Friday, June 1, 2012

Out of Africa

Two stories today (neither new) about adoption from Africa.  First up, from Voice of America, about the nonconsensual adoptions from Sierra Leone during their civil war in the 1990s:
Dozens of parents in Sierra Leone say their children were given up for adoption in the United States without their consent, during the west African country's horrific civil war in the 1990's. The results of a government inquiry may reunite them with their children.

Mariatu Mansaray says she is still crying and suffering because two of her children, Adama and Mustafa, were taken from her in Sierra Leone. She wants them to know she never intended to give them up. Mansaray is just one of 40 parents in the rural Makeni area who say they never authorized their children to be adopted.

Abu Bakar Kargbo, a spokesperson for the parents, says none of them speak English and that made them easy targets.

"These are poor, illiterate and defenseless people. They live in villages," he explained. "They came to advocate, hundreds of miles, for the government to intervene and they are ready to testify, to contest they did not consent any adoption. "

The parents say they left their children at the Help A Needy Child International Center during the war temporarily, so they would be safe and get educated. The Center then apparently contacted Maine Adoption Placement Services, which placed 29 children with parents in the United States.

Their anguished pleas say they want to see their children.
Second, from CNN, a report about the report from the African Child Policy Forum saying that international adoptions should be discouraged:
Nyla was just two or three days old, no one really knows for sure, when she was found abandoned in the middle of a field in Rwanda. She was "black and blue," says her adoptive mother, Karen Brown. Her umbilical cord was still attached.

One year later, Nyla lives in a high-rise building in Hong Kong with American parents and a four-year-old sister who is Chinese. She just started walking and has "seven-and-a-half" teeth, though she's too shy to show them.

The bright-eyed baby is one of more than 35,000 children sent from Africa in a surge of adoptions in the last eight years, according to adoption expert Peter Selman from Newcastle University in the UK.
During that time, figures have risen three-fold at the same time as international adoptions from all countries have slumped to a 15-year low, Selman said.

A new report from The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) entitled "Africa: The New Frontier for Intercountry Adoption," says the trend indicates that receiving countries are turning "en masse" to Africa to meet demand for adoptive children as other options close. It's a trend, they say, that needs to stop.

"It must at all costs be discouraged. It should be a last resort and an exception rather than the normal recourse to solving the situation of children in difficult circumstances, as it seems to have now become," said David Mugawe, executive director of the ACPF in a press statement.

The group says that the lack of regulation combined with the promise of money from abroad had turned children into "commodities in the graying and increasingly amoral world of intercountry adoption."


Lorraine Dusky said...

As someone who closely follows the corruption in international adoption, and the suspicious tactics of some of the religious-affiliated agencies which operate in Africa, I am quite chary about all international adoptions. Yet I cannot help but know that a great many of such adoptions, such as the second one you mention here, are absolutely good. It's a subject that I always wrestle with.

A "good" adoption example is found in a recent documentary about ballet, First Position, that features a girl who was adopted from Sierra Leone after the civil war there. She was old enough to know what had happened to her parents, and knew the violence there, but here she is in America ten or eleven years later getting a valuable scholarship to the premier dance school in America. Her adoptive mother is shown dying panties and bits of clothing dark brown to match her skin tone. The parents did not seem to be wealthy people, and the girl has a skin condition to boot. She was adopted along with her friend in the orphanage because her parents thought that nobody else might take her.

Everybody who upset with the casual adoption comment in The Avengers about Loki can take comfort in this story. Yes, this first mother had tears in her eyes during First Position.

The Robins' Nest said...

Just recently found your blog. I have mixed emotions as well to international adoption, particularly where there is evidence of corruption. Being a mom to two boys adopted from Russia I am also extremely sensitive to the issue as a whole. I do know though that in Russia in particular there is a strong desire to have their children living in orphanages remain in Russia and be adopted by Russisn families, but adoption is not as widely accepted or practiced and many of these children have no hope of being adopted Into a family were it not for international adoption. said...

I think everyone agrees that adoption is the last resort but it has to stay a resort. We adopted our daughter from China. She had a minor special need. My husband is Chinese, I am not. My in laws would not speak with us for many months after we told them we were adopting. His father was very angry. They thought orphans were unlucky and a child with a 'special need" even more unlucky. They also wanted us to have a son. When they finally got used to the idea they asked if we could "at least" adopt a boy......... I have heard that adoption is becoming more common in China and more accepted but I have not seen that to be the case in my husband's extended family or for those I know from China who want children but are not able to have them. My husband has two adopted female cousins in Shanghai and the family kept it a secret until the children were adults. (My inlaws love our daughter/their granddaughter now.)