Roelie Post, the founder of ACT
Roelie Post (b. 1959) was brought up in the north of Holland. After working for the Dutch National Housing Association, she got hired by the European Commission. She was working in DG Agriculture when, in 1999, she got assigned a new type of job – Task Manager for the “Romanian Children Dossier” and Minorities in DG Enlargement. [Prior to Roelie taking on this role, nobody at the Commission had worked on child rights. She would become the Commission’s first child rights expert].
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was the legal basis for transforming Romania’s dysfunctional child welfare system into what would become a model for the region.
However, in order to reform Romania’s child welfare system, Roelie and her colleagues had to confront the inter-country adoptions industry. Tens of thousands of children were sold from Romania during the 1990’s and, in 2001, the Romanian government shut the business down. But the powerful inter-country adoption lobby applied maximum pressure on the Romanian government, the European Commission as well as Roelie Post herself.
The lobby was horrified that a nation (Romania) had the audacity to shut down adoptions as this was sending out a signal to other poor nations that this highly profitable business could be stopped. The lobby’s intention was to denigrate the (highly successful) Romanian model and impose inter-country adoptions on all EU Member States. Unfortunately the lobby infiltrated the European Commission and arranged to have Roelie removed ( from the Romanian Children File).
From 2005 Roelie’s position at the Commission became untenable but her work record was excellent and so she couldn’t be fired. Colleagues in the Commission ignored her, she was given non-jobs with nothing to do and colleagues wouldn’t speak to her. Outside the Commission she was followed, intimidated, her house was broken into and her car was stolen. The only part of the organisation that will speak to her is the Commission’s Security Service, which refuses to offer any protection or investigate the harassment, and the Medical Service which has attempted to declare her psychologically unfit (paranoia).
In 2007, Roelie published a book: ROMANIA. FOR EXPORT ONLY. The Untold Story of the Romanian Orphans. The book exposed the workings of the inter-country adoption lobby in Romania, described their tactics at the European Commission and named the key players in Paris, Rome and Washington DC.
In 2008 the Secretary General of the Commission (Catherine Day) suggested that Roelie set up an NGO for child rights, and her EU salary as well as her status as EU official would be continued. This resulted in the setting up our organisation: ACT. Roelie was joined by Arun Dohle and they worked on big inter-country adoption cases in Australia, China, India, the European Union, Ethiopia and Malawi (where they became involved in the court case of the Human Rights organisations opposing Madonna adopting Mercy).
A series of articles and TV documentaries have been made about ACT’s work, most notably the public German TV (WDR) documentary Search a Child, Pay Cash: The Adoption Lobby, which won a prestigious media prize in 2010 (Stiftung Kindernothilfe, Berlin). Also Dutch public TV (KRO) Brandpunt Children for Sale – Ethiopia in 2013. US Fusion’s THE TRAFFICKERS, 2016, now available on Netflix in the US and the UK. And, also in 2016, Manufactured Orphans by Channel NewsAsia.
In 2014, Roelie’s secondment to ACT ended and she had to go back to the European Commission, but the same problems persisted in that she was ignored, ostracised and not given much to do. The intimidation and harassment against her started again and she left Brussels to go and live in hiding. She currently does not work for ACT.
The original aim of ACT was to shut down intercountry adoption within five years and, despite the small size of the NGO, it has come a long way to achieving this ambition. At the time of writing intercountry adoption has decreased globally by over 75%. A Dutch Advisory Council has recommended that intercountry adoption in the Netherlands be stopped. This is largely due to the awareness raising efforts of ACT and the energy and drive that Roelie put into setting up this remarkable little organisation.
See also: Life as a Whistleblower – Roelie Post