On 30 July, I ran our Reunion and Beyond webinar, part 2 of this series in searching and reunion in intercountry adoption. I couldn’t be more proud of our 8 panelists who did an incredible job of sharing some of the nuances and complexities involved! Thank you to each of them!
Ae Ra (born in Sth Korea, raised in Belgium), Alex (born in Romania, raised in Germany and New Zealand), Jonas (born in Haiti, raised in Australia), Sam (born in the Philippines, raised in the Philippines and the USA), Maria (born in Greece, raised in the USA), Ben (born in Guatemala, raised in the USA), James (born in Colombia, raised in Australia), and Raya (born in Russia, raised in Canada).
For those who are time poor, I’ve provided a time code so you can flick to the relevant parts. For those who want a summary of our key messages, they are also included as a pdf.
00:00:00 Intro – Lynelle 00:01:32 Why this webinar 00:07:16 Introduction of panelists 00:07:22 Ae Ra 00:09:17 Jonas 00:10:33 Maria 00:11:25 Raya 00:13:10 Ben 00:15:42 Alex 00:16:52 Sam 00:20:40 James 00:23:05 Questions 00:23:15 What do you recommend in preparation for reunion? 00:23:30 Maria 00:28:33 Ben 00:32:20 Raya 00:35:25 What challenges have you faced in reunion? 00:35:42 James 00:40:22 Jonas 00:43:19 Raya 00:45:48 Ae Ra 00:49:35 Tips for a media facilitated reunion 00:50:05 Alex 00:51:34 How to deal with differences in language and culture? 00:51:51 Ben 00:55:38 James 01:01:04 What role do I want for adoptive family in / after reunion? 01:01:26 Alex 01:03:10 Jonas 01:06:34 Ae Ra 01:09:47 How do I support myself in reunion? 01:09:53 Jonas 1:11:14 Maria 1:16:12 Sam 1:21:19 How do we manage the financial requests? 1:21:42 Sam 1:23:58 Alex 1:26:12 Ben 1:29:30 What’s it been like to find answers to your questions? 1:29:41 James 1:31:58 Raya 1:34:39 Sam 1:36:52 What role should government and adoption agencies have in reunion? 1:37:12 Ben 1:39:18 Maria 1:42:49 Ae Ra 1:45:56 Closing remarks and thanks
On 26 June, a panel of 6 transracial and intercountry adoptees adoptees from the ICAV network presented to the New Zealand Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children teams who work in adoption on a variety of questions.
Click below to watch our webinar: (If you are using Google Chrome, click on “Learn More” to view the video)
For those who are time poor, I have provided a time code so you can skip to the parts you want to hear:
00:18 Peter McGurk intro 00:41 in English 03:47 Lynelle welcome and introductions of panelists 05:22 Alex K 06:09 Alex G 7:25 Bev 08:58 Gabby 10:58 Mike 11:38 Importance of consulting with a wide range of generations impacted by adoption – Lynelle 13:00 What is ICAV 15:46 ICAVs Vision 16:32 ICAVs main achievements 18:49 ICAVs key achievements Australia 22:20 ICAVs current priorities 24:28 What are some of the distinct stages adoptees go through in our lifetime 33:52 The need for post adoption support services 34:11 Alex 37:46 Mike 40:22 Bev 42:07 Understanding racism 42:19 Mike 46:15 Gabby 51:51 Search and reunion 52:14 Alex 1:02:35 Key messages for workers in adoption 1:03:01 Alex 1:05:56 Gabby 1:09:28 Bev 1:13:32 Main issues for Central Authorities to think about – Lynelle 1:22:34 Peter and close
For those who would like a Summary of Key Messages, click här for our pdf.
We thank Peter McGurck and the New Zealand Oranga Tamariki Ministry for Children for asking us to present to their adoption teams!
Den 30 januari 2023 deltog en liten grupp interlandsadopterade i Storbritannien i ett panelevenemang för webbseminarium för att dela sina tankar och erfarenheter med adoptivförälderorganisationen, AdoptionUK.
I det här webbseminariet får du träffa Sarah Hilder adopterad från Sri Lanka, Joshua Aspden adopterad från Ecuador, Emma Estrella adopterad från Brasilien, Meredith Armstrong adopterad från Kina och Claire Martin adopterad från Hong Kong. Tillsammans svarar vi på några frågor som adoptivföräldrar kl AdoptionUK fråga.
