The Netherlands will immediately suspend adoptions from abroad. The outgoing Minister for Legal Protection Dekker announced this in response to the report of the Joustra Committee on the Dutch adoption culture and the role of the government. Ongoing adoption procedures will still be completed, after an additional test. The State will also no longer rely on prescription in adoptees’ proceedings.
According to the committee, the Netherlands has acted too passively in the adoption process in the past. As a result, the supervision of procedures was insufficient and no action was taken in the event of abuses that came to light. This includes child theft, child trafficking, and unethical acts of civil servants. Such abuses have been known since the 1960s.
Minister Dekker acknowledges this.
“The Dutch government has fallen short of years of looking away from abuses in intercountry adoption and not intervening,” he says.
Dekker apologizes to victims. He says adoptees deserve recognition for past mistakes and help in the present.
Dekker explains the abuses because for a long time it was felt that adoption was a form of ‘doing good’ for adoptive parents who wanted to have children and the children, who often came from poor countries. “That is an explanation for the abuses, but no justification,” said Dekker.
The report of the committee led by Tjibbe Joustra was presented this morning, but the conclusions were already leaked on Friday. Minister Dekker says that the cabinet will adopt all the recommendations from the report. For example, there will be an independent national expertise center for adoption, which will bundle knowledge about identity formation and aftercare.
The committee further concludes that over time measures have been taken to improve supervision and regulation, but that “the system contains inherent vulnerabilities”. Joustra says the committee doubts whether a system can be designed that removes these vulnerabilities, but leaves that to politicians.
Dekker agrees. “Although there is no longer any question of looking away and supervision has been tightened. The system is and remains vulnerable. That is why we have to reconsider adoptions from abroad.”
The outgoing minister leaves a decision on a future adoption system to the next cabinet. According to Dekker, children struggle with pressing questions that are sometimes difficult to answer.
‘the government has failed in adoptions by looking away for years’, said Dekker
Dekker also announces that the State will no longer rely on prescription for claims in connection with adoptions from abroad, as happened last year in the case of Dilani Butink, who was adopted from Sri Lanka in 1992. In doing so, he strengthens the position of adoptees who want to initiate proceedings against the Dutch government.
Interview with Mr. Joustra
Ever wondered what it's like to be adopted? Read Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists.