Reporting of Ina Hut, Former Director/Director of World Children (from February 2003 to September 1, 2009 statutory director/director).
This document provides a chronological account of events surrounding adoptions from China, how this issue was handled by the Ministry of Justice (MVJ), and how the “World Children” responded.
This report is also a response to statements issued by the MVJ on the “Netwerk” broadcast of August 18, 2009 and replies to the official questions as a result of the broadcast were made by the opposition Socialist Party and Christian Democratic majority party.
Reporting starts from the moment that “World Children” confronted evidence of abuse surrounding adoptions from China (early 2006) until the moment I resigned my position (September 1, 2009).
The reason I resigned my position can be summarized in outline:
- The high risk to children inherent in the current system;
- The fact that the Central Authorities in inter-country adoption place other interests above those of the children;
- The lack of support, even from the MVJ of the opposition party, to examine the accuracy of the backgrounds of children from China and the correct procedures. Although the MVJ stated that it would be possible to do an undercover investigation, there was no form of study acceptable to the MVJ.
This report is designed in particular to substantiate the above outline, based on a chronological listing of events with respect to adoptions from China (Part II). Some of the criticism can also directed at a number of other sending countries. I will then go to the personal conclusion (Part III) and finally give some recommendations on international adoption (IV).
II. Background on adoptions from China
For several years, there have been indications that China’s orphanage directors were paying money to bring children into welfare institutions. There is already several years’ worth of evidence that the background and identity of children proposed for adoption are routinely changed. There are also many indications of direct children. This survey does not aim to provide a complete picture of all indications and evidence, but does give a picture of what was known to “World Children” and the MVJ.
In late 2005/early 2006 the Chinese media reported a large child trafficking scandal in Hunan, which took place in the period from 2003 to 2005. From the moment that “World Children” received these reports, in the Spring 2006, “World Children” called for further research on adoptions from China at the Ministry of Justice (MVJ). These reports were publicized in February 2007 by the Dutch media, including in newspaper “Trouw” (Exhibit 1).
In March 2006, a delegation from “World Children” (including myself) traveled to China to get answers to the questions of whether this particular scandal in Hunan may involve children who were adopted to the Netherlands. The Chinese Central Authority (CCAA) declined formally disclosing the identities of the children involved to “World Children”, because “World Children” was not a formal governmental body or interlocutor. Formally, the Dutch Central Authority (MJV) had a communication link with the CCAA, and the CCAA wished communications go through the Dutch CA, the MVJ. Informally, we were told by members of the CCAA that children from the child trafficking scandal had gone abroad. In response, the “World Children” urged the MVJ to obtain more information through their contact with the CCAA (eg, letter dated April 21, 2006, Exhibit 2).
The Ministry of Justice in May 2006 visited the CCAA in Beijing. The travel report the Ministry indicates that "given the sensitivity of the subject the irregularities were discussed only in the course of conversation.” The travel report indicated that it was "found that none of the children went to the Netherlands' and that in all cases where children for adoption abroad have gone, the embassies of the countries concerned are informed.” “World Children” is based on this information which the Ministry of Children World has passed, then the Dutch adoptive parents informed. At that time it appeared that the CCAA had the scandal well under control and that all the accused had been punished (see travelogue MVJ May 2006, requested from MVJ).
In early 2007, however, there were signs that the CCAA had given the same answer to all receiving countries. While the CCAA had informally confirmed that children from this scandal had gone for adoption abroad, every country was told that no children have gone to that country. Additionally, researchers who had studied the matter thoroughly indicated that there may have been many more children involved in the scandal, and that not all perpetrators had been punished. “World Children” thus continued to have questions -- questions “World Children” could not make directly to the CCAA, for the CCAA had clearly stated that “World Children” did not have formal contact. “World Children” also received during the first half year 2007 new indications and messages via the media and adoptive parents that there was more to it than that claimed the CCAA. “World Children” informed the MVJ of this, with the request that they do further research (including telephone and email exchange, January 2007). In July 23, 2007, the Ministry of Justice sent then - at the insistence of “World Children” - a letter to the CCAA (exhibit 3), which asked whether, after the visit with the CCAA, any new facts had been made available and whether anything was revealed about possible irregularities concerning adoptions to the Netherlands. Also, the letter asked what efforts on the part of the CCAA be been done to prevent or deter trafficking of children for (intercountry) adoption, and what preventive measures are taken to ensure that children are not unlawfully obtained (i.e. contrary to the principles of international conventions), to make available for intercountry adoption.
In October 2007, British Channel 4 news reported another case of child trafficking in China (Exhibit 4). In China, 70,000 children are marketed and sold annually, stated Kevin Bales, adviser to the UN program against human trafficking.