Se webbinariet och nedan finns en tidskod, nyckelmeddelanden och relevanta resurser. Obs! Om du tittar i Chrome klickar du på knappen Läs mer för att titta på videon
Tidskod för webbseminarium
00:20 Intro från AdoptionUK 01:03 Intro från Lynelle från ICAV 02:44 Sarah Hilder 03:35 Claire Martin 05:34 Meredith Armstrong 07:39 Emma Estrela 09:39 Joshua Aspden 12:17 Hur man skyddar mig från bedragare när jag söker efter familj – Lynelle 17:23 Tips för att närma sig livsberättelsearbete – Meredith 20:54 Känner du att livet skulle ha varit bättre om du hade blivit adopterad av en familj i ditt födelseland? 21:27 Josua 24:56 Emma 28:00 Vad vill vi att adoptivföräldrar ska veta när vi börjar med en internationell adoption? 28:24 Claire 32:25 Meredith 35:12 Sara 38:24 Emma 40:24 Josua 43:34 Lynelle 45:30 Vad förbinder dig mest med ditt arv? 45:45 Sarah 48:23 Claire 49:30 Joshua 51:07 Planerar du att besöka fosterfamiljen, några tips eller råd för att hantera de stora känslor som kommer att dyka upp för den adopterade? 51:30 Meredith 52:24 Emma 54:25 Lynelle 56:24 Jo slut och tack
På ICAV strävar vi efter att lyfta adopterade konstnärer eftersom deras verk ofta kan skildra vad ord har svårt att förmedla. I överensstämmelse med detta, den senaste 9 september K-Box Adoptee Takeover Night, Ra Chapman och jag ville att kvällen skulle vara en hyllning till australiska internationella adopterade artister. Vi kunde presentera en del av deras arbete i en utskrift som en ZINE som du kan se här:
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Andra adopterade artister
Vi har haft några andra otroliga internationella adopterade konstnärer som presenterar sina verk på ICAV genom åren. Här är en sammanställning av det som delats. Klicka på bilden så kommer du till deras blogg med konstverk.
Next week on 4-8 July, the 104 signatory countries of the Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption will gather online together at the Special Commission meeting to discuss Post Adoption och Illicit / Illegal Adoption matters. It is a significant event that happens usually every 5 years and this marks the first time there will be broad representation of intercountry adoptees attending as Observers. Historically since 2005, International Korean Adoptee Association (IKAA), the network representing Korean adoptee interests has been the only adoptee organisation to attend. In 2015, Brazil Baby Affair (BBA) was the second adoptee led organisation to attend with IKAA. Due to COVID, this current Special Commission meeting was postponed and over the past years, I can proudly say I have helped to spread the knowledge amongst adoptee led organisations of HOW to apply and encouraged lived experience organisations like KUMFA (the Korean mothers organisation) to represent themselves. This year, we proudly have 6 adoptee led organisations representing themselves and their communities. We have progressed!
Back in 2015, I wrote the blog titled Why is it Important to have Intercountry Adoptee Voices on this website. Many times over the years I have advocated about the importance of our voices being included at the highest levels of government discussions. So I say again, our voices are immensely important at these highest levels of adoption policy, practice and legislation discussions.
Some critics might say we change nothing in intercountry adoption by attending these meetings, however, I would like to suggest that merely seeing us represent our adult selves in numbers, helps governments and authorities realise a few key points:
We grow up! We don’t remain perpetual children.
We want to have a say in what happens to future children like ourselves.
We help keep them focused on “who” we really are! We are not nameless numbers and statistics. We are alive people with real feelings, thoughts and a myriad of experiences. Their decisions MATTER and impact us for life and our future generations!
We help them learn the lessons from the past to make things better for the future and remedy the historic wrongs.
We are the experts of our lived experience and they can leverage from our input to gain insights to do their roles better and improve the way vulnerable children are looked after.
One of the advantages of the framework of the Hague Convention, is that it creates opportunities like the upcoming Special Commission where adoptees can have visibility and access to the power structures and authorities who define and create intercountry adoption. Domestic adoptees lack this framework at a global scale and are disadvantaged in having opportunities that bring them together to access information and people which is important in advocacy work.
