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20/10/2010

Mères d’origine, les oubliées de l’adoption internationale

Logo - ISS SSI.jpgL'éditorial du bulletin mensuel n° 9/2010 du Service Social International (SSI/CIR) offre une place spéciale aux mères d’origine, en se penchant sur leur vécu difficile et en ouvrant la réflexion sur le chemin qui reste à parcourir pour leur offrir un accompagnement de qualité.

Si les recherches concernant les enfants adoptés et la création du lien d’attachement avec la famille adoptive sont nombreuses, tel n’est pas le cas pour les mères biologiques des enfants. Elles sont
pourtant des actrices centrales du processus d’adoption, puisqu’elles en sont finalement à l’origine. La récente publication d’une recherche centrée sur les mères ukrainiennes nous donne l’occasion de revenir sur cette question critique et trop souvent ignorée.

 

Pourquoi cette ignorance voire cet ostracisme ?

Une première réponse peut être recherchée dans la perception même de l’adoption internationale : une vision trop simple qui ne veut voir que l’aide à l’enfant en détresse, et qui occulte ses origines afin, consciemment ou non, de rassurer les adoptants dans la justesse de leur démarche. De récentes enquêtes ont toutefois grandement contribué à faire changer cette image idéale : qu’il s’agisse du rapport de Terre des Hommes au Népal, le reportage d’ABC News en Ethiopie, le cas des enfants Ruc au Vietnam (bulletin 11-12/2008), la parole donnée aux mères fait ressurgir la honte, le chagrin et les larmes.
Ainsi, bien que les avancées législatives en la matière soient notables aujourd’hui – la CLH-1993 ainsi que de nombreuses législations nationales reconnaissant le droit et les intérêts de ces femmes – il convient de s’interroger sur la pratique. Peut-on prétendre qu’un véritable choix est offert à ces mères de garder ou non leur enfant ? Il en va pourtant de l’avenir de l’enfant et du sens même de toute adoption, fondée sur la décision finale de la mère, prise en connaissance de cause, avec discernement et en toute liberté.


Des proies faciles…

Les mères d’origine sont au coeur des pressions sociales et financières. Elles sont souvent les proies faciles de certains intermédiaires, du crime organisé ou d’agences d’adoption. Concernant ces dernières, leur rôle s’avère parfois (et pour le moins) ambigu, en particulier lorsqu’elles accueillent à la fois les mères d’origine et qu’elles placent des enfants en adoption. Un conflit d’intérêt évident se pose alors notamment au niveau financier: les mères peuvent se sentir redevables envers l’institution qui leur a prodigué des soins qu’elles ne sont pas en mesure de payer. De plus, leur consentement peut être recueilli de manière abusive si elles sont illettrées, etc. Ces situations ne sont malheureusement pas rares et entrainent des séparations abusives et traumatisantes à vie.

De la responsabilité de la société et des professionnels

Selon les pays où elles vivent, les mères d’origine doivent également endurer une condamnation morale : issues de milieux socioéconomiques défavorisés, elles sont soumises à de fortes pressions culturelles, familiales et religieuses (par exemple par le rejet des grossesses hors mariage). Le regard que la société et les professionnels portent sur elles est, consciemment ou non, accusateur et jugeant.
Comment parler librement dans de telles conditions? La responsabilité qui pèse sur les professionnels accompagnant ces femmes est dès lors essentielle : une grande partie de leur décision repose sur le professionnalisme, la pluridisciplinarité et la qualité humaine du personnel qui les entoure. La question se pose de la capacité de ce dernier à amener ces mères à exprimer librement leurs sentiments par rapport aux circonstances de leur grossesse, aux peurs qui l’entourent et au rejet éventuel de l’enfant.
Permettre à ces dernières d’ouvrir leur coeur peut les aider à devenir mère d’un enfant dont elles prennent conscience de l’existence au niveau physique et psychique, et assumer leur responsabilité quant à son projet de vie, quel qu’il soit. A cette fin une méthode d’intervention basée sur des critères précis (par exemple : durée de la prise en charge avant/pendant et après la décision finale ; accompagnement de proximité ; mise en oeuvre des droits élémentaires et sociaux tels que l’accès au logement, à l’emploi, à la crèche, etc.) permettrait de répondre aux besoins des mères à chaque étape de leur prise en charge, en mettant en exergue leur vécu propre et en tenant compte de leur évolution au fur et à mesure que le bébé devient plus réel. Tel est le défi de la pratique.

Vers une vraie place des mères d’origine dans le processus décisionnel ?