Child has brought the world MVJ letter on October 18, 2007 requested to investigate a possible connection between the abuses mentioned in the documentary and international adoption (Annex 5).
The MVJ then sent on November 15, 2007 (Exhibit 6) a letter to the CCAA in which the Minister of Justice expressed concern over the recurring reports of child-trafficking in China. He asked for a response from the CCAA. This letter also referred to the letter of July 23, 2007 of the MVJ to the CCAA, which at that time not been answered by the CCAA.
Moreover, we received the two letters sent to the CCAA until January 28, 2008, at our request (by mail). After “World Children” on January 22, 2008 inquired by mail whether a response was received from the CCAA, the MVJ on February 1, 2008 sent a reminder letter to the CCAA.
On February 20, 2008 (Exhibit 7), the CCAA sent a response to the letters from the MVJ. The letter of February 20, 2008 by the CCAA stated that the child trafficking scandal in Hunan was a singular incident. In the same letter the CCAA indicated that all the children were abandoned children, and were proposed for adoption in accordance with the rules, and that the interests of the child were paramount. The whole procedure had transpired in accordance with the rules of the Hague Adoption Treaty. It was noted: “It's better not to pursue, expand or elaborate on this issue further and to keep secret for related families in order not to interrupt the bond established between the adoptive parents and the children.” In the same letter the CCAA stated that the BBC documentary had not been viewed by her, and that she therefore could not comment on the issue (this documentary was available on the Internet; see previous comments in this report). “World Children” received moreover, after repeated requests, the letter of the CCAA to MVJ until July 17, 2008.
On February 22, 2008 (Exhibit 8) “World Children” sent a letter to the MVJ which mentioned the persistent rumors that the Hunan scandal involved a much larger group, approximately one thousand children, many more than the 65 children spoke about by the CCAA.
“World Children” also stated in that letter to the MVJ the CCAA all recipient countries have reported that the children into the country would have gone. The CCAA stated to “World Children” (during our trip in March 2006) and the MVJ had been informed that there were children from Hunan sent abroad for adoption. Where had those children then gone?
But there was more to it. “World Children” mentioned in this letter that a prominent high official in China had stated "off the record” that “an examination by the CCAA in China showed that there were enough domestic parents available to adopt the healthy children, and that they are queuing up.” “World Children” again asked the MVJ in the same letter to do further research.
There was however no conclusive answer. All World Children received the aforementioned letter of the CCAA to MVJ dated February 20, 2008, we also only after repeated requests on July 17, 2008 received from the MVJ.
“World Children” felt that research should be done, so on February 25, 2008 we asked the Hague Permanent Bureau if they saw opportunities to investigate this matter further. The letter from “World Children” to the MVJ (dated February 22, 2008) was included. On March 4, 2008, “World Children” was informed that none of the central authorities had received a request for further research. It was further stated that she could not respond to a request by a private entity. Moreover, it was told that the Hague Permanent Bureau didn’t have the resources nor the powers to investigate. The MVJ is about by World Children informed on April 25, 2008 and by mail and by mail copies of two letters received on. Quote from the letter of the Hague Permanent Bureau (signed by William Duncan): “I have to stress that we have not been asked by either of the Contracting States (i.e. China and the Netherlands) to provide any assistance in relation to the matters mentioned in your letter (dated 22 February 2008) to Mr. Levenkamp. Indeed, it would be highly unusual for us to be asked to investigate particular alleged abuses in a Contracting State – we are simply not equipped, nor do we have powers to undertake investigations of this sort.” (letter d.d. 4 March 2008). With “Contracting States” means the States participating in the Hague Adoption Convention (Exhibit 9).
A delegation of the House visited the Hague Permanent Bureau in late March 2008. One of the delegates responded (by email) to “World Children” that the Hague Permanent Bureau also told them that their resources and capacities are limited. It was also stated by the Hague Permanent Bureau that licensees and private organizations under the Convention have big responsibilities, but limited opportunities to make that true.
“Network” (EO) did further research into adoptions from China in Spring 2008. On March 11, 2008 (Exhibit 10), “Network” showed pictures which showed that directors of orphanages in China had paid for children and that children may have been wrongly proposed for international adoption. Then I, as director of “World Children”, publicly called for an independent and international investigation. To date, this study has not been produced.
On March 13, 2008 “World Children” received an alarming report by two American students (Patricia Meier and Xiaole Ling). “World Children” sent the report to the MVJ with this request in preparation of the planned MVJ trip to China (see attached report, Exhibit 11).