I’m really proud of our team of 8 who are representing ICAV at this year’s meeting. I have ensured we cover a range of adoptive and birth countries because it’s so important to have this diversity in experiences. Yes, there’s still room for improvement, but I’ve been limited by people’s availability and other commitments given we all do this work as volunteers. We are not paid as government or most NGO participants at this upcoming meeting. We get involved because we are passionate about trying to improve things for our communities! Equipping ourselves with knowledge on the power structures that define our experience is essential.
Huge thanks to these adoptees who are volunteering 5 days/nights of their time and effort to represent our global community!
Abby Forero-Hilty (adopted to the USA, currently in Canada, born in Colombia; Author of Colombian adoptee anthology Decoding Our Origins, Co-founder of Colombian Raíces; ICAV International Representative)
I’m not expecting great changes or monumental happenings at this upcoming meeting, but it’s the connections we make that matter whether that be between ourselves as adoptees and/or with the various government and NGO organisations represented. Change in this space takes decades but I hope for the small connections that grow over time that accumulate and become a positive influence.
The next few posts will be sharing some of the key messages some of our team put together in preparation for this Hague Special Commission meeting on Post Adoption Support and what the community via these leaders, wish to share. Stay tuned!
We still have a long way to go to reach the wider public and educate them about the inherent trauma and losses in relinquishment and adoption. To assist with this, I’m trying to connect into spaces that are not adoption specific and share our message.
I recently sent our Video for Professionals to an organisation Stella that provides medical treatment for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) called Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB). Who knows, perhaps it might be effective for some adoptees? Our trauma from relinquishment often has no language because it happened to us as young children or babies, so I am constantly on the look out for new treatments or options that can help give relief to the ongoing emotional minefield that many adoptees live. SGB works on the premise of dampening down our fight/flight response that results from ongoing trauma.
Stella’s chief psychologist, Doc Shauna Springer and the Head of Partnerships, Valerie Groth, both chatted with me and watched our videos. Until then, both had no idea as clinicians about the traumas inherent in relinquishment and adoption. They are inspired to join with me to help educate the public, so here is the short 30min podcast interview they conducted to help facilitate this. Click on the image to listen to the podcast.
If you already know about the traumas inherent in adoption, nothing in this will be new, but if you want a podcast that helps others understand from a first learner perspective, perhaps you might consider sharing it with them.
We also have our compiled list of resources as a starting point for those interested to learn more about the connection between trauma and adoption from experts all over the world.
This piece was written for the Benevolent Society: Post Adoption Resource Centre newsletter. Their centre provides post adoption support to adoptees in New South Wales (NSW), Australia.
In the late 1990s, I was in my mid 20s and searching for support as an adoptee born overseas, outside of Australia. At that time, I didn’t even have the language to understand how adoption had affected me, I only knew that I had struggled and was reaching out to try and find support somewhere. I came across the Post Adoption Resource Center (PARC) in my search but I had initially tried the AA type programs, thinking there must be an “Adoptees Anonymous” somewhere to join into. There wasn’t, so when I found PARC led by Sarah Armstrong, I went and joined in with one of their adoptee days where you meet face to face and talk. PARC took us through guided sessions. I found it really useful but the biggest thing I noticed was there was nothing discussing looking different to one’s family/community, nothing on searching and returning to an overseas country, and certainly nothing on racism or the issues I lived as a person of colour adopted into a white society. So I spoke to the PARC team afterwards and asked if there was anything available more specific to my experience. I didn’t even know the term “intercountry adoption” then. All I knew was that I enjoyed meeting the adoptees but they were all born in Australia except me. So I still felt different and quite alone. I enquired about whether there were other adoptees like me reaching out to PARC. They told me yes, occasionally. I said, “Well if you ever run something for us, I’d love to know about it and if you have those adoptees wanting to connect to someone like them, pleas share them my name and contacts.”
And so some time later, PARC did followup and contact me. They asked me if I wanted to be involved in their new book project where we as transracial adoptees could share our stories to help people better understand our lived experience. I said of course and I jumped at the opportunity. I remember trying to figure out what I’d write about, but once I started, it all flowed.
