Out of Africa

Two stories today (neither new) about adoption from Africa.  First up, from Voice of America, about the nonconsensual adoptions from Sierra Leone during their civil war in the 1990s:
Dozens of parents in Sierra Leone say their children were given up for adoption in the United States without their consent, during the west African country's horrific civil war in the 1990's. The results of a government inquiry may reunite them with their children.

Mariatu Mansaray says she is still crying and suffering because two of her children, Adama and Mustafa, were taken from her in Sierra Leone. She wants them to know she never intended to give them up. Mansaray is just one of 40 parents in the rural Makeni area who say they never authorized their children to be adopted.

Abu Bakar Kargbo, a spokesperson for the parents, says none of them speak English and that made them easy targets.

"These are poor, illiterate and defenseless people. They live in villages," he explained. "They came to advocate, hundreds of miles, for the government to intervene and they are ready to testify, to contest they did not consent any adoption. "

The parents say they left their children at the Help A Needy Child International Center during the war temporarily, so they would be safe and get educated. The Center then apparently contacted Maine Adoption Placement Services, which placed 29 children with parents in the United States.

Their anguished pleas say they want to see their children.
Second, from CNN, a report about the report from the African Child Policy Forum saying that international adoptions should be discouraged:
Nyla was just two or three days old, no one really knows for sure, when she was found abandoned in the middle of a field in Rwanda. She was "black and blue," says her adoptive mother, Karen Brown. Her umbilical cord was still attached.

One year later, Nyla lives in a high-rise building in Hong Kong with American parents and a four-year-old sister who is Chinese. She just started walking and has "seven-and-a-half" teeth, though she's too shy to show them.

The bright-eyed baby is one of more than 35,000 children sent from Africa in a surge of adoptions in the last eight years, according to adoption expert Peter Selman from Newcastle University in the UK.
During that time, figures have risen three-fold at the same time as international adoptions from all countries have slumped to a 15-year low, Selman said.

A new report from The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) entitled "Africa: The New Frontier for Intercountry Adoption," says the trend indicates that receiving countries are turning "en masse" to Africa to meet demand for adoptive children as other options close. It's a trend, they say, that needs to stop.

"It must at all costs be discouraged. It should be a last resort and an exception rather than the normal recourse to solving the situation of children in difficult circumstances, as it seems to have now become," said David Mugawe, executive director of the ACPF in a press statement.

The group says that the lack of regulation combined with the promise of money from abroad had turned children into "commodities in the graying and increasingly amoral world of intercountry adoption."