Saturday, April 5, 2014

An open letter to Both Ends Burning

 First, a note to my friends:  It is very possible that the number of my friends in the DRC adoption world will dwindle even further after this post.  All I can say is that I have been praying and thinking about the words to write that would reflect why my heart has been unsettled for the past few days.  Often my posts are ones that I write after I feel God leading or gently pushing me forward to speak.  I often ask for His grace in the words on my blog, for His heart of compassion, love, and justice.  This post is not to attack you (my DRC adoptive parent friends) or the children you hope to adopt.  I'm not sure what I would do if I were in your shoes and my child had a visa and couldn't leave the country.  When that happened to us and we had to wait a year, at least we were in DRC and our kids were living with us.  So, I pass no judgment and understand the reasons behind wanting to do something that might help your kids come home.  And I hope that this petition does help your kids come home because I know that many of you have done everything you can to make sure your adoption is an ethical one (including hiring private investigators and demanding transparency), and my heart breaks with you over your adopted children in DRC.  Even though you might not hear it, this post is for those children and all the other vulnerable children and their families (both birth and adoptive) that are caught up in the quagmire that has become international adoption in DRC.  

If you're reading this, you probably know that social media in the DRC adoption community has been ablaze with news of the Both Ends Burning (BEB)'s petition to the United States government to pressure the Congolese government into ending the suspension on the issuance of exit letters. Adoptive parents are changing their profile pictures to one that says their child(ren) are "stuck" in DRC, sharing the petition, joining the "DRC Pipeline Families" through BEB and making memes using pictures of their adopted children. 

If you do decide to join the DRC Pipeline Families information form it might behoove you to ask some important questions of the BEB campaign before you give away private information about your family and your adopted child.  Ask questions about how your information will be used.  Make sure you know how the advocacy organizations will use that information for their campaigns.  Make sure they sign a privacy agreement.  Make sure you are aware of the ways your information may be used to further other campaigns (like CHIFF).  Learn about the legislation that BEB supports.  Research and look into what the goals of each organization are as it relates to the stakeholders and supporters.  In the midst of a hard and desperate time in your adoption in DRC, look closely that those that may use your heartache to their advantage to press their own agendas and goals.  

This post is about why I think this campaign may not be the right direction to take in trying to change DRC adoptions for the better.  There are now tens of thousands of voices lifted and crying for the children of U.S. adoptive parents.  There are a few voices that are whispering words of caution and concern.  I want to be one of those few voices, that likely will not be heard in the midst of the political advocacy that is currently happening by the Both Ends Burning campaign.  This is an open letter to the Both Ends Burning campaign which is asking our government to intervene on behalf of the children that are "stuck" (the word chosen by BEB for this campaign and also the name of the documentary film they promote describing the situations of some children that are being internationally adopted around the world) in DRC, a purported 500 children (led by Kelly Ensslin).  It would be relevant to first read the petition before reading the following letter.  The petition is named "Please help resolve the pending adoptions from Democratic Republic of Congo." 



Dear Both Ends Burning,

I have been watching the social media campaign that you have taken on through your work with Both Ends Burning to help the DRC adoptive parents who are in process.  I commend your compassion and passion which drives your desire to help those families that are affected by the DGM suspension and your overall mission of helping children find permanent families. 

I read the petition that will be sent to the United States government.  Compared to previous letter written for the BEB campaign about adoptions in DRC, this one was an improvement -- although it did make sweeping statements that are clearly inaccurate and potentially inflammatory.  For example, the petition states that the Department of State (DOS) has done nothing to advocate for the families that have delayed adoptions, and asks the President intercede to help the families hoping to bring their adopted children to the U.S. This statement is clearly inaccurate, as DOS has advocated for American adoptive families -- including sending delegations to DRC and bringing delegations of DRC leaders to the U.S. That is not "doing nothing." The petition also asks our government leaders to "speak publicly about [their] support for the American families and their children." This is another inaccuracy -- it should have read "speak publicly about [their] support for the American families and their Congolese children."  This is a very important point, that the children "stuck" in the process are still Congolese citizens, regardless of visa status. The Congolese government is already interceding in a situation involving their citizens--they are refusing to allow them to leave the country with their adoptive parents (American or otherwise -- the suspension has been applied to ALL international adoptive parents, not just Americans).

