Rights Groups Howl, Demand Probe

Date: 2008-02-01

Elijah Yormie is only ten months old. He is enjoying the spring weather by now in the United States of America. He has no idea how he got there. His fate was determined by a child adoption agency that placed him into the hands people working for another adopting agency in the United States.

Like Elijah, Obadiah Perthan, one-year old, should be in his adoption home in the USA also. The kids were among seven children reportedly sneaked out of the Liberia into America at the behest of the Holy Ann Petree and Addy’s Hopoe Adoption agencies based in the USA.

Ten minors were allegedly mobilized from various orphanages and homes and brought under one roof in Monrovia at the Greater Love Children’s Home, working with a man identified as Pastor Richard Wesley. Greater Love and Pastor Wesley are both partners of the Addy’s Hope Adoption Agency.

The children also include Moses Flomo, 4; William Dahn, 3; Theresa Dahn, 2, Janet Dahn, 5; Winston Kokeh, 5; Levetta Quatta, 3; and Benedict A. Carter, 3. The name of one of the children is still unknown.

Media reports said Deputy Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Joseph W. Geebro has put a hold on the children’s leaving from Liberia until he verifies whether or the adoption groups involved are legally registered under laws of Liberia.

He was however reportedly pressured by some lawmakers and coerced to write a letter to authorizing that the children be taken away. While government was in the process of investigating the adoption of the ten kids, information released to the media by a group of Child Rights Advocates have raised their voice against what they described as “such illegal trafficking of Liberian children”.

In their statement read yesterday at the press conference, Sustainable Development Program (SDP), Helping Hand Liberia, FIND and National Child Rights Observatory Group (NACROG) said, “Ten more children have been adopted from an unaccredited orphanage for inter-country adoption.”

The groups, speaking under NACROG, said the illegal adoption of children from Liberia is “grave and looming danger” and that the danger of illegal and fraudulent adoption of children, some as young as less than one year old is not only worrisome, but also threatens the lives of those children.

“The children are future leaders”, the group noted; hence their welfare must be sought now. They added, “It is worth noting that the processing of inter-country adoption takes about at 2-4 weeks, a short period of compatibility between children and the adoptive parents.”

The group wants the government to conduct a probe into the wave of child trafficking. According to them in 2006 alone some 353 children have undergone inter-country adoption, which they believe is alarming for a country with a small of population of three million people.

“It should be noted that the Liberian domestic laws contain safeguards, procedures, and practices for all adoptions in Liberia,” the group urged, further calling on the Liberian government which is signatory to several international instruments, including the UNCRC, Hague Convention which is yet to be ratified, and the African Charter on the rights and welfare of children, to take practical steps to stamp illegal adoption and child trafficking in Liberia.

Not much is known about the Greater Love Children’s Home in Liberia and Holy Ann Petree in the USA, but information available on Addy’s Adoption and Child Relief Ministry shows that agency provides personal, caring assistance in adopting kids.

The agency claims to have clients in 50 states in the USA international programs. It assists heterosexual individuals adopt children under its program, it claims to adopt children not less than two years, but some of the ten children are less than two years.

The rights advocates are worried that some of children may not just be adopted and treated humanely, and as their spokesman, Sayon Kieh said, “these kids could be used as sex slaves, for child pornography or child labor. In any situation, these are Liberian children and what affects them affects the country.”

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