“World Children” at that time stressed the importance of dialogue with China. We asked the MVJ for a fundamentally substantive discussion about adoptions from China. We asked the MJV to ensure that choices are made not based on political interests, but the interests of children must prevail. We ask the MJV to initiate a “round table” discussion on adoptions from China, with key players in the field. The essential debate on adoptions from China remains out.
On March 14, 2008 the Minister informed the House, in response to questions by Ed Anker (CU) that he would approach the Chinese authorities and ask for clarification. The minister indicated that he would inform the Court by May 1 (2008) (Exhibit 12).
On March 24, 2008 MVJ received a letter from the Chinese Embassy that the reports by the Dutch media were not correct. First, according to the Embassy, it was not true that local officials would take away children from parents in Hunan. Second, all 17 children adopted by Dutch parents from the Shaoyang Welfare Institute had been abandoned children. Third, the Chinese Embassy stated that getting a twin or multiple births are not an infringement of the Family Planning policy, as it was and is seen, but that these families would receive financial compensation from the Chinese government. It was specified that the reporting was based on unfounded allegations, which would damage the image of China. The Chinese Embassy gave to believe that the MVJ the Dutch media in an objective way control (letter was requested from MVJ).
On April 1, 2008 the Minister informed the Court, in response to questions from Ed Anker. The minister saw no reason for drastic measures in relation to adoptions from China. He also indicated that there was frequent contact with the licensees and that license holders would be involved in the preparation of the proposed visit to China (Exhibit 13).
On April 21, 2008, Brian Stuy, an American researcher (married to a Chinese woman and three children adopted from China) sent a report by email to “World Children”. A copy of this report was sent by him to the MVJ. Mr. Stuy had on March 25, 2008 also sent a mail to the MVJ, but had received no response. He also sent “World Children” diverse research materials and evidence. “World Children” gave the U.S. research material to the MVJ. This material sent by Mr. Stuy consisted of audio tapes of interviews with directors of Chinese children's homes, which confirmed that on a larger scale directors have paid and are paying reasonably large sums of money (more than a half year’s pay) for children to enter the orphanages. Also this director said that these practices still continue at that time (see audio recording of Fuzhou, the largest orphanage in Jiangxi, Exhibit 14).
Also, the study material demonstrated an extreme increase in the number of intercountry adoptions from certain orphanages in China. Brian Stuy, in his email, stated that he believes that at least 10-20% of the homes in China are involved in baby-buying programs, if not more. He has evidence from several homes to substantial this.
Brian Stuy indicated that he believes that a program is fairly widespread across China, and “I have specific evidence from orphanages in Chongqing, Jiangxi and Hunan provinces.” The MVJ was informed of this evidence from Brian Stuy (Exhibit 15).
It was my urgent request to the MVJ that they make contact with him. In April and May 2008 they held two telephone conversations with Mr. Stuy. Brian Stuy has indicated that these interviews were brief.
Brian Stuy indicates, in a recent email, that he has become aware of more orphanages that pay money for children, stating "There are many more orphanages we are very sure are doing baby-buying, but for which we have not had a chance to talk to anyone to confirm.”
On April 24, 2008 the Minister informed the Court that a high official delegation would visit China in the second week of May, 2008, that that the Court would be briefed of this visit by June 1. This delegation consisted of two employees of the Bureau Central Authority (Exhibit 16).
“World Children”, prior to the trip, sent the MVJ very many questions about adoptions from China, and urgently requested that they come back with answers (interview April 6, 2008 and letter dated April 25, 2008, Exhibit 17 and 18).
On May 1, 2008 “World Children” ceased taking applications from adoptive parents wanting to adopt healthy children from China. Reasons for stopping included the long waiting times and the belief that China had enough parents willing to adopt a healthy child. We also wanted to obtain the results of the survey before making a final decision on whether or not to proceed with the adoption of healthy children from China. The last reason is World Children also do not actively communicated to the constituency, because this in advance could cause unrest among adoptive parents and adoptees.
From 6 to May 9, 2008 the MVJ visited China (trip report is requested from the MVJ. “World Children” its request to the travel of the MVJ received containing the request to the MVJ confident to handle).
On May 12 there was a documentary shown by ABC News (Exhibit 19): Here it was shown that large-scale baby buying programs in China were still in place, not only in Hunan, but in several other parts of China. These children were being submitted for international adoption.
I made the MVJ on May 13, 2008 aware of this documentary. They indicate that this is an example from practice in the province and during the trip already confronted with it. The MVJ gave this response that they will still check with the CCAA.
After returning on May 26, 2008 was the result of this trip at the request of the World Children in China working licensees feedback. World Children had the appropriate questions by them during this trip performed "research". This we have also reported MVJ. There are the MVJ talks in China, research did not exist. A few things to light I below.
-- In a preliminary briefing before meeting with the CCAA, the Dutch Embassy requested the MVJ be prudent when discussing sensitive topics.
-- Furthermore, the MVJ stressed that it is the responsibility of competent authorities in the country of origin to determine if adoptions comply with the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention. These authorities would be responsible for checking the requirements as stated in the Hague Adoption Convention. This means that the cooperating countries are heavily dependent on mutual trust (see also letter from the Minister of Justice to the House dated September 10, 2008). In other words, thorough investigation is not really possible and is not performed.
-- The Ministry of Justice did not visit any provinces, and did not engage in any discussions with local authorities.
-- A meeting with an employee of UNICEF as an official statement presented by the MVJ, while UNICEF itself and others have indicated to us that she has done no research into adoptions in China and there is nothing to say about it (see also September 10, 2008).
-- Moreover, there were still many unanswered questions from “World Children”, including questions “World Children” had passed to the MVJ before they traveled to China. These questions as yet had not been answered conclusively by the Ministry of Justice.
The MVJ had some unanswered questions. We gave the MVJ an overview of the open questions given to them (Exhibit 20).
Because there were still many open questions, “World Children” decided to do our own research. Licensees in the “Quality Framework” are required to obtain as much information as possible about the accuracy of the procedures, and must be able to identify the backgrounds of the children. With adoptions from Convention countries the formal responsibility lies with the Central Authorities. However, it is - despite the “Quality Framework Licensees” - still not clear where the responsibility of the licensee ceases and its relationship with the responsibility of the MVJ begins. Anyway, I felt then as director of “World Children” morally responsible for the accuracy of the procedures and I believed that this was an obligation towards adoptees, the adoptive parents and the biological parents. For that reason, a colleague and I traveled to China in July 2008. During one part of our journey one or more of our Chinese staff in China accompanied us.
During this trip (3-12 July 2008) we interviewed in Beijing, but we are also visited a few outside provinces. We talked with the Central Authorities (CCAA), with local authorities, with directors and staff of orphanages, with executives from fellow adoption agencies from abroad, an investigative journalist, with a staff member of UNICEF, the ILO, with a Chinese Dutch scientist, with the Dutch Embassy, and with our own four local staff. The talks were conducted in both English and in Chinese.
During the trip we got more and more indications that Chinese orphanages were paying on a larger scale for children who are placed in orphanages, and that the CCAA has been informed of this practice. Also, insiders told us about large-scale baby buying programs in China. The people who told us this received their information directly from directors and staff of orphanages. One person told me that the directors have contact with local midwives and they (the directors) heard from them when pregnant women were found. They contacted these women (I don't know if this contact was made by the directors or via midwives) and offered money (200 - 300 USD) to the mothers if they decided not to keep the baby, but would give the baby to the orphanage after they gave birth. For example, when the mother got to know that the baby would be a girl (before they gave birth or at the moment she gave birth). There are now also known amounts of up to 600 USD. Thus, orphanages would ‘book' children, by offering pregnant women money in exchange for their child when born. Also, there were many examples of children who come from a particular province and were transferred to homes in other provinces, although not formally. Papers were then falsified, finding locations made up, etc. This is what we were told by our informants.
We visited several provinces during the trip, and held official talks with local authorities, also visiting several orphanages. In the provinces, we learned that there is more information about the children that the local authorities know, but is not provided by the CCAA to the adoption agencies.
During the trip “World Children” held two talks with representatives of the Dutch Embassy in Beijing, on July 7 and July 11, 2008. During these conversations, employees of the Embassy stated that the issue of possible abuses surrounding adoptions from China is a “politically sensitive issue” and that the Embassy can only get information through official channels. The Embassy is not looking at the adoption documents on local or provincial levels. They further agreed that the path before a child comes to a Social Welfare Institute remains vulnerable.
Also gave an employee of the Embassy that the date of the notarial deed, the date the document, often the same date as that which the child would be placed abandoned. That is not correct, said an employee of the embassy. She indicated that for the Embassy to issue a passport, they must take a substantive look at the deed. However, in issuing a MVV (Temporary Residence Permission), they do not. Adopted children travel to the Netherlands on an MVV, so there is no requirement to look substantively at the documentation.
Our staff in the Embassy also stated that the CCAA has more information about children than the deeds mentioned.
During the second interview with the staff of the Embassy, is was also discussed how there can be more clarity on certain issues. The Embassy stated that a National Human Rights Organization is an option that may provide more information, collectives and lawyers.
There is much more to tell about our own experiences and the conversations we have had, but this report is already so large. The report of this trip is demand, partly anonymous due to possible risks to interviewees.
