High Level external pressure

U.S. and EU force reopening international adoptions

Jurnalul National, 23 July 2009

Jurnalul National came into possession of an official document of the U.S. Congress, in which 8 senators and 13 members of the American Congress ask the Romanian Government, since May, to reopen international adoptions. In parallel, the Committee on the Rights of the Child has given the same "advice" following the presentation of the country report of Romania in Geneva on June 5.

Romania has become the target of pressure from some interest groups and some foreign NGOs that fight for more than about 5 years to re-open international adoptions from Romania.

In fact, foreigners require the changing of Law 273 of 2004, which brought the regulations necessary to resume international adoptions after a suspension of over three years by the moratorium since 2001. The new law, however, accepts that children can only be adopted by foreigners who are relatives of the children.

Trafficking in children, unable to stop

Last week has come to light a new scandal concerning the illegal adoption of two Romanian minors in Italy, which has reopened the issue of international adoptions, a real battleground between the National Authority for Protection of Child Rights and several members of the European Commission, on the sidelines, and several private groups in the U.S. and EU which require reopening pressure through adoptions made at the highest level, from Western governments to the Romanian authorities. Exclusively Jurnalul National shows you an incredible document, bearing the letterhead U.S. Congress and signed by 20 U.S. senators and congressmen.

The letter, non published until, has been given to the Foreign Minister, Cristian Diaconescu, by U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, in May, when Diaconescu was at an official visit overseas. On top of that, although the document bears the heading U.S. Congress, the signatories declare to be members of a NGO, "The Congressional Coalition on Adoption".

Although the 21 signatories state functions congressmen and senators, they claim to be a simple group of American citizens who require a change to Law 273, which forbids international adoptions of Romanian children. The letter contains two misinformations: the number of children "adoptable" in the U.S. is not 60 thousand, but 129 thousand, according to international statistics, as regards the fate of 84 thousands of Romanian children, the figure is exaggerated, it includes all children who are included in the system of child protection, reintegration into their families or are in family care in Romania.

It has to be said that the Coalition, a private body whose members are senior U.S. politicians, is an initiative of Mary Landrieu, a signatory of the letter, the U.S. senator who has strongly demanded in recent years to resume adoptions from Romania

In July 2006, when President Traian Basescu visited the United States Senator Mary Landrieu introduced successfully, to vote in the U.S. Senate Resolution 359, which relates only to the ban on international adoptions by the Romanian authorities. And Hilary Clinton was involved in the issue of adoption of children from Romania and Croatia. In 1995, when she was the American First Lady, she spoke in favour of the adoption of 28 children, through the foundation of a Californian pastor, Wayne Coombs, whose organization, Adams Children's Fund, had no license for international adoptions.


The same pressures have resulted in recommendations for the Child Protection Committee of the UN, made following the submission of the country in Geneva from June 5, which was submitted by the Romanian delegation headed by State Secretary Ileana Savu, director of the National Authority for Child Protection. It recognized that external attempts to change legislation forcing Romanian.

Despite bans in force, Ileana Savu leans towards a compromise with countries wishing to adopt children from Romania. "There were and there is pressure. The issue concerns us, but especially to the Romanian Adoptions Office. We have found a new system for national and international adoptions. If we claim we are an EU member state, then we must find mechanisms to control what happens to our children, even if it be adopted in other countries and is not abused. It is okay to forbid a law, that of adoption, so just because we want us. have been pressure from the 90s and are still pressures, especially for children who are already in other countries that can legally remain there, "he said Ileana Savu.

Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu, said, exclusively for the National Official, that Romania will keep its position on the issue of international adoptions under current law. He admitted meeting and veracity of the document received from Hilary Clinton in May, meeting with the foreign ministers of Hungary and Serbia, the last Saturday, from Timisoara. "Both in terms of regulations and how they have implemented and the international relations of Romania has not anything new, so it is clear that this view does not intend to make any change, we he said.


International adoptions have become a hot topic immediately after Romania suspended this procedure in 2001. Since then, several Western governments have pressed Romanian politicians for the reopening of such adoptions, particularly through non-governmental organizations, through American congressmen and French, Italian, Spaniard and Germans Euro-parliamentarians, but also by other EU Member States . For example, reopening the international adoptions was "2" on the agenda of talks between Romanian officials and former state secretary of the U.S., Colin Powell, before the acceptance of Romania into political NATO.

Another demonstration of force was made by Silvio Berlusconi, in 2003, when he forced the hand of then Prime Minister, Adrian Nastase, for adoption by Italy of 105 children, although the moratorium signed by Romania forbade this. Interest groups have used the accession to the European Union, to ask repeatedly, to agree with the adoption of children by families in other countries.

The European Commission did a tough battle to halt international adoptions, after it emerged many cases where children were abused or have become victims of trafficking in children. The corridors of these pressures and the European Commission’s fight with the "black market of international adoptions" by foreign NGOs and politicians have been disclosed by Roelie Post, who coordinated the work for child protection in Romania, for the European Commission between 1999 and 2006. The details of this fierce lobbying and blackmail to which Romania has been subject to re-open international adoptions are presented in her book, "Romania - For Export Only, the untold story of the Romanian orphans", a book that got no attention whatsoever in our country.

Attachtment: Letter of US Congress


External pressure and interest groups

Fascinating.  I don't understand why a country would succumb to the pressure of certain special-interest parties (within the American adoption industry), especially if that once-criticised-country has been working very hard to prove it wants to take care of it's own people, and improve living conditions. 