L’observation attentive de l’adoption internationale montre que les pays prennent de plus en plus conscience que la prévention de l’abandon passe par un soutien des mères d’origine au plus près de leurs besoins et de leur réalité, un principe clairement posé par les Lignes Directrices des Nations Unies relatives à la protection de remplacement pour les enfants (Section IV). Des programmes de soutien ont ainsi été mis en place, par exemple au Chili (mise en place des crèches au sein des écoles permettant aux mères adolescentes de poursuivre leurs études) et en Roumanie (voir bulletin 5/2008).
Moins nombreux sont les programmes de soutien mis en place en amont, dès le début de la grossesse de la mère.
Prétendre offrir aux mères d’origine un réel choix de garder leur enfant s’avère donc être une tâche délicate et complexe à laquelle les pays doivent continuer à s’atteler. S’il en va ainsi pour les
mères d’origine, ne parlons pas des pères d’origine souvent très absents des discussions autour de l’adoption internationale. Quelle place leur est accordée dans le processus décisionnel ?
Une question qui pourrait inspirer de nouvelles recherches.

 

Source : Centre international de référence pour les droits de l’enfant privé de famille - SSI/CIR - Septembre 2010.

30/09/2010

L’adoption internationale chute. Le nombre d'adoptions d'enfants étrangers : moins 40% en cinq ans.

L adoption internationale en baisse.jpg. Il n'est pratiquement plus possible d'adopter des enfants chinois,qui constituait en Belgique francophone la principale "source" d'adoptions internationales
. La Communauté française de Belgique entend évaluer le décret qui règle les adoptions, quitte à en modifier certaines dispositions.
. L'écart va croissant entre le nombre de demandes d'adoption et le nombre limité d'enfants "adoptables".

Adopter un enfant à l’étranger devient de plus en plus difficile. Et, depuis quelques années, on constate une baisse significative du nombre d’adoptions internationales. La Communauté française n’échappe pas au phénomène.

En 2004, on dénombrait 366 adoptions (y compris celles d’enfants belges). Avec, au fil des ans, un recul progressif : 334 adoptions en 2005 ; 248 en 206 ; 212 en 2007 ; 180 en 2008 et, malgré tout, une
légère hausse en 2009 (220 dossiers). Laquelle, selon Didier Dehou, le directeur de l’Autorité centrale communautaire, « se confirmerait en 2010, avec des chiffres légèrement supérieurs ».

En cinq ans, le nombre d’adoptions internationales a diminué de 40 %. Plusieurs facteurs expliquent cette réalité…

Un : de plus en plus de pays d’origine se ferment, officiellement ou non, à l’adoption internationale. C’est le cas de la Chine (lire ici), de la Russie, de l’Inde, de Madagascar, des Philippines, etc. Autant de pays historiquement très investis dans le secteur.

Deux : les législations évoluent, les procédures deviennent çà et là plus contraignantes, beaucoup d’Etats préconisent d’abord l’adoption interne. Comme le stipulent d’ailleurs les textes internationaux
(Convention de La Haye du 29 mai 1993 et Convention sur les droits de l’enfant du 20 novembre 1989). Lesquels visent « l’intérêt supérieur de l’enfant » ; son droit d’avoir une famille, d’être protégé et, le cas échéant, adopté « si c’est la meilleure solution pour lui ».

Trois : « On constate un écart croissant entre le nombre toujours plus grand de demandes d’adoption et le nombre limité d’enfants “adoptables” », rappelle Didier Dehou. Un écart de 1 à 10 ou 11, selon
les endroits. Avec, dans certains Etats, l’instauration de « quotas » annuels ou de moratoires.

Quatre : confrontés à des dérives éthiques (enlèvements, vols, traite…) ou victimes d’affaires très médiatisées (Arche de Zoé, Haïti…), les pays d’accueil veillent désormais à soigner leur image à
l’étranger.

Dans ce contexte, rappelle Geneviève Gilson, la présidente des organismes d’adoption agréés s en Communauté française, « la pression est forte. Avec des moyens mis en œuvre pour investir le “marché“, à la limite parfois du raisonnable ».

Avec 17.433 adoptions déclarées en 2008, les Etats-Unis restent le principal pays d’accueil (près de la moitié des dossiers enregistrés). Derrière, on retrouve l’Italie (3.977), la France (3.271), l’Espagne (3.156), l’Allemagne (1.251), le Canada (1.208), etc.

Actions et/ou pressions diplomatiques auprès des pays d’origine, aides humanitaires liées, politique de coopération pro-active… « Ici, on financera une école, un orphelinat, un hôpital, explique un expert.
Des centaines de milliers de dollars légalement (ou non) déversés en échange de l’assurance que les places disponibles seront réservées à leurs ressortissants. »

Mais cela dure un temps. « Lorsque la pression que subit un pays d’origine devient trop forte, constate le Service social international, les abus surgissent immanquablement, suivis par une prise de conscience politique, puis légale, et aboutissant enfin à la mise en place de structures plus respectueuses des droits de l’enfant, mais souvent aussi plus restrictives. »

Il n’empêche : plus que jamais, l’adoption internationale est devenue un véritable « marché ». Avec une « demande » toujours plus forte (malgré la mise en place de procédures pour les candidats adoptant dans certains pays, la filière dite « libre » reste majoritaire). Et une « offre » globalement en baisse (moins d’orphelins de père et de mère ; moins d’abandons ; plus de règles éthiques, etc.).

Dans ce contexte, la (très petite) Communauté française de Belgique s’efforce de faire valoir sa législation parmi les plus contraignantes du… monde en matière de respect des droits de l’enfant. Elle tente également de nouer de nouveaux partenariats, en Afrique notamment (Togo, Burkina, Côte d'Ivoire…).

Enfin, elle développe aussi l’adoption d’enfants « à besoins spécifiques » (fratrie, enfants handicapés ou plus âgés). Une approche qui, sous cette forme-là, intéresse assez largement les pays d’origine. « Dans la grande majorité des cas, rappelle Didier Dehou (ACC), les parents souhaitent un enfant seul, en bas âge et en bonne santé. Ça n’est pas la seule voie possible. »

Ce que confirme Jean-Michel Charlier, de l’ASBL Emmanuel adoption : «C’est vrai qu’adopter un enfant à particularité, ça nécessite une ouverture supplémentaire, mais c’est une démarche extrêmement riche
dans une société où domine le culte d’une certaine norme et de la performance à tout prix. »


Source : Le Soir. 27 septembre 2010.

 

- La dure réalité des chiffres 

Les statistiques des principaux pays d’accueil confirment une fois encore la diminution du nombre d’adoptions internationales réalisées à travers le monde. Si les principaux pays d’origine restent plus ou moins les mêmes, leur évolution diffère sensiblement. La situation de la demande dans les pays d’accueil reste toutefois une grande inconnue.

Editorial du bulletin Mensuel n°8/2009 SSI/CIR

 

- Adoptions internationales: une situation toujours plus tendue 

Les premières statistiques concernant l'année 2006 indiquent une tendance à la diminution du nombre d'adoptions internationales. Ce ralentissement n'est pas sans soulever de nombreuses questions, tant quant à ses causes possibles qu'à ses éventuelles conséquences à long terme.

Editorial du bulletin Mensuel n° 3/2007 SSI/CIR

 

08:24 Écrit par collectif a & a dans Adoption internationale | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : belgique | |  del.icio.us

24/09/2010

En recherche d'adoption, des couples allemands sans enfants vont à l'étranger.

Ralf and Tanja Bockstedte adopted Maria from Colombia one of the most popular countries for German adoptive parents.jpgNowadays in Germany, people who are hoping to adopt a child are more likely than before to search abroad.
Sometimes their reasons are altruistic, but other times it just comes down to one thing: supply and demand.
 

Ralf Bockstedte, a successful lawyer from Essen who represents soccer clubs and players, said he and his wife Tanja decided 15 years ago to have children, but were "shattered" when they discovered they could not do it biologically. They first decided to adopt a child four years ago, but never did they consider an adoption within Germany.

"To adopt within Germany in our age is quite difficult," he said. "The child would probably have been something from 10 years on. And we rather wanted a baby."

German law allows a maximum age gap of 40 years between adoptive parents and the child. While both Ralf and Tanja are 39, being at the upper end of the age bracket would likely make things more difficult - a longer waiting time, or no baby at all.

They also could have tried for an open adoption in Germany, where the biological parent or parents maintain some contact with the child throughout its life, but Ralf said that did not have the same appeal as adopting an infant.

"Obviously it's great if there is a family doing that, but it wasn't our way," he said.

 

Developing world


So the Bockstedtes went for an adoption from Colombia, and four years later came home with their new daughter Maria - the eighth child of a housekeeper and the fourth to be put up for adoption.

Colombia is one of the most common countries for German couples to adopt from. The country has developed a relatively strong system of protection for orphaned and abandoned children, and it is one of the strictest adherents to the 1993 Hague Convention, which regulates international adoption.

