Book Review: Romania For Export Only, The untold story of the Romanian “orphans” by Roelie Post
In 2001, I worked on a European Union project euphemistically titled “Public Awareness Campaign to Prevent the Abandonment of Children in Romania”. I say euphemistically because it was in essence an anti-child trafficking project. Orphanages, where abandoned children ended up, were the equivalent of clearing houses in a supply chain of goods, the goods in this case being orphaned and abandoned children sold overseas.
While in Romania, I worked with Roelie Post (pictured), whose book Romania For Export Only I have just read. The book narrates the story of how a country reliant on the institutional care of vulnerable children transitions to alternative progressive measures such as family reunification, domestic adoption, family type homes and foster care. All the time running to stay ahead of the intercountry adoption lobby, which is focussed solely on the removal of children from their country of origin. This lobby continued long after Romania imposed a moratorium on intercountry adoptions in response to widespread abuses in the adoption system.
Most of the children concerned were not orphans. According to a Save the Children report, over 80% of children in orphanages around the world have a living parent and most are there because their parents cannot afford to feed, clothe and educate them.
Romania is no different: “We took them [to an institution] for the winter because we couldn’t afford to feed them. When we came to collect them, we were told they had gone,” said a Romanian father in 2000, talking about the intercountry adoption of his children.
Post is at pains to point out that in Romania, as in other poor or less developed countries, placement of children in protection services is not the same as abandoning them. Post comments “there is no intentional ‘abandonment’ of the children, but merely a combination of factors that led to the separation of the child from its family”. Lack of identity papers for example was cited as a hindrance to taking newborns home from maternity hospitals.
Romania proved to be hosting an orphan creation industry, netting an estimated $900 million in 10 years, a pattern now set to repeat itself in Africa, dubbed the new frontier for intercountry adoption.
Trafficking of children
The book confronts the fact that Romanian children were not only the subject of adoption for couples in wealthier countries, but were also allegedly trafficked for their body parts for use in organ transplants, and for paedophiles. Likewise the babies of women sold into prostitution “the mistakes of their profession” were trafficked by criminal gangs.
Post comments: “It is most likely not without reason that Europol’s (the European law enforcement agency) definition of child abuse refers not only to sexual abuse, prostitution, forced labour, kidnapping, parental abduction, ritual killing and illegal adoption, but also to the trade in abandoned children and the trade in organs.”
FULL REVIEW: HERE (more…)