On 10 March 2022, I was honoured to present in English a short 10 minute presentation representing our coalition Voices Against Illegal Adoption (VAIA) to the United Nations.
The meeting was attended by:
The Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED)
the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
the Human Rights Committee (CCPR)
the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-recurrence
the Special Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material
the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children,
and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
Due to the work of Racines Perdues Raíces Perdidas and Back to the Roots, our coalition VAIA has been privy to the joint work being done by these UN Committee members who are working on a Joint Statement about illegal intercountry adoptions.
This is what I shared in my statement:
Good day, good evening to you all!
My name is Lynelle Long and I am an intercountry adoptee residing in Australia, proxy adopted via a private lawyer, out of the Vietnam War in the early 70s.
I would like to thank you all for the honour of being here and for including our voices for this most important occasion. I was delighted to read the draft text that you have all contributed to. It reflects many of the points we covered in our lived experience perspective paper that I presented to The Hague 2019 Working Group on Preventing and Addressing Illicit Practices in Intercountry Adoption. It warms my heart to know that so many of you are our allies, to help and encourage States to respond in the right and ethical ways to our illegal and illicit adoptions. Thank you!
The message that the draft text conveys is absolutely aligned with what we also seek. Your action from this meeting and if this text gets published, gives us a ray of hope in what has often felt like a never ending sea of dismay and loss as we’ve spent years fighting and advocating for ourselves. It is wonderful to no longer feel alone but to know we have strong allies who also advocate for us. We are the children for whom intercountry adoption is all about. We don’t remain “children” forever. We grow up to have our own voice and we want to speak out and ensure the lessons of the past are learned and that practices and legislation are changed to prevent the same wrongs from happening to others, and to address and rectify the wrongs done to us.
Today I introduce myself to you as a Representative for the Voices Against Illegal Adoptions coalition (VAIA)
Our coalition was created by associations that campaign for the recognition of illegal adoptions, our right to origins, for much need legal changes to support us as victims, and requesting institutional, state, diplomatic and consular assistance to rectify the wrongs done to us.
We officially present ourselves today to the United Nations as a coalition of organizations forming a civil society campaign, it’s an initiative led by adoptees with lived experience expertise.
We are non-governmental and non funded organizations, associations, foundations and collectives made up of adopted persons, biological families and adoptive families.
Together we have launched a civil society campaign to defend our rights and it is in this way, that we are presenting ourselves to you, the United Nations.
Our goals are:
– to demand the recognition of illegal adoptions and their recognition as a crime against humanity when they follow the abduction, sale or trafficking of children and there is sufficient evidence to show that they took place as part of a generalised or systematic attack against the civilian population.
– to present the political and legal actions taken by each organisation around the world.
– to call on States to engage in a dialogue with us on the recognition of responsibility for what has happened and to obtain redress.
Today, we would like to inform the different working groups, the High Commissions, the special reporters, the diplomatic missions and the experts of the different committees, in particular the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee on Enforced Disappearances as well as the Human Rights Committee, of the international situation regarding illegal adoptions in connection with human trafficking.
We feel it is essential that there is uniformity in responses following the occurrence of illegal adoptions.
We believe it is also abnormal that depending on the country in which the adopted person resides, that we are not recognised as victims.
We also want to draw attention to the fact that legal proceedings for illegal adoptions are confronted most of the time with problems that prevent us from seeking justice and reparation. For example the statute of limitations, also the difficulty to establish the facts of what happened in our cases when records are kept from us or have been destroyed.
We would like our input and experiences to be considered by the United Nations.
We look forward to seeing your final statement and will do our best to make ourselves available to work with all stakeholders to see its implementation.
Thank you very much for your time, for listening to us and for allowing us to participate.
Together with Racines Perdues Raíces Perdidas we will keep you informed of the progress of our work at the UN.
Here is the list of organisations who make up Voices Against Illegal Adoption (VAIA):
Foundation Racines Perdues
Chilean Adoptees Worldwide (CAW)
Collectif Adoptie Schakel
InterCountry Adoptee Voices (ICAV)
Association Reconnaissance Adoptions Illégales à l’International en France (RAÏF)
Collectif des adoptés français du Mali
Collectif des parents adoptifs du Sri Lanka
Rwanda en Zoveel meer
Association DNA Inde
Back to the Roots
Collectif des adoptés du Sri-Lanka
Child Identity Protection
ICAV Perspective Paper: Lived Experience Suggestions for Responses to Illicit Adoptions (in French or English)