Adoptions from Colombia take longer than those from closer countries like Russia, which is also popular among Germans. But they also tend to be more transparent and structured, according to Susana Katz, founder and director of AdA, the adoption agency that the Bockstedtes worked with.

"Inter-country adoptions are working now because the countries of origin of the children are poor," Katz said. "In Germany, there are no children for adoption, almost. The children aren't hungry; they are financed by the state. In other countries, for example Colombia, the state needs inter-country adoptions to give the children basic rights, like eating."

 


Supply and demand

 

While Colombia has more parentless children than it can take care of, increasing its supply, Germany has not only a low birth rate, but also a stronger social welfare system. Children of parents who cannot take care of them are placed in foster homes, supported by state money, or with other relatives, Katz said.

This has contributed to the steadily declining rate of adoptions in Germany over the past decade. In 2009, just under 4,000 adoptions took place - about half of them from step-parents.

But for those couples who choose to bypass Germany's adoption system and turn abroad, cost can also be a prohibitive factor. Translation, consultation, legal review, travel, etc. amount to between 15,000 and 20,000 euros for a foreign adoption from Germany.

Despite its limited supply of children for adoption, the German domestic adoption system is almost entirely financed by the state - parents only pay a few small fees for background checks and medical examinations.

 

 
Application process
   
 
In order to qualify for an adoption, domestic or international, couples or individuals must undergo a series of inspections and consultations with state representatives to confirm their fitness to be parents.

David Fermer, a 36-year-old author living in Cologne, and his wife Phillis, a 42-year-old filmmaker, are relatively early on in the application process. They said they were also told that adoption from within Germany can take much longer and be much more difficult than going abroad. And after Phillis visited an orphanage in Mali for work, they decided to adopt a child from Africa.

"The nice thing about the adoption process which I find is that it makes you reflect about who you are, where you are, where you come from," said David. "And it also starts a dialogue as a couple."

He said at a meeting with the state social worker, he and his wife had to write a report on their family of origin, detailing how their history has influenced them. He said coming from a troubled childhood himself, he found inspiration from his wife's story.

"I was so moved because I could see what a happy family she came from," he said. "That's what you want to do for your children, make sure they're as happy as possible."


Source : DW-World.de | 22.09.2010

08:09 Écrit par collectif a & a dans Adoption internationale | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : allemagne | |  del.icio.us

20/09/2010

Agrément pour l’enfer. Jeanne Guitard lance un pavé dans la mare.

agrement pour l enfer.jpg 

« Ce n'est pas un conte de fée ».

Jeanne a écrit son histoire d’échec d’adoption d’une fillette née en Colombie, non pas avec une plume d’écrivain mais avec sa plume de souffrance. Rien de pire que de s’attacher à un enfant qui vous renie, on n’échappe pas à cette blessure. L’adoption qui devrait être une belle aventure humaine peut devenir une mise à mort d’indifférence et d’humiliations.

 

Quand elle présente son livre, Jeanne Guitard a la voix qui tremble. Car « Agrément pour l'enfer » n'est pas un roman. C'est le récit d'une douloureuse histoire bien réelle : l'échec d'une adoption. Jeanne, d'origine cannoise, et Alain, son mari d'origine ruthénoise, ont adopté en 1997 une petite Colombienne. « Nous voulions sauver un enfant en mal d'amour, explique Jeanne. Avec le recul, nous n'aurions sans doute pas dû la prendre. » Car la fillette alors âgée de 7 ans refuse l'affection du couple et ne veut pas quitter son pays. Jeanne et son mari comptent sur le temps pour que les relations s'apaisent mais la greffe entre l'enfant et ses parents adoptifs ne prendra jamais. Adolescente, la jeune fille sera placée en foyer : ses parents ne l'ont pas revu depuis 2003.

 

Face à une telle situation, « les parents ont honte et se culpabilisent », raconte Jeanne. Avec l'échec de l'adoption, le couple est accusé d'être des parents maltraitants. « Mon mari en a été profondément touché. Pensez que sa grand-mère cachait des enfants pendant la guerre… » Alors Jeanne le martèle : « non, l'adoption n'est pas un conte de fée ». 30 000 couples français attendent d'adopter un enfant. Elle veut les mettre en garde contre les « pièges » de l'adoption internationale. « 20 % des adoptions sont un échec », souligne-t-elle. Comme sa fille adoptive, certains enfants souffrent du trouble de l'attachement. Un traumatisme dans l'enfance a rompu leurs repères et perturbe leur relation avec leurs parents. Pour ces enfants, les adultes sont complètement interchangeables et il leur est donc impossible d'accepter leurs nouveaux parents : ils cherchent à provoquer le rejet et refusent en particulier leur mère adoptive.

