News / Africa

Sierra Leone Parents Say Children Adopted Without Consent

People attend court to hear charges against the agency that handled adoptions, (Nina deVries/VOA)
People attend court to hear charges against the agency that handled adoptions, (Nina deVries/VOA)
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — For years, parents in the West African nation of Sierra Leone have claimed their children were adopted without their consent during the country's civil war in the 1990s.  A police investigation was concluded recently regarding their claims. And staff from the agency that handled the adoptions have been charged with 32 counts, including human trafficking.  

"Whenever I go to bed I see their faces, whatever I'm doing, normally my mind will drop to them," said Abu Bakar Kargbo as he recalled his two siblings who were allegedly adopted illegally.

For 15 years he has been determined to find out where they are and let them know it was never the intent of their parents to give them up.

He is also the spokesperson for 29 other parents who claim they never gave up their children.

The parents say they left them at the Help A Needy Child International Center, or HANCI, during the war temporarily, so they would be safe and receive education.   

HANCI then apparently contacted Maine Adoption Placement Services, which placed 29 children with parents in the United States.

Kamba Mansaray (Nina deVries/VOA)Kamba Mansaray (Nina deVries/VOA)
x
Kamba Mansaray (Nina deVries/VOA)
Kamba Mansaray (Nina deVries/VOA)
Kamba Mansaray explains in her native Krio language that she is glad the five staff members from HANCI were charged.  

She says she hasn't seen her children Adama and Mustapha for 15 years.  And would just love just to hold them again.

Roland Wright is a lawyer representing the HANCI staff. He says a preliminary investigation will determine whether or not there is enough evidence to bring the matter to trial.

According to Wright, the HANCI staff did everything legally. And the parents who handed over the children to HANCI knew that. "It was known and quite clearly established that any child that went there was a potential adoption case," he explained.

He is confident HANCI will be proven innocent.

This isn't the first time the agency has been charged.  Back in 2004 several members from HANCI were charged with violation of adoption laws but the matter was dismissed due to lack of evidence.

Anti-trafficking organizations in Freetown are also feeling the effects of the HANCI case.

Janet Nickel works as a technical advisor for an anti-trafficking program with World Hope International.  She says communities they work with are confusing adoption and trafficking.  They think it means the same thing.

Nickel explains some do not realize that trafficking involves exploitation. "So you explain that and then people say oh yes, that is happening, it's going on in our community and they can start naming cases where somebody has been exploited but they never thought of it as trafficking, as they thought trafficking is adoption," she stated.

She also questions if the trafficking charges are even accurate. "If there's no exploitation, if it's not for criminal purpose, it doesn't fit the definition of child trafficking," she added.

No one from the police unit was available to comment on their report and if they found evidence of exploitation.

Nickel adds one young woman adopted through HANCI has come back and met her biological father.  She says there is no evidence of any exploitation of the adoptee.

Another recent report from the Associated Press says a 17-year-old woman named Michaela DePrince, also part of the HANCI adoptions, grew up to become a professional ballerina living in the United States, and travels internationally to perform.

As for Abu Bakar Kargbo, he says he does not know of this young dancer but is searching for more answers to see if her family may still be around.

When asked if the biological parents are seeking financial compensation, he said it's not about money.  Rather that they just want their children to know that they are alive and establish a relationship.

In the meantime, he says he will continue to push for answers as to what really happened during the adoptions.

The next court date is set for August 10.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid