that it would be dangerous to do something.  I also don’t think He will accept our excuse
that the situation was too universal, or too complex, or too distant.  Or too inconvenient.

As we think about the incarnation of the Word of God, and the fact that
Jesus bids us follow him in ministering to the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives,
those who are bound, and mourn, what do we really think He is asking us to
do?   Praise harder? Sing louder?   Protect ourselves with more alarm systems in
our church buildings and wish this world wasn’t so desperately evil, but so
glad we will one day be out of here in the hereafter.   According to Amos, God thinks otherwise.

Amos 5:21-24 (Contemporary English Version)

21I, the LORD, hate and despise your religious celebrations
and your times of worship. 22I won't accept your offerings or animal
sacrifices–not even your very best. 23No more of your noisy songs!
I won't listen when you play your harps. 24But let justice
and fairness flow like a river that never runs dry.

Pregnant women being trafficked for their babies

From ABC Radio World Australia

Pregnant women being trafficked for their babies

First world demand to adopt very young babies is driving a new twist in people smuggling, particularly in Asia.

of Australia's senior law officers says more and more, smugglers are
trading in pregnant women – the perfect incubators – for access to
their newborns. Australia's Chief Federal Magistrate John Pascoe is
presenting a paper on the issue to the LawAsia conference in Singapore,
which is looking at children and the law.

He says that among the
measures needed to fight the insidious trade should be a new system of
children's rights. To illustrate the shift in focus for the smugglers,
Mr Pascoe describes a 2003 case that happened off Indonesia.

To listen to the interview or read the transcript, click here.

“Who’s family did she belong to?”

Several people told me about the This American Life story that aired yesterday. Episode 380, "No Maps" includes the story about an LDS family that adopted from Samoa and found themselves in the middle of a tragedy they were unprepared for. They discovered that their daughter's family in Samoa had been deceived about the adoption. The family made the decision to return to Samoa and find out what really happened.

You can listen to the story here for free at the This American Life web site. The story begins at 31:30.

NYT article about child abduction in China

This article from the NYT reports on the abductions of boys in rural China, due to the demand for sons. One of the interesting quotes from this article is about girls.

The extent of the problem is a matter of dispute. The Chinese
government insists there are fewer than 2,500 cases of human
trafficking each year, a figure that includes both women and children.
But advocates for abducted children say there may be hundreds of

Peng, who started an ad hoc group for parents of stolen children, said
some of the girls were sold to orphanages. They are the lucky ones who
often end up in the United States or Europe after adoptive parents pay
fees to orphanages that average $5,000.

What would you do if you found out your adopted child had been sold into adoption?

From Mother Jones

Meet the Parents: The Dark Side of Overseas Adoption

Midwestern kid's family believes his birth parents put him up for
adoption. An Indian couple claim he was kidnapped from them and sold.
Who's right?

—By Scott Carney

After hours hunched behind the wheel
of a rented Kia, flying past cornfields and small-town churches, I'm
parked on a Midwestern street, trying not to look conspicuous. Across
the way, a preteen boy dressed in silver athletic shorts and a football
T-shirt plays with a stick in his front yard. My heart thumps
painfully. I wonder if I'm ready to change his life forever.

I've been preparing for this moment for months in the South Indian
metropolis of Chennai, talking to khaki-clad officers in dusty police
stations and combing through endless stacks of court documents. The
amassed evidence tells a heartrending tale of children kidnapped from Indian slums
sold to orphanages, and funneled into the global adoption stream. I've
zeroed in on one case in particular, in which police insist they've
tracked a specific stolen child in India to a specific address in the United States. Two days ago, the boy's
parents asked me to deliver a message to the American family via their
lawyer, seeking friendship and communication. But after traveling
across 10 time zones to get here, I'm at a loss for how to proceed.

Read the rest of this article here.

Adoption workers receive probation for kidnapping children

Four Sentenced in Scheme to 'Adopt' Samoan Kids
Prosecutors: Adoption Agency Tricked Samoan Parents Into Giving Children Up for Adoption


Four employees of a Wyoming-based adoption agency, Focus on Children,
were sentenced on Wednesday in federal court in Utah to five years on
probation for their role in the scam. Scott and Karen Banks, Coleen
Bartlett and Karalee Thornock have all pleaded guilty to misdemeanor
charges of aiding and abetting the improper entry of an alien. A fifth
defendant, Dan Wakefield, who helped find the children to be adopted in
Samoa, will be sentenced next month.

say the adoption workers and others tricked unwitting Samoan parents
into giving up their children for adoption, telling them that the
children were being sent on an educational program in the United States
and that the children would return to Samoa.

The families didn't know they were giving up their rights to
their children forever. American families paid thousands of dollars for
the adoptions.

U.S. District Judge David Sam ordered the four defendants never
to work in the adoption business again and to contribute to a trust
fund for the children.

Sam said the case "cries out for a sentence that's restorative rather than punitive."

read the rest of the article here