This was written by Franc Weerwind, Minister of Legal Protection, in a letter to the Folketing on Monday. As long as care in one’s own environment is not possible in certain countries of origin, adoption to the Netherlands will continue to be an option if this is to the benefit of the child. Weerwind has decided this after discussions with those involved. In the coming period, the Minister will elaborate on the system more concretely.
Following the condemnatory report of the Joustra Commission, an inquiry into abuses in adoptions from 1967 to 1998, all international adoptions were suspended in February 2021. The Committee doubted whether an alternative system was possible. Now that a new, centralized system is being set up, experts are wondering: how will the government ensure that abuses are eradicated?
‘Impossible to monitor’
‘It is impossible for the government to monitor this in the country of origin,’ says Ina Hut, former director of the mediation agency Wereldkinderen. “The government has no authority or resources for this. I experienced it myself in 2008 at the Dutch Embassy in China. The diplomats said they knew the children’s papers were wrong, but they did not have a mandate to check them. ‘
The fact that the Minister now emphasizes that children may only be adopted if no shelter can be found locally does not impress Hut, who is currently the director of CoMensha, the coordination center against human trafficking. ‘That condition has existed since the 1995 Hague Adoption Convention. It has been violated time and time again.’
‘In this way, adoption continues to have a pull effect on the orphanage industry,’ says lawyer Dewi Deijle, who has been fighting for financial compensation for adoptees for years. ‘How will the Minister check whether a parent actually wanted to abandon the child? It is also difficult to check whether sufficient shelter has been sought in the area. It’s so sensitive to scams. ‘
Adoption from abroad has been steadily declining in the Netherlands for years. Where there were 1,300 international adoptions in 2004, there were only 145 in 2019. An idealized idea of adoption has existed since the 1970s: Western parents wanted to save poor children from distant lands. This persistent picture has contributed to the government not properly intercepting the signals of abuse for decades, the Joustra committee concluded.
Minister Weerwind is aware that the new system presents major dilemmas. He wonders how the necessary significant investment is related to the declining number of adoptions. The government is reconsidering cooperation with certain countries of origin. ‘At the same time, it is often children from the poorer countries for whom adoption can offer a solution.’
Under the new system, the current four intermediary bodies will be reduced to a single organization coming under the authority of the government. ‘We are very relieved that we can once again match parents with children’, says Sanne Buursink, chairman of the cooperating mediation agencies. “At the moment, we are already checking very strictly whether everything has been complied with in the country of origin. We are behind every location. ‘
The chance of abuse is a little less with this system, says René Hoksbergen, professor emeritus and former board member of Wereldkinderen. ‘Will it be optimal? No it is not possible. But better. For example, it is good to stop adoptions from America and Eastern Europe. It is absurd that we still do that. ‘
A government organization can put more pressure on authorities in the country of origin, says Hoksbergen. “In addition, the government should have a better focus on the best interests of the child. Mediation agencies are increasingly feeling the warm breath of adoptive parents. The desire to have children is so strong among many. ‘