Stellen Sie die Verbindung der haitianischen Adoptierten zu ihren leiblichen Eltern wieder her

von Sabine Isabelle adopted from Haiti to Kanada.

Restore the links between adoptees from Haiti born as unknown parents and their biological parents.

The dark side

Before April 1, 2014: date of the signing of the Hague Convention in Haiti. Thousands adopted without identity were adopted internationally with a mention born of an unknown mother and father or sometimes the first name of ‘only one parent. Among her children, several were unfortunately entrusted to non-full adoption through human trafficking of all kinds. Some children simply want to find their biological family because they feel they do not have access to their medical history, their legitimate identity.

Studies have shown that many children from adoptions live with traumas with psychological impacts ranging from suicide to neurodevelopmental effects that are due to their adoption. Several have been entrusted to benevolent adoptive families but ill prepared to welcome a child weakened by the injury of abandonment, moreover many of these have experienced a double abandonment of their adoptive parents by being placed in a reception center or a second adoptive family.

A tiny fraction of biological parents are slowly starting to find their biological children. Some testify that they did not knowingly give their children for adoption, but may rather have confided the assets temporarily and that on their return to the orphanage the child had been given up for adoption without their consent and without any possibility of information to find contact with this children in other cases of biological parents were told that the biological parent was dead when it is false and so many other situations not to all named. This is a child who was adopted said without real identities and / or without identities of their 2 biological parents was not beyond a reasonable doubt, adoptable. Surveys, theses, and numerous testimonies also show that only 10% of these children were in fact really orphans. Since some of us are now old enough to take steps to find our biological families, we are amazed to witness all these hidden defects.

Another problem is on the horizon: failures to be helped by the various establishments such as: orphanage, hospital that asks us to donate sums of money to obtain our legitimate information … So here we are newly confronted with so-called Good Samaritans who offer us to carry out our research for them also a sum of money, a unstructured and corrupt circle that continues. It’s a call to villainy. How do you distinguish the good from the bad foreign Samaritan? We have and will leave an empty legacy of identity that we will leave to our children and our future generations. As the pioneers of this experimental generation on international adoption in Haiti we ask for your support in all its forms in order to restore the balance.

Original submission in French

Rétablissont les liens entre les adoptés d’Haïti nés sous l’appellation de parents inconnus et leurs parents biologiques.

Le côté sombre 

Avant le 1er avril 2014 : date de la signature de la convention de La Haye en Haïti .Des milliers adoptés sans identité ont été adoptés à l’international avec une mention nées d’une mère et d’un père inconnu ou parfois le prénom d’un seul parent . Parmi ses enfants, plusieurs ont été confié malheureusement à l’adoption non plénière à travers un trafic d’humain de tout genre. Certains enfants veulent tout simplement retrouver leur famille biologique puisqu’ils estiment ne pas avoir accès à leur antécédents médicaux, leur identité légitime. 

Les études ont démontrés que plusieurs enfants issues de c’est adoptions vivent avec des traumatismes  ayant des impacts psychologique allant du suicide aux effets neuro développementaux qui sont due à leur adoption. Plusieurs ont été confiés à des familles adoptives bienveillantes mais mal préparées à accueillir un enfant fragilisé par la blessure d’abandon, d’ailleurs nombreux de ceux-ci ont vécu un double abandon de leur parents adoptif en étant placé dans un centre accueille ou une deuxième famille adoptive. 

Une infime partie de  parents biologiques commencent tranquillement à retrouver leur enfants biologique. Certain témoignent ne pas avoir données leur enfants à l’adoption en tout connaissance de cause mai plutôt les avoirs confiés temporairement et qu’à leur retour à l’orphelinat l’enfant avait été donné en adoption sans leur consentement et sans aucune possibilité d’information pour retrouver le contact avec cette enfants dans d’autres cas des parents biologiques se sont fait dires que le parent biologique était mort alors que c’est faux et tant d’autres situation pour ne pas tous les nommés. C’est enfant qui ont été adoptés dit sans réel identités et/ou sans identités de leurs 2 parents biologiques n’était pas hors de doute raisonnable, adoptable. Des enquêtes, thèse, et nombreux témoignages présentent également que seulement 10 % de ces enfants étaient en fait réellement orphelins. Puisque certain de nous sommes maintenant assez âgés pour entreprendre des démarches de recherche pour retrouver leur famille biologique, nous assistons avec stupéfaction à tous ces vices cachés. 

Un autre problème est à horizon ; fautes de se faire aider par les diverses établissement tel que ; orphelinat, hôpital qui nous demande de donné des des sommes d’argent pour obtenir nos renseignements légitime… Nous voilà donc nouvellement confronté à de soi-disant bon samaritains qui nous offre d`effectuer nos recherche moyennant eux aussi une somme d’argent, un cercle sans structure et corrompus  qui se perpétue. C’est un appel à la villigence .Comment distinguer le bon du mauvais samaritain étrangé ? Nous avons et nous laisseront un héritage identitaire vide que nous laisserons à nos enfants et nos futures générations. En tant que pionniers de cette génération expérimentale sur l’adoption internationale sur Haïti nous demandons votre soutien sous toutes ses formes afin de rétablir l’équilibre.

Meine Adoption stornieren

von Netra Sommer born in India, adopted to Denmark; officially no longer “adopted”.
Netra’s story aired in Denmark on TV and in print media, Nov 2020.

From as early as I could remember, as a child I was not happy. This was not my place. These were not my parents. I couldn’t look like them. I was always different.

They never talked about India, were never interested in my origins whereas I was always very curious about my identity. I had so many questions. Why was I here? I am not Danish. I could never be what they wanted me to be.

As I grew older, I realised there was one thing wrong with my life – it was my adoption. All I could think about was this adoption and how unhappy I was. I grew up with a lot of violence. I was always told I wasn’t white enough; I had to be this or that to be Danish. The message I always got was I had to be something else that wasn’t me. My personality was so different from theirs – I loved colours, I loved music. They did not want any of this for me. So many things reminded me that I was always so different and not my parents’ child.

I moved out of home at a very young age. When I was a young adult at age 18, I found out I could cancel my adoption – except in Denmark, the problem was I needed the signature of my adoptive parents and they didn’t want to give it. I told them it was the one thing I wanted and then I’d never ask for anything else. They said, “No, we have done so much to get you, we want to be a family. We think you are sick in the head, so no.” Each year I asked. I pushed and pushed. They always said no. “Mum and I are tired of you. We can’t live like this anymore. We can’t deal with this. You are a psychopath who has no thought for us and how it impacts us to have you cancel this adoption”. All this was communicated via texts and emails as I refused to ever see them.

Two years ago I met a journalist. She was very interested in my life. She knew I’d been talking in my community about adoption. I told her I wanted to cancel the adoption to be my mother’s child again. These Danish people were not my parents – there is no love or understanding, nothing for me to hold onto. When she learnt more about my experience she realised it was a difficult problem without my parents consent and wondered how this could be resolved.

I tried and texted my parents again. This time they told me what they wanted in return. I was to pack all my childhood things from the home – which meant I had to go there. They also had a list of questions they wanted me to answer. I replied that no, I’m not coming back. I offered for a friend of mine to pick up my boxes of childhood belongings. They tried to involve her but she refused. They sent a letter full of questions they wanted me to answer. They wanted an explanation for things like how do I think this impacts my sister, why I wasn’t considering them, whether the things in my childhood had been that bad, etc. I didn’t feel I had to justify what I wanted. I didn’t hear from them for a long time – they were angry I wouldn’t answer their questions so they were refusing to cooperate with my request.

Der Journalist wollte mit meiner Geschichte helfen. Mit Hilfe ihrer Produktionsfirma wurde die Geschichte meines Lebens verfilmt und wie ich meine Adoption rückgängig machen wollte. Wir konnten nicht vorhersagen, was als nächstes passieren würde. Meine Adoptiveltern sorgten für viel Drama und an vielen Stellen fragten wir uns, ob die Dinge jemals passieren würden.

Plötzlich schickten sie eine Nachricht. „Wir haben gesehen, dass Sie unsere Fragen nicht beantworten wollen, aber wir möchten absagen. Senden Sie uns die Papiere mit Ihrer Unterschrift und Ihrem Datum.“ Also ging ich hin und holte die Papiere, unterschrieb und filmte sie und schickte sie ab. Als nächstes kontaktierte mich ein Anwalt per Post, der mir mitteilte, dass ich die Papiere nicht unterschrieben hatte. Alle anderen wussten, dass ich sie unterschrieben hatte. Ich war so erschöpft, dagegen anzukämpfen. Jedes Mal gab es etwas Neues, was sie tun, um ihr Spiel zu spielen. Ich hatte sie so satt. Ich fand heraus, dass sie nur über den Anwalt mit mir kommunizieren würden, also fand ich heraus, was sie wollte, tat genau das, was sie sagte, unterschrieb und schickte die Papiere erneut. Sie spielten ein Machtspiel, um mir zu zeigen, wer die Kontrolle hat.

An einem heißen Sommertag rief plötzlich mein Onkel an. Er sagte: „Da ist ein Brief für dich“. Ich hatte sie angewiesen, ihm die unterschriebenen Papiere zuzusenden. Jetzt musste ich warten, weil er im Urlaub war, aber bald zurückkam.

Am Tag seiner Rückkehr saß ich in der glühenden Sonne und wartete. Das Fernsehfilmteam war bei mir, um zu filmen, was passieren würde. Wir saßen alle wartend da. Mein Onkel öffnete den Brief. Ich war so still und das Filmteam fragte mich, wie ich mich fühle, könnte ich das erklären? Aber ich konnte nicht. Ich hatte keine Worte. Dann zog mein Onkel die 2 Papiere heraus und sagte: „Jetzt bist du frei!“ Endlich, nach mehr als 10 Jahren des Nachfragens! Alles, woran ich denken konnte, war, zu meinem Zuhause, meinem Boot, zurückzukehren. Ich kenne keine Worte, um zu beschreiben, wie ich mich fühlte.

Am nächsten Tag schickte ich die Papiere an die Regierung, die mir sagte, ich solle noch einen Monat warten, bis die Absage offiziell ist. Ich habe eine große Party geplant, um das zu feiern. Am Tag vor meiner großen Party rief mich eine Dame an. Sie war die Anwältin der Regierung. Sie sagte: „Ich möchte nur sicher sein, dass Sie Ihre Adoption rückgängig machen wollen.“ Nachdem ich geantwortet hatte, drückte sie den Knopf auf ihrem Computer und sagte: „Es ist jetzt storniert“.

Die offizielle Absage kam als E-Mail bei mir an. Ich habe es dem Fernsehteam gezeigt. Ich war einfach so überglücklich! Ich sagte ihnen: „Ich bin nicht mehr adoptiert! Ich habe meinen indischen Namen zurück!“ Dann durften wir feiern. Ich glaube, da wurde mir zum ersten Mal klar, dass ich endlich frei war. Aber mir war auch klar, dass ich jetzt niemanden mehr habe, der mein Verwandter ist. Wenn ich sterbe, wird niemand benachrichtigt. Laut meinen indischen Papieren habe ich keine Verwandten, keine Eltern, keine Schwestern. Es war das erste Mal, dass ich ein wenig Angst hatte, wenn mir etwas passieren würde; Was, wenn ich wollte, dass jemand mein Boot übernimmt? Ich müsste ein Testament organisieren und sicherstellen, dass meine Sachen gepflegt werden.

