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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.