 

Être parent est le plus beau mais aussi le plus dur des défis. « Quand on a la foi, on s'accroche, explique Jeanne, mais il faut aussi savoir reconnaître son échec. » Pour l'aider à se relever de cette épreuve, Jeanne témoigne et met des mots sur sa souffrance. « C'est mon dernier combat », jure-t-elle. Elle veut que son exemple dramatique alerte les futurs parents adoptants mais aussi déculpabilise ceux qui sont dans la même situation qu'elle. Et qui n'osaient pas forcément parler de leur propre échec.

 

« Agrément pour l'enfer » de Jeanne Guitard aux éditions Persée.

 

Source : La Dépêche, 19.09.2010

 

 

15/09/2010

Une enquête exclusive révèle comment des fonctionnaires du Département d'État (USA) ont découvert la corruption systémique dans le système d'adoption vietnamien - et comment ils ont lutté pour faire quelque chose.

Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis - By E_J_ GRAFF icles_2010_09_07_anatomy_of_an_adoption_crisis_page=full.jpgAnatomy of an Adoption Crisis.


An exclusive investigation uncovers how State Department officials uncovered systemic corruption in the Vietnamese adoption system -- and how they struggled to do something about it.


It seemed like a nightmare right out of Kafka. In late 2007 and early 2008, Americans with their adopted babies in arms, or pictures of babies to come, were being stonewalled by faceless U.S. bureaucrats. The U.S. government refused to issue visas that would allow those babies to come home from Vietnam -- and wouldn't explain why.

Thirteen families, supported by dozens of other parents-to-be, desperately did what they could to attract publicity, calling in the New York Times, ABC News, and members of Congress. They launched campaigns on the web, sent petitions to friends and neighbors, and barraged the relevant offices with pleas for help. And still, for months, the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) refused to issue their babies the requisite visas -- for reasons that seemed irrelevant. One couple from Queens, New York, said they were told that the baby they had legally adopted in Vietnam would not be able to come home with them for what they called a "bewilderingly minute point": A Tam Ky Orphanage guard in Vietnam's Quang Nam province had failed to note the child's arrival in his logbook.

But inside their fog of secrecy, the faceless bureaucrats were also agonizing about the well-being of the children and their families. Based on hundreds of pages of documents received via Freedom of Information Act requests, this article gives a never-before-seen glimpse at how the State Department discovered what it believed to be a gray market in "adoptable" babies and debated what to do about it, trying each of its inadequate tools in turn.

According to these internal documents, the State Department was confident it had discovered systemic nationwide corruption in Vietnam -- a network of adoption agency representatives, village officials, orphanage directors, nurses, hospital administrators, police officers, and government officials who were profiting by paying for, defrauding, coercing, or even simply stealing Vietnamese children from their families to sell them to unsuspecting Americans. And yet, as these documents reveal, U.S. officials in Hanoi did not have the right tools to shut down the infant peddlers while allowing the truly needed adoptions to continue. Understanding how little the State Department and USCIS could do, despite how hard they tried, helps reveal what these U.S. government agencies need to respond more effectively in the current adoption hot spots, Nepal and Ethiopia -- and in whatever country might be struck by adoption profiteering next.


Read more

 

- Adoption agencies considered U.S. Embassy too active in fighting corruption in Vietnam


This week, E.J. Graff published a long article called Anatomy of an Adoption Crises, in which she describes the shut down of adoptions from Vietnam in 2008. The article is based upon the release of several government documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. I am not going to rehash the story as told by E.J. Graff, instead I'd like to focus on the players in this drama.

The first released documents is dated July 2007 and details several visits made by members of the US. Embassy in Hanoi, to several orphanages in Vietnam. Unfortunately the document doesn't provide any detail into the findings of the investigations, since most of it is redacted in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974.

Source : Pound Pup Legacy.

 

- Vietnam. Rapport d'évaluation du SSI sur l'adoption internationale et domestique.

Une évaluation a été effectuée par Hervé Boéchat, Nigel Cantwell et Mia Dambach du Service Social International (SSI).  Novembre 2009.

12/09/2010

Une réglementation disparate, inégale rend l'adoption transcontinentale vulnérable à la fraude. Nous devons combler les lacunes pour mettre fin au trafic de la misère humaine.

Children suspected of being involved in an illicit adoption scheme.jpgAdopting new standards on adoption.

Patchy regulation makes inter-country adoption vulnerable to fraud. We must close loopholes to end a traffic in human misery.