It was quite a lengthy process to get our book project published, finished, and launched. I think it was around 3 years from start to end? But during that process I ended up being honoured to meet the fellow adoptees who also shared in our book, Skillnadens färg. Participating in the book changed my life and PARC had been sharing my name/contacts to adoptees just like me, so over time, once the project finished, I made up my mind that I would volunteer and continue on from the connections we had made, to form a network to support each other.
So from the almost 30 adoptees from the project and those early days, I built what was then known as the InterCountry Adoptee Support Network (ICASN). We focused on sharing our stories, connecting to each other, and meeting face to face in capital cities. We had State Representatives to facilitate social contact and Country of Origin Representatives to help adoptees with their birth country specific resources and needs. From those early days we connected in closely with the various post adoption organisations around Australia and participated in education events, utilising our lived experience to help inform the future adoptions.
The book had also been part of the funding from the NSW Department of Community Services (DoCS) headed up by March Griffin at the time. I connected with Mary Griffin and her team of social workers and ended up being asked to speak and share my story to their team for training. It was the most vulnerable day of my life but the lovely PARC social worker, Petrina Slaytor came with me as my support and I told my story for the first time to people who were not adoptees, but professionals. Wow, it was such an empowering experience to receive their validation and encouragement to keep doing what I was doing – sharing my story, connecting to fellow adoptees, providing a peer support space. I still have the lovely Petrina and Mary in my life today and they have been some of my most incredible supports throughout my life.
In 2014, after having a couple of years of break due to having my own young family, I decided to continue on from ICASN and to refocus and rename it InterCountry Adoptee Voices (ICAV). This was to reflect the new focus from not just peer support, but to now begin actively advocating at government levels for our needs and rights and to ask that our voices be included in all policy and legislation discussions. I could no longer ignore the very visible global issues I heard daily, after having hundreds of adult intercountry adoptees join into ICASN from all over the world. I realised I was definitely not alone in my journey but that our experiences were replicated all over the world for intercountry adoptees.
Fast forward to today in 2022, ICAV is now representing on behalf of intercountry adoptees from all over the world at international levels – The Hague och den United Nations (UN). We are advocating for our rights and needs and we are ensuring our voices are included in policy and legislation discussions that determine the future of other intercountry adoptees. Recently, I address the UN Committees on the topic of illegal and illicit adoptions from lived experience. It is such an honour to be working in collaboration with so many intercountry adoptees from all over the world.
So from a book project that PARC initiated 24 years ago, ICAV has grown to become one of the leading intercountry adoptee advocacy networks in the world.
Who would have thought that connecting into PARC, sharing my story in the book Skillnadens färg, would have made such an impact on me, and then flow onto all the adoptees who have joined into ICAV today. What a ripple effect!
Huge thanks to PARC for making this all possible! And I’m so excited to see our book being printed again and made available in hardcopy! It’s incredible to hear from adoptive parents of the newer generations who share with me what a difference it has made for them and their adoptee to read our books, Skillnadens färg, Tidens färg, which helps to normalise our journey and educate those who want to better understand our lived experience.
To obtain a hard copy of these books, you can contact: PARC for Skillnadens färg; eller ICAV for Skillnadens färg and/or Tidens färg.
In my humble perspective, I believe the future of intercountry adoption is slowly coming to its death. I am personally happy about this, as are a vast number of adult intercountry adoptees around the world. I recognise though that not all adoptees agree with my happiness nor want to see the end of intercountry adoption. The argument they pose is probably that we have gained and benefited much and why should we stop others from having the same?
I argue that we are actively robbing countries of their most valuable resource – their children – when we take advantage, with our privilege and resources, to gain from their vulnerabilities. We need to do better – do what’s ethically right, when we know in hindsight that the random positive outcomes do not justify the huge amount of trauma that has been inflicted on so many.
We have seen some countries in Europe start to take responsibility by independently investigating the history of intercountry adoption and come to terms with the wrongs done to so many. COVID has also created a natural dampener to the trade in children, but the efforts of intercountry adoptees and our allies has been building over the past decades to culminate into a worldwide recognition that intercountry adoption as a social experiment, has not been as successful as many hoped for.