During the 1990s, Romania was a popular country for Americans and Europeans adopting abroad. But reports of baby trafficking and corruption plagued the practice. Hoping to improve its child welfare practices and gain entrance to the European Union in 2007, Romania passed a moratorium on international adoption in 2001. Hundreds of adoptions were suspended. Many of those American families have urged Congress to pass a resolution allowing those adoptions to move forward.

Without the option of sending the children abroad, Romania needed to substantially reform its child protection system. It had begun dismantling its large orphanages in 1997 and that process gained momentum during the early 2000s. There were three options for institutionalized children: reunification with a birth family, moving in with a foster family, or for those children who would be extremely difficult to place, joining a small group home where they could live out their lives.


From Orphanage to Recovery Center

The movement away from large institutions is evident in Bucharest. Take St. Catherine's orphanage which serves one of six sections of the capital city. It used to house a thousand children in its 19th century pavilions. Today, the children are gone. In an overgrown central courtyard, chipped and peeling swing sets hang motionless and a cement wading pool sits empty.

Part of the orphanage has been renovated and turned into a recovery center, providing therapy for its former residents who now live elsewhere.

The old orphanage also houses a maternal center, where women can stay for up to six months with their babies. It's an effort to help mothers who in the past might have had to give up their children to an institution.


Romania's Future

Romania is eager to show the many improvements it has made for its children. A small group home shown to Nelson's group in May 2006 was airy and pleasant, with friendly caregivers. A group of 12 children will call this home and live out their lives here.

Earlier this year, Romania was embarrassed when Mental Disability Rights International, a non-profit advocacy organization, published a report and photographs alleging severe mistreatment of handicapped children.

Romanian officials dispute the accuracy of the report, claiming the information was out of date.

At a news conference in Bucharest in May 2006, American ambassador Nicholas Taubman praised Romania's progress, saying, "Sixteen years ago, there were more than 170,000 children in horrific state-run institutions. Today, the number is down to 28,000. But that's 28,000 too many."   [From:  Rewiring The Brain -- Early deprivation and child development  ]

And I certainly don't understand how the American government can say "we" make better care-takers when all one has to do is look at the state of Foster Care in the USA.

To this, all I have to add is this quick little reminder about the motive behind orphan-saving:

It's true that, sometimes, international adoption can save a child's life. But be very careful. By heading to a poor, underdeveloped, or war-torn country to adopt a baby, Westerners can inadvertently achieve the opposite of what they intend. Instead of saving a child, they may create an orphan. The large sums of money that adoption agencies offer for poor countries' babies too often induce unscrupulous operators to buy, coerce, defraud, or kidnap children from families that would have loved, cared for, and raised those children to adulthood....

Another problem is that the abandoned or orphaned children who actually do need homes are rarely the healthy infants or toddlers that most Westerners feel prepared to adopt. The majority of children who need "forever families," as the adoption industry puts it, are five or older, disabled, chronically ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need of extra care. The exception is China, where the one-child policy led to an epidemic of abandoned girls.  [From:  The problem with saving the world's 'orphans'

When it comes to re-opening international adoption doors, I wish Romania had the courage to follow the words used by a former first-lady, when she was introducing a new anti-drug campaign to a  younger generation:  "Just say NO!"

Stepford variations

It's a sad state of affairs, but as the article already stated, the adoption of Romanian children was the #2 issue in talks related to Romania's acceptance into NATO policies. Think about that for a moment. While discussing international military security and cooperation, inter-country is one of the most prominent topics on the agenda.

Now why is that?

One of the politically influential groups is the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), a rather bizarre phenomenon of a lobby group formed by members of congress. CCAI tries to portray itself as an organization devoted to adoption of American children from foster care, but much of their activities is in fact related to international adoption. Not only has CCAI been part of the lobby for the re-opening of Romania since 2001, they were also actively involved in the Joint Council's Guatemala 5000 initiative.

Many of the most active members of CCAI are adoptive parents themselves. It somehow makes me think of the Stepford wives. By adopting a child, some people, especially those in power, become members of the keep-adoption-going-forever-family.

Still, even if there were no CCAI, the pressure on Romania would still exist. The keep-adoption-going-forever-family is bigger than US congress. In all Western countries, there are fierce lobbies of adopters and prospective adopters that try to push their respective governments towards lax adoption regulation. The desire to be part of the keep-adoption-going-forever-family is stronger and more fanatical than any opposition can ever be. The desire to have a child at all cost can not be met by any other zealousness conceivable. On top of that many adopters are affluent, many adopters do have ties to those in power, so the entire keep-adoption-going-forever-family has a powerful stake in all political systems in the Western world.

Top that with the relative whiteness of the supply Romania has to offer and it becomes evident why the pressure to re-open keeps being applied. When Romania closed its borders in 2001 prospective adopters were outraged, not only those who had a winning lottery ticket, but no way to cash it in, but also those that were merely on the waiting list. How could Romania deprive them of THEIR children, was an often heard complaint at the time. How dare a poor and undeserving country keep their white children, when there were European and American families emotionally starving for an infant of their own? How could Romania be so selfish?

Those sentiments never disappeared and to this day pressure is put on Romania to open up again. I fear somewhere down the line Romania will give in.

Americans, SHAME ON YOU!

In America, there are 115,000 U.S. children in foster care available for adoption.

Shame on you Hillary R. Clinton. Shame on all you American politicians who put American children last on your priority list. Shame on Americans thinking international adoption is a better answer to improved domestic care.

May God have mercy on all your corrupt misguided souls.

Pound Pup Legacy