 

 

Two years ago this month, the US and Vietnam let lapse the three-year bilateral agreement that allowed Americans to adopt Vietnamese children. The US embassy in Hanoi had concluded that "the overwhelming majority" of infant adoptions from Vietnam involved fraud: at best, falsified official documents; and at worst, defrauded, coerced or paid-off birth families who had not consented to sending their children abroad for adoption. All told, 2,200 Vietnamese-born children were adopted to the US during that period, according to the state department; approximately another 2,000 were adopted to France, 950 to Italy, 475 to Ireland, and 250 to Sweden. 

 

The 2008 US-Vietnam closure was one in a long, stuttering series of crises in international adoption. In an upcoming article "Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis" in Foreign Policy Online, I analyse hundreds of pages of often shocking internal US state department documents (received under Freedom of Information Act requests) discussing that adoption crisis. These documents show how determined the US embassy in Hanoi was to block fraudulent or corrupt adoptions – and how little power it had to do so, both in Vietnam, and in other countries that have had similar crises, such as Cambodia, Guatemala, Nepal and Romania.

 

Why? Fifteen years after 66 countries negotiated the 1993 Hague convention on inter-country adoption, why couldn't the US state department screen out the "bad" adoptions and continue the "good" ones? The Hague adoption convention was supposed to streamline the adoption of children who legitimately needed new homes, and "prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children" for adoption by policing "improper financial gain".

 

But loopholes plague the Hague convention. The biggest one: technically, Hague protections need apply only to adoptions in which both countries have already ratified and implemented the convention. In the US, that means that adoption agencies must be screened and accredited by a national body before they may arrange adoptions from, or to, other Hague countries. But unaccredited agencies are still free to work in the "non-Hague" nations (presumably, the least prepared to police unsavoury practices). As a result, families adopting from such Hague signatories as China, Colombia or Thailand can rely on two different nations' governmental oversight. But that family has no such protections if it tries to adopt from such non-Hague countries as Ethiopia or Nepal, both rife with troubling allegations about their adoptions.

 

US inter-country adoption experts point to specific loopholes that can be closed through new federal legislation and amended regulations, as I recently reported in "The Baby Business"; some of their more detailed thoughts are posted here. The most important suggestion, as most experts I interviewed agreed, is that the US should require "Hague accreditation" for any agency working on international adoption from any country, whether or not that country has implemented the Hague convention.

 

But for this and other proposed changes to move forward, the rest of us have to care. It's easy to believe that ending fraud in international adoption is an obscure and narrow issue. But the problems in international adoption have implications that reach throughout child welfare and development efforts worldwide. When done wrong, experts say, inter-country adoption can hijack a poor nation's nascent or underfunded efforts at family preservation and social services. The focus shifts away from building communities and helping families stay together – and moves instead to "finding" children for western families, thus profiting unscrupulous middlemen and corrupt officials.

 

The United States needs to put in place improved policies, practices and regulations that simultaneously help prevent the criminal underside of the adoption trade and also support child welfare and protection systems in developing countries. That way, more impoverished families can keep their children at home – and the children who truly need new families can find them without fear of fraud.

 

Source : guardian.co.uk, Friday 10 September 2010, EJ Graff.

 

07:48 Écrit par collectif a & a dans Adoption internationale | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : usa, haïti, vietnam | |  del.icio.us

10/09/2010

"A Haïti en ce moment, l'adoption et le parrainage d'enfants sont les plus importantes opérations pour gagner de l'argent." Susie Krabacher

A growing mission of mercy and sharing.jpgA growing mission of mercy and sharing.
Aspen-based Haiti relief workers reflect seven months after the earthquake

 

In the seven months since an earthquake registering 7.0 on the Richter scale demolished Haiti, the Aspen-based relief organization Mercy & Sharing has expanded the number of people they serve there nearly five-fold. Meanwhile, they’ve battled the apocalyptic conditions of the ravaged island — and their own destroyed facilities — along with the ongoing political upheaval that has characterized Haiti for centuries.

 The 16-year-old organization’s Aspen-based founders, Joe and Susie Krabacher, also have found themselves strangely at odds with start-up foreign-aid organizations and orphanages now coming to the island.

 Joe runs much of Mercy & Sharing’s administration out of his law office behind the Hotel Jerome in Aspen. Susie has devoted herself to Mercy & Sharing full-time over the last two decades, and has become a prominent global spokeswoman for the children of Haiti. She is a former Playboy centerfold — Fox News has taken to calling her “Haiti’s Playmate” — and the author of “Angels of a Lower Flight,” a memoir of her own abusive childhood and journey from the Playboy Mansion to the slums of Haiti, a nation which has made her an honorary citizen for her service.