This brings me to the main reason why I am writing. I want to address the glaring omissions in a petition that has been signed by 75,000 (at the time of this writing) people.  These omissions relate to two important questions. First, why is the Congolese government interceding in such a drastic way in the lives of Congolese children who are being adopted by foreigners?  And second, how are we going to respond to their motivations for the suspension? Neither of these issues have been addressed in your petition.  Given that this petition was put forth by Both Ends Burning, it seems logical to conclude that the answer to the second question is found in the legislation you are supporting: CHIFF.

But let me not gloss over the importance of the first question.  Why has the Congolese government (via DGM, DRC immigration) suspended  the issuance of exit letters for internationally adopted Congolese children??  The most often quoted reason I see put forth by most of the supporters of BEB and CHIFF is that rehoming concerns in the U.S. is the reason for the suspension.  If that is the case, than why is the suspension applied to every foreigner adopting from DRC?  Why is it not limited to only the U.S.?  I believe the suspension has less to do with rehoming issues than it has to do with issues around power, corruption, and the practices of in-country staff of foreign agencies and organizations that facilitate adoptions in DRC.  If you have followed media reports coming out of DRC over the past four years regarding adoption (for example, through Radio Okapi), you will have read reports of child trafficking, orphanage raids, and illegal border crossings.  If you have followed individual stories of adoption in DRC (via blogs and stories in the U.S. media from adoptive parents), you will have learned of falsification of documents, DGM bribing, siblings spilt apart, lost referrals (only to have them referred to other agencies), abuse of children in orphanages, false abandonment reports, coercion of birth parents to relinquish children, and high foster care fees without documented expenses (average of $500/month/child), monthly orphanage donations (average of $300/month/child), and child finder fees/social service referral fees (average of $1000-1500 per referral).  If you have followed the embassy announcements and update calls of the past 2-3 years, you will also have found concerns of corruption, false documents, bribery, illegal border crossings, and backdated court documents. All of this information is publicly available, and all of it paints a very clear picture of endemic corruption and fraud in the international adoption business in DRC. 

Given these are the actual reasons underlying the suspension, what is the proper response? The petition suggest three responses: (1) ask Secretary of State Kerry to help in resolving the issue; (2) send a letter to President Kabila (the DRC president) and Prime Minister Ponyo to intercede; and (3) speak publicly of [their] support of the adoptive families.  And yet there is not a single acknowledgement that there are real ethical concerns and problems with corruption in DRC adoptions.  There is not a single statement or request in the petition that tries to address this urgent concern and plain reality. There is not a single attempt made to address the very legitimate and real concerns of the Congolese government and its need to protect its citizens.  The failure to directly address these concerns in the petition leaves adoptive parents, the Congolese children, and birth families more vulnerable to exploitation by adoption agencies and on ground staff -- both of which profit from international adoption.  This omission  also implies that this corruption isn't of concern to the U.S. government.  To state it in another way: by not making the concerns of corruption and unethical adoption practices of utmost importance, we are implying that they are of no concern to the U.S.  And if you would suggest that CHIFF is the response the U.S. government should make to address these valid concerns in DRC, then please read my post (and the recommended readings that are at the end of the post as well as the comments) about why I feel CHIFF will fail to protect children in DRC from exploitation. 

I strongly feel that the petition you are pushing forward will lead to an outcome you do not desire: the plan will backfire and will only lead to increased suspensions and delays; ultimately leading to more pain for vulnerable children, their adoptive parents and birth families in DRC. My friends who are currently in process are counting on you and BEB: please don't disappoint them.  But even more than that, the vulnerable children and families in DRC need our protection and support.  Failing them would be an even greater travesty.  

Sincerely,

Holly Mulford, concerned DRC adoptive parent

Addendum:  This post was written yesterday (April 5th, it is the morning here of April 6th because I'm in Tanzania).  As I went to publish it this morning it was brought to my attention that some of the stated goals of the BED campaign to help DRC adoptive families have changed.  I won't make this lengthy post even longer going into what the statements might mean.  Please ask about these changes and for clarification on what their wording actually means for ALL families adopting from DRC.  Again, it is important how your name and information will be used in their campaign.  Any changes should come with a call or letter to all the families involved explaining what the changes entail and mean.  Here are the new changes: 

"We would like Congress to request DRC consider three actions to help these children and their adoptive families while DRC’s government conducts its review.

1) Require the DGM to process and expedite adoptions for any child whose health is at risk.

2) Direct the DGM to honor its original commitment to process exit permit applications for the families that had been approved prior to September 25, 2013.

3) Provide the families who have received approval to adopt a Congolese child on or after September 25, with a means for obtaining exit permits."  (source)


Addendum 20 Sept. 2014.  If you are here because of the repost on facebook here is what I said:  I am a DRC adoptive parent. I will not be silent. And I haven't been silent over many years. 5 months ago I wrote the following post. From it I still stand my words I wrote then, "The failure to directly address these concerns [corruption and unethical behavior] in the petition leaves adoptive parents, the Congolese children, and birth families more vulnerable to exploitation by adoption agencies and on ground staff -- both of which profit from international adoption. This omission also implies that this corruption isn't of concern to the U.S. government. To state it in another way: by not making the concerns of corruption and unethical adoption practices of utmost importance, we are implying that they are of no concern to the U.S." When we stay silent in the face of corruption and illegal activity, we are complicit in it. When we stay silent in the face of injustice, we become part of those that are participating in that injustice. When we stay silent when DRC laws are broken (whether we agree with them or not), we allow it to continue and in staying silent we say "we don't care" and it implies we think we are above the law. Why would DRC allow adoptions to continue from the U.S. if that is what they hear from us? Staying silent is what will prevent children from coming home from DRC that need new families. Staying silent will only allow children to continue to be taken from their first families without their consent and knowledge and it will only allow children that do need new families to stay in DRC indefinitely. Do not stay silent. Speak out that you do not agree with the action of those that would try to smuggle their children out of the country over the past year. Or those that would take children from their birth families that love them. Or would give bribes in order to get DGM exit letters. Or would allow falsification of adoption documents. Do not stay silent. Do not try to hide wrong doing. It will only cause the country to shut down to adoptions. Speak out! Demand accountability from your agencies, from your friends, from your on ground contacts. Let your voice be heard, that you care. Fight for justice. If not for your child, then for every child that needs a family (whether that means reunification with their existing family or a new adoptive family). Our silence is action. And it is heard loud and clear. http://fusion.net/justice/story/american-implicated-congo-child-smuggling-ring-1062500
Please also see this post for some excellent follow up comments on the above article.  http://lightofdaystories.com/2014/09/20/alleged-child-smuggling-comes-to-light-in-drc-amid-hopes-of-avoiding-a-media-storm/

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm not entirely opposed to all your statements, but doing absolutely nothing doesn't help anyone especially the children. Were looking for them to fix the system instead of just stalling it. No work on ether end, DRC or US, is being done to improve on the real issues, and that's where I have my problem. I was for waiting for both governments to fix the problems, but I am not for them just sitting and making us wait, because they can't or won't come up with a solution. I don't advocate for my own child then who will?

Anonymous said...

Bravo. Outstanding post.

Signed,
An adoptive parent of Congolese children

Anonymous said...

One of the children died waiting this morning. There is nothing really more to say than that if I am to stay within your comment guidelines.

Amanda said...

Thanks for your analysis Holly. You raise some great points about the holes in the campaign.

Anonymous 1, I don't think the post suggests we do nothing. Just that we consider the petition as a whole.

Anonymous 3, I'm shocked that you find it appropriate to use a child's death to attack someone you disagree with. The implications are quite offensive and obviously misdirected. I hope you find freedom from your pain as you are clearly in a difficult place in life.

Rogue Mamacita said...

Anonymous 3, was this child in agency-provided foster care? At $500/month or more? Because it seems like if a waiting child died while under agency care, your anger should be directed at the agency, not a blogger who has absolutely nothing to do with the situation. I also find it curious that you would imply that this blog post had anything to do with this child's tragic death and not even have the courage to attach your name to such a horrible comment. That speaks volumes.

As for the post itself: I agree 100%. While my heart aches for waiting parents and for the children who truly do need families, I haven't seen any proof that BEB can actually do anything to effect change or that this is anything than a ploy to use these hurting families as a political advocacy tool. And I'm offended greatly by BEB and agencies' refusal to acknowledge the actual concerns of the Congolese government -- the Interior Minister CLEARLY stated that the suspension was due to criminality in the IA process. Why not talk about that instead of blaming the State Dept for something that isn't its fault?

Danielle said...

I am the parent of a child who has been legally adoption by DRC law but who is still in country and am affected by the DGM suspension. I too have asked some of the same questions to posts made regarding the actions of BEB. As of yet I have not received a response. Thank you for your thoughtful analysis of this real issues at hand and the proposed response which I agree seems to miss the mark. I just hope that these well intentioned actions do not end up making things worse for all.

Katie Ganshert said...

Love your heart, Holly. And always, I love your wisdom. You're a level-headed and informed voice in DRC adoptions, for sure.

Here is where my frustration lies, and (from what I've gathered) here is where I hope BEB will be able to help.....

Yes, DOS sent a delegation. And yes, a delegation is coming here. But why, then, can't they answer the basic question: Why did DRC stop issuing exit letters? The conference call with DOS was beyond ridiculous. That seems the first question that should have been asked, yet nobody at DOS could answer it. Nobody seems to know the answer. We can speculate. It's because of the rehoming article or it's because of corruption, or it's a political move, or......a combination of everything and nothing. The thing is, the U.S. government has not yet engaged DRC's government about the WHY.

And until we know the WHY, we can't take steps to address whatever concerns the DRC government has that led to the shutdown. I believe this is what BEB is pushing toward....get the U.S. government to engage in this discussion.

As far as the delegation that is coming. They aren't even from DGM. And if the concern really is the welfare of the children who have been adopted, why then is DOS not contacting families with children home from Congo to set up meetings between the delegation and these families, so the delegation can ask questions and make observations and reach a more informed conclusion? As far as I know, no families who have Congolese children home have been contacted. Yet they are more than willing.

I can't speak for anyone else, but this is where my frustration with DOS lies. I'm hoping the petition will get our government to sit up and pay attention and take these issues seriously. But I ill be the first to admit that I am a desperate parent at this point....with a Congolese daughter living half a world a way. So I'm not even sure if I see the situation clearly or objectively anymore. I've often said that international adoption - especially from DRC - is like Alice's rabbit hole. The further in you get, the more confusing things become. I honestly don't know which way is up half the time. I just know there is a "Ganshert" in Congo and we want what is best for her.

As far as the corruption......yikes. I don't know. It's so systematic and widespread and I have a million thoughts (not all of them cohesive) on all of it....but that is a comment for another day. :-)

Thanks for your two cents, girl. Always appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. A much, much needed voice to add so that we are not blindly advocating for an end that may not wisely or respectfully consider the Congolese leaders and the consequences of such advocacy.

Anonymous said...

Extremely thought provoking post. You raise a lot of great points, Holly. It questions the agenda, and disrespects a country clearly questioning adoption ethics overall. I hate that the children are caught in it, which raises emotions.

P.S.
My child is still in foster care, doesn't have a visa. I will say, our agency is extremely transparent about where our foster fees are going - the attorney broke it down for families on a phone call last week, again.

