Presented below is an English version of her presentation. On our subscription blog one will find two interviews I conducted with Ms. Hut, one prior to the report's release, one following. In these interviews she expands on the evidence she found for corruption on her visit to China in April 2008, and the difficulties she experienced in bringing such problems to the forefront.
With the Canadian government now walking the same path as the Dutch, one can see that "official" investigations instigated by receiving countries are impotent at best, and deceptive at worst. The structure of such investigations is always the same, and the outcomes are just as predictable: 1) Media raise and publicize evidence of wrong-doing; 2) Receiving government feels pressure to perform some action of inquiry; 3) Receiving government makes a "formal" inquiry of the CCAA asking for reassurance that all is well; 4) CCAA admits some isolated events, but assures receiving country that problems have been resolved; 5) Receiving government, thus reassured, announces that questions concerning corruption have been answered satisfactorily.
Readers will recognize that Ina Hut's report is damning since it clearly demonstrates that receiving governments have no real interest in "rocking the boat" with China, and actively work with the CCAA to downplay any negative outcome. It is all a formalized dance of inquiry and obfuscation. There is little desire, by any party, to get to the truth.
- The high risk to children inherent in the current system;
- The fact that the Central Authorities in inter-country adoption place other interests above those of the children;
- The lack of support, even from the MVJ to examine the accuracy of the backgrounds of children from China and the correct procedures. Although the MVJ stated in their reaction on the Netwerk documentary, that Wereldkinderen would do an undercover investigation, there was no form of research acceptable to the MVJ.
For several years, there have been indications that China’s orphanage directors were paying money to bring children into welfare institutions. There is already several years’ worth of evidence that the background and identity of children proposed for adoption are routinely changed. There are also many indications of direct children. This survey does not aim to provide a complete picture of all indications and evidence, but does give a picture of what was known to “World Children” and the MVJ.
-- Furthermore, the MVJ stressed that it is the responsibility of competent authorities in the country of origin to determine if adoptions comply with the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention. These authorities would be responsible for checking the requirements as stated in the Hague Adoption Convention. This means that the cooperating countries are heavily dependent on mutual trust (see also letter from the Minister of Justice to the Second Chamber dated September 10, 2008). In other words, thorough investigation is not really possible and has not been not executed.
-- The Ministry of Justice did not visit any provinces, and did not engage in any discussions with local authorities.
-- A meeting with an employee of UNICEF which was presented by the MVJ as an official statement of Unicef , while UNICEF itself and others have indicated to us that they have done no research into adoptions in China and there was not qualified to say anything about it (see also September 10, 2008).
-- Moreover, there were still many unanswered questions from “W ereldkinderen”, including questions “Wereldkinderen” had passed to the MVJ before they traveled to China. As yet, these questions had not been answered conclusively by the Ministry of Justice.
-- “ The Subsidiary Principle” (requirement from the Hague Adoption Convention) was and is not followed in China, China did not first consider whether local children could be placed in a domestic family;
-- The local authorities and orphanages often have more information that is known about the children than was given agencies by the CCAA;
-- “Wereldkinderen” had and has the impression that there are enough parents in China wanting to adopt a healthy child. In other words, inter-country adoptions of healthy children from China are not necessary and are against the Hague Adoption Convention.
After this conversation Mr. Levenkamp (official of MVJ) asked me to stay because he wanted to discuss something with me. I asked a colleague of Wereldkinderen to stay also, she did. During this conversation was besides Mr. Levenkamp , also present an other (interim) MVJ official, Mrs. Van 't Wout. During this "personal" conversation Wereldkinderen mentioned various possibilities to do further research.
“Wereldkinderen” had many questionmarks concerning the answering of the MVJ of the official questions around adoptions from China. Based on its own visit to China, based on the trip of the MVJ to China and based on additional evidence, Wereldkinderen had a different impression of adoptions from China than what the MVJ has written in her letter to the Second Chamber.
2. for those involved in the adoption there may not be any finacial profit, paying for costs is allowed;
3. first priority has to be given to place a child in a family in the child's country of origin before intercountry adoption can be in brought into the picture (“Subsidiary Principle”).
- Local authorities and orphanages often have more information that is known about the children than the CCAA gives to the adoption agencies. “Wereldkinderen” was informed about this by the Dutch Embassy (in July 2008), we know this also from American research, and we know because we have seen this ourselves when we visited the local authorities (trip July 2008). Children offered for international adoption, while in the homes and at local / provincial level and perhaps at the level of the CCAA the names and addresses of the biological parents are known.
- Wereldkinderen is of the belief that enough parents inside China wish to adopt healthy children. This was confirmed by a senior Chinese official who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. In other words, inter-country adoptions of healthy children from China are no longer necessary. This does not, however, apply to Special Need Children.
- China, with its large trade surpluses, is economically able to provide the orphanages the necessary financial resources. China and the Netherlands must comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This requires States to protect children, so the cost of the orphanages should be borne by the Chinese State. Childrenhomes should therefore not be dependent on donations from international adoption.
It shows that the Minsiter wants to wait for the results of the investigation done by the Chinese authorities. Again we see the flaws of the Hague Adoption Convention: the participating countries are self-checking. But if you are part of the system’s problem, then how reliable is that research?
Given these experiences, but also given the national and international setting whereby intercountry adoption is surrounded by, the market forces (demand determines supply), the corruption in some countries and the risks of childtrafficking, the way the Central Authority of the Netherlands, and als some other countries coop with this, I can no longer be part of the system and I don't want responsible for the risks and possible abuses anymore. This applies not only to adoptions from China, but also to adoptions from other countries, which - viewing the mechanism of market forces - I think also possess too much risk.
- International adoption has, over the past decades, become a system where the demand for children affects the supply (and price) of children. One sees similar experiences in many different countries. A moratorium on intercountry adoption is, in my view, desirable in order for us to reflect on how desirable adoption is in the current system. The international system is sick. A thorough independent investigation into the desirability of intercountry adoptions (in general), within the framework of the market for children, with all the risks of child trafficking and its consequences, is desperately needed. During this period no new process should be started, no new permission to adopt should be given, and no new intakes to the adoption organizations.
- Thorough independent research into adoptions from specific countries, specifically targeted to the countries where Dutch licensees work.
- Parliamentary investigation into the affairs relating to adoptions from China and the attitude of the Ministry of Justice in this matter.
- Research into the impact of the Hague Adoption Convention. Does it promote local adoptions or is the opposite the case? And does it prevents abuses or does it facilitates abuses, and does it offer a false security?
- Investigate whether the development of policies surrounding adoption does fit better within the Ministry of Development (promotion of local solutions in the country of origin) or the Ministry of Health (child). Lawyers of the MVJ should only monitor the implementation of laws and regulations.
- The Dutch system of agencies (e.g. voluntary versus professional organizations, the number of licensees, the private nature of the organizations) has to be reviewed on desirability, possibilities and impossibilities.
October 1, 2009