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

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs