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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid