Taking children from “sobbing” mothers: Justified? Or a violation of birthrights & human rights?

For every forever family built by adoption, another family is forever torn.

What is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)? To prevent another travesty after World War II, government leaders came together and established an international organization called the United Nations on October 24, 1945. The headquarters are in New York. Its objective is to maintain international peace and security, promote human rights, foster social and economic development, protect the global environment, and provide humanitarian aid in case of famine, natural disasters, and armed conflict.

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Why is a correct implementation of the UNCRC so important for adopted people? It is because several articles within the international binding agreement address the rights of children as human beings, including protecting a child’s identity, having a say over their lives, and allowing them to have access to family first. Every nation ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)—that is except for the United States. The US is the only nation in the world that has not.

Correct implementation of the UNCRC would protect children from being trafficked and hold adoptioneers accountable. (This can only be done without interference from the adoption lobby and more inclusion of families of loss.) At this time, facilitators ignore the convention and avoid punishments. This gives the profiteer the legal upper hand. As a consequence, the exploited and stigmatized parents are forever deprived of their children and denied resources to search.

Adopting a child out of the country is supposed to be the last resort when all other forms of in-country care are not possible. The profiteers ignore the right and instead expedite children under the veneer of orphanhood. The definition of “orphan” has been expanded in adoption law to include children of unwed or single parents, poverty-stricken parents or parents who sign papers to relinquish. This means almost every single child in the world is at risk of being thrown into the adoption market.

The adoption practice has exploded into a lucrative routine “child protection solution” targeting children built on the claim that placement must happen at the youngest age possible for the child’s “well-being.” This philosophy disempowers the family and the child. The problem with removing children at their youngest is it prevents them from having any say concerning their “permanent” removal and long after, it becomes impossible for them to remember their family of birth. This sabotages everyone from a potential reunion. The determination to remove children at their youngest actually benefits the agency more so than anyone else.

Due to the building of the child welfare systems, children are still being processed for foreign adoptions despite the end of wars, famines and other emergencies. The practice has expanded globally, reaching every continent on planet earth. Almost every single nation is a “sending” nation. Whereas it would only cost $15 monthly to support a mother and child in Ethiopia, according to UNICEF representative from the Bureau of Consular Affairs, children are instead being collected and processed. Agencies have charged in excess of $64,000. (Only privileged single and married applicants from the world’s superpowers can afford to pay the adoption fees. And fees differ depending on the child’s race or “market demand.”

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Despite the millions of “matched” children, adoptions are still a rare “unnatural” solution. Without agency interference, it’s natural for nations to use less invasive and less permanent child protection solutions, such as kinship care, temporary or permanent guardianship or community care. However, adoption stakeholders did not tolerate these methods. Instead, a system called Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption also referred to The Hague Adoption Convention (HAC), was built. Adoption stakeholders, including Holt International, were invited as delegates to draft the guidelines. It may appear as though a human rights instrument—but it is not.

The HAC pathway merely details how-to-adopt in “Respect for Intercountry Adoption.” The problem is it “protects” children from parents who are guilty of nothing but a possible lack of resources, of being unmarried, or practicing the “wrong” religion and removes their ability of ever retrieving their children once fallen into the global system. Guidebooks on HAC implementation are formulated to assist agencies and their applicants—but do not address the perspectives of parents of-loss or families left behind. The HAC also leaves the impression that adoption is “in the child’s best interest.”

I remember when the adoptee community was told to advocate for HAC. Anyone who did not immediately agree was ousted from participating in policymaking. Families-of-loss were not invited into the equation—and, long after the adoption, they are left to fend for themselves. Deprived parents still cannot afford to attend adoption conferences. And when they are brought in by organizations like Against Child Trafficking, they are sequestered in holding rooms or blatantly ignored. Also, adoptions can occur using the HAC—or not. (It’s just a matter of filling out this paper versus that one when applying.) Why create a “safe-passage” if paying applicants are not required to use it?

Overseas adopted children are still placed in vulnerable scenerios—even today. In the US, single men are permitted to adopt nonEnglish speaking foreign-born children. How is a little-Russian girl supposed to speak up for herself when she can’t speak the same language of the adopter such as the case of Mariya Yashenkova adopted by a pedophile. She can’t. Many adoptive parents refused to allow children speak their native tongue. This has been a problem within the intercountry adoptee community, but since concerned and informed adoptees are not permitted to discuss policy, matters such as this have yet to be heard. At this point in adoption’s history only “happy” token adoptees—a select few approved by the industry—are invited to talk at the toxic buffet.

