Thursday, August 23, 2007

Two Countries, One Plea: Follow Our Laws

Only a handful of U.S. immigrant orphan visas have been granted to children from Kenya and Zambia. Both countries have relatively stringent adoption requirements, including lengthy residence requirements (3 months minimum in Kenya, generally 3-12 months in Zambia).

Both countries are relatively untapped markets for U.S. adoption agencies. It’s almost instinctive to think that in countries where so few children are sent abroad for adoption and where child welfare needs presumably are great, only true orphans will be processed. But it is also a truism that where international adoption and high fees are at the ready, trafficking proliferates.

In Zambia, recent reports announce a scam in which children were flown out of Zambia without following proper adoption procedures. According to Community and Social Welfare Minister, Catherin Namugala, several children have been withdrawn from American nationals because their adoptions were not legally binding; over 17 children have already been adopted and taken out of the country without the consent of the government.

According to one report, Namugala

emphasized that her ministry was not against the adoption of children but the manner in which it was done and appealed to those wishing to adopt children to follow the right procedure. The minister said it was shocking that some orphanages were busy arranging the adoption of children at a fee disregarding the laws of the land.
Profit at the expense of the welfare of children and their families.

Reports are also coming out of Kenya of a child trafficking ring busted in Bomet. Approximately eleven children who were destined for “ready markets” were rescued from traffickers. The children were allegedly sold for between Sh20,000 (approximately $300 USD) and Sh30,000 (approximately $450 USD) depending on their age. At least seven have been arrested in connection with the investigation.

An administrator in the area is reported to have said,

“The law is clear on adoption. People should follow right channels of looking for children instead of fueling the illegal trade.”
Two different countries, two common themes: Despite clear adoption laws, the laws are not followed, resulting in a trade in children for profit.

Simply relying on agencies alone to be familiar with a country’s laws AND TO FOLLOW THEM is not enough. Regardless of shelling out thousands of dollars for "full service," prospective adopters must independently research a country’s adoption laws and be wary of being offered shortcuts. Blind trust risks breaking many hearts.


U.S. Statement Department Intercountry Adoption Summary for Zambia, U.S. Department of State website, last visited August 23, 2007

U.S. State Department Intercountry Adoption Summary for Kenya, U.S. Department of State website, last visited August 23, 2007

Namibia: Zambia Smashes Adoption Scam, The Namibian (reported on, August 13, 2007

Zambia smashes scam illegally adopting children, People's Daily Online, August 12, 2007

Kenya: Police Rescue 11 Minors From Traffickers in Bomet, East African Standard (reported on, August 17, 2007

Kenya: Child Trade Ring Couple Held, The Nation (reported on, August 2, 2007

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I have a comment about your Zambia input. I was one of the families in Zambia last year. I was one of the families that had their child taken away out of my arms. I also would like to tell you that our agency was determined to do things by the law and that is where the problem happened. The previous 17 adoptions were done independently. American's traveled to Zambia. The social workers would charge them 2 to 3 thousand US dollars for their fees and the social workers were not informing the minister, but instead told the judge the minister was aware and then the adoption was granted. People in desperate times do desperate deeds. They are very poor in Zambia and this was a way for the social welfare workers to make money. American's were unaware of the fraud happening because they were told that the adoption laws had changed and were shown a memorandum of understanding by the social workers. The US Embassy was even being fooled by the government as they had it also posted on their website. The minister had no idea that there had even been any international adoptions until we informed her during the meeting that took place with us before they removed the children. We even showed her the site on the US state dpt. website where it said that adoptions were taking place within three weeks because the 3 mo. fostering period and the 12 mo. residency was being waived with a US homestudy. You should also know a little bit about the culture in Africa before you start posting untrue stories. The radio, newspaper and TV stations are government run. There is no such thing as free speech. Whatever the government wants run is what goes on the air and in the papers. Unlike here in the US. Please be responsible and find out the whole story before accusing people of wrong-doing.