German couple granted adoption of Namibian Child

by Faith Sankwasa and Tirivangani Masawi

September 24, 2009 / informante.web.na

HIGH Court Judge, Justice Sylvester Mainga, has ordered the state to allow a German couple to adopt a Namibian child who is currently living under their care.

The couple, Jen Holger and Bianca Detmold were seeking a court interdict in the adoption of Sonia Hammerslacht but the state argued that they were disentitled to adopt as they had not yet acquired Namibian citizenship.

In their application, the Detmolds cited the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Child Welfare (now Gender Equality and Child Welfare) and the Commissioner of Child Welfare for the Okahandja District as the respondents.

Government attorneys were questioning the legality of the adoption of Namibian Children by foreigners as it is not catered for in the country’s Constitution.
Presiding over the case heard yesterday at the Windhoek High Court, Justice Mainga ordered the state to hand over the birth certificate and adoption order as required by the applicants.

The State argued that, despite the agreement between the couple and the child’s biological mother, the law does not allow Namibian children to be adopted by foreigners.

The State quoted Article 15 (1) of the Constitution which says Namibian children should be cared for by their biological mothers and that the law does not specify on the adoption of children by foreigners therefore provision should be made for Parliament to deliberate on the matter.

According to the Namibian law, the couple should be permanent residents in the country for them to be able to adopt the child.

However, according to Justice Mainga’s order, the adoption should be urgently approved and that failure to comply with the order will not be condoned.
Permanent Secretary for Women Affairs and Child Welfare, Errka Usiku, who was cited as the respondent had also filed an affidavit objecting to the adoption but Justice Mainga’s order nullified the affidavit.

In addition, Usiku argued that they could not make the concession as the matter could be referred to the Children’s Court for consideration if Parliament removes the absolute prohibition upon non-Namibians as parents.

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After the first, it gets easier

The State argued that, despite the agreement between the couple and the child’s biological mother, the law does not allow Namibian children to be adopted by foreigners.

The State quoted Article 15 (1) of the Constitution which says Namibian children should be cared for by their biological mothers and that the law does not specify on the adoption of children by foreigners therefore provision should be made for Parliament to deliberate on the matter.

According to the Namibian law, the couple should be permanent residents in the country for them to be able to adopt the child.

And elsewhere, there is the story of another relatively "unknown" African country, a traveling foreigner who wanted to adopt, and a poor child who had living family members (meaning, the child was a non-orphan), but no great future prospects awaiting her.  This foreigner made visits, but was not a resident.  What she showed was money a serious interest in the poor child (and many other children, too.)  As a result, said foreigner with much money, power and influence was able to convince the state, their adoption laws were too outdated.  

Earlier, a Malawian court ruled that Madonna may not adopt three-year-old Chifundo "Mercy" James because of a requirement that prospective parents live in the country for 18 to 24 months. The judge said that allowing Madonna to circumvent the rules would leave children vulnerable to trafficking.

"There's a gripping temptation to throw caution to the wind and grant an adoption in the hope that there will be a difference in the life of just one child," Judge Esme Chombo said after the closed-door hearing in Lilongwe. "By removing the very safeguard that is supposed to protect our children, the courts by their pronouncements could actually facilitate trafficking of children by some unscrupulous individuals ... I must have to decline to grant the application to Madonna."

[From: Madonna appeals against Malawi adoption ruling ]

In case no one knows the happy ending, the foreigner's wish was granted, and the child was sent away. 

<hmm>

Keeping children within their own country, even if they're poor, IS a bad way of doing government business, isn't it?

Residency requirement

A residency requirement is usually one of the best ways to curb the ever expanding reach of the adoption industry. Prospective adopters are often out for a) healthy infants, b) as fast an adoption procedure as possible. Those countries that can provide both usually have booming adoption figures. It happened in Romania, it happened in Vietnam, it happened in Guatemala and it's happening in Ethiopia as we speak.

A residency requirement is a very effective instrument in taking the speed out of the adoption procedure and as a result the vast majority of prospective adopters opt out of the programs. Apart from cooling down the demand, residency requirements have an additional value, it creates to opportunity to see how adopters and child are doing before the adoption has taken place.

in countries that don't have a residency requirement, adopters and child hardly know each other when the adoption takes place and the child ends up with strangers in a strange land. Sometimes there are obligatory post-placement reports, but those often are not made at all. Post placement reporting is a sham anyway. I still have to learn of the first case where post-placement evaluation resulted in the termination of the adoption, while there are plenty of cases where the lack of post-placement evaluation resulted in the termination of the child.

Residency requirements can be a helpful instrument in making sure prospective adopters and child are indeed a good match. It also helps in removing the photo-based match. When having to stay for an extended period of time in the vicinity of an orphanage, prospective adopters can get to learn several children. The photo-based matching now taking place, claims a child for prospective adopters that know only the photographic image and a file written by agency workers. When living abroad for a while to prepare for adoption, these forced upon "bonds" are no longer necessary.

Most countries in Latin America have instituted residency requirements over the last decade. The rampant corruption in adoption has disappeared and the number of adoptions to foreign countries have gone down significantly.

Let's look at the child, for just a moment

While there are celebrity AP's wishing to speed the adoption process so it equals the time of a single gestation, there needs to be a loud voice that asks:  WHY are you doing this... and WHY does it have to be done so quickly?!?  Is it to protect a child from harm, or is it end a long-road that includes infertility?

A residency requirement is a very effective instrument in taking the speed out of the adoption procedure and as a result the vast majority of prospective adopters opt out of the programs. Apart from cooling down the demand, residency requirements have an additional value, it creates to opportunity to see how adopters and child are doing before the adoption has taken place.