Laut meinen indischen Papieren wurde ich von einem Polizisten auf den Straßen von Bombay gefunden, daher habe ich keine wahren Identifizierungsinformationen. Auf zwei verschiedenen Unterlagen wurde geschätzt, dass ich 1 Jahr oder 3 Monate alt war, als ich gefunden wurde. Meine Adoption erfolgte über eine dänische Adoptionsagentur, die es nicht mehr gibt. Es gibt so viele Dinge, die ich herausfinden möchte. Ich bin noch nicht nach Indien zurückgekehrt, aber ich möchte es so schnell wie möglich tun. Ich muss wissen, was passiert ist, was die Wahrheit über meine Herkunft ist. Ich möchte einen weiteren Dokumentarfilm über meine Rückkehr nach Indien drehen, wenn COVID vorbei ist.

Die einzige Erfahrung, die ich anderen Adoptierten anbieten kann, ist, dass Sie, wenn Sie Ihre Adoption rückgängig machen möchten, sicher sein müssen, dass Sie dies wirklich wollen. Es gibt kein Zurück. Es gibt viele Hürden, um dies zu erreichen. Die meisten Eltern werden dem nicht zustimmen wollen, weil es für sie der Verlust eines Kindes ist. Aber ich glaube wirklich, dass es wichtig ist, dass Adoptierte die Wahl haben. Ich wünsche mir, dass Adoptierte in Dänemark oder jedem anderen Land Adoptionen rückgängig machen können, ohne die Zustimmung der Adoptiveltern zu benötigen. Sie haben uns als Kind gekauft – warum sollten sie immer über unser Schicksal entscheiden?

Viele Leute urteilen und denken, dass ich nicht dankbar bin, in Dänemark zu sein. Es stört mich, dass so viele weiterhin mitmachen und ein Kind kaufen. Ich denke, die meisten Mütter wollen ihr Kind, wenn sie andere Möglichkeiten hätten. Das Endergebnis der Stornierung meiner Adoption ist, dass ich keine Verwandten habe, kein Erbe, sehr allein bin und natürlich eine Adoptivfamilie habe, die sehr traurig und wütend ist. Sie haben mich misshandelt, aber das Gesetz in Dänemark war schwierig und unterstützte meine Wünsche nicht, da die Verjährungsfrist für historische Missbrauchsfälle bedeutete, dass ich keine Anzeige erstatten konnte. Ich habe alles getan, um frei zu sein. Zum Glück hat es mich finanziell nicht gekostet, meine Adoption aufheben zu lassen – ich brauchte keinen Anwalt und das Medienunternehmen war eine großartige Unterstützung, zusammen mit meinen Freunden und meiner eigenen „Familie“, die für mich da sind.

Eine Folge Interview und Artikel wurde über die Geschichte von Netra Sommer geteilt.

I Want My Brothers Back

von Erika Fonticoli, born in Colombia adopted to Italy.

What are brothers and sisters? For me, they are small or big allies of all or no battle. In the course of my life I realised that a brother or a sister can be the winning weapon against every obstacle that presents itself and, at the same time, that comforting closeness that we feel even when there is no battle to fight. A parent can do a lot for their children: give love, support, protection, but there are things we would never tell a parent. And… what about a brother? There are things in my life I’ve never been able to tell anyone, and although I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my sister since childhood, there’s nothing of me that she doesn’t know about.

At the worst moment of my life, when I was so hurt and I started to be afraid to trust the world, she was the hand I grabbed among a thousand others. We are two totally different people, maybe we have only playfulness and DNA in common, but she still remains the person from whom I feel more understood and supported. I love my adoptive parents, I love my friends, but she, she’s the other part of me. Sometimes we are convinced that the power of a relationship depends on the duration of it or the amount of experiences lived together. Yeah, well.. I did not share many moments with my sister, it was not an easy relationship ours, but every time I needed it she was always at my side. I didn’t have to say anything or ask for help, she heard it and ran to me.

And the brothers found as adults? Can we say that they are worth less? I was adopted at the age of 5, with my sister who was 7 yo. For 24 years I believed I had only one other version of myself, her. Then, during the search of my origins, I discovered that I had two other brothers, little younger than me. My first reaction was shock, confusion, denial. Emotion, surprise and joy followed. Finally, to these emotions were added bewilderment and fear of being rejected by them. After all, they didn’t even know we existed, my big sister and I were strangers for them. So… how could I possibly introduce myself? I asked myself that question at least a hundred times until, immersed in a rich soup of emotions, I decided to jump. I felt within myself the irrepressible need to know them, to see them, to speak to them. It was perhaps the most absurd thing I’ve ever experienced. “Hello, nice to meet you, I’m your sister!”, I wrote to them.

Thinking about it now makes me laugh, and yet at the time I thought it was such a nice way to know each other. My younger sister, just as I feared, rejected me, or perhaps rejected the idea of having two more sisters that she had never heard of. The first few months with her were terrible, hard and full of swinging emotions, driven both by her desire to have other sisters and by her distrust of believing that it was real. It wasn’t easy, for her I was a complete stranger and yet she had the inexplicable feeling of being tied to me, the feeling of wanting me in her life without even knowing who I was. She was rejecting me and yet she wasn’t be able to not look for me, she’d look at me like I was something to study, because she was shocked that she looked so much like someone else she had never seen for 23 years.

With my brother it was totally different, he called me “sister” right away. We talked incessantly from the start, sleepless nights to tell each other, discovering little by little to be two drops of water. He was my brother from the first moment. But how is possible? I don’t know. When I set off to meet them, headed to the other side of the world, it all seemed so crazy to me. I kept telling myself: “What if they don’t like me?”, and I wondered what it would feel like to find myself face to face with them. The answer? For me, it was not a knowing each other for the first time, it was a seeing them again. Like when you move away and you don’t see your family for a long time, then when you come home to see them again
you feel moved and run to hug them. This was my first moment with them! A moment of tears, an endless embrace, followed by a quick return playful and affectionate as if life had never separated us even for a day.

So… are they worth less? Is my relationship with them less intense and authentic than that with my sister, with whom I grew up? No. I thought I had another half of me, now I feel like I have three. I see one of them every day, I constantly hear the other two for messages or video calls. There are things in my life that I can’t tell anyone, things that only my three brothers know, and in the hardest moments of my life now I have three hands that I would grab without thinking about it. I love my family, my adoptive parents and my biological mom, but my siblings are the part of my heart I couldn’t live without. Having them in my life fills me with joy, but having two of them so far from me digs a chasm inside me that often turns into a cry of lack and nostalgia. Tears behind which lie the desire to share with them all the years that have been taken from us, experiences and fraternal moments that I have lived with them for only twenty days in Colombia.

As I said earlier, in my opinion, it doesn’t matter the duration of a relationship nor the amount of experiences lived together but the quality… that said, even those rare moments to us seem a dream still unrealisable. In the most important and delicate periods of our lives we often feel overwhelmed by helplessness and the impossibility of supporting each other, because unfortunately a word of comfort is not always enough. We can write to each other, call each other, but nothing will ever replace the warmth of a hug when you feel that your heart is suffering.

In the most painful and traumatic phase of my younger sister’s life, when she started to be afraid of the world, when she thought she deserved only kicks and insults, when she thought she had no one, I wrote to her. I wrote to her every day, worried and sorrowful, and as much as I tried to pass on my love and closeness to her, I felt I couldn’t do enough. I felt helpless and useless, I felt that there was nothing I could do for her, because when I felt crushed by life it was my older sister’s embrace that made me feel protected. And that’s what my little sister wanted at that moment, a hug from me, something so small and
simple that I couldn’t give it to her because the distance prevented me from do it. And neither could our brother because he also grew up far away, in another family. I didn’t know what to do, how I could help her, she was scared and hurt. I wanted her to come live with me, her and my little nephew, so I could take care of them and help them in the most difficult moment of their lives. I’ve been looking into it for months, search after search, and then finding out that despite the DNA test recognised that we’re sisters, the world didn’t.

Legally, we were still a complete strangers, just like when we first spoke.

I would like the law to give the possibility to siblings separated from adoption to be reunited if this is the desire of both, that the law allows us to enjoy those rights that only a familial bond offers. We didn’t decide to split up, it was chosen for us, but we don’t want to blame anyone for it. We just wish we had a chance to spend the rest of our lives as a family, a sentimental and legal family for all intents and purposes. It must not be an obligation for everyone, but an opportunity for those biological brothers whose bond has survived. A chance for us perfect strangers who, in spite of everything, call ourselves family. Maybe someone will find themselves in what I felt and I’m still feeling, maybe someone else won’t, but precisely because every story is different I think there should be a chance of a happy ending for everyone. Mine would be to have my brothers back.

The Right to Identity

by Maria Diemar, born in Chile raised in Sweden. You can access her blog at I Own My Story Maria Diemar where she published this on Aug 23.

The right to one’s identity,
is it a human right?
Is it a human right for everyone?

Where you belong,
the circumstances you come from,
is this important to know?

Is it possible to delete a person’s background?
Would you consider deleting another person’s background?

What is illegal?
What is unethical?
What are irregularities?

In last few years, I have discovered more and more of my history.
From discovering that I am Ingegerd Maria Olsson in the registers in Chile,
to realise that I can vote,
and renew my passport from 1975,
to understanding that it seems like I never left Chile the country where I was born.

According to my Chilean passport,
I live on a street in a business district in Rancagua.
According to other documents,
I live with a social assistant in Santiago.
We are probably more than 400 children living at that address:
Monseñor Müller 38.

I “live” in Chile, and I live in the United States.
I am in the electoral register in Chile,
and in Sweden I have a Swedish passport and can pick up a Chilean passport when I like.

My birth was never registered at the hospital where I was born.
I’m a child of no-one.
Instead of a birth certificate,
a protocol was written in which strangers testified that I was born on my birthday.

In Chile, I am registered as an orphan
because a Swedish woman, Anna Maria Elmgren, arranged and enrolled me in the register in Chile.
I have a Swedish name in the Chilean register.
I’m Ingegerd Maria Olsson in Chile.

I am a orphan
but I have a mother in the documents from the court in Temuco.
In the documents from the court, I have a mother.
A mother who gives me away.

I was 44 years old when I did a DNA test,
then I realised that I’m Mapuche.
I’m from an indigenous people.

To be a child of Indigenous people,
this detail is something that someone forgot to mention.
A detail that isn’t too important.
Or is it?

Is the right to one’s identity a right for everyone?
Who decides this?

#adoptee #adopted #stolen #Ilegal #adoption #Chile #victim #trafficking #Sverige #Adoptionscentrum #Sverige #adopterad #chileadoption #nomassilencio #humanrights #justice #mapuche #Wallmapu

Bolivianische Familiensuche

von Atamhi Cawayu, doctoral researcher at Ghent University (Belgium) and the Bolivian Catholic University ‘San Pablo’ (Bolivia). Together with Vicente Mollestad and Teresa Norman, they run Netzwerk bolivianischer Adoptierter.

This blogpost was initially posted on Atamhi’s Facebook profile and Instagram-account @displaced.alteño

Searching for first family and adoptee activism: Some reflections

In 1993 I got displaced/adopted to Belgium when I was six-month-old. According to my papers, I was found as a new-born in the city of El Alto in Bolivia. Since my twenties, I started to return and reconnect with Bolivia. In the past two years I live more in Bolivia than in Belgium and I consider myself ‘based in Bolivia’. In all these years, I have attempted to search for information about my pre-adoptive past. Since June, together with a fellow Bolivian adoptee friend, we started our search here in Bolivia by starting a big campaign to make ourselves visible.

Reflection 1: Putting up posters in the city

In June 2020, my friend and I started to prepare our searches for our Bolivian relatives by designing posters and putting them in various streets and neighbourhoods in the cities of La Paz and El Alto. It’s not the first time I engage in searching for first families, in the past years I have completed searches for other Bolivian adoptees, which sometimes led to reunions. However, searching is challenging, especially when you don’t have names, places or anything that might lead to our families. 

In Bolivia there is a central authority responsible for international adoption, yet there is no support from organisations or institutions who can really help us. In our cases, we have limited information, but other adoptees have the full name of their mother, or names of family members. Even in their cases it’s often a bureaucratic journey to obtain more information. In addition, most of us don’t know the language, are not familiar with the system, and do not always have the time to search. 

When I started to do my PhD on this topic, my goal has always been to have not only a better insight into the adoption system in Bolivia but also to ‘crack’ the system and understand which clues are necessary in finding one’s family. Besides I think it’s important to document the stories of the first parents and take their experiences into account if we really want to make an honest evaluation of the system of adoption. 

When preparing the posters, making the design, paying the prints, I could only think of one thing: we as adult adoptees have the resources to start this search and do it in an almost professional way. Our parents probably didn’t have the same amount of resources, and even if they did, their stories were regarded as less interesting than ours right now.

Reflection 2: Engaging with TV media

After our first round of posters, we received a message from a journalist from a Bolivian TV channel who was interested in our stories. A few days later they interviewed us, and it was broadcasted one day later. Since then our story was covered by national TV media in Bolivia and it received lots of attention. The media is a necessary evil. It helped a lot in having our cases visible, yet it’s hard to control the questions. They also have their own narrative they want to show.

These experiences made me reflect about several things. Our stories were largely framed as ‘abandoned babies’ returning to Bolivia, after being adopted internationally, however this narrative already makes a lot of assumptions of our mothers abandoning us. When reading the comment section (I know I should not do this) a big part of the viewers didn’t understand why we would search for someone ‘that doesn’t look for us’. However, it’s so much more complex… 

In my case I was found, but I don’t know what really happened. It’s easy to assume I was ‘abandoned’ by one of my parents, but I don’t know. In my research on first parents, I have encountered several parents who never gave up their child to adoption, did it in vulnerable circumstances, or were even pressured by intermediaries (and I’m not even talking about kidnap and illegal adoption). Yet, in many cases they were interested to know what happened to their children, if they were still alive, if they ended up well, etc. Part of our activism is also to speak about this other side of adoption. It’s not always a fairy-tale as many people think. We are part of system that exploits global inequalities, displaces poor brown/indigenous bodies from South to North, and prefers parenthood from the Global North over parenthood of the Global South. 

It is irritating people don’t understand the complexity and violence relinquishment and adoption can entail. Even if our parents wanted to look for us, they wouldn’t be able to find us as we have been relocated and displaced to other continents. When I search for my ‘family’, it is to make myself findable, so they know I am here in Bolivia and willing to be in touch with them. 

Reflection 3: The violence of international adoption

In the days after our first interview, various Bolivian TV channels called us for an interview. Our story was spread nationwide by radio, TV, newspaper. We tried to take advantage of this moment to open the discussion on transnational adoption.

During the interviews we tried to mention that for us adoptees there is no assistance for adoptees to search. Not in our adoptive countries, nor in Bolivia. We have to do almost everything by ourselves, and then I am not even talking about learning the language, understanding the documents, being familiar with the city. As my friend mentioned in several interviews, “searching is something political”. For me searching is doing something you were not supposed to do. It’s opening up histories that were meant to be hidden, it’s doing something within a system that tried to erase everything of your being.

Moreover, another dominant idea is to be lucky and fortunate when being adopted transnationally. One of the journalists said to me “you must be very fortunate”, “many people here would love to be in your shoes”. Throughout the years I have met many people, especially here in Bolivia, who told me I must have been lucky to be have been saved from my ‘miserable future’ in Bolivia and to have a ‘wealthy’ life in Europe. It’s like people think we only ‘won’ by being adopted internationally, but they often forget we have lost many things. I consider all the opportunities I have because of growing up in Europe as compensation for everything I have lost, and I have lost everything.

From my personal perspective, the violence implicit in transnational adoption is to be involuntary transcontinentally displaced, completely severed from our genetic ancestors, disconnected from our community, culture, language, nation, continent, and without any possibility to find our families ever again. For most of us Bolivia will become a country we once lived in. In addition, all our former identities are erased so we can be reborn, renamed, Christianised and assimilated with our adoptive countries. We grow up with complete strangers we are expected to love and call family. We are being brought into a society that doesn’t want us, that racialises us and discriminates us, without any community that provides shelter or understanding. This so-called child protection system – mostly in the benefit of well-off Western adoptive parents who wants to fulfil their heteronormative parental dream – erases everything from us. It is not the first time in colonial history child welfare systems are used to shape, control and erase indigenous children’s identities, and most children adopted from Bolivia have an indigenous background, be it Aymara or Quechua. Transnational adoption is for me an ongoing colonial project of civilising, controlling and managing children from the Global South, transforming them from ‘savages’ to ’civilised’ citizens in the benefit of the capitalist machine of the North. Transnational adoption would not have been possible without a history of colonialism and its ongoing colonial gaze towards countries in the South such as Bolivia.

The adoptee experience is something very diverse. I know some adoptees might disagree on this and that’s fine. I also know other adoptees might recognise themselves in what I write. Every experience is valid. However, my fight and activism are structural against a system that has caused a lot of injustices and is not in the benefit of first parents and adult adoptees. As another adoptee once told me: our parents maybe didn’t have the resources to fight for their rights, but we have, and we will fight for them.