 When the Jan. 12 quake struck, she was driving from Denver to Aspen on Interstate 70. She got a phone call from Joe, at his office, with their in-Haiti director Raphaelle Chenet conference-called in. Susie heard little more than a scream from Chenet, who was near the earthquake epicenter in Petionville. Then the connection went dead.

 “There were dead bodies all over,” Chenet recalled from Port-au-Prince last week. “There were electrical cables. I saw buildings collapse in front of me. It’s something I don’t wish on anybody.”

 Among the 230,000 killed in the quake, they later learned, were Mercy & Sharing staff, doctors, care-givers and children.

 “I have flashbacks all the time,” Chenet said of that first day, which the Port-au Prince native and former USAID administrator spent trying to find her family, and the Mercy & Sharing children.

 Among the most ghastly and unforgettable moments Chenet recalls from the immediate aftermath is a woman in the street, burned beyond recognition and screaming out her own name in the hopes someone would know who she was, and help her.

 “She had no face. Her nose, her hair, everything was gone,” Chenet said. “Now, I constantly ask in my mind: ‘Is she alive? Whatever happened to her?’ I don’t know.”

 Unforeseen rivals

 By the time the quake hit Haiti, the Krabachers’ mission already had a well-established reputation there, forged by a decade-and-a-half of service on the island, as well as a working, yet sometimes-rocky relationship with the government’s jumbled social services administration and ties to the impoverished communities where they run nutrition programs, clinics, schools and orphanages.

 Since the catastrophe, however, the Krabachers said they’ve seen an influx of both well-intentioned but poorly-prepared start-ups, as well as disingenuous sham orphanages aimed at turning a profit.

 “Adoption and child sponsorship is the biggest money-making operation in Haiti right now,” Susie said last week. “Everybody and their aunt is starting one. You can raise a lot of money if you have kids in rags who look hungry. A lot of them will round up 50 kids from the neighborhood every time a white person shows up — and once the foreigner leaves, everybody goes home.”

 That frustrating new phenomenon in the long-neglected and impoverished communities which the Krabachers have made their life’s work, they believe, is now keeping some children from getting the help they need.

 This past Thursday, Chenet was turned away from a temporary children’s home run by a well-known international non-governmental organization. Chenet had been working on an agreement through which Mercy & Sharing would take as many as 100 children from there into a permanent Mercy & Sharing home for orphans. They shut her out, she and the Krabachers believe, because the organization is raising money from international donors based largely on the number of children in their facility.

 “These kids are being used for people to raise money,” Chenet said from Port-au-Prince.

 The competition for donations, they believe, is depriving more kids from Mercy & Sharing’s successful rehabilitation model. Years ago they stopped adopting out children to the U.S. or elsewhere, and instead raising them into adulthood in Haiti.

 “I have nothing against adoption,” Susie said. “But we’ve found that a lot of adoptive families cherry-pick — they want a baby that is perfectly healthy. The fact is that every child that has come through Mercy & Sharing has some trauma. They’ve either been left in a box to die, or left in a hospital to die or have been abandoned in the streets for months or years. We don’t have any ‘perfect’ children, the kind that might get chosen for adoption ... We are very adamant about raising the kids to become leaders in their own country, not cherry-picking the best, the healthiest, the cutest, and sending them off to foreign countries.”

 Chenet said she believes Haiti’s children should grow up proud of their homeland, not trying to flee it.

 “The children are Haitian, they should be raised as Haitians and to give back to their country,” she said.

 Growing need

 Through its clinics, schools, orphanages and food programs, Mercy & Sharing was regularly serving about 5,100 Haitians before the earthquake. Their programs now handle about 23,000.

 Its facilities include a school with 417 kids in Port-au-Prince and another in the Cite Soleil slum, which was leveled in the quake, and is now operating with 175 students in a nearby rented building. The Port-au-Prince clinic also was completely destroyed, and is now operating on the same site in a mobile facility inside of a shipping container, which Joe Krabacher calls “basically a turn-key clinic.”

Children are shown here who were found after the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti and were brought to one of Mercy & Sharing’s orphanages by the Haitian government.

Forty miles north of Port-au-Prince, on Mercy & Sharing’s 20-acre Williamson campus, they’re operating two orphanages and a community clinic where they see up to 100 patients a day. On the northern coast, in an area called Cap-Haïtien, they run a nutrition program that is among the only resources for food and drinkable water.

They’ve shipped about 300 tons of food and aid into Haiti since January.