Child rights expert, Roelie Post, wrote a research paper called “The Perverse Effects of the Hague Adoption Convention,” explaining the detrimental results of the agreement and the problems lobby groups posed in Romania between the years of 1999 and the end of 2006. Against Child Trafficking (ACT) was set up to combat the problem, but needs funding to work. ACT’s investigations unearth the damage agencies leave behind. Arun Dohle, of ACT, wrote a thesis called, “Inside Story of an Adoption Scandal” (2009) offering a look at adoptions from India.

The data from India’s National Crime Records Bureau reports almost 60,000 children missing in 2011. Some were processed for other forms of trafficking. I believe babies and toddlers (who cannot speak up for themselves) are most at risk of being sold into the child market. Unlike other forms of human trafficking—which target teenagers and adults—and against the law, holding adoption traffickers responsible has been avoided—and at all costs. As a disastrous result, those responsible are not held accountable. Instead, the practice is trusted repeatedly reformed and refined.

Fatima, an Indian mother, still waits to be reunited with her daughter, kidnapped in 1998 at the age of two. Now the girl is eighteen, trafficked to Australia. The girl’s Indian father fears he might die before ever seeing her again. But he is stigmatized as a “birth father,” and his plight is given little consideration. Rather, adoption remains glamorized and glorified and fully supported and approved by the public.

Agencies can quickly collect tens of thousands of dollars in donations and nonrefundable application fees.

The only place families of loss and adopted people are told to go to for help are the very industry that profits from separating us. It is a conflict of interest even to attempt to reunite us.  However, they are fully trusted because the “post-adoption” department leaves the impression they reunite families. (IMHO, it’s comparable to drug trafficking lords running campaigns to recover from drug usage. They would do so only to improve public relations. Adoptees have noticed that Holt International even asks for donations to ward off child trafficking!) To many of us, this is hypocritical. The lowest of the low.

Adoptees are told to promote domestic adoptions within second and third world nations and tell happy stories. The problem with advocating for domestic adoption is that it places children into the same predicaments as domestically adopted US citizens face today: Without access to their original birth certificates. We, global human rights activists, would rather promote the UNCRC, the treaty outlining human rights could benefit Americans too. Removing children from their nation of birth should remain as a last resort—viable only after all other forms of care have failed—not the first choice—as purported by lobby groups.

Since religious foreigners can process the natives’ children, self-control or placing limits on one self has proven to be impossible for them. The industry has not placed a moratorium on itself despite numerous unethical cases finally being unearthed everywhere around the world.

Instead of promoting the HAC, which was created by industry professionals (and not a human rights instrument), we encourage for the US to ratify with the UNCRC and push out child migration schemes. Since World War II, around a million parents have already had their children taken to fill the market that ultimately benefited and empowered the agencies. This places devastation on the families left behind, particularly in smaller nations which later depend on their grown children for care, welfare, and protection when the parents are elderly.

Against Child Trafficking USA (ACT USA) was established to protect the American public from the crisis of adoption trafficking. We can do this with support. We would like to see the translation and distribution of educational materials such as books compiled by and for former “orphans” and the sharing of data offering the correct interpretation and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the universal standard and the best safeguard against child trafficking), more participation by parents-of-loss within the industry-based forums and child trafficking related fields, and funding for professional and peer support groups, field research and, finally, to investigate cases.  

If you lost a family member to adoption, you are not alone. Adult adopted people, parents and families are still forming reunions and relationships in one way or another. Voices all around the world are expressing concerns. Feel free to join, Adoption Truth and Transparency Worldwide Network social media group for a live discussion on global intercountry, transracial, and domestic adoption news and articles. These perspectives are diverse; however, there is one shared component: We all come from a family—a family we are legally forbidden from knowing. The consensus is growing: religious authorities should no longer be permitted to threaten “sinful unwed” mothers into relinquishment. Religion should no longer be allowed to dictate governments.

I am one of 200,000 adopted from South Korea. For a lifetime I have been “protected” from my origin, but what is worse is that my daughters will be deprived of their grandparents and extended family. The family tree is forever severed. Because a facilitator placed a routine “Certificate of Orphanhood” paper in my file, this loss will be forced upon my children’s children. Taking children from “sobbing” mothers: Justified? Or a violation of birthrights and human rights? 

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