Zoe’s ark: I am a child stolen at birth
Purchased in Brazil and raised in France by an adoptive family, Kharla battled to trace her origins. The case of Zoé’s Ark, tried in mid-February, reminds her how French law does not care.
By Kharla Livingston-Lorrenzo, documentary film-maker, February 2014.
On Friday February 14 , the deliberation of the case known as “Zoe’s Ark” will be released (Eric Breteau and his colleague Emilie Lelouch were given a suspended sentence for two years). At the head of this organization, Eric Breteau and Emilie Lelouch, accused of trying to “smuggle out” from Chad to France 103 children, so-called “Darfur orphans” in October 2007.
The trial takes place in France and not in Chad. The main victims – the 103 minors that the organization wanted to pass off as orphans and their biological families also victims of manipulation – are neither present nor represented, much less heard and defended.
Nobody noticed their absence. By a sleight of hand, they were ousted of the case.
What happened to these children? Were they able to return to their biological families?
How were they helped to deal with the shock of the trauma of abduction, and a whole staging where they had been dressed with bandages and promised a “better” future in France?
They prefer chasing the sleight of hand. The “foster families” would have paid 1,400 euros in donation per child, which then were raised to 2,200 euros. Mandatory “donations”?
“Saved” by white families
Therefore these are no longer “donations”, but these are purchases in this case. Who has the means to pay 2,200 euros without expecting anything in return? To become a one-off “foster family”? By pure charity? Who believes that?
Why didn’t these families turn to social child welfare in France to become a foster family? All this to “save” the Chadian minors … from what? from who? how ? From their village and their conditions?
White French families would have allowed them not to suffer from economic poverty, but not from emotional poverty: trauma of selection and removal, trauma of uprooting, racism, new language, new culture, suppression of identity, the removal of nationality and the removal of their biological family. And finally, the non-recognition of their biological identity, since no official document of abandonment has been signed. All this while making them believe they definitely had lot of luck.
Beautiful program. Especially in a country where no support is provided completely free of charge by trained professionals in abandonment, adoption and traumatic memory.
Who is fooled enough not to see the sale and purchase of human beings, of minors in addition, corruption, trafficking and abduction?
To accelerate everything, to feign urgency (“Children are dying!”) not to let anyone have the time to think of the best solution – and even less to realize the deceit.
This is what Naomi Klein calls “the shock doctrine“: to cause an emotional shock in order to impose an action that normally would have been denied or terminated.
Thereby, children are taken from their families and removed from their villages against their will, sequestered in a camp “for their own good and safety,” selected (HIV medical examinations to sort out the “goods” for France and the “bad” for Africa forsaken without care) and then moved to another country with bandages.
I was born on July 8th or 1st, in São Paulo
Why this case calling me out so much? It’s because I too, like the Chadian minors, was torn off and exchanged against money when I was barely born.
It’s written on my ID paper that I was born on July 8th, 1981 in São Paulo, Brazil. I was told that my mother abandoned me and that they had came to “save me” by bringing me to France. Once adult I wanted to know more. But no document mentions my adoption, not even my birth certificate.
I began to have serious doubts. I decided to find one of the intermediaries, BIB, who told me that I was born before July 8th, probably in Paraguay, Uruguay, or perhaps even in Argentina. First shock.
Proud of her activities, she recounted me how she would spot the children in the streets from her car. While she was neither a social worker nor a judge, as soon as she thought that one of them was unhappy and that its mother, too poor or sometimes drugged, was not up to par, she would drag it away in her car to “give it a better life with European parents who could not have children.” Second shock when she told me:
“You, you have been the first.”
Why should I be grateful?
Those that I then considered as my “adoptive parents”, and in whom I trusted, then confessed to me that they had paid this illegal network a significant amount of money for me.
Arrived in France with a false certificate of pregnancy, all they had to do was to make people believe in an early childbirth at home in Brazil.
They only had to declare me as their biological daughter with the Brazilian administration.
The discovery of this staging made of lies and corruption has been a great violence to me.
How could they imagine that I would be grateful to them?
Unfortunately, they are in denial bout their act – which is indeed a crime – rather than repairing their mistake.
In fact, I had been the first baby of an illegal network exporting children whose biological mothers and identity were erased.
Buying a baby with these networks is to support these vile traffickings.
How can one not realize it? And by buying a human being, what kind of relationship does one expect next? Isn’t the relationship skewed from the beginning? How can one imagine building happiness on the misfortune of others, without any consequences?
I’m told stories that vary
Today I’m searching for the truth. I’m denied to see the abandonment documents signed by my biological mother and father, and to know who they are. I’m told stories that vary.
What are they hiding from me? What will I discover yet? Failing to find my own biological mother, I took my camera and met these women on site.