On July 15, 2008 “World Children”, after returning, gave the results of the trip to China in oral feedback to the Ministry of Justice. In outline:
There remained the question whether Chinese orphanages on a larger scale paid for children, or that this incident was going to. World Children was mentioned during trip to China the impression that in paying for children who were placed in homes, not incidents would go, but that these payments on a larger scale it;
-- “Subsidiary Principle” (requirement from the Hague Adoption Convention) was not followed in China, and China did not first consider whether local children could be placed in a domestic family;
-- The local authorities and orphanages often have more information that is known about the children than was given agencies by the CCAA;
-- “World Children” feels that there are enough parents in China wanting to adopt a healthy child. In other words, inter-country adoptions of healthy children from China are not necessary and are against the Hague Adoption Convention.
Children were heard by the world and was particularly MVJ as feedback that the situation in a World with Children colored glasses were viewed. Criticism of restrictions on Children of the World 'research' of the MVJ were discarded. Further investigation was not necessary under the MVJ.
“World Children” felt that more research was needed before a final decision on whether to proceed with adoptions from China could be undertaken.
Because the MVJ, in the view of “World Children” took insufficient action, “World Children” urged that further research be performed by the MVJ. The MVJ, however, remained committed to its position, that all 'research' had been done. World Children has stated this on his own initiative or want to do proper research. It is World Children already in July 2008 on several types of research discussed with the Ministry of Justice.
On August 12, 2008, the Dutch Embassy in Beijing, in response to outstanding issues, held a meeting with the CCAA. The report of this conversation we shall not hesitate to provide. The CCAA said that no children involved in the Hunan abuses were adopted by Dutch families. The CCAA does not say whether those children were adopted into other countries, but that it would "contact the effected countries concerned to discuss".
The ABC documentary was also raised. This the CCAA dismissed as an old case, and that action had been taken. (The report of this meeting was requested from the MVJ, but “World Children was told the request is too confidential to handle.)
On August 29, 2008 “World Children” received a draft of the letter that would be sent to the House. “World Children” did not entirely agree with the contents of the letter and believed that further examination should be done before conclusions could be drawn. This is also indicated by “World Children” to the MVJ.
On September 4, 2008 a meeting was organized - at the urging of the “World Children” - to draft a letter on adoptions from China, to be sent to the Ministry of Justice and the House to open discussions. These officials were present, along with the MVJ, and representatives from two of the three adoption agencies operating in China. The third agency was not physically present, but participated by telephone. In this conversation “World Children” indicated that they wanted to do further research. In this regard, “World Children” again expressed its concern regarding adoptions from China and has been discussed by World Child by Child World to initiate research, which should be carried out undercover possible.
The withdrawal of the authorization of “World Children”
After this conversation Mr. Leven asked me to sit Camp. I asked a colleague of World Children then to also sit, what happened. This conversation was alongside Mr Life Camp, also half (interim) MVJ official of the present, Mrs. Van 't Wout. During this "personal" call of “World Children”, various options were put forward on how to do further research. “World Children” suggested topics of research could be run by a Dutch University and several Chinese Universities. Also suggested by “World Children” was the idea to conduct research through local Chinese or human rights organizations as well by an American researcher. This interview also discussed the possibility of an undercover investigation, among other possibilities. It did not specifically discuss just an undercover investigation.
“World Children” by Mr. and Mrs. Van Camp Life 't Wout during this interview originally urged to conduct any research, no matter what kind of investigation whatsoever. No research was to be discussed. When we kept insisting, we were then told that if “World Children” did their own research, their adoption license would be revoked. "Lack of cooperation" would be the reason that the MVJ would give to justify the revocation. The reason for this measure, it was said, was that other interests were at play, and damage to the China-Netherlands relationship could arise. To some extent meet the insistent requests of World Children until further investigation, gave the two officials of the Ministry of Justice that they are the ISS and the Hague Permanent Bureau would consider whether they could do further research. This was also true with some caution be included in the letter to the House. Based on that promise as I am then director of World Children not yet agreed to the implementation of further investigation, by or on behalf of World Children to implement.
I confirmed the meeting by email on September 5, 2008. In that mail, I thanked the officials for the frank discussion. The conversation was indeed frank, because it was recognized that other interests played a role with China’s relationship with the Netherlands, and that possible damage could rise if “World Children” would do further research.
In the week of September 8, 2008 I was called by one of the two officials, Mrs. Van't Wout, saying that the ISS would not allow for any further investigations. In the letter to the House it was then recorded by the MVJ that "organizations like the Hague Permanent Bureau have an important role to play, in awareness of adoptions from China.” However, the Hague Permanent Bureau has no investigative powers and of that the MVJ is aware. I feel this was therefore a false solution. On September 10, 2008 letter, the answer to parliamentary questions sent to the House (Exhibit 21).
The question of “World Children's” letter to the House
“World Children” had many questions to answer around the official questions concerning adoptions from China. “World Children” had used its own visit to China, according to the travel of the MVJ and additional evidence under a different impression of adoptions from China than what the MVJ puts in her letter to the House.
In answering the central questions surrounding “State Convention” that States should work based on mutual trust, according to “World Children” there was sufficient evidence that further investigation by an independent party was warranted.
The Minister, in his reply from the Hague Adoption Convention, received the following key principles:
1. the mother who would give up a child for adoption, which must voluntarily and after the birth of the child have done (to an established procedure);
2. for there should not those involved in the adoption of a profit there, paying for costs is allowed;
3. first is near the child's country of origin or a solution to be sought before intercountry adoption can be in brought into the picture (“Subsidiary Principle”).
“World Children” seriously doubted whether these three principles were/are being satisfied with adoptions from China.
As regards the first point: there is growing evidence that many mothers do not voluntarily surrender their child, as in connection with the birth control policy children are taken away by local authorities. These children have been proposed for international adoption. There is also evidence that we had learned of many children being “made” before birth, the so-called "baby buying programs.” According to some researchers and experts, this is done with the knowledge of the CCAA.
The second approach seemed and seems not to be conducted many Social Welfare Institutes and Children Welfare Institutes paid large sums for children are made, they can amount to more than half years salary. There are several audio recordings of such directors 'orphanages' who pay large sums of money. For “World Children” there remained the question of whether in China on a larger scale money is paid for children, or if this incident was isolated. “World Children” has, after the visits to China and from the additional evidence that was also provided to the MVJ, more and more the impression that the incident was not isolated, but that payments on a larger scale happened and are happening. This was the view of “World Children” that needs to be further investigated.
The third principle is not observed above: That the two systems of international adoption and domestic adoption co-exist. It is not first considered whether a child can be placed locally. The CCAA provides that it is better to find a family as soon as possible for a child, and that it does not matter whether this is a Chinese or a foreign family. Given that the orphanages for a large part depend on the donations they get through adoption and foreign adoption, and that usually brings more revenue than local adoptions, many orphanages prefer international adoption. This is a violation of the “Subsidiary Principle” of the Hague Agreement.
Dan also played for the “World Children” following (this information was then also shared with the MVJ): That local authorities and orphanages often have more information that is known about the children from within the CCAA licensees. This “World Children” told the Dutch Embassy (in July 2008), this we know from American research, and this we know because we have seen this with the local authorities (July 2008 trip). Children offered for international adoption have been abandoned and are often offered, while in the homes and at local / provincial level and perhaps at the level of the CCAA the names and addresses of the biological parents are known.
-- "World Children" is of the belief that enough parents inside China wish to adopt healthy children. This was confirmed by a senior Chinese official who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. In other words, inter-country adoptions of healthy children from China are no longer necessary. This does not, however, apply to Special Need Children.
-- China, with its large trade surpluses, is economically able to provide the orphanages the necessary financial resources. China and the Netherlands must comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This requires States to protect children, so the cost of the orphanages should be borne by the State. Homes should therefore not be dependent on donations from international adoption.
We also got different and sometimes contradictory information than the information it has received MVJ or have given to us. This contradiction was World Children worrying.
Thus the travel of the MVJ that the CCAA indicates that the Social Welfare Institutes and the Children Welfare Institutes are less dependent on donations, because they receive more money than before from the government. According to the information obtained in July 2008 during “World Children's” visit to the local authorities from different provinces in China, many institutions receive $1.80 per month for the care of each child, while for each child placed for intercountry adoption abroad the orphanages receive $3000. Local authorities and the management of the orphanages in the provinces we visited indicated that they desperately need donations in order to pay the necessary care. In the same trip, we learned that the home to which the MVJ visited received no state grants, but depended entirely on donations. Also, the travel indicated that Save the Children stated that the orphanages would prefer to join international adoption, this in connection with the donations (funds from adoptive parents, being $3,000-$5,000). These practices are not consistent with what the CCAA indicates.
Thus, if it is true that donations to international adoption are no longer an issue, as the CCAA has indicated to the MVJ, why are not they just abolished? And where does that money go then, the home has not yet required under the CCAA?
Thus the travelogue of the MVJ indicated that the CCAA held the view that paying for a child is punishable. However, at the same time the Director of the CCAA stated to “World Children” that it is acceptable for directors to pay a certain amount to “the finder”, the introducer of the child to the orphanage.
