News / Africa

Sierra Leonean Parents Fight Non-Consensual Adoptions

Sierra Leonean mothers hold their children (File)
Sierra Leonean mothers hold their children (File)
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone -  Dozens of parents in Sierra Leone say their children were given up for adoption in the United States without their consent, during the west African country's horrific civil war in the 1990's.  The results of a government inquiry may reunite them with their children.

Mariatu Mansaray says she is still crying and suffering because two of her children, Adama and Mustafa, were taken from her in Sierra Leone.  She wants them to know she never intended to give them up. Mansaray is just one of 40 parents in the rural Makeni area who say they never authorized their children to be adopted.

Abu Bakar Kargbo, a spokesperson for the parents, says none of them speak English and that made them easy targets.

"These are poor, illiterate and defenseless people. They live in villages," he explained.  "They came to advocate, hundreds of miles, for the government to intervene and they are ready to testify, to contest they did not consent any adoption. "

The parents say they left their children at the Help A Needy Child International Center during the war temporarily, so they would be safe and get educated.   The Center then apparently contacted Maine Adoption Placement Services, which placed 29 children with parents in the United States.

Their anguished pleas say they want to see their children.

That may happen.  Sierra Leone Deputy Minister Sheka Tarawalie was in Washington D.C. in early May for discussions on how the adoptees, now in their teens, might meet their biological parents.

"These kids have a right to know the truth," Tarawalie said. "We should pursue this as a responsible government, so kids can re-establish contact with biological parents."

The minister's visit was in response to the Commission of Inquiry that recommended the adoptions be investigated, saying it was clear these parents had no knowledge their children were being given up permanently.

Sierra Leone's government ordered local police to further investigate the matter, which could lead to criminal charges.  

"Well, we are seeing what we call alleged trafficking," said Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission spokesperson Henry Mustapha Sheku. He welcomes the investigation.  

"If they did not go according to procedures under our laws in terms of what should transpire for adoption, then yes, international laws can go with that; child trafficking, cruelty to children," he said.

In 2004, Help A Needy Child International Center founder Roland Foday Kargbo and two of his employees were arrested and charged with conspiracy to violate adoption laws.  They were found not guilty and the case was dropped.

Kargbo still denies all allegations.  He says the parents signed adoption documents with their thumbprints.

"They got a copy," he insisted. "It amazes me not one single parent produces a copy we gave them."

Kargbo thinks the parents may be after financial compensation because they believe Help A Needy Child International is receiving money from the adoptive parents.  He insists it is not the case.

"We did this adoption in good faith with clear motivation to help children in difficult circumstances during the war," he noted.

Maine Adoption Placement Services has stated it has no knowledge of any wrongdoing.  The group did not respond to requests for further comment.

Meanwhile, Mariatu Mansaray says she is just hoping to know the truth about her children.  And keeps faith she will one day see them again.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
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.

AppleAndroid