When children become a commodity

Monika Herrmann-Schiel (CBA)

September, 7, 2009
22:00 hour, WDR

Translation from orginal German text

Political TV "Search a child - pay cash. The Adoption Lobby" - report about so-called humanitarian foreign adoptions

Cologne, "They should make their own children, as I have done it, just as my mother has made us. Have they not the same body as us? "Marineta Ciofu is outraged. They just explained the woman from the North-eastern Romania that her daughter Mihaela was adopted by Americans. Ten years before Marineta brought the girl into a children's home because at that time she could not care for her. When her situation improved, she wanted to get her back, but the girl had disappeared. Without her consent, Mihaela had been given to an American family.

Marineta's child is just one of some 30,000 Romanian children that were 'mediated' abroad over the past 20 years. Why do international adoption have such influential advocates, what does it mean to those concerned, and who benefits from it? Golineh Atai looks for answers to these questions in her report "Search a Child - pay cash - The adoption lobby" which the WDR television broadcasts on Monday, September 7, at 22 o'clock.

For over four years, journalist Atai deals with the subject. She had noticed that the reports of international adoption are usually about the adoptive parents, who ardently wish for a child. But hardly anyone asked about the feelings of biological mothers or the children involved. In 2005 she received for the subject "International adoptions in the global children market", a research grant from the Otto-Brenner Prize, which allowed detailed investigations in India.

Behind the help for poor children in reality there are selfish businesses and motives,that also the Dutch Roelie Post knows. Whether it would not be better to help poor parents to help themselves, she wants to know. Roelie Post was from 1999 to 2005 responsible for children’s rights for the European Commission. She should see to it that the international adoptions in Romania would be discontinued. This was one of the conditions for the admission of Romania into the EU.

What Golineh Atai hears from Roelie Post and her former boss Guenter Verheugen, in interviews, is outrageous. Influential lobbyists practice high-level pressure. In particular, the Americans see their "right to adopt" threatened. In the eye of prospective adoptive parents the EU’s policy prevented that "thousands of Romanian children could come home'. That home, of course, was at the other side of the Atlantic.

Together with Roelie Post, Atai was on the road in Romania and visited, apart from Marineta Ciofu, two Romanian families, who adopted children from their own country. But this was a difficult battle, because the authorities and adoption agencies did not want them as parents. Money from abroad, often disguised as donations, were better for them. Police and prosecutors were under one blanket with the Mafia, says a father, who had to fight for five years for Ioana. Three weeks the family hid themselves because the child was already "booked". Roelie Post considers such international adoptions as legalized child trafficking. Golineh Atai’s film shows forcefully that much of what seems humanitarian, ultimately is just an inhumane business.


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