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Croatian couples return from Zambia with their adopted children


The four Croatian couples who were acquitted of child trafficking charges in Zambia on Thursday have returned home with their adopted children. 

The couples and their children landed in Ljubljana Saturday afternoon and headed home to Croatia. The couples were reunited on Friday with their children, who had been in the custody of Zambian authorities since the couples were arrested in December.

"We are thrilled and still can't believe we are here. The journey was long and we're tired. But, we're still in shock and super happy everything worked out!" said Noah Kraljević, one of the adoptive parents.

Melita Čušek, who is the Head of Child Protection and Family Sector at the Ministry of Labor, Pensions, Family and Social Policy, said the couples and their children would be offered counseling and assistance.

"This is a happy moment but life must go on. They have been through an ordeal. Our experts can offer them psychological counseling and support, especially to the children,” Čušek told reporters.

Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević has followed the ordeal of the parents from afar, including that of one of his Možemo! party colleagues Noah Kraljević.

“I'm glad the seven-month ordeal is over. From the beginning, it was clear to anyone normal that this was not a case of child trafficking and that they had only good intentions in adopting these children. However, some right-wing politicians took advantage of the matter and tried to make the already difficult position of these Croatian citizens even more difficult, but that is something that they will have to settle with their conscience,” said Tomašević.

The couples had adopted the children from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were travelling home with their children from Zambia when they were arrested under suspicion of having falsified adoption papers. The case sparked controversy at home, sparking an overhaul of Croatia’s international adoptions legislation. Some political figures on the right accused the couples of trying to “buy children”.

SDP leader Peđa Grbin referenced the hatred the case had fueled on the right towards the adoptive parents of Congolese children.

“This hatred lives among a part of Croatian public, but it is also particularly ugly, among members of parliament. And this hatred has boiled over in the past 6 months and does not put Croatia in a good light,” said Grbin.

Some of the parents issued a statement Saturday afternoon saying that they never lost hope that justice would prevail. They thanked the Croatian Government, the European Union, and their Zambian legal team for their assistance and aske the media to respect their privacy at this time.

2023 Jun 3