Excerpt from the video:
2.45 to 3.05: Later I realize that my adoptive parents have declared me as their biological child, no document mention my adoption. I learn that I am the first child of a networking exporting thousands of children whose mothers and biological identity were erased.
3.13 to 3.46: There are people who go hunting for “pregnant belly” to offer them assistance, with accommodation in a secluded place childbirth. They are lodged in private homes, often in hotels too. A few days before the childbirth, they are transported somewhere elsewhere, even in other provinces where the baby will be officially declared as biological child of the “adopters”. So it’s a suppression of identity, in other words it’s a crime.
Many women were robbed of their child. Their pain is great. It’s a lifetime scar. Some became sterile following the shock. Others get up again. Trials begin to take place to denounce these thefts.
For my part, a trial is not excluded either. I want to denounce these practices and regularize my status. My ID papers lie. So I have to lie every day about my birthdate and birth place – for the comfort of French people needing children, who knew they were above the laws of morality.
The legal loophole is still there. In concrete terms, it’s expropriation, trafficking in human beings with corruption, kidnapping, lies, removal of biological identity and nationality. However, the French law does not include a count against the theft of minors.
Is France beyond the European Convention on Human Rights and Children’s Convention? My case is often reduced as an “exception”. When an article about my story appeared in the press in 2013, not a single association of adoptive families contacted me to support me.
These large associations would have been far more credible if they had spoken out against child trafficking, with concrete measures. I’d be supposedly the only person in this situation. I could have believed it and moved on.
The pretend they found us in the street
Yet, I meet more and more people who were also stolen at birth. Thousands, in fact. Always the same strategy: middlemen lie to biological parents to obtain a signature attesting the abandonment, or take over the newborn at birth as the biological mother is vulnerable.
The latter is told her child is stillborn. The child is then brought to a reputable organization whose headquarter is often located in Europe. The theft is actually laundered: they just have to claim that this child was found “abandoned in a street.”
Nobody is fooled, but they continue to fuel the system because it’s in the interest of all adults. The more demands there are, the more stolen children there are.
What can we do, we who have been stolen at birth, today? Nothing since there is the “statute of limitation”, even if we wanted to plead “the illegal practice of the profession of the intermediary for the purpose of adoption.”
Parents willing to do anything
When I heard about the case of Zoe’s Ark in 2007, I told myself that this time they wouldn’t claim an “isolated” case with the 103 minors. And that the the statute of limitation would not take place since the members of the organization were immediately arrested.
However the facts have been minimized. They speak of “aid to unauthorized residence of foreign minors” and “illegal exercise of the profession of intermediary for the purpose of adoption.”
A whole masquerade to clear the names of adults ill-intentioned and determined to get around the law by exploiting the distress (but not necessarily naivety) of parents willing to do anything to have a child, while collecting money and claiming to be the “saviors”.
Whether in the case of Zoe’s Ark or in my case, what does the French law allows us in order to defend ourselves and denounce these criminal acts? Where is gone, the alleged initial motivation of wanting to “save children” who are perhaps adults today? Does the French law offer tools to defend these minors? Does it really intend to defend these minors? Who the French law is really defending?
|Making of Kharla Livingston Lorenzo is the assumed name of a young woman “adopted” by a couple of Montpellier about thirty years ago, “before finding her true identity.” Living today between France and Brazil, where she surveyed the women who are forced to give up their children, Kharla created a collective “Adoption: terrain miné” which in French means “Adoption: minefield”. She sent an open letter to ministers entitled, “Adoption: 8 questions, which answers?” without any response from them.|
|3,000 Brazilian babies transported illegally In an article devoted to Kharla published in January 2013 in the paper edition of Le Monde, the journalist Nicolas Bourcier said: “Over the course of her research she explored the trails of child trafficking of the time. With the Parana as the epicenter of the scourge, according to the lawyer Jane Prestes. According to a report by the Federal Police from 1992, about 3,000 Brazilian babies were reportedly transported illegally abroad – mainly to the United States, Canada, Germany, France and Italy. Between 500 and 800 children were intended for couples in Israel until 1986, the year the police arrested Arlette Hilu, 37 years old and thinking head of one of the local criminal networks. Investigators then evoke tariffs ranging from 7,000 to 10,000 dollars per child. Prices tripled in the 1990s […] The phenomenon has decreased due to stricter laws in place in Parana, and then gradually in the country in the last fifteen years […]. This does not mean that the networks have disappeared: they are sometimes reorganized and installed elsewhere.” Although the number of children adopted illegally remains impossible to quantify, the NGO Camiho Volta, based in São Paulo, estimates that 40,000 children and adolescents disappear each year in Brazil, part of which fall into the toils of adoption traffickers.|
Unofficial translation from Rue89
For more news on industry practices, go to Adoptionland.org
To get a copy of Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists visit here.