Further Reading

Atamhi’s latest research paper: From Primal to Colonial Wound – Bolivian adoptees reclaiming the narrative of healing

Bitten and Suffering

by Lily Valentino, Colombian adoptee raised in the USA.

We adoptees are absolute masters at compartmentalizing, I am no different. I can go on my way, not acknowledging, ignoring and stuffing my shit in the back of the closet. But it never fails that eventually something will trigger me into facing my feelings, and downward I usually go for a few days, and sometimes weeks and months.

Yesterday was one of those days, it was like walking through a field and getting bitten by a snake! It happened fast, yet while it was happening it was playing out in slow motion. But now it is nearly 24 hours later and I can quite sharply feel those words coursing through my veins like the poison of a snake.

“….they were brought to this country, were stripped of their names, language, culture, religion, god and taken totally away from the history of themselves”

These were words I heard in passing yesterday, that were the initial sting, bite, if you will, which left me literally stunned. These words came out of Luis Farrakhan, and as I was listening to him speak them, it hit me, he was talking about the slaves brought to America and I too, I too, was sold and brought to this country away from my birth land, for money.

As these words slipped down my throat, I thought of being minority, being Hispanic and how my white adoptive mother pushed and tried to get me to date white guys. How she often spoke about how she wanted me to marry an Italian man. This thought always makes me sick and the term, “whitewash” comes to mind as being her motive. Memories of how she spoke of Hispanics by referring to them using the racial slur, “spics” rush to the forefront of my mind.

It left me shrinking into my seat for the rest of the day. Choking on thoughts of all that I have lost and continue to lose, my culture, my language, my native food, my name, my family and mi tierra (my land). Thinking of how my world is literally cut in half (because I have my birth family that live in Colombia and my husband and kids here in the US), how true happiness of having my world combined will never be had, true belonging is a shadow that I’m forever chasing just like time lost.

I sit here uneasy, fighting the tears from filling my eyes. I’ve been in deep thought about this sudden cry for human rights that does not seem to include adoptees, yet we are walking a near similar path to the slaves of 300 years ago. The difference, we were not bought to fulfill physical labor but to fulfill an emotional position for many white families. Some of us were treated well, part of the family like nothing “less than” while others remained outsiders, forced to fit into a world not our own and punished emotionally and physically when we could not meet their needs. When we stood up for ourselves and decided that we no longer wanted to fulfill that emotional roll to another human for which we had been bought or withstand the abuse, we have been cast out and off of the plantation and told never to return.

The crazy thing is that it is 2020 and my basic human rights to know my name, to know my culture, to grow up in the land that I was born in, to speak my native language, though violated mean nothing, as nobody other than other adoptees are concerned, or have a sense of urgency about this violation.

Wearing Your Fate

von Bina Mirjam de Boer adopted from India to the Netherlands, adoption and foster care coach @ Bina-Coaching.

Recently it was announced there is a surrogate company in Ukraine which will remain with hundreds of ordered but undelivered babies due to the coronavirus. They can’t be picked up during the lockdown by their foreign parents. In RTL 4 news post we see upset nurses and hear the lawyer of the adoption company talking about the importance of these babies going to their foreign parents as soon as possible.

The bizarre thing is that by commissioning the surrogacy and / or the adoption company, these babies are taken from their mother, their origins and their birth country and end up in a family in which one, or none, of the parents are genetically their parent.

On Monday 18 May, the lawsuit by adoptee from Sri Lanka, Dilani Butink was aired whereby she is suing the adoption organization / permit provider Stichting Kind en Future and the Dutch State. Her case shall hold both parties liable for her fraudulent adoption. This is because the Dutch state and adoption organisations and / or licensing holders, have known about the fraudulent practices and trafficking of children from the sending countries for many years. Nevertheless, thousands of children have been legally adopted (and without agreement) from their motherland to the Netherlands after discovering the trafficking. Yet we are still focusing on putting the wish for a child first.

Currently, the Dutch government is working on adjusting the law for surrogacy. Under its guise and around the wild growth of baby farms, the surrogate and child need to be provided protection from surrogacy abroad, but Ukraine does not offer this. It is pretty weird because the cause of this law ie., creating children in a “non-natural” way affects this child’s right to exist. Whoever reads this bill soon sees that the child’s rights and safety of the mother is not sufficiently protected and / or respected. The reason for this law is that we still have international adoption and conception of children through a donor surrogate mother and it is not a fairy tale or an altruistic thought.

Thinking about what my adoptive parents used to say when asked if I was grateful to them for my new life, namely they answered that I didn’t have to be thankful. This is because they wanted a child so badly and were so selfish, they let me come from abroad.

In most cases, the wish for a child is not a wish to make a child part of your life but a biologically driven desire to reproduce or to have a child of your own. If it were really only about the child, the thousands of forgotten children who live in children’s homes would be collected by childless couples. That we live in a world where the wish of having our “own made” child is exalted above the child’s wishes and health, ensures the financially driven market continues to function that dominates the adoption, donor and surrogacy world.

Um diesen Kinderwunsch unbedingt zu verwirklichen, werden Wege beschritten, die ohne ärztliche oder gerichtliche Eingriffe nicht möglich sind. Ausländischen Müttern wird geholfen, ihr Kind aufzugeben, anstatt Tabus zu brechen oder der Mutter zu helfen, das Kind selbst zu erziehen, oder die gesetzlichen Familienbindungen aufrechtzuerhalten, was für das Kind am besten ist. Der Einfluss der Distanz (gesetzliche Elternschaft muss über genetische Elternschaft gestellt werden) auf ein menschliches Leben wird immer noch abgeschottet, geleugnet und ignoriert, mit allen Konsequenzen.

