16 March 2016 by Veerle Beel
The Flemish Children’s Commissioner Bruno Vanobbergen requests the adoption agencies to take images of potential adoptees offline.
After foreign adoptions in recent months occurred more frequently in the news because of problems, now the Flemish children’s commissioner finalised his advice.
You ask to take photos of adopted children offline. What bothers you about those photos?
“We ask that from a general concern that adoptees are presented too much as a commodity. One adoption agency puts children more in the window than the other. They even show “unfortunate” photos of before the adoption, and “happy” photos afterward. But it is usually not that simple. “
You take the side of the children themselves, and not that of the adoptive parents?
“Because we believe that the perspective of the children in the whole discussion has become snowed under. The dominant discourse about adoption is that children will end up here in a warm nest. They are transferred from the misery into happiness. Research by the University of Ghent on adult adopted children shows that it is more complex than that.”
Is that why you also advocates more open adoptions, or even international foster care?
“There is a big difference between children adopted before or around their first year of life and children who are eight, nine or ten years old. The latter leave their language and culture behind, but often also even family ties. Sometimes complaints reach us about such children, who want to call their natural mother, but are not allowed. Or they have to wait for weeks for an interpreter to tell their story. I do not think that one can force children of that age to break all ties. This issue is also linked to the question of which children are still adoptable. ”