Holly said...

Katie, thanks for the thoughtful comments; I always enjoy talking to you about all of this. I totally get the frustrations you are expressing. And I do hope that if this petition does lead to U.S. Government clearly outlining all the concerns the DRC government have beyond what they have all ready expressed, that will begin some honest and productive conversation about the corruption in IA in DRC.. I think it is beyond time that there is more agency accountability for what is happening on the ground right now. That would be a positive step for sure so that those children, like yours, can make there way to you.

Jess said...

Fantastic post! Our kids have been home almost three years now. We were paying $150/month per child in fees to feed them and for their medical care four years ago. I am astounded at the fees that are being asked by agencies now. Even then, knowing the standard of living in Congo, $150 per child seemed outrageous. And our children still came home extremely malnourished and sick. And that was with us paying for their care for one year. This is ludicrous. They should have been healthy, and plump and doing great by International adoption standards. Clearly, the system is broken and big changes must be made. I know people hate hearing things like this from parents who already have their children home. They are quick to say things along the lines that people adopt and then change their mind and spout anti-adoption rhetoric. But truly, once you are on the other side and less emotionally involved in the situation because your kids are already home, you start to really understand and look at the things that didn't match up, look at the program as a whole and see the warning signs. I am not saying that parents just ignore those in the process of adopting, but it is very hard to think objectively about certain things when your kids are literally on the line. We must advocate for ethical adoptions, trust me, you do not want to have doubts about your kids's stories. I have said it before, that is where we are, and it really sucks.

Juergen Franz (Germany) said...

I am reading all of this and wonder why we always get stuck on the same issues when we are talking about international adoption - corruption, fraud, the money involved etc. and never focus on those children truly needing loving families fast - in some cases simply to survive the next few month. I hope there is no one out there who believes those children do not exist. I have seen them in DRC and there are lots of them. And their situation is totally unacceptable to any caring person regardless of their country of origin.

If we were to put all of the effort currently used in heated debates to fulfill our promise to the children of the world giving them a loving and caring family, we would have made great progress.

In the process we should do our utmost to reduce corruption, and fraud and possibly entertain the idea of making international adoption FREE so there was no longer a money aspect. But please, lets not wait until the world is a perfect place before we provide children with the families they so desperately need.

Carlee said...

@Katie Ganshert

"Why did DRC stop issuing exit letters? The conference call with DOS was beyond ridiculous. That seems the first question that should have been asked, yet nobody at DOS could answer it".

Based on the State Department alert that was issued in December 2013, falsified Bordereau letters and the mistreatment of DRC kids adopted by US families were behind the DGM's decision to suspend the issuance of exit permits.

In case you've forgotten, DRC is a sovereign state -- and is 100% entitled to not issue exit permits to its own (Congolese) citizens for any (or no) reason at all. The girl you've adopted on paper is a Congolese citizen ONLY.

Not only does the Congolese government not have to issue her (or any of its own citizens) an exit permit, they do not have to explain WHY no exit permit was or will be issued.

It's not unreasonable to assume that DOS has asked Congolese officials what the heck is up with the suspension, what specific issues regarding re-homing DRC kids in in the US, etc.... and that the Congolese government has elected not to answer them.

If the DOS hasn't gotten an answer from the Congolese government regarding WHAT information they want on the welfare of DRC kids adopted by Americans, well, there's not much point in contacting US adoptive parents of DRC kids.

DOS can only push so much -- the Congolese government does not HAVE to answer their questions, does not HAVE to send officials from the DGM as part of the delegation that will visit the US and doesn't HAVE to issue an exit permit to the kid you adopted on paper. EVER.

The petition? As written? Makes irrational and irresponsible and, frankly, unreasonable demands of our elected officials. The message, as written, is that American adoptive parents paid good money to adopt Congolese kids and they want their "purchases" ASAP, even if those kids have been trafficked, even if the kids have a loving Congolese family/extended family that is willing to raise them!

