Forskare kritiserar den nederländska utredningen

I februari i år presenterades en utredning om bristerna i myndigheternas kontroll  av internationella adoptioner till Nederländerna under perioden 1967–1998. Nedan kan du läsa utredningen och kritiken som framkommit emot den.

Den nederländska utredningen konstaterade att adoptionsverksamheten i Nederländerna har haft stora brister under perioden 1967-1998 och nästan helt saknat strukturer för kontroll och reglering. Utredarna anser också att den nederländska lagstiftningen inte lyckats komma till rätta med flera av bristerna efter 1998, då Haagkonventionen började gälla – och att kravet på rättssäkerhet därför inte kan säkerställas i dagens adoptionsverksamhet.

I rapporten läggs särskilt fokus på enskilda adoptioner*, något som utredarna anser inte ska få fortsätta. Även svenska Statskontoret säger i sin översyn av svenska internationella adoptioner att enskilda adoptioner är problematiska ur ett rättssäkerhetsperspektiv. I Sverige har också enskilda adoptioner minskat drastiskt sedan en ny lag infördes 1977, men så är alltså inte fallet i Nederländerna.

En konsekvens av utredningen blev att den internationella adoptionsverksamheten i landet tillfälligt stoppades.

*Enskild adoption är en privat, oreglerad adoption som förmedlas utan en ackrediterad adoptionsorganisation. I Sverige idag kan MFoF bevilja en enskild adoption om särskilda skäl finns, exempelvis att man själv har sitt ursprung i adoptionslandet eller när det gäller en släktadoption.

Här kan du läsa en sammanfattning av den nederländska utredningen på engelska.


Comments to the Report of the Joustra Committee on Abuses in Intercountry Adoptions in the Past

Gera ter Meulen

First of all, I would like to say that I am very happy with the work of the Joustra Committee on abuses in adoptions in the past. It is a good thing that our government is now taking responsibility by apologizing to victims and that the government commits to correcting abuses as well as possible.

As a scientist specialized in adoption and foster care, including 10 years as coordinator of the Leiden University-based ADOC - Knowledge Center for Adoption and Foster Care, I also have critical comments.

Children's rights

First of all, the scientific literature on which the Committee relies, appears to be very one-sided and important articles that provide a broader picture of the phenomenon of adoption have not been included. It almost seems that those who focus on abuses surrounding adoption at some point become trapped in one side of a reality and lose sight of other perspectives such as child protection.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child also states that children have the right to safety, care, development opportunities and a family. Neglect was already obvious in children's homes, but in recent decades it has been discovered that children's home care is so harmful to children that the UN guidelines for Alternative Care stipulate that institutional care should be banned worldwide. Children are entitled to care in a family.

Research

In 2016, we at ADOC and Leiden University conducted a questionnaire survey among 1,155 intercountry adoptees about their satisfaction with their lives and their emotions surrounding distance and adoption. We asked whether they had searched for information in their country of origin and whether it was correct. Because we linked this to the year of adoption, we saw  significant declines in inaccuracies in documents over time, certainly after 1992. We also found less dissatisfaction with relinquishment and adoption among more recently adoptees. The committee has not included this time aspect.

Adoptions after 1998

The Joustra Committee looked explicitly at the period up to 1998, but also looked at abuses after 1998 and concluded that abuses in adoption cannot be ruled out. Mind you, I completely agree that abuses cannot and should not be done, but I do advocate for policy choices to look at the whole picture and also to do justice to all parties by not putting all the abuses together. I would like to contribute to this based on my scientific knowledge.

What surprises me is that the report does not describe the current, changed adoption practice. Partly as a result of the Hague Adoption Convention, most children are now cared for in their own country. The vast majority of internationally adopted children have "Special Needs". It is also sometimes difficult to find adoptive parents in the Netherlands. Procedures to rule out malpractice are so intensive that I am often concerned about the additional damage children will suffer from the extended period of time they spend in homes. Furthermore, current practice strives for open adoptions, whereby contact with the birth family is maintained as much as possible. I therefore think the moratorium on current adoptions is too short-sighted. I would like to see an addition to the report with the following elements:

Advices: 

  • Provide a more complete cultural and anthropological framework of the situation in which children find themselves prior to adoption and reasons for relinquishment. And use leading scientific literature on relinquishment, adoption and institutional care
  • Make a distinction between abuses that have a criminal background or a cultural background. In India, for example, birthmothers gave false names because unmarried motherhood place them in hopeless situations and could even endanger them. Also make a distinction between abuses in relinquishment and abuses in adoption
  • Make a quantification of the abuses found over time and make a connection with the measures taken
  •  Make a distinction between abuses by individual adopters and demonstrably fraudulent adoption organizations and other organizations.
  • Make a selection of nowadays adoption procedures where there is no risk of abuse.

The committee is afraid that abuses cannot be ruled out, but I see opportunities in, for example, the use of DNA databases. International adoption DNA databases with guaranteed privacy, which seeking adoptees and birth parents can use and which can also prevent false relinquishment procedures during ongoing adoption procedures. The announced expertise center could play a role here. And let that expertise center have a scientific department, so that nuances and knowledge are more accessible.


Faktaruta om skillnaderna mellan Statskontorets utredning och den nederländska utredningen:

Sverige

Nederländerna

Undersökt organiseringen av den   internationella adoptionsverksamheten till Sverige idag

Undersökt historiska adoptioner till   Nederländerna under perioden 1967–1998

Uppdrag att undersöka uppfyllelsen av rättssäkerhet   och barnrättsperspektiv

Uppdrag att undersöka omfattningen av   oegentligheter

Pekar på att hanteringen av enskilda   adoptioner behöver ses över eftersom risken för oegentligheter inom det   internationella adoptionssystemet är störst vid enskilda adoptioner

Pekar på att omfattningen av oegentligheter   varit stor vad gäller främst enskilda adoptioner till Nederländerna