Trotz aller Geschichten von erwachsenen Adoptierten und erwachsenen Spenderkindern über den Einfluss von Distanz und einer (teilweise) verborgenen Vergangenheit oder die geringen Leistungsquoten zusammengesetzter Familien bleibt der Kinderwunsch über den Kinderwunsch gestellt.

Im Jahr 2020 ist uns offenbar immer noch nicht bewusst, dass diese Maßnahmen Wunscheltern nicht nur von dem unerträglichen Schicksal einer kinderlosen Existenz befreien, sondern sie auch aus der Verantwortung entbinden, ihr eigenes Schicksal zu tragen. Gleichzeitig sorgen wir dafür, dass diese Kinder unaufgefordert mit einem unerträglichen Schicksal belastet werden. Nämlich ein Leben mit einer verborgenen und einer gemachten Identität. Ich möchte nicht sagen, dass ein kinderloses Paar kein Recht auf ein Kind in seinem Leben hat, aber es gibt andere Möglichkeiten, ein Kind an seinem Leben teilhaben zu lassen, ohne Mutter und Kind ein unerträgliches Schicksal zu bereiten.

Adoptierte wissen oft nicht, wer sie sind, wann sie geboren wurden, wie alt sie sind oder wie sie geboren wurden, aus welchen Familiensystemen sie stammen oder was ihre Wirkgeschichte ist. Sie werden mit der Vorstellung aufgezogen, dass sie zu einer anderen Familie gehören, aus der sie genetisch stammen. Diese gesetzliche Enterbung schneidet den Angenommenen jedoch nicht von seinem ursprünglichen Familiensystem ab (das ist unmöglich), sondern er muss im Erwachsenenleben feststellen, dass die Grundlage, auf der sein Leben aufgebaut wurde, nicht die richtige ist. Spenderkinder suchen den Vater und erfahren, dass sie Dutzende von (Halb-)Schwestern und Brüdern haben oder dass sie Zwillinge sind, aber von verschiedenen Spendervätern stammen. Beide Male geht es darum, ein Kind zu fordern und zur Verfügung zu stellen.

Viele adoptierte Menschen entdecken irgendwann in ihrem Leben, dass sie mit einem unerträglichen Schicksal leben, sie leben in einer surrealen Geschichte, deren Essenz sie verfehlt haben, aber ihre Emotionen in ihrem Körper erleben. Dies führt auch dazu, dass Adoptierte oft sagen, dass sie das Gefühl haben, überleben zu müssen, anstatt zu gedeihen.

Ich hoffe, dass der Gerichtsprozess gegen die srilankische Adoptierte Dilani Butink in irgendeiner Weise zu einer Sensibilisierung und Beendigung des Kinderhandels beitragen wird und dass wir Schicksal und Verantwortung dort lassen, wo sie hingehören. Wie ein koreanischer Adoptierter einmal sagte: „Stirbst du lieber vor Hunger oder vor Traurigkeit?“ .. ein Satz, den ich immer noch regelmäßig bei Gruppentreffen mit Adoptierten beobachte.

Mir ist bewusst, dass Kinderlosigkeit ein unerträgliches Schicksal ist, gleichzeitig bemerke und arbeite ich täglich mit den Folgen von Distanz und Adoption. Und das ist auch für viele unerträglich, leider können wir Adoptiv- und Spenderkinder unser Schicksal und die uns zugetragene Verantwortung nicht ablegen und das ist eine Last, die wir ungewollt als lebenslange Haftstrafe tragen müssen.

Ich hoffe auch, dass das Gerichtsverfahren dazu beiträgt, Hilfe zu bekommen. Im Jahr 2020 übernehmen die Regierungen immer noch nicht die volle Verantwortung dafür, sich von diesen Formen des Kinderhandels bei internationalen Adoptionen und ihren Folgen abzuwenden. Am Ende bleibt meiner Meinung nach die Frage: Traust du dich, Verantwortung zu übernehmen und das Schicksal zu tragen, das du bekommen hast? Es ist eine Entscheidung, ohne „hausgemachte“ Kinder zu leben, oder Sie belasten eine andere Person mit dem Schicksal, ohne ihre ursprüngliche Identität, Familie und Kultur zu leben.

Bitte lasst uns aus der Geschichte lernen und Kinder nicht als Erleuchtung des Schicksals benutzen, sondern unser eigenes Schicksal tragen.

Wer bin ich jetzt?

Von Maria Diemar aus ihrem Blog unter Ich besitze meine Story Maria Diemar

Wer ich jetzt bin, nachdem sich meine Lebensgeschichte geändert hat

Ich dachte immer, meine Mutter hätte mich zur Adoption freigegeben
Ich war ein verlassenes Kind
Ich habe gelernt zu glauben, dass Adoption etwas Schönes ist
Auch wenn es weh tat
Obwohl ich mich verlassen fühlte
Obwohl ich mich alleine fühlte

Ich habe so viele Jahre nach meiner Mutter gesucht,
es war fast unmöglich, sie zu finden
bis ich mit Ana Maria in Chile in Kontakt kam

Als Ana Maria meine Mutter fand
Ich habe die Wahrheit erfahren
Ich wurde meiner Mutter gestohlen
im Krankenhaus
kurz nachdem sie mich geboren hat
Meine Mutter durfte mich nicht sehen oder halten
Leute im Krankenhaus, ein Sozialassistent hat wirklich versucht, sie zu zwingen
Papiere zu unterschreiben, dass sie mich zur Adoption freigeben wollte
Meine Mutter weigerte sich, irgendwelche Papiere zu unterschreiben

84 Tage vergingen,
von dem Tag an, als sie mich von meiner Mutter trennten
in der kleinen Stadt auf dem Land in Chile
bis ich in einem Flugzeug nach Stockholm in Schweden kam.

