So was it a case of saving children in danger of being killed? Or was it an illegal plan to have them adopted. Was its something more sinister? Those are the questions people are asking in the case of the 17 Europeans arrested in Chad. While inquiries are ongoing, it now seems certain that many of the children were not orphans. “A car came with two whites and one black man who spoke Arabic,” said one child. “The driver said “come with me, I will give you some money and biscuits and then take you home.”
300 families in Belgium and France are reported to have handed over between 2800 and 6000 euros to the charity. But was it for adoption? Yves Nicolin at the French Adoption Agency said: “Muslim countries don’t recognise adoption. France can’t adopt children from those countries.”
This is part of the problem with international adoptions. They are regulated by laws in the host countries and the home countries and must be strictly adhered to. The only common denominator is the Hague convention for the protection of adopted children, drawn up in 1993.
One of the rules is that if children are separated from their parents by war or natural disaster, they can only be adopted if the parents are dead and there are no surviving family members. Romania, for example, imposed a moratorium on international adoptions in 2001 and confirmed this with a strict law in 2005. The aim was to encourage adoption within the country and fight child trafficking. “There could be an uncle, an aunt, a grandfather, a sister, or someone who is an adult who can take the child in,” said Nicolin. “For the child to be adoptable, there has to be an official legal decree.”
People who try to adopt through agencies know the process is long and ardous. Many countries are toughening up their laws, while at the same time an increasing number of people are lining up hoping to adopt.