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

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    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.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora