Den nederländska statliga utredningen om korruptionen inom den internationella adoptionsverksamheten och den globala adoptionsindustrin talar för sig själv

”Saxat” ur den nederländska statliga utredningen om korruptionen inom den internationella adoptionsverksamheten och den globala adoptionsindustrin, som med rätta har uppmärksammats världen över och som har resulterat i att även den svenska regeringen kommer att tillsätta en förhoppsningsvis liknande utredningen. 

Den nederländska utredningen genomförde även en omfattande enkätundersökning som närmare 3500 vuxna utlandsadopterade i Nederländerna deltog i och som gav vid handen att den absoluta majoriteten av respondenternas adoptioner inte har gått rätt till och att desammas adoptionsdokument till den övervägande delen är falska, manipulerade eller ofullständiga, vilket tyder på att det sätt som respondenterna adopterades på både var korrupt och illegalt och att jämställa med trafficking och människohandel – det är då det som figurerna illustrerar.

“Based on the investigation, the Committee has distinguished eight types of abuse in adoptions to the Netherlands. Usually, several types of abuse occurred within one adoption case. An example of this is child theft associated with document forgery and profiteering. In other words, abuses usually took place in conjunction with one another. 

The following types of abuse have emerged in the research material

1. Absence of documents and/or personal data; 

2. Document forgery; 

3. Failure to perform duties in accordance with general principles of good administration and associated rules and procedures; 

4. Fraud and corruption: Wilfully misleading and deceiving something or someone or misusing authority or power for personal gain.

5. Concealment of status: Deliberately making a person’s parentage and true descent ambiguous or uncertain. 

6. Child theft: deliberate and illegal removal of minors from parents or legal guardians. 

7. Child trafficking: transporting, recruiting or trafficking minors for the purpose of exploitation.

8. Baby farms: places where women (whether or not forced, and/or for a fee) are made pregnant, or where they stay to give birth; to then give up their new-born child for intercountry adoption. 

In the five countries studied (Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka), serious intercountry adoption abuses occurred in the period of 1967-1998. There were also adoption abuses before 1967, after 1998 and in other countries.

• Abuses occurred in all five countries surveyed during the period of 1967-1998. Although the nature and extent of the abuses identified varied over time and between countries, abuses appear to be an almost permanent and systematic problem. 

• The identified abuses concern both activities that have taken place in violation of applicable laws and regulations, and unethical acts. 

Examples of illegal activities are: corruption; making it impossible or more difficult to find out the origin and identity of adoptees by forging documents; deliberately stating incorrect information in documents such as age; relinquishment of children for payment or under duress; child trafficking, theft and kidnapping; baby farming and concealment of status. 

Examples of unethical acts include: relinquishing children under false pretences or moral pressure; the abuse of poverty or other social and cultural circumstances of birth mothers such as war, disasters and social taboos; inadequate archiving, inaccuracies in recording data and a lack of transparency in documentation. 

The Committee has established that similar abuses also took place before 1967 and after 1998, and in other countries. The pattern of adoption abuses in those countries shows striking similarities with the five countries studied in depth. Regardless of the different contexts, abuses in intercountry adoption seem to occur everywhere to this day. The most important conservation factors in this are the demand for children and the financial incentive-driven intercountry adoption market where socio-economic inequality, poverty and making children tradable commodities come together.

For many of those involved, the consequences of their adoption are drastic. Due to the way in which their adoption was conducted, many adoptees are unable to find out their identity. Not knowing their origins and having to live with unanswered questions cause anger, pain and sorrow, regardless of how they fare in the Netherlands. Birth parents, birth families and adoptive parents also experience the drastic consequences of the adoption abuses.

The birth families, often single mothers with several children, are the least visible and heard of those involved. The birth mothers are first of all victims, and experience feelings of loss, sadness and isolation due to the loss of their child. They were sometimes pressured to give up their child, the concept of “adoption” as used in the Western world was unknown to them, and in the worst case their child was stolen. • 

A number of adoptive parents who adopted a child in good faith and according to the rules out of good intentions, or a deep desire to have children now (sometimes) feel guilty, because the adoption appears to be surrounded by abuse, or the transition from another culture has led to major problems. Some adoptive parents also feel like victims. 

