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by Niels on Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Yesterday, 26 February 2008, Terre des Hommes Switzerland presented a new report Adoption: at what cost?

Terre des hommes – child relief (Tdh), in this most recent publication, presents a comparative study on the ethical responsibility of receiving countries of intercountry adoption. Focus has been given for many years on the practices of the countries of origin. They have been found to be too lax or too corrupt, and considered to be responsible for the downward slide in standards for intercountry adoption. In this publication, Terre des hommes – child relief (Tdh), under a mandate by Terre des Hommes International Federation (TDHIF), shows how the receiving countries also have a certain responsibility. With procedures and legislation which have little, if any, respect to the interests of the child, and policies which tend to respond to the demands of adopting couples or put pressure on the countries of origin in order to obtain children, the receiving countries do not respect the engagements they undertook by ratifying the Hague Convention on international adoption. It is the Hague Convention itself which aims to avoid these types of dysfunction. Terre des hommes – child relief presents the results of a comparative study on the practices and legislations in six European receiving countries: Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Norway and Switzerland.

While this all sounds wise and compassionate and although Marlene Hoffstetter has written about child trafficking and illegal adoption in the 2004 paper International Adoption, The Global Baby Chace (we assume a misspelling for chase), Mrs Hoffstetter herself is responsible for the adoptions done by Terre des Homme Switzerland. That by itself places this report in a different light, especially since her agency works together with Missionarie della Carita (Missionary of Charity Sisters). The former is probably less known than its founder, the both famous and infamous Mother Teresa.

Mother Teresa's orphanages in India have been a long standing source for international adoption and are known to have a shady track record. Why is it Terre des Homme Switzerland as of this day has been doing business with the Charity Sisters for twenty years, while at the same time publishes reports on child trafficking. Would the stipend of $500,000 from USAID have anything to do with that? Is it just business at both sides of the fence?

We attached a document that contains a detailed expose of the business of the Charity Sisters.

by Niels on Friday, 22 February 2008

Last night I listened to the attached audio file, a press conference held by Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Claire Gibault  and Francois de Combret. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, I don't know much about, but the other two names certainly rang a bell, having read Romania for Export Only.

After a brief introduction Maud de Boer-Buquicchio takes stage and without any back-up information dishes platitudes as "the child's best interest", "abandoned children in the streets of Romania" after which she lists a set of proposals to change European adoption policies.

Then Claire Gibault takes the stand and in a very confusing speech she tells about the many teen-agers in residential care, who desperately need a family before they age out of the system, hence promoting international adoption. This is a very peculiar twisting of facts. Most international adoptions pertain infants, not teen-agers, so opening up Romania for international adoption is not going to help this group at all and probably wouldn't benefit them at all when they were. What is the point in moving 14-15 year olds to another country, where they don't speak the language and as a result of that won't fit within the educational system.

I read Mrs. Gibault's words as an emotional appeal, to cover up the real agenda, opening up Romania for international adoption of infants. That was very well made clear by Mr. de Combret, who's self-congratulatory speech was a vile attempt to claim Romania's choice to close it's borders for international adoption was a mistake, of which thousands of children suffer today.

None of the contributers to this press conference mentioned the situation in Romania before the moratorium. They simply state the fact the moratorium was wrong and now European law has to change to force Romania to comply to their motivations for adoption legislation.

Amrex aftermath?

by Niels on Sunday, 27 January 2008

In 2006 Amrex, an adoption facilitator firm from Alpharetta Georgia went bankrupt. With their dedicated adoption software they delivered matching services for several adoption agencies, mostly operating in Russia and Guatemala.

The Amrex story is far too complicated to rehash in one short post, with a trail of companies such as Genesis Adoptions, Intercountry Adoption Congress, Hague Software Inc., Trans Parent Systems Inc., International Advocates for children. All these companies were founded by censored and Sergey Zasyatkin.

Amrex faced FBI investigation in 2006 and is now defunct as are all the aforementioned companies. censored is still around and CEO of censored, which owns adoptachild.org. In the mean time she operates under the name of censored, trying to establish a name as Creator of VISUAL PHILOSOPHY.

While surfing for more on Amrex and all it's affiliated companies, I came across Dmitriy Zasyatkin, who runs the company Software for Adoption Management (SAM), among whose customers we can find Christian World Adoptions, one of Amrex's former customers. SAM is located in Woodstock Georgia, only a couple of miles away from Alpharetta. Is Sergey Zasyatkin back under a different name, or is this all just coincidental?


Filling the void

by Niels on Thursday, 03 January 2008

Though I was born in 1965, I feel my story starts on 25 November 1954. That day both my natural parents and my adoptive parents got married and the often hard to explain who is who of my life story was formed. The short version would be, my natural father's sister and her husband adopted me, turning my aunt and uncle into my mother and father, my father into my uncle and my mother into the ex-wife of my uncle. On top of that it turned my brother and sister into cousins.

