Romania’s lost orphans adopted abroad are they dead or alive now; who knows, who cares?
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For almost 20 years the large concerns interested in International adoptions, their foreign supporters and followers along with many Agencies and NGOs that worked in inter country adoptions before the Romanian ban on such adoptions have constantly denied the public Worldwide the truth of what happened to the thousands Romanian children adopted and exported abroad between 1991 and 1997. They have at worst stated that there may have been a few irregularities in a few cases to cover the dirty work that saw thousands of nameless children transported abroad for huge sums of cash in exchange and these very people all well versed are today still trying to press Romania to re open its trade in children today despite the fact the Country has no need of inter country adoptions nowadays.
Today the truth is clear for everyone to read thanks to a “Romania libera” reportage that has investigated what happened to thousands of children adopted in the period 1991 to 1997 and proves that the Romanian authorities have no information regarding thousands of children adopted by foreign persons in that period.
In the Romanian Adoption Office one can only read in that period the number of children adopted within the official database without any names mentioned of those children, their addresses or biological parents or the names of their adoptive parents. Even the numbers of children adopted may not be a true figure as in the period after the Revolution up until 1997 in particular many a child was exported without its rights or that of its biological parents ever being taken into account as the huge unregulated business in international adoptions jumped into Romania to take its pick of innocent Romanian children.
Bucharest authorities have no knowledge at all on 16,041 children adopted by foreign citizens between 1991- 1997 as the database lacks all the important and relevant information about those children. Children’s names not filled in, no ages filled in and no mention of the foreign person that adopted them, what Country they went too and what address in that Country, just a number in the record and that’s it. Who were those children? Where are they now? Who are they with? Are they alive or dead?
These are questions that remain even today unanswered and even worse is that experts believe the figure may be even higher of children trafficked abroad under the guise of inter country adoptions within that period.
In the time after the Revolution and for the next 7 years Romanian orphanages were a hot potato in the arms of the authorities who were under huge pressure internationally to reform a childcare system left over by the communist’s regime that had departed in December 1989 and had housed thousands of children in orphanages in poor conditions. The authorities at the time under this huge pressure from external sources allowed a weak system of options including inter country adoptions that were completely as now known unregulated and certainly did not prove to be in the child’s best interest.
The entire World appeared in Romania under the pre text of saving a child as has also happened in disasters since like in the Tsunami crisis and the rule of law was literally forgotten about, thus children were exported abroad with ease and huge sums of cash around 30,000 plus USD per child changed hands as agencies working hand in hand with NGOs many times gained easy access to vulnerable children and profited from them.
In that time and up until the Romanian County offices for child protection were set up in 1997 one simply visited an advocate who one was pointed towards by those working in the export of children within Romania and a new act was produced and with this you took the child as yours! With this the Court issued a new birth certificate and you left with your child and went back to your home in the foreign Country. It was all too easy; no searches of the child’s identity, its biological family were about or of yourself and your background. The court information never went into the national database and so there was no official record, so no follow up as is international and Romanian law could ever take place on this adopted child.
Mrs Theodora Bertzi the former Secretary of State for the Romania Adoptions Office in 2005 – 2007 period has fought hard many years now to unravel the missing cases of Romanian children adopted in the period before her time in office and agrees that the 16.041 figure is in fact not correct as 2 or 3 Counties failed to furnish her with the information she asked for regarding at least 4.814 children that also were not accounted for in that 1991 – 1997 period and she agrees that the information in the old archives is indeed incomplete. The figure of 30.000 children is a far more realistic figure as revealed in a study produced by IMAS in 2002 about the number of children adopted abroad from Romania until the year 2001.
Another former official in the adoption system Alexandra Zugravesca the former director of the Romanian adoption committee until 1994 also does not agree with the figure of 16.041 internationally adopted Romanian children stating its too small a figure and agrees that a correct number cant be given for certain as in the 90s there was no data base of these children.
In the short period between August 1990 and July 1991 10,000 children were adopted internationally as Romanian became the hotspot on the globe for international adoptions; In the first 3 months of 1991 alone some 2,000 international adoptions were concluded by foreigners, thus the 16,041 figure can easily be seen to be far too low overall.
In this time Non Governmental organizations were not monitored and intermediary international adoption agencies took advantage of the chaos created and made certain that no follow ups could ever be undertaken on these children by failing to have their details properly registered in the national database and the Romanian authorities of the time also failed in their duty to control the whole inter country adoption free for all that had hit Romania.
The International adoption agencies then as toady hide behind the Hague agreement as a form of protection for children in inter country adoptions and clearly this agreement which favors the agencies as a tool to try show credibility for their actions failed the thousands of Romanian children who are now lost without trace as it still today fails the best interest of the child to be respected in inter country adoptions that are still unregulated and a form of child trafficking.
Children in that period were even sold in Bucharest Hotel lobbies and hallways as the complete lack of regulations saw hundreds of thousands of USD in total change hands for these children in total. In other Romanian towns also children were adopted in the same fashion and their details again never registered.
I myself in the 1990s was shocked when a former orphan young woman asked me to go with her back to Popricani orphanage just outside of Iasi as she was seeking information about herself and her Biological parents as was of age to get her own identity document and thus needed this vital information. In the small Popricani orphanage office she gained no information and after I pressed the orphanage clerical officer we were shown the actual register at that time, which again showed page after page with just a number and no other details on the register. In a few cases there would be a date of birth or first name but no family name and on asking we were told that these might not be real as were assumed to be information as in the date of birth based on a child’s size only. Asked why there was no information and all sorts of excuses appeared the best being that none had arrived with the child on admission. It took the young woman many years and a great deal of searching to gain her identity, plus meant her traveling to many areas of Romania for information and being often humiliated as she asked to gain such from local officials in the late 90s.
At the same time pedophiles roamed the Country also and for certain with such lacked regulations gained a child, plus in the case of Popricani children were abused by a respected French NGO and this saw eventually its head Michael Soulounet jailed in Iasi in the same time as the American Kurt Treptow was also jailed in Iasi for the same reason. His case was made worse by the fact that the US ambassador to Romania at the time Michael Guest who had already caused deep disgust to Romanians when appointed as brought his male lover to live with him in Bucharest plied thankfully without success for Treptow’s release from jail in Iasi.
The simple answer as to why Romania had to ban and did ban inter country adoptions is now clear for all to understand and it is a reason why more and more Countries are looking to follow suit today around the World as these kinds of unregulated adoptions are defiantly not in the best interest of the child whilst they remain unregulated and whilst huge sums of cash are exchanged for a child.