Adoptees face all kinds of problems in their youth to a greater extent than a comparable group of non-adoptees. For some adoptees, such problems are permanent, while for others the problems are temporary. 

Many adoptees are partly or completely unable to find out their identity. Not knowing their origin and having to live with unanswered questions cause anger, pain and sadness. 

The vast majority of adoptees want recognition from the Dutch government for the loss that is partly caused by the actions or negligence of the government, and which has damaged confidence in the government. 

In addition to recognition, adoptees need more specialised psychological help and support in tracing their origins, such as making archives accessible, making DNA research available and facilitating searches.

The established abuses cannot be reversed. The Committee therefore wants to ensure that the consequences of the abuses receive sufficient attention and that they are prevented in the future. This concerns abuses in intercountry adoption, but care must also be taken to prevent abuses occurring in new forms of family formation, such as commercial surrogacy.

The Committee points to the need for the government to restore its violated relationship with adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents and family. One condition for this is the recognition by the government that it has failed to combat adoption abuses. An attitude of openness and transparency towards those who want to retrieve information from the past is appropriate in this respect.

The current system of intercountry adoption with private elements cannot be maintained. The Committee has serious doubts whether it is possible to design a realistic public law system in which the identified abuses no longer occur. Pending decision-making, the Committee recommends to suspend the implementation of intercountry adoptions

Provide an independent national Expertise Centre in which knowledge in the field of identity questions, root searches and aftercare is bundled so that adoptees are facilitated in accessing their files, the search for their birth parents, finding suitable psychosocial help and legal support.

Factors of ‘supply and demand’ led to the creation of an international ‘adoption market’ motivated by financial incentives. The large sums paid out as compensation for adoptions had a corrupting effect, especially considering the standard of living in the States of origin. 

The positive image of intercountry adoption, which was sustained for a long time, was very influential. In spite of growing evidence to the contrary, this image caused intercountry adoption to be identified as the best solution for a child who could not be cared for at home. The dominant impression was one of ‘needy orphans’ and adoptive parents who wanted to help. Adoption was identified with ‘doing good’ by benefactors and aid providers. 

For a long time, the Dutch government saw adoption as a purely private matter, relying on Dutch intermediaries and overseas authorities despite frequent reports of abuses. The Dutch government failed to take action internationally, partly so as not to frustrate the adoption process and partly out of a desire not to damage diplomatic relations with the States of origin. 

The adoption system had almost no structure of checks and balances. The Dutch government itself was both operator and inspector, it maintained a close relationship with intermediaries who often also had political connections, the monitoring was inadequate, there was insufficient oversight, and the government barely enforced the rules. In terms of intercountry adoption, therefore, the government was a passive follower and did not act even when it had good reason to take action. This created a sense of impunity around abuses, both in the Netherlands and in the States of origin.

The Dutch intermediaries saw their primary task as meeting the demand for children. It was difficult to combine this priority with a critical attitude towards the States of origin. Although some intermediaries reported abuses, in general they – like the government – preferred to look the other way. In practice, this meant that the intermediaries were a factor in permitting abuses to continue. The pressure from adoptive parents was high, the waiting lists were long and the competition was fierce. Intermediaries’ documentation and archiving of adoption files often left a lot to be desired. 

Dutch politics has shown an interest in intercountry adoption since the 1960s. The Committee established that, although politicians did raise reports of abuses, they primarily served the interests of adoptive parents and not those of adoptees or their birth families. Politicians barely exercised control when it came to abuses.

All in all, the government and intermediaries did not set sufficient boundaries for abuses, either through procedural regulations or through oversight and control. Even today, the interests of the child are still subservient, because the system is not robust enough to protect them.”