"Hand over the kid I've spent $35k on so far, ethics be damned" is perhaps not the best of all possible messages to want our elected officials to tell Congolese officials!





Anonymous said...

@Anonymous April 6 / 10.59 AM

It's tragic that another Congelese child in the "adoption pipeline" has died -- the death of any kid, particularly a PREVENTABLE death is, is a tragedy.

However, it is worth noting that if that kid was trafficked (coerced away from biofamily/extended biofamily that was willing or able or actually raising them) into international adoption*... then the death is extra-tragic. Because the kid would probably still be alive had he/she not been placed in a sub-part "transition house" or "foster home" that the adoptive parents were paying US$500-600/per month for!

* which may well have been the case, based on nothing but the "48 Hours: Perilous Journey" episode, in which Sue Hedberg/CCI operated with impunity and the adoptive parents featured were AWARE that at least some of the paperwork they used to complete their adoption of 2 Congolese girls was fraudulent (i.e. kid wasn't in the orphanage the paperwork said the kid was in on a particular date).

Anonymous said...

Carlee-
As an adoptive parent already who is waiting to bring home her child from Congo, I truly appreciate your response in bringing back out the known information that is being ignored at this point in the process. As adopters, we all committed to this process in full consciousness. It is OUR responsibility to research and become educated about what we are entering into. International adoption is entering into a process where you are submitting yourself to a foreign government. A government that is not the US and shouldn't expect to function identically to the US. Many of us do not have any capacity for understanding a culture unlike our own and I think the greatest call is to caution against leaving a legacy of entitlement that characterized our pursuit of our Congolese children.

kym said...

Yes, my opinion is that if one "doesn't have any capacity for understanding a culture unlike our own", one shouldn't be trying to adopt a child from that culture one "doesn't have any capacity for understanding". How can that be "committed to this process in full consciousness"?

I would think the purpose of adopting would be to help the child, not help oneself to a child with no understanding of his/her culture or origins.

kym said...

@Carlee,
Excellent points. I'd like to add that it's possible that the DRC has spoken with DOS and been clear, but DOS/US government doesn't want to look like they've got egg on their face. The truth is that the US has not:

1) ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, or
2) enforced ICPC laws that are in place in every US state to protect children from interstate kidnapping, or
3) complied with other country's court orders to return or reunite kidnapped IA children.

But the US government agencies has removed US children from their biological families for minor offenses and then adopted them to adoptive parents with more serious criminal record.

Anonymous said...

kym-

The two statements you quoted are directed at two different areas. When I say that adoptive families enter into this process in full consciousness, I am saying that the steps in the adoption process are laid before us from the beginning. The adoption.state.gov website lists the steps of a DRC adoption (specifically listing the final step as the issuance of an exit letter). Some tv news segments I have seen have shown adoptive parents speaking about all of the work they have done to get this far. It is that thinking to which I wrote what I wrote. None of the steps of an adoption process are a surprise. None of the work of an adoption should be flaunted as something that puts adoptive parents in a position of deserving anything.
The second statement about the incapacity for understanding another culture is much broader than you are applying it. I wrote that statement in response to the way in which some people seem to want the DRC governmental procedures to make American sense. If you have lived or travelled internationally, you know that through that experience you gain an understanding of how much you really lack an understanding of what it truly means to be Congolese, for example. Most adoptive parents have not had a cross-cultural experience that would open them up to true understanding. I am a woman and will never truly know what it is like to be a man. The children I have at home are African. I will never truly know what it is like to be African. I was hoping to make a simple point to encourage US families to think about the complexity of the situation at hand.

Christian said...

Christian, Attorney at Law (DRC Bar Association)
Dear Holly,
I read your article with great interest. I enjoyed it at its fair value.
But I think it’s very important to make a difference between the wrong-doing and what it’s good. The Government decided to suspend the adoption process, okay. Why? Where are facts? Since September 2013, we supposed to know now what going?
If there are people who do not respect the law, these people should be simply arrested, prosecuted and punished according to the law.
International conventions place the interests of the child at the heart of any adoption proceedings or any decision concerning him. Is it in the interest of kids to wait in Kinshasa when they’re coming 2,000 kg without any information? Are they going to go back to their original place? Are they going to go in court in order to cancel the adoption process?
I’m talking about real cases of adoption. The decision does not even respect the Congolese law.
So a decision was taken, we wait and nobody does anything and nobody knows what will happen?
Reuters conducted an interesting survey on the U.S. adoption cases. We had some facts. But here we are still waiting to know the facts. The use of a right when it is not supported by facts and evidence is an abuse of rights.
Yes, you’re right but they need to take actions or to arrest those who have not complied with the law. But they don’t have punished everyone! It’s unfair.

Holly said...

Maitre Christian,
Thank you for commenting. We do know why there are ongoing suspensions. Even as recent as last week, the U.S. government stated, "The [DRC] government has asked all affected countries to give them the time necessary to review its adoption policies and processes following the growing Congolese concerns of fraud, corruption, and child-buying in the adoption process." (DOS statement on DRC April 16, 2014). You ask some great questions. First, regarding your comment that those that break the law should be arrested. I agree, however it is not that easy. If an agency from the U.S. is breaking the law in DRC, they are not accountable for the actions of their on-ground staff in DRC, so that means there are little to no repercussions for their actions in the U.S. Second, child trafficking for the sake of international adoption is not illegal in the U.S. Thirdly, I agree that international conventions protect the child, but the U.S. has not ratified UNCRC (UN Conventions on the Right of the Child) and because DRC is not a Hague signatory country, it means U.S. agencies do not have to abide by the guidelines that help to protect children in DRC. Finally, I am not arguing that DGM is right in suspending adoptions in this post, I'm saying that issues of corruption must be addressed if adoptions are going to continue in DRC. Is it fair to the 50 or so children who have visas and are waiting to exit the country? No. Is it fair when a child is taken wrongly from their birth mother for the sake of international adoption and there is nothing done to rectify that wrong? No. Both situations are very unfair and hurt the child. Both situations need to be addressed. In addressing the first, one must not ignore the second.

Christian said...

Dear Holly,

When It’s come to law, there are always flexibility as it isn’t black and white. Some precedents may apply.

1. The US Congress has enacted statutes covering genocide, war crimes, torture, piracy, slavery, and trafficking in women and children to meet the U.S. obligations under international agreements ( The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008, reauthorization of the Federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act as well as advancing state policy in nearly all 50 states).

2. The Trafficking Protocol was adopted by the United Nations in Palermo in 2000 and entered into force on 25 December 2003. As of April 2014 it has been signed by 117 countries and ratified by 159. The US signed it on December 2000, 13 and November 2005, 3.

3. Although U.S. federal courts do not apply the doctrine of universal jurisdiction, Filártiga v. Peña-Irala 630 F.2d 876 (2d Cir., June 30, 1980), interpreted the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C., which provides: The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.

4. The Filartiga ruling allows a range of tort claims for alleged breaches of the "law of nations". Companies may also be liable for the illegal exploitation of resources abroad under the National Stolen Properties Act and the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), …

5. Based on the Alien Tort Statute, South African citizens has introduced many cases in that direction

I know my country regarding delays in term of administrative procedures. If this situation lasts until 2015, I think the attention of the country will be more focused on electoral campaigns (2016). I was a volunteer lawyer in cases of sexual violence in eastern DRC. I can tell you that between what I saw there and the country's politics, this is not an emergency on the political agenda. I can inform you that there is no proposal on the agenda of Parliament from changing our policy(adoption). Pending the appointment of a new government, all current ministers are prohibited from performing acts or ministerial Order.

Holly said...

Maître Christian, thank you again for the comments. It would be very upsetting if reform wasn't undertaken; it is much needed, for all the vulnerable populations that are affected by international adoption.

Christian said...

Dear Holly,

Thank to you for your initiative.

Best regards,