The Davises shared their story exclusively with CNN, saying they believe that Ugandan children like Mata are being trafficked, with American families not knowing the real stories behind their adoptions.
An investigation by CNN into this alleged trafficking scheme found that children are being taken from their homes in Uganda on the promise of better schooling, placed into orphanages even though they aren’t orphans, and sold for as much as $15,000 each to unsuspecting American families. CNN’s investigation discovered that multiple families were duped this way.
Mata wants answers. She wants to know why her mother gave her away.
By the time the call ends, Mata’s radiant smile has turned to sobs. “My mom was tricked,” she says. “My mom was tricked.”
Her mother told her it was never her intent to give Mata up for good — that she’d been deceived. She had been told that Mata would be given a great educational opportunity if she was sent away but that she would one day return. That Mom would always be a part of her daughter’s life.
Keren Riley of Reunite, a grass-roots organization that helps return trafficked children to their birth mothers, says facilitators on the ground prey on vulnerable moms, often widows, promising educational opportunities for their children.
The traffickers, she says, can include police and lawyers, teachers and local leaders. Complicating matters, there is no word for “adoption” in the language many Ugandan villagers speak, Riley says, so mothers are easily deceived.
lt was never her intent to give Mata up for good — that she’d been deceived. She had been told that Mata would be given a great educational opportunity if she was sent away but that she would one day return. That Mom would always be a part of her daughter’s life.
But the original orphan referral form that sent Mata to God’s Mercy painted a different picture, saying the mother was “helpless” and “can’t provide basic needs of the child for better growth.”