If I were to ask myself what I think the future of intercountry adoption looks like, I couldn’t lie and pretend to uphold the fantasy so many seem to have with adoption. From the lived perspective, too many of us intercountry adoptees have struggled and suffered life long consequences of being robbed of our origins, our kin, our country, culture, and language .. it is time we take an honest and critical look at what intercountry adoption truly does. It is the ONLY alternative care option that proactively severs our right to identity and family relations — except in the cases of a few countries (Vietnam, Belgium and France) who allow Simple adoption to exist .. but in reality, it is extremely rare to have a Simple intercountry adoption.
I can only gauge the future and what it brings, from where we have shifted and moved in the past 24 years that I’ve been actively involved. I have seen the massive change that my adoptee community has undergone in the 24 years I’ve been involved:
From being completely isolated from each other, to massively connected now!
From being in the fog, to totally awakened to the reality of the structures that have created our lives.
From relying on dodgy fabricated paperwork, to embracing DNA technology because it doesn’t lie.
From not wanting to engage in the politics, to now fully engaging and seeking / demanding engagement with government and authorities.
From not understand our rights, to now finding pathways to uphold our rights through the laws and demanding justice and reparation.
This is what excites me the most .. seeing the many adoptees demanding justice who are inspired by the success of the pioneers before them – adoptees like Patrick Noordoven who have fought the lack of legal pathway, studied the laws, faced the courts and created a legal pathway to demand justice and access to our truth – our right to identity. We need more of this to happen en-masse around the world!
Then what we are starting to see right now, in the past few years, is that some governments are recognising that they need to better protect themselves because they are realising they are participating in an activity and system that actively robs us of our rights – our rights to identity, origins and family. Once more governments realise the risk they bear, I believe we will see intercountry adoption become almost non existent because it’s too risky, too costly!
Intercountry adoption has always been about money: who has it, who doesn’t, who doesn’t want to lose it, who can’t afford to take the risk. While the risk in intercountry adoption was once historically gauged as low, governments and authorities supported the demand for children – but the tide on that sentiment has turned and there is no going back! I do believe one day we will look back historically on this huge social experiment called intercountry adoption and it will eventually be acknowledge on a global scale, that it was never in our best interests to be removed from our country, culture and origins and add to our traumas.
Hand in hand with this, I’m excited to see some governments start to recognise our adoptee needs and rights! In Australia we’ve been one of the few countries to be given a funded free mental health counselling service and we had a free search n reunion service. Both of these should be a minimum and a mandatory service in all post adoption for every adopting and sending country. Some countries are talking to me about our Australian model and I know other countries are starting to provide either one or both of these services.
But while I celebrate the shifts in some progressive countries, let’s not forget our families of loss still barely have any rights, and usually no access to free counselling or a searching service. I hope in the future we will start to see this change. The voices of our families of origins is still largely unheard, ignored, denied. We have to change that!
I hope intercountry adoption will become only a last resort option, as originally intended under the The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
While it is impossible to calculate exactly how many illegal and illicit adoptions have occurred into Australia, we do know we have specific cohorts of adoptees here from various countries. Ethiopia and India were the most recent countries where our programs closed due to irregularities. Our early history in the 1980s includes trafficked adoptees from Taiwan where Julie Chu was convicted of falsifying paperwork and sentenced to prison for her role as leader of the Taiwan trafficking ring.
Globally, in February this year the Netherlands suspended its intercountry adoption program due to its historic illegal and illicit adoptions. Other European countries such as Switzerland, Sweden, and Belgium have all taken steps to carefully examine their historic adoptions.
What will Australia’s response be to our own history of illicit and illegal intercountry adoptions? Australian policy makers are currently grappling with this question and the implications. For this purpose, ISS Australia and InterCountry Adoptee Voices (ICAV) are pleased to present our free webinar on this sensitive and complex topic with a focus on the voices of those with lived experience. We hope to help educate about the experience from lived perspective, how it impacts, and what impacted people want to see policy makers and professionals take into consideration.
This webinar took place on 10 November 2021 titled Levd erfarenhet av illegal och olaglig adoption. We bring you Australian specific lived experience, however, this can be extrapolated to the global arena.
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A huge thank you to our panelists: Professor David Smolin, Kimbra Butterworth-Smith, Annita Pring, Clement Lam (as read by his daughter, Marie Gardom).
Kimbra Butterworth-Smith has experience working in humanitarian NGOs in Australia and abroad. She is also an intercountry adult adoptee from Taiwan whose adoption was facilitated illegally by Julie Chu.
Annita Pring is an Australian adoptive mother to a Thai son.
Clement Lam Swee Seng is a retired counsellor in marriage, youth and drug addiction ministry in Malaysia. He also is a Chinese father of loss to a daughter who was sent abroad and adopted into a British adoptive family. Clement has only recently been reunited with his daughter.
Many thanks to my co-presenters at ISS Australia, CEO Peter van Vliet and Deputy CEO Damon Martin.
I’m very excited and feeling hopeful after hearing Belgium’s recent news, that their Minister has announced his intention to ask Parliament to suspend all adoptions for the next 2 years as a result of their investigation into intercountry adoptions.
Surrounded by incredible adoptee leaders around the world, I know how much effort has gone into getting intercountry adoptee rights to where we are today. News like this does not in any way solve or fix the issues we face but it is at least the beginning of having recognition of the wrongs done — with governments and authorities stepping up to confront the truth that we’ve been talking about for decades. Acknowledgement is the first step of many!
Belgium isn’t the first adoptive country to do so. The Netherlands announced their moratorium on all intercountry adoptions earlier this year in February and published their report. Switzerland announced their report from investigating past practices relating to Sri Lankan adoptions and they are being urged to provide reparation to the victims. Sweden also announced their intention to investigate their illegal intercountry adoptions. And yesterday, the Belgium Minister announced his recommendations to be considered by Parliament. You can read här the full Expert Panel report.
But for some countries we still have work to do
It seems that finally some governments are listening to our lived experience and have decided to no longer turn a blind eye. But even though these 4 have listened, I want to also remind you that there has been much work and years of effort gone into other countries who still haven’t come to the “acknowledgement table”. In France, the adoptees there have had huge support in their petition to have the French Parliament conduct an investigation into their historic intercountry adoptions. In Denmark, the adoptees from Chile have been working with the government to have their adoptions investigated.
In my adoptive country Australia, I have been speaking out and advocating for supports for impacted adoptees and families and for recognition of the abuses in Australia for many years. In fact, it’s been over a decade already and I remember in my early years representing adoptees at NICAAG where Julia Rollings (adoptive mum) and I tabled this issue at the beginning in 2008 and asked that the issue be addressed. More recently, I have also presented a small group of 8 impacted adoptees to meet with our Central Authority, DSS in 2017 asking for very specific supports. However, to this day, those adoptees have still been ignored and dismissed. Despite having very clear cases of illegal activity where perpetrators have been criminally convicted and jailed (e.g., the Julie Chu cohort in image below from Taiwan), nothing has been offered for the adoptees or their families to help them deal with the extra complexities of their illegal adoptions. It’s as if these impacted adoptees don’t exist and Australia hopes the problem will fade away while they face far more important issues, like COVID-19 or an upcoming election.
It is time authorities around the world step up and take responsibility for the processes and structures that ruptured our lives via adoption – for good and for bad.
Intercountry adoption has followed the path of domestic adoption
In intercountry adoption, we are seeing the same pattern where country after country the governments are acknowledging the wrongs in their domestic adoptions. Canada leads the way by providing financial compensation to their victims of the Sixties Scoop. Australia has already provided a formal apology for the women and babies who were impacted under the Forced Adoption era — but are still as yet to be offered any form of compensation. Australia also just announced their compensation for the Indigenous Aboriginals who were forcibly removed and placed into white families under the Stolen Generation. It is interesting that the Australian government can acknowledge these past practices but doesn’t recognise the very close similarities with our historic intercountry adoptions. Ireland as a government has only this year recognised the wrongs and provided a formal apology to the mothers and children who suffered in Babies Homes from forced adoptions. Ireland is also baulking at offering compensation.
What about our birth countries?
Very few of our birth countries involved in our illicit and illegal adoptions have taken any action either. Guatemala, Etiopien och Russia are the main ones that come to my memory where they stopped all intercountry adoptions because of irregularities — but they too have failed to provide impacted adoptees with services or compensation to recognise the wrongs done to them. Some of them have sentenced perpetrators but their sentence rarely ever matches the depths of their crime.
