Selling poor children to rich parents (translated from Spanish)

Periodismo Humano:

Se venden niños pobres para padres ricos

Selling poor children to rich parents

“There wouldn't be so many children in orphanages if there weren't so many people ready to pay so much money   for them”

"Those who pay too much, and 20.000 euros is too much, contribute to maintaining a corrupted system"

"There is no better place for a child than the one where s/he was born"

Later and later: our society tends to postpone the moment to have children. Come first the career, travelling, then the difficult task of finding the perfect partner. “And, all of a sudden, one gets to thirty something and realizes that is it not so easy any more and s/he has to go for adoption if s/he wants to become a parent”, explains Rudi Tarneden, spokesperson to UNICEF Germany.

Getting in their forties, many do not want to wait for 10 years so that they can be « attributed » in their country a « minor in a difficult situation » and whose biological parents still preserve their rights over the her/him. “Moreover”, continues Tarneden, “family planning policies, extensive use of contraceptives and social protection to single mothers kept reducing the number of children available for adoption in our countries ”.
This is how looking for children abroad becomes attractive and many go for it. There also demand is bigger than the offer, however, international agencies promise children very rapidly. It is true that going abroad is expensive: 10.000, 20.000, 30.000 euros. But, how could we put a price on the desire to form a family?
There was a big increase in the last 30 years in the number of families from rich countries interested in adopting children (boys and girls) from other countries. At the same time, lack of regulations and monitoring mechanisms, particularly in the countries of origin, as well as possibility to earn a lot of money in the environment of international adoptions, were an incentive for an industry focused on adoptions, in which the priority is financial benefits against the best interest of the children. Among the abuses encountered count sequestration and selling boys and girls, intimidation of parents and bribery. UNICEF, 2007.
“There are parents who believe that their children go study abroad for a while, and they realize only afterwards that they have given up all their rights over them and that the children will never get back. There are mothers who are living through difficult times and they leave the children to the State, in foster homes and when they come to take them back it appears that they have disappeared, that they have been given for adoption to a family living abroad”, lists Roelie Post, director of the organisation Against Child Trafficking. The cases of kidnapped minors, biological parents misled, of altered documents, illegal payments, corrupted doctors and judges pile up on the shelves of NGOs.
According to calculations, there are around twenty States worldwide which allow for their minors to be adopted by couples living in another country. The exact figure is not known as formal complaints oblige constantly to suspend the practice in certain countries, meanwhile the pressure of demand makes other States accept to give their children away transnationally. But one thing is clear, says Tarneden, “the direction is one-way: the poor send off, the rich receive and nowadays it is practically impossible to tell if the process was legal and the minor's rights were respected”.
“We can doubt that countries like Ethiopia, which already face difficulties in controlling corruption in all fields, are able to guarantee that no irregularities occur in what adoptions are concerned”, notes Bernd Wacker, ex member of Terre des Hommes Germany international adoptions expert. On the other hand, authorities of the receiving countries do not have the capacity nor the expertise required to confirm that everything was legal. And, in reality, nobody is really interested in it, “because – at least this is what happens here, and I suspect that in other places is the same- they think that, anyway, the children are better off here“, says Wacker.
No doubt, the experts agree that there is no better place for a child than the place she/he was born. A minor should be sent abroad only when all the possibilities to be fostered in her/his natural environment are exhausted, i.e. it is not possible to contribute so that her/his biological parents care for her/him nor any relative and there is no national family able to adopt her/him.
“People are very naive”, notices Tarneden, “sometimes, when natural disasters occur in third world countries, they call and ask whether they could not adopt a child from that place. They are acting like this in good faith, but they have no idea what they are asking for, they did not stop for five minutes to think what it supposes to take a small one, who, on the other hand, has just been through a traumatising situation, from an environment that she/he knows and to take her/him to another country, where people speak another language, look differently and totally different customs. More than that they did not even stop for five minutes to think that maybe very probably that child has a family who loves him- a father, a mother, some siblings of whom she/he may not want to be separated. There are people so naïve to think that a child can be happy only with the material welfare that a developed country could offer him”.
“I wouldn't call this being naïve, but colonial type of thinking”, considers Post, “that idea that it is only us who could love a child as much as he deserves, only us to cover his needs as required and that those poor parents from the third world do not know what it is important for a child as we do”.
“People see children in orphanages and feels enormous pity. I say: if there weren't so many international adoptions, there wouldn't be so many children in orphanages. Most of them are there because there is a lot of people ready to pay a lot of money for them”, says Post.
