Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sierra Leone Parents Seek Answers in Adoption Cases

I posted before about parents in Sierra Leone seeking the return of their children who were adopted internationally without their knowledge or consent. There's more information here:

Balia Kamara's mother sent her 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.

Parents of about 30 children at the center say they only later learned that the children had been adopted by Americans and sent abroad without permission.

"We were reluctant to hand over the child," recalled Balia's mother, Mariama Jabbie, in an interview with The Associated Press. "When they told us that they were going to educate her up to college level, we decided to hand her over. That was how they were able to entice us to do so."

In 2004, the center's director and two of his employees were arrested and charged with conspiracy to violate adoption laws. Those charges against them though ultimately were dropped and the case disbanded, according to court records.

Now more than a decade after the children disappeared, Sierra Leone's government said late Wednesday it is setting up a national commission of inquiry to re-examine the case of the HANCI children following years of pressure from their biological parents.
Many of these children are now teens or young adults.  I wonder if they -- or their adoptive parents -- know about these birth parents' attempts to learn about the childrens' fates? The U.S. adoption agency involved says:
Mitchell said MAPS has been diligent in sending annual post-placement reports, along with photos of the adopted kids, to authorities in Sierra Leone as required.

"We can produce copies of those," she said. "We've been very rigorous."

While Sierra Leone is opening a national commission of inquiry, it is highly unlikely to bring the closure the birth parents are seeking. Mitchell said if the government requests contact be established between the adoptive families and birthfamilies: "I think they would have the right to say no."
The agency seems to be missing the fact that many of these children are now adults.  Do you think the agency should bypass the adoptive parents and contact the adult children directly?  Do you think the agency should be informing adoptive parents right now? What would you do as an adoptive parent if the agency contacted you with this information?


Tina said...

I don't know how people could deny contact. I don't see how the adoptive parents have any right to deny them that reconnection. Is it going to be painful sure - but guess what it already is painful for the first family and for your adopted child. And in the cases where the adopted person is already an adult - why is are the parents the only ones being contacted? Would I want to know - sure because I would want to be there for my child but for goodness sake - they deserve to be contacted directly by the agency as well and at least at the same time if not first.

Lorraine Dusky said...

As a first/birth mother, this kind of stuff makes me absolutely nuts, and I so commend you for bringing it to the attention of anyone who happens to find your blog but is unaware of the huge amount of kidnapping and corruption that occurs with international adoption today. People who are uninformed just will not believe that it happens with such frequency in so many countries. Everybody thinks, Oh, it must just be ONE orphanage or ONE bad apple when in fact they are all over the world, in every poor country.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is over 18 should be contacted solely and directly--anyone who is, like, 12 and older . . . the contact should be made to all parties.

Someone who was 7 in 1998 is 19 now. I wonder what stories have been drawn out of these kids by their a-parents. The curious ones will have heard something.

triona said...

As an adult adoptee, I agree -- adoptees who are adults should be contacted directly. With respect to adoptive parents, there is too much of an assumption (esp by adoption agencies) that adoptees are children forever and that all information about adoption must always go through the adoptive parents no matter the adoptee's age. Once we are of age we should be able to make our own decisions. That's not to say they shouldn't also tell the adoptive families, they should. These adoption agencies have an obligation to tell the truth. As Lorraine points out, the corruption in adoption is hardly isolated to one case or one country.