Adoptees at the Hague Special Commission

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 and 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)
  • Cherish Asha Bolton (adopted to the USA, born in India, President of People for Ethical Adoption Reform PEAR; ICAV USA Representative)
  • Colin Cadier (adopted to France, born in Brazil, President of La Voix Des Adoptes LVDA)
  • Jeannie Glienna (adopted to the USA, born in the Philippines, Co-founder of Adoptee Kwento Kwento)
  • Judith Alexis Augustine Craig (adopted to Canada, born in Haiti; Co-founder of Adult Adoptee Network Ontario)
  • Kayla Zheng (adopted to the USA, born in China; ICAV USA Representative)
  • Luda Merino (adopted to Spain, born in Russia)
  • Myself, Lynelle Long (adopted to Australia, born in Vietnam; Founder of ICAV)

We represent ourselves together with our adoptee colleagues who represent their own adoptee led organisations as Observers:

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!

Voices Against Illegal Adoptions Speak at the United Nations

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)
Empreintes Vivantes
Plan Angel
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

Resource:

ICAV Perspective Paper: Lived Experience Suggestions for Responses to Illicit Adoptions (in French or English)

English
%%footer%%