Let’s have a quick overview at how perpetrators have been sentenced to date:
That the majority of perpetrators in intercountry adoption get away with mild convictions demonstrates the lack of legal framework to protect us. And despite the fact that very few perpetrators in intercountry adoption are ever caught, let alone sentenced, one still has to ask, where is the support for the victims?
The American Samoan Adoptees Restitution Trust is the ONLY restorative justice program I’ve come across, establishing a fund provided by the perpetrators to facilitate connection to birth family and country. But the funds provided have been extremely limiting considering how many people are impacted and out of those impacted adoptees, only 1 was enabled to return to their natural family. Have governments even considered whether intercountry adoptees wish to be repatriated back to their birth country?
What level of responsibility should governments bear?
Many articles have been written about the problems in intercountry adoption via the irregularities in processing us for intercountry adoption, but the most critical issue that governments need to respond to, is our rätt till identitet.
“Article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) notes that a child has a right to identity including a name, a nationality and family relations. Whenever a child is deprived of one of these elements, States have an obligation to restore the child’s identity speedily. At the heart of any intercountry adoption (ICA) is the modification of a child’s identity given at birth.” — CHIP
Sammanfattningsvis förklarar vår rapport vad majoriteten av oss vill. Vi lämnade var och en självständigt våra tankar utan att veta vad den andre skickade. Här är de tre bästa förslagen vi tog upp:
En ändring av internationella adoptionslagar för att säkerställa att det finns en rättslig ram för vilken olaglig praxis kan åtalas mot. För närvarande finns det ingen.
Ett oberoende utredningsorgan så vi förväntar oss inte att regeringarna och adoptionsmyndigheterna ska "utreda" sig själva. Just nu är det vad som händer.
Fullt finansierade stödtjänster för offer. För närvarande finns det enorma luckor i allmänt stöd efter adoption, än mindre stöd specifikt för att bli människohandel. Inte ett land i världen tillhandahåller för närvarande någon form av traffickingstöd till adopterade eller deras familjer – både adoptiv och naturlig, men särskilt för naturliga familjer som sällan har en röst på den globala arenan.
Jag observerar Nederländerna som fortfarande arbetar med sina Nationellt kompetenscentrum kan inkludera stödtjänster som är specifika för människohandelsoffer, så även det framgår av Belgien report de försöker. Men stödet till människohandelsoffer måste vara heltäckande, inte bara ett DNA eller en allmän rådgivningstjänst. I vår rapport listar vi i sin helhet vad detta stöd behöver innehålla: rättshjälp; rådgivning; finansiellt stöd; finansierade stödgrupper för levd erfarenhet; familjespårning; DNA-testning och professionella släktforskningstjänster; resestöd; språkkurser; översättartjänster; medlingstjänster; kultur och arv stödjer.
Varför kan adoption inte vara en "lycklig i alla sina dagar"?
Människor tror felaktigt att internationella adopterade måste vara olyckliga i sin adoption för att vilja kämpa för rättvisa. Det är inte sant.
Vi kan vara lyckliga i vårt adoptivliv och land men också vara missnöjda med hur våra adoptioner genomfördes och förväntar oss med rätta att allt görs för att återställa våra ursprungliga identiteter och hjälpa oss att återknyta kontakten med våra naturliga familjer som har förlorat oss genom adoption mellan länder.
Våra röster har kämpat i årtionden för vår rätt till ursprung, för att gottgöra vår förlorade identitet, för att få de olagliga och illegala adoptionerna mellan länder erkända för vad de är – varuförsörjning av barn. Vi behöver det här galna systemet för att sluta, det har pågått för länge. Vi är inte ett litet antal, uppskattningar varierar men vi är definitivt i hundra tusen globally and possibly closest to 1 million.
Det är dags för sanningen och förhoppningsvis på lång sikt kan vi se lite reparativ och återställande rättvisa för oss och våra familjer. Under tiden fortsätter jag själv och andra adopterade ledare att arbeta hårt för våra samhällen globalt! Framåt och uppåt! Jag hoppas en dag kunna skriva om vår "lycka till i alla sina dagar", när vi väl får rättvisa och erkännande för de fel som gjorts.