It is calculated that 90 % of the minors subject to international adoptions are not orphans, but they are to be found in foster homes because their parents, at least formally, cannot take care of them. “Where from could have come so many orphan children?”, asks Post, “there have not been wars nor disasters in any of these countries, nor catastrophes. Even the story of the « AIDS orphans » is a lie: if you make a bit of an investigation, it appears always that they have family. If not even Angelina Jolie or Madonna managed to adopt orphans…”
The NGOs could see that when a country suspends for a long period the international adoptions, the numbers of children in the orphanages go down. “There is a lot of money involved, and this is the problem”, says Tarneden. Couples from the « first world » are ready to make whatever financial effort is needed to get the so-much desired child. “But all those who chooses to adopt a child must be aware that paying too much money - and 20.000 euros is too much money- contributes to maitaining a corrupted system which does not act in the best interest of the minor, but is oriented towards financial benefit”.
When someone earns money for an adoption, that is minor trafficking. We should start calling things by their names”, states Post. “Adoptions should not be governed as it is the case now by the rule of offer and demand”, adds Tarneden, “this in not about incriminating the adoptive parents – even they should be aware that, if during the process of adoption illegal practices are involved, they are also committing a crime-. Of course there are cases, at individual level, where international adoption is in the best interest of the child. But, taking into account the general functioning of this practice, it can be unfortunately said that we face systematic sales of poor children with the only objective of satisfying the desires of rich couples”.
UNICEF calculates that every year between 1.000 and 1.500 babies are sold in Guatemala to US or European couples. Before travelling to Central American countries to get the baby, the adoptive parents can see on internet the offer of « babies available » and choose one of them. The biological mother gets some 30 dollars for her son, but the couples pay between 15.000 and 20.000 (USD). UNICEF, 2007.
International adoptions lobby is very powerful. There are very important people and well connected, who gets protection from the highest spheres. I have no idea why and how they do it. The only thing I know is that, in spite of the denunciations, nothing happens to them, that there are always important politicians defending their interests and that, when the pressure is increasing too much and some country prohibits adoptions, they go for the next one. In the end we find the same agencies in all the places”, says Post.
“There were very preoccupying indications of minor trafficking in Nepal. We managed, together with Terre des Hommes, that the country suspends temporarily international adoptions”, tells Tarneden. Starting with this summer, Guatemala may resume sending children abroad, which it has stopped in 2008. “This country has made significant changes in the legislation, which does not mean that now it is a safe place for adoption. 100% safety does not exist”.
“In the beginning I used to say to myself: ‘Roelie, your imagination is perverted’. But in time I have learned that reality beats anything that I could imagine”, concludes the activist, and the UNICEF spokesperson sends a last message to couples who decide to adopt outside their country: “they have to have clear in mind few things. Firstly, that a family with adopted children is a very special type of family. That the children may be ill and that they may preserve memories of their biological parents. That a lot of strength is required to succeed as well as enough tolerance so that one day they could accompany their son to seek his roots, a moment that almost always comes. But that above all, that every child has the right to know the truth. And that if the truth is that ‘you know, that day we paid 20.000 euros for you’, this is something that no family can stand”.
The Hague Convention vs. UN Convention
On 25 May 1993, the Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption entered into force. The signature of this agreement is frequently used by adoption agencies to measure the seriousness of the countries sending of children for adoption. “For us, the convention is important because it states that the best interest of the child is above all and that its ratification supposes taking a public position”, says Rudi Tarneden, spokesperson to UNICEF Germany, “but, undoubtedly, this documents is quite flawed and it cannot be said to guarantee the protection of minors”.
More than many agree that the main weakness of the Convention is that it does not provide for control measures: nobody controls that its principles are respected.
However, Roelie Post, director of the organisation Against Child Trafficking, goes further in the her criticism towards the text: “The Hague Covent ion acts exclusively like safeguards for the adoptive parents, offers them a legal frameworkConvention on the Rights of the Child. This already regulated the international adoptions and entered into force three years before the Hague Convention, in 1990, which may make one ask why there was necessary to adopt another legislation. The answer is easy: the provisions of the Hague Convention are less strict and more vague – i.e. leaves more room for interpretation- and limits more the rights of the biological parents over their children than the UN Convention”., the stamps and the signatures required so that nobody can act legally against the adoption. There is a document that really defends the rights of the children and that is the UN

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