A residency requirement tells me the AP's are learning the language the child may already know/speak.  [I believe this is very helpful, for obvious reasons, but Kimette writes about language barriers after adoption far better than I ever could.  See:  Call us mommy and daddy ]  A residency requirement tells me the AP is showing a healthy dose of respect for the child who must adapt and adjust to dramatic change.  A residency requirement tells me the APs are willing to learn a culture and way of life that is not like "home". 

In keeping with the Deborra-Lee Furness belief that there should be an enforced legal "limit", I believe any AP who wants to "save" a child from a foreign country should also be willing to make the sacrifice needed, much like a mother has to when giving birth.  Waiting for a phone call, saying the foreign child has been delivered is NOT the same as "being there", living with all the pain and mess.  In fact, I wonder just how many foreign adopters could live in some of these adoption-friendly countries and really benefit from the many lessons foreigners can teach them in relation to parental obligation and responsibility, family roles, family needs and the various ways in which certain cultures have to work to survive?  [I personally respect those who move into a country and help the locals; I'm very suspicious of the people who visit a region, fall-in-love and decide they want to take a child as some sort of souvenir and keep-sake.]

Maybe if more foreign PAP's became locals for a while, and saw what selling children is doing to mothers, fathers and family members (on a long-term basis), they would appreciate the loss many have to grieve because "someone" wanted to fill a void and/or create a bigger family.  Perhaps then even PAP's would want to find a better solution to poverty and poor health-care than the adoption-option.

some countries requirements...

In South America, it is required for the PAP's to stay as long as 1-2 months while doing the adoption.  I was required to stay in VietNam 3 weeks one time and then two trips.  In Guatemala I contracted Dysentery and had to go home after two weeks.  Living in another country during an adoption is a good idea, although the risks of sickness are HUGE.  I developed staff infection near my eye on one long trip to VietNam.
I understand what you are saying, and I agree that the longer a PAP's stays in the country, the more they are familiar with the customs and life of the child.  It's very scary...  I was able to meet some of the bio family, plus learn a lot about the bribes and illegal stuff that was going on around me.  I met many PAP's in many stages of adoption.  My eyes were opened, but my hands were tied.  I didn't see much corruption with my adoptions until much later; when you are there, it's very traumatizing and you really aren't aware of what is really happening because of the language and everyone is doing something different.
How long is the requirement for residency in another country?  In our state it is 6 months.  If a couple could afford that, it would be a very real bonding time with the child; but most people are spending borrowed money to adopt overseas, taking time off work, having others take care of their other children, and it would be quite an investment.  Do you see this ever happening?  I know celebrities can handle this because they have the money up-front.  And isn't it really all about the money, anyway?

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

What money can get you

Money can get a person many things, including a long holiday vacation and a child.  Money can buy health-care and an education.  Money can buy a car, a house and all the toys a heart desires.  Money money money can do many many things, if you have enough of it.  [Note:  I did not include a common misguided belief that money can buy happiness.]

So let's look at what the money from AP's (and others concerned about poor suffering orphans) is "giving" the poor children languishing in foreign orphanages, (as opposed to local foster-care).

Is the money providing better health-care and services?  [Want to be disgusted? Look what Mother Teresa had her sisters do with all the money sent to her and her poor children! ]

Is the money given reducing child abandonment, improving the lives of families in distress, and reducing illness in local areas?  [If anything, that promise of money, and so-called "better life", is motivating others to relinquish their children to complete strangers who may or may not have a child's best-interest at heart.  (Need I refer to the Abuse Cases, again?)]

Or is the money (from required fees "donations") going elsewhere... improving the lives of those looking for greater improvements, (like a new car, new house, or new holiday?)  [See comment, Corruption and how an adoption facilitator broker spent her free-time, thanks to adoption fees:  Adoption broker get 18 months ]

You know what's funny to me?  I don't know how health-care in Germany is or currently operates, but I do know many (American) PAP's wishing to save poor foreign children with "special needs" forget there are many children "at home" without quality health-care and insurance coverage.  What are those locals to do as they watch foreign children from corrupt countries benefit from "much better" paid (American) health-care? 

Makes me wonder, in the world of adoption, where is the charity of heart, and what are the priorities?

Perhaps this does put it best: 

isn't it really all about the money, anyway?

what having good insurance gets you...

Having good insurance gets you high on a list for adopting a "special needs" child.  And as you state: WHY " forget there are many children "at home" without quality health-care and insurance coverage...."
People living in America are complacent about the needs of children in their own country.  We see commercials mainly of FOREIGN born children crying... FEED THE CHILDREN for only $15.00 a month (or whatever) and people think, I can do better than that!  And don't they portray the cutest "poor" children they can find for these ads?  in America, people are led to believe that only black children are starving, and not many people want to adopt an "American" black child because, won't they grow up to play rap music and quit school?  BUT, a "black" child from another country makes it seem more desirable, since you can say, NO my child is NOT an African-American child, he/she is TRULY adopted from ......... fill in the blank with the most popular adopting country of the year.
It's the GLAMOR!  Americans want the notoriety of adopting differently.  20 years ago it was the ending of the Korean adoptions being the fad, and the start of places like Romania where the kids had white skin.  OH YES, there are still those who want to adopt the child that "looks like them" as opposed to the ones now who WANT the distinct difference so they stand out more.
I HATED people mobbing around us to see our cute adopted children!  I wanted to be a family!  LEAVE US ALONE!  But you soon get used to it and the babies get older, and you are finally left to be a family.... 
Adoption has a lot of reasons behind it; some are truly honest people wanting a family.  I didn't have a family.  I wanted a family. But there were others who wanted to be like us; and why shouldn't I believe this when they DID have families and children and the whole shebang?  So when I see what adoption has become, out of what it should be, I just have to butt in here and have my say.  Thanks for listening.

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

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