Since 2008 more evidence and signals have come forward to show that more is going on than what the MVJ indicates in the letter to the House. There is increasing evidence that directors of orphanages pay large sums in baby buying programs. This takes place with the full knowledge of the CCAA. At a conference of directors of the CCAA with the orphanages (16 and February 17, 2006), for example, the CCAA indicated that amounts of 500 to 1,000 yuan were acceptable. But the CCAA also said it understood that directors of orphanages needed more money and that they often have to pay more, since they otherwise would receive no more children for international adoption. (That much is paid and that the CCAA is aware and approves, is confirmed by audio recordings of Brian Stuy (noise rock, Exhibit 22, not inserted, but sent separately).
In the letter to the House dated September 10, 2008, it is further stated that the staff of the UNICEF delegation that spoke point out that their understanding of the incidents is that they are exceptions. However, email correspondence of UNICEF with others shows that UNICEF has done no research into adoptions in China. “We currently do not have enough information in the area that you are most interested. Most of what have been reported in the media are isolated cases and it is not possible for us to come up with a sound situation analysis at present.” (from email exchange of Arun Dohle with UNICEF, August 2007). Furthermore, UNICEF by mail in 2008 indicated that they have done no further investigation: “Currently UNICEF China office does not have a project on adoption as such, but we are including this component to be looked into through one of the "mini"-situation analysis that we are conducting as part of our ‘Mid-Term Review of Our Country Program with the Government of China’ - an initial step leading to perhaps a more comprehensive study that we may want to consider conducting in the future.” (from email change of Arun Dohle with UNICEF dated July 5, 2008). The same information was orally confirmed to “World Children” during the visit of the delegation of “World Children” with UNICEF in China.
In summary, there was sufficient reasons for “World Children” to continue to press for further investigations. This is especially important because the ability to research by other organizations is not possible. “World Children” feels responsible for the accuracy of the procedures and the accuracy of the background of the children who are adopted through “World Children”. As the ex-director of “World Children”, I continued to press for further investigation, either from an external party to carry out either by itself out (leave) perform.
“World Children” was told a number of times by the MVJ in October and November 2008 by telephone that their own research, in any form, was unacceptable.
Then I, as director of World Children, tried to obtain a clear written statement of what could or could not be done. Unfortunately not succeeded, I got an evasive answer or not.
I also wanted to know whether the threat of withdrawing the license of “World Children” was a personal action of two individual officials or the policy of the MVJ. As Prof. Hoksbergen was to have a conversation with the Minister on January 9, 2009, I asked him to raise this question in the interview. When Professor Hoksbergen raised the topic of adoptions from China, the issue was immediately countered: He was informed that a study had been done and that everything was in order.
Meanwhile the World Children MVJ about signals, messages in the media about possible abuses, etc. American studies from “World Children” felt that this was disturbing information which warranted further investigation (see Exhibit 22, a document submitted by Brian Stuy).
Eventually, “World Children” on June 8, 2009 (Exhibit 23) sent a letter to the MVJ, which included “World Children”s attempts to obtain clarification as to who is ultimately responsible for abuses, if “World Children” is prohibited from doing further research. In this letter I once again indicated that “World Child” was told by two officers that we were forbidden to further investigate, on penalty of revoking our adoption license.
On July 3, 2009 another adoption scandal emerged from China. This time it dealt with about 85 children from the Zhenyuan Welfare Institute. Once again the message was that children were taken away from their biological parents and then unlawfully submitted for intercountry adoptions to foreign countries (including the Netherlands). Recent studies by Brian Stuy have shown that some children from the orphanage contained the home address of the biological parents in their reference file (with the local authorities or the home). These children were not abandoned and offered for inter-country adoption. The identity of the child had been deliberately changed, which can be regarded as a crime.
“World Children” was informed by the MVJ on July 7, 2009 (Exhibit 24) that two children from this orphanage had been adopted through “World Children” into the Netherlands. In this letter I again referred to the threats of withdrawal of my license: "Since we have no power to check in China ourselves, and as you have discouraged us, under penalty of revoking our permit, I request that you send me the background of these children to verify whether these children were properly disposed."
On July 14, 2009, “World Children”, after repeated calls and with reference to the possible involvement of the National Ombudsman, received a written reply to the letter of the MVJ June 8, 2009. It read in part: "Our research can not be banned. But you must realize that, depending on how you perform this study, the effect it can connect China to all adoptions from China can be great."
In the letter itself on July 14, 2009 (Exhibit 25) is was not denied that the two officials had threatened to withdraw the license and also again not suggest a supposedly undercover investigation. Is explicitly requested the matter on paper, indicated "Our research can not be prohibited....” During the last ten months the MVJ held that “World Children's” own research should not be done, no matter what kind of research it was, under penalty of revoking the license.
The same letter also announced that following the recent scandal in Zhenyuan, officials of the Ministry would travel to China in September 2009, during which a discussion of the recent irregularities in Zhenyuan would be conducted.
The Member of Parliament De Roon (PVV) adopted on July 3, 2009 Questions about this scandal. The MVJ replied on August 4, 2009 (Exhibit 26).
It shows the results of the investigation by the Chinese authorities want to wait. Again we see the flaws of the Hague Adoption Convention emerging: the participating countries are self-policing. But if you are part of the system’s problem, then how reliable is that research?
Given the experience we have with the Department of Justice and the CCAA, there will again be no question of an independent investigation, and the truth about the backgrounds of children from China and whether or not systemically children are paid for by directors of orphanages in China will not be investigated. The proposed trip of the MVJ to China will not change that. It will be a repetition of moves.
Meanwhile, there are again signs that many more adoptions from China are not transparent (enough), or not accompanied by appropriate information about the backgrounds of children. In a recent audio recording provided by Brian Stuy (Exhibit 22) one can hear that the CCAA in February 2006 was already aware of the fact that directors of orphanages paid large sums for the application of a child. This evidence shows that the CCAA believes that the orphanages can’t help paying, because otherwise too few children for international adoption will enter the homes, and the orphanages can not survive.
III. Personal Opinion: filing function per September 1, 2009
Given these experiences, but also given the national and international setting whereby intercountry adoption is surrounded by market forces (demand determines supply), the corruption in some countries and the risks of such to children, the way the Central Authority of the Netherlands, and one number of other countries handle this, I can no longer be part of the system and I no longer want the responsibility for the risks and possible abuses. This applies not only to adoptions from China, but also for adoptions from other countries, which - coupled with the mechanism of market forces - I think also possess too much risk.
Adoptees, adoptive parents and biological parents are entitled to protection. This protection should be that inter-country adoption should be pure. And that is my opinion within the current system sufficiently. There is always risk, and a 100% guarantee can not be given. But the risk to children within the system of intercountry adoption worldwide has grown. While inter-country adoption was primarily motivated from earlier idealism, it has now become a system that is surrounded with too much “market”, corruption and high risks to children.
I've been trying to change society from within and to achieve within the global system that the interests of children be made first. The interests of children means that only sincere efforts are made to local children in a family place.
In my commitment to transparency and open procedures, and in my pursuit of truth regarding the backgrounds of the adoptees, I was not sufficiently supported, and even stopped by the Ministry of Justice. A Ministry of Justice is part of inter-country adoption the interests of the adoptees and children to be placed. My experience is that in the application of international law, the rights of adoptees and children are not sufficiently guaranteed, and that the Hague Adoption Convention and the interests of children and adoptees are subjugated by the MVJ to economic, diplomatic and political interests.
The latter is demonstrated by the obstruction of the MVJ to a thorough examination of adoptions from China. It is clear from the results of the AO on June 11, 2009 (which is not a method to control part of mediation can continue as usual, despite the fact that all the experts and the Minister himself believes that this method is not sufficient to control). And it is also clear from the ban on our doing our own research into the quality and background of adoption procedures in countries that are economically important to the Netherlands.
Where you should expect the Hague Adoption Convention may give a certain confidence, it gives a high degree of false security because the participating States will be dependent on several other interests when faced with whether they each will or will not account for (possible) abuse.
-- International adoption has, over the past decades, become a system where the demand for children supply (and price) of children is affected. One sees similar experiences in many different countries. A moratorium on intercountry adoption is, in my view, desirable in order for us to reflect on how desirable adoption is in the current system. The international system is too screwed up. A thorough independent investigation into the desirability or otherwise of intercountry adoptions (in general), within the framework of the market for children, with all the risks of child trafficking and its consequences, is desperately needed. During this period no new process should be started, no new principle consents issued, and no new intakes to the adoption organizations.
-- Thorough independent research into adoptions from specific countries, specifically targeted to the countries where Dutch work with licensees.
-- Parliamentary investigation into the affairs relating to adoptions from China and the attitude of the Ministry of Justice in this matter.
-- Research into the impact of the Hague Adoption Convention. Does it promote local adoptions or is the opposite the case? And does it work in terms of preventive or the correction of abuses, or does it offer only a kind of false security?
-- Investigate the development of policies surrounding adoption does not fit better within the Ministry of Development (promotion of local solutions in the country of origin) or the Ministry of Health (child). Lawyers of the MVJ should only monitor the implementation of laws and regulations.
-- The Dutch system of agencies (e.g. voluntary versus professional organizations, the number of licensees, the private nature of the organizations) reviewed on desirability, possibilities and impossibilities.
Drs. Ina H.R. Hut, former Director World Children (February 2003 to Sept. 2009)
October 1, 2009