Those are just the technicalities involved and once I tell something about myself I usually get the deer in headlights look around here. Never mind, I have two half-sisters from my father and one half-sister from my mother, who respectively are first cousins and someone who is not legally related. I am not going to complicate it any further.

One set of grand parents were a beacon of stability in all this, having always been my grand parents. Ironically they were pivotal in all developments leading to the complicated family arrangements made around me. With her 5 foot, my grand mother was very much the mater familias, The one whose mood had to be pleased. To achieve that she used a strict divide and conquer strategy, that not only with her own children, but with her grand-children too.

For some reason, I was one of her favorites and as such was always welcome, but cousins of mine she wouldn't let in. Of course that would make me less liked by some of my cousins. Especially my female cousins would resent my grand mother's preferences, since my grand mother didn't like girls at all. Something she had proven raising her own children. Having three sons and one daughter, she had managed to make certain her preference for one above the other. Her eldest son was the smartest of the lot and did well in school. Later on he had a more or less successful career all that making him one of her two favorites. The fact he is a very rigid, dominant man with a moody temper didn't change that at all. Her other favorite was son #2, who became a painter and had his fair share of success.

The other two children my grand mother had, the two most important in my life, were not among her favorites and she would always make clear that was the case. Each had a very different strategy dealing with that. My natural father probably gave up altogether at an early age, while my adoptive mother kept trying to no avail to please my grand mother.

Where my natural father and my adoptive mother grew up in a traditionally dysfunctional family, full of power struggles and manipulation, my adoptive father grew up without much of a family life to speak of. His parents had a bar in downtown The Hague. I never got to know his parents personally, his mother died before I was born and his father when I was three. My adoptive father would tell bits and pieces over the years and most of it was sad. His mother was very much the business woman, always working in the bar, not spending much if time at all with her two sons. Legend has it, his father was physically a very strong man with a weakness for alcohol.

by Niels on Sunday, 30 December 2007

In two days it will be New Year's Eve, having barely recuperated from Christmas. For me New Year's Eve is the worst day of the year. It dwarfs Christmas in comparison. Every year all missed opportunities, failed achievements and utter stupidities of the past year come bombarding me. It's a day of sadness and decay while its outlook is the bleak month of January; the cold, barren winter time stretching out for at least another two and a half month.

This year i am going to ignore the event, preparing for it only makes me sadder. So I won't light fireworks, I won't go into town and feel lonely among partying people. I hate parties anyway.

I know the day after it will all feel different. The final hurdle of the year taken, January will all of a sudden look much better and much more real. If I can keep that in mind next two days I will be fine, if not I will have a bad day, which by itself is much less of a threat than it may sound.

Lost love

by Niels on Sunday, 02 December 2007

When I was a small child I loved and adored my adoptive parents. They were my world and I couldn't imagine a life without them. Years and years later I left them to start living on my own at my wits end, feeling I had to go, it being the death of me if I didn't. The love I once felt for them was completely gone. For years I couldn't look at families who got along fine without getting angry and frustrated.

I don't know exactly when it started and what triggered it. I do know my mother's insecurity played a huge role in it, needing constant affirmation I did love her. What once was spontaneous and heartfelt, became a chore of fake and make-belief. I'm not good at faking and hate being forced to express my love.

In King Lear, Shakespear tells a tale of three daughters, each of them having to express their love for their father. The two eldest are treacherous bitches who lie between their teeth to get to the inheritance. The youngest daughter, Cordelia, cannot. She does love her father, but she can't put it into words, she can't be forced to express her love for him, so she refuses. Lear blinded by his own vanity rewards his two eldest daughters and expells his youngest. For years I felt just like Cordelia, forced to do what didn't come naturally.

I wonder who recognizes this.

by Niels on Sunday, 18 November 2007

I usually check up the latest child placement news on the internet and when interesting put the article here on PPL. This month though we are faced with headlines like:

  • Adoption ceremony highlights need for loving homes
  • Adoption Day Leads to New Homes for Kids
  • For 70 children, family is now a permanent home
  • Now, we're a family
  • Foster children find permanent homes
  • Adoptive parents thrilled with their little Wonders
  • It's a happy scene at courthouse – for a change
  • Families gather to welcome new additions on National Adoption Day
  • 'Yours forever': A rare glimpse into adoptions
  • Becoming family - forever
  • Adoption builds Valley families
  • Living the dream

It's sickening to see how all media are put in array to sing the same song. Not a single word of criticism in the newspapers, not a word of concern over the results of all this family making. Soon it will be December and all these saccharine lies will be put on hold for another year. I would certainly hope for the next year we will have our side of the story covered by the media too.

After really wading through all the sugar coated tales I found two stories Reclaiming Ownership of My History  and Thank Deng Xiaoping for Little Girls that at least showed another side of the coin.

by Niels on Monday, 22 October 2007

Jessica DelBalzo has written an important book with the inspiring title "Unlearning Adoption", in which she unravels the workings of the adoption industry, the consequences thereof and alternatives to it.

The book starts explaining how the language used by the adoption industry, labelled "Positive Adoption Language", is a deliberate attempt at influencing the public opinion. Jessica DelBalzo then demonstrates what honest adoption language can be like, an approach she uses throughout the book. Wherever she criticizes the adoption industry she offers well thought of alternatives.

"Unlearning Adoption" is an anti-adoption book and though radical in stance, its recommendations and advice are much less radical than the doings of the adoption industry it criticizes. In chapters about past adoption practices, adoption today, foster care adoption and abandonment laws, DelBalzo unravels the workings of the adoption industry, coming full circle with adoption in the media. She covers the demand side pressures of the market place, the myth of open adoption, the reality of Safe Haven laws, the modern incarnations of maternity homes.

The second part of the book deals with the effects of adoption on both adoptees and parents, addressing subjects like attachment, identity formation, crime and substance abuse, post traumatic stress disorder, anger and trust issues. Jessica DelBalzo's portrayal of the consequences of adoption are in stark contrast to the image the adoption industry tries to create, much more disturbing and much more in demand of radical change. That change she describes at the end of her book, looking beyond the borders of the USA, giving an account of Australian inquiries of child placement practices and the following decline of adoption. She addresses open records in Scandinavia and many other countries, Teen pregnancy prevention in the USA compared to other rich western countries and family support measures around the globe.

She returns to the USA, the book predominantly focussing on America, by giving an account of the various adoption reform and abolishment movements, rounding it all off with alternatives to adoption, giving practical advice on how to avoid the grip of the adoption industry on pregnant women, but she also promotes the notion of legal guardianship, in cases where out-placement indeed is in the best interest of a child.

Full spectrum

by Niels on Friday, 21 September 2007

This week we started the First Annual Demons of Adoption Awards and among our nominees are some of the organizations that most flagrantly promote the separation of mother's and children. It is good we raise attention to those organizations and expose their methods and power. Yet the adoption industy is much larger than just the NCFA and Adoption.com.

On the other end of the spectrum we can find agencies like Spence-Chapin, founders of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and agencies like Holt International which fund some of the research the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute has carried out. While the Adoption Institute raises quite a different voice from the NCFA, it doesn't make these more progressive adoption agencies any less dangerous.

Ethical adoption sells just as much as Chistian adoption, it's just for a different constituency. In the end both Spence-Chapin and Holt International have to pay their staff and while some of their income comes from charitable donations or by doing projects paid by organizations like Unicef (Holt Romania), most of their income is from the adoption fees they receive.

Every agency looks for its own unique selling point. Gladney is for the very rich, NCFA affiliated agencies sell their goods to the Christian community. Spence has found it's niche among the bleeding heart liberal comnunity of NYC and Holt tries to look like an international charity that does good work for all poor children around the globe. However sheepish the clothes of these organizations look, at the end of the month they have bills to pay and income to generate, money made by selling babies.

Babies being key here. Many agencies promote the work they do for older children in the foster care system. Big photo opportunities and self appraising publications go out, but in the end the markets wants babies, healty babies. Not many prospective adoptive parents are willing to pay big bugs for an older special needs children, but a baby that can be raised as their own, that's worth a lot.


by Niels on Sunday, 09 September 2007

So much for conflict of interest...

The US intends to ratify the Hague Convention beginning 2008. To this end they have designated two organisations as accreditors: one of them is the *Council on Accreditation*, in which  Thomas Atwood (President National Council for Adoption and former Board Member of Bethany Christian Services) and Beverly Grant (Director Bethany Christian Services) are members of the Board.

The acceditation process will be done on the basis of PEER reviews.

*September 5, 2007. Urgent Call for COA Site Evaluators.* The Council on Accreditation is currently vetting the applications of agencies who are applying to be accredited under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. However, there is an urgent need for qualified site evaluators who can perform the peer examinations which are a pre-requisite for accreditation. The State Department has stated that it does not foresee pushing back its target date of February 15, 2008 as the date when the U.S. ratifies the Hague Convention.

I include, as an attachment, a document found on the State Department's website, with recommendations made by the NCFA with regards to The Hague accreditation, in which the NCFA mentions COA even more often than they name themselves.