Ich bin mit Papieren nach Schweden gekommen
es hieß, ich hätte keine Familie, die sich um mich kümmern könnte
es hieß, meine Mutter hätte mich zur Adoption verlassen
Das hinterfrage ich nie
Aber ich fühlte mich verlassen und allein

Heute kenne ich die Wahrheit
Ich wurde gestohlen und
zwangsweise von meiner Mutter getrennt

Nur wenige wollen die Wahrheit sehen
wie uns die Gesellschaft das beigebracht hat
Adoption ist etwas Schönes

Ich habe gelernt, dass Adoption schmutzig ist
Geschäft, und das
Menschen verdienen Geld
Ich habe diese Adoption gelernt
ist eine Branche

Und ich bin mir nicht sicher,
wer ich bin mehr
wenn ich nicht das verlassene Kind bin

Ich wurde gezwungen, zurückzugehen
mich all meinen Ängsten zu stellen und
um meine Entscheidungen und Erfahrungen zu betrachten

Heute, wenn ich das Bild von diesem kleinen Mädchen sehe
in meinem chilenischen Pass
Ich sehe ein trauriges Mädchen,
ganz allein auf der Welt
ohne Rechtsanspruch, weil
Niemand nahm sich die Zeit, um sicherzugehen
Ich kam aus der Situation
das stand in den Unterlagen

Nach 6 Monaten wurde ich adoptiert,
nach dem Gesetz in Schweden
trotz des Gesetzes in Chile

Was bedeutet Adoption für Sie?

Und bitte, bevor Sie diese Frage beantworten,
Wer bist du?

Orphan Bennie

This editioned set of 50 silkscreened prints by Benjamin Lundberg Torres Sánchez responds to the UN’s Resolution on the Rights of The Child (12/18/19) by remixing the Little Orphan Annie comics with transnational adoptee self-portraiture. Inspired by commentary by Patricia Fronek (@triciafronek) and others on Twitter, it celebrates the UN’s call for the end of orphanages, while expressing skepticism towards what such a resolution will look like in practice. How might systems of adoption and foster-care (evoked here by “Señora Hannigan”) morph as we strive towards abolition? 

Signed, dated, and numbered prints cost $7 (USD) and can be ordered by e-mailing Funds will support future adoption abolition art and agitprop. For more of my work, visit

Adoption Laws – IF

There was an interesting post going around an adoptive family facebook group during National Adoption Awareness Month that I haven’t seen before. It got me inspired to share from the intercountry adoptee perspective what I would change IF we could.

The question was: “If you had the power to change any adoption laws, what would you change?” As you can imagine in an adoptive parent forum, many of the answers were adoptive and prospective parent centric. I did share a few of my initial thoughts, which unsurprisingly, in that group, not very popular. So let’s share my thoughts here as essentially this is the crux of what ICAV tries to do – we speak out to help policy makers and implementors think about what their processes and practices do to the child, the adoptees for whom it’s meant to be about. Some of the responses from ICAV members are incorporated as we did have quite an active discussion in our facebook group for adult intercountry adoptees.

If I could change adoption laws as an intercountry adoptee, in no particular order, I would:

  • make it illegal to traffic children via intercountry adoption and ensure a legal pathway for reparative & restorative justice — such as allowing us to return to our homeland and/or original family, if and when we desire;
  • make it illegal to rehome or return us;
  • make it illegal to change or falsify our original identity that includes DNA testing the relinquishing parents to confirm their parentage of us;
  • make it illegal to abuse us;
  • create a legal pathway to prosecute the agency for failing to adequately psychologically assess our parents to ensure no further harm is done via the adoptive family environment;
  • make it a legal requirement for all the actors who participate in the facilitation of adoption to provide lifelong post adoption supports that are free, equitable, and comprehensive, arising from a trauma informed model. It needs to be itemised what Post Adoption encompasses e.g., full search and reunion services, translation of documents, language courses, cultural activities, psychological counselling, return to homeland services, open access to our identity documents, etc.,
  • make it illegal to trick birth parents, to ensure they fully understand what relinquishment and adoption means;
  • make it illegal to adopt a child until it is proven beyond doubt that no immediate family, kin or local community can support and raise the child; this must include proof that the provision of a range of financial and social welfare supports have been offered;
  • create a legal pathway for orphanages, agencies, lawyers and judges to be prosecuted by birth families who are prevented access to their child, especially in situations where they change their minds;
  • create a legal pathway to prosecute countries who fail to give citizenship or deport intercountry adoptees; this includes removing these countries who accept or send deportees from any international convention;
  • make it illegal to separate twins;
  • centralise adoption, bring back full accountability of adoption to the State and remove the privatised model of intercountry adoption agencies to remove the conflict of interest and the blame shifting;
  • remove money and fees;
  • make it illegal for private lawyers to facilitate intercountry adoptions;
  • make expatriate adoptions go through the same process as intercountry adoptions in the adopting country rather than being able to by-pass the tougher requirements.
  • make all plenary adoptions illegal;
  • legalise a new form of care internationally that incorporates the concepts of simple adoption, kinship care, stewardship, permanent care, and guardianship models that provides for our care but not at our cost in identity and removal of connection to ALL kin;
  • create a law that allows adoptees the right to decline their adoptive parents as an adult if they wish;
  • create a pathway to ensure Dual citizenship for all intercountry adoptees that includes citizenship for our generational offspring, should they wish.

This is just a starting list for thinking about what laws would need creating or changing in order to protect the rights of adoptees! I haven’t even started to discuss what laws would be needed from our original family perspectives. It would be interesting to hear their perspective. One has to question the current bias of existing laws that are skewed and mainly protect the interests of the adopters instead of a balance between all three and prevent intermediaries taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of each of the triad members.

There will always be vulnerable children who need care but today’s existing Plenary adoption laws are archaic and outdated. We adoptees know from living the experience that there are many gaps and pitfalls in the current plenary adoption laws used in intercountry adoption today.