The Williamson campus also includes a church, and prayer plays a prominent role in Mercy & Sharing’s operations. Though the Krabachers are devout practicing Christians, their ministry is not officially religion-based.

The schools run from kindergarten through grade 13, using an enhanced version of the Haitian education curriculum, which includes health classes and, since the disaster, art therapy instruction.

On the state exam that qualifies children to move on to secondary education, Mercy & Sharing last year saw 98 percent of their children pass. Country-wide, just 40 percent normally do so. They currently have six teenagers in their schools whom they are prepping for college — a Mercy & Sharing first — who will most likely engage in higher education in Cuba or the Dominican Republic. Visa restrictions have nullified U.S. colleges as an option, Susie said.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper visited the Williamson campus in April and broadcasted a segment on his show from the facility, which he praised as an ideal model for sustainable relief in Haiti.


In July at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Susie met Harlem Children’s Zone founder Geoffrey Canada, whose much-hailed experimental program combines educational, social and medical services in Harlem, NY. She hopes to adapt the model to Mercy & Sharing’s Haiti operations with Canada’s help.

Haiti’s government-run hospital unit for abandoned babies in Port-au-Prince was destroyed in the earthquake, and Mercy & Sharing had worked closely with the children there. The government is now moving abandoned or orphaned kids directly into tent cities temporarily while they process them in the social services system.

“The social affairs offices are pretty much inoperable,” Susie said. “They lost all of their records, too. So the children are being placed in the tent cities right now and then moved, directly after their paper work is done, to orphanages like ours.”

The Krabachers don’t get paychecks for their own work, but they do currently employ 176 Haitians full-time. As the scope of their work expands, they believe they will double their Haitian staff in the next year.

 Rubble and riots

 Half a year after the quake, much of Port-au-Prince is still rubble. So much rubble, in fact, that it’s estimated it would still take 1,000 dump trucks working all day every day for the next three years to clear it all.

On top of that, the country is now in the throes of yet more upheaval from citizen uprisings attempting to unseat President René Préval.

For Chenet and the Mercy & Sharing staff, that means some danger and more logistical delays in the disaster zone.

“You have riots all over the streets right now,” she said. “People are throwing rocks, burning tires — you just can’t get from place to place sometimes. Or it takes a day to get somewhere you normally go in 20 minutes.”

The election is not until November, and rioting and unrest is expected to continue until President Preval is replaced. For Mercy & Sharing, and other relief organizations, Susie said, that regime change will likely speed progress.

“The government is complaining that they are not getting any of the money that’s coming to Haiti from the international community,” she explained. “Meanwhile, the international community is saying, ‘We’re not going to give you any funds until you get a stable government that is transparent.’ So it’s a catch-22.”

The result, for now, is that just 2 percent of the $5.3 billion throughout the world that’s been pledged for Haiti has been allocated.

The organized crime and gangs that orphaned many of Mercy & Sharing’s children along with the quake, however, is largely leaving them alone because of the work the Krabachers have been doing there since 1994.

“We’ve been in Cite Soleil for so long that a lot of the gang members have had their children in my schools over the years and, unfortunately, without Mercy & Sharing those kids wouldn’t have been eating,” Susie said. “They wouldn’t have any medical care, they wouldn’t have any education. So, we don’t work with that organized criminal element. But we do pretty much get left alone by them because of what we’re offering to their children.”

They are still battling the enduring child slave trade in Haiti. It’s legal in Haiti for families to keep a child slave, known as a “restavek,” until they turn 14.

“One of the things we still deal with at the clinics almost daily is restaveks who come to us with STDs, and cuts and bruises from being beaten by their host family,” Susie said. “But Mercy & Sharing is working actively against it.”

To Chenet and the Krabachers’ continued astonishment, most of the families who keep restaveks are poor ones also living in areas like Cite Soleil.

Were it not for Mercy & Sharing, Chenet believes the children she works with daily would be trapped in that life of pseudo-slavery, or worse.

“Right now they would either be dead, in the street, some of them would be beggars, little girls would be getting raped, and little boys too, or people might take them home to become restaveks,” she said.

The magnitude of the ongoing crisis in her native country is so massive that Chenet holds out little hope of seeing it reverse course in her lifetime. But the kids she works with daily are the best chance Haiti has, she’s come to believe.

“These children give me hope that there is a future for Haiti,” she said. “My generation won’t be able to do anything about this country, so I have to hope that the best thing to come out of this situation will be through these children. I thank God I have Mercy & Sharing, because otherwise I don’t see how I could go on.”

To learn more about Mercy & Sharing, visit www.haitichildren.org.


Via United Adoptees International - News.

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