At least three Congolese ‘orphans’ who were adopted in our country, have biological parents in their home country. They were kidnapped and placed in an orphanage where they were given false names. The Belgian adoptive parents are oblivious and never knew that their children – Samira, Zakiatu and Jaelle – were stolen from their families. Our reporters searched and found the biological parents in the Congolese bush. The first episode today reads exceptionally free, the rest of the series on Saturday in Het Laatste Nieuws and HLN +.
KURT WERTELAERS BENOIT AND THE FREINE IN CONGO May 5, 2017
When the DRC halted foreign adoptions in 2013 – after far too many stories of abuse – if no child have left the country. At that time, however, there were dozens of adoptions pending. Also in our country. They then tried to filter out fraudulent records – at least that was the intention – and after a long, grueling process, and more than two years of waiting in November 2015 came a dozen Congolese orphans still in our country.
Those children were all from Tumaini orphanage in Kinshasa, an institution run by the Belgian-Congolese Julienne Mpemba (40) from Namur. Since 2012 she had been thirty Congolese orphans linked to adoptive parents in our country. “Never had any problems,” she would explain about it. Mpemba incidentally earned thousands of euros to the temporary stop of adoption. “If you want them to be taken care of, you have to pay for it,” she told the adoptive parents. “They are your children.”
A few months after the children had arrived in Belgium, the hangover followed. The federal prosecutor found that it was not about orphans in at least three cases.
Because those involved in the “adoption industry” were operating for many years, it may be about more children.
“They had different identities and different birth dates and were never intended for adoption,” he said. The Belgian adoptive parents plunged into the world and until today they do not know what the future will bring. What will happen to their child, who they now lovingly raise since over a year? Where does it come from? Who is behind the smuggling? And why? And what about the parents, over there in the Congo? Who want their child? Are they then lost? All questions from distraught Belgian adoptive parents.
In the DRC, we went looking for the biological parents. The trip took us from Kinshasa to Gemena, a place in Sud-Ubangi District, about 850 kilometers from the capital. There we found the biological parents of Samira, Zakiatu Jaelle and three small children that were presented in our country as orphans. But also those of a 5-year-old Jacques, a boy who was also kidnapped, but eventually remained in Kinshasa because no adoptive parents were found for him.
The biological parents told us how their children were lured with a list away from the house. “They got the chance to go on holiday camp with a youth organization in the region, but they never returned.”
Moreover, the poverty-stricken parents could go nowhere. A lawyer they can not pay and they already had not counted on much help from the local authorities. While we were working on the report it was clear that some local executives were involved in child trafficking. Or at least had the other looked up. The stories of the biological parents, tomorrow you read in your newspaper.
Spider in the web
The biological parents have only one wish: to recover their child. But deep down, they have no illusions anymore. “Give us at least the chance to connect with our children or adoptive parents. Who knows, one day, our children return. ”
In Belgium, the adoptive parents react very emotionally. “Never have we known the true facts. We just wanted an orphan a better life. Grow up in a warm, loving nest. We never wanted to snatch a child to his biological parents. ”
In Kinshasa now it is suspiciously followed what the government in our country will do with Julienne Mpemba – the spider in the web. Mpemba, a lawyer who once stood for election on a list of the PS, was arrested last year in our country, but released after six weeks pending trial.
The woman and her orphanage was by Congolese human rights organizations associated since 2013 with the disappearance and abduction of children. In that year, Interpol has also been informed about the practices. Then children were abducted in suburbs of Kinshasa. Human rights organizations consider the chances “very high” that these children are also brought up in our country.