Netherlands maintains suspension adoptions Uganda

Informal translation of the letter of Secretary of State Fred Teeven to the Dutch Parliament – 27 September 2012

Adoptions from Uganda

On 11 June 2011 I have decided, on the basis of the conclusions of a visit of a Ministerial delegation to Uganda, to suspend adoptions from Uganda. In my letter of that same date (Parliament documents II, 2011/12. 31 265 nfr. 43) I have informed you about that.

For already started adoption procedures, whereby 22 Ugandan children were involved for in total 13 adoptive parents, I have subsequently have had done closer investigations into cases in Uganda. A delegation of the Ministry of Security and Justice has had talks with the biological parents and if necessary other family members of the adoptive children concerned.

Also, DNA was taken to establish the parent-child relation. Also the delegation spoke with the Uganda Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and with the Commissioner of Youth and Children Affairs of the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development. The investigation took place from 24 June till 1 July.

From the investigation it appeared in general that in many cases the biological parents and other family members were insufficiently aware about the consequences of intercountry adoption.  Also, it appeared that with these parents there was hardly any communication about alternatives to relinquishment.   And it came about that several issues were presented differently by the children’s home than the real situation.  Hereby one can think about the mental situation of the biological parents, and the way in which the biological parents were informed and accompanied.

The delegation informed the biological parents during the meetings about the consequences of adoption.  For 14 children the adoption procedure can be continued. That means that the court sessions in Uganda can be scheduled with as goal to let these children be adopted by the available prospective adoptive parents.

For four children, after the interviews and the DNA testing, a revocation period was decided because it appeared that the parents needed some more time to think about the consequences of the adoption and the possibilities of support in the country itself.

During this revocation period the biological parents have received counseling and alternative possibilities for support in the country itself have been discussed. On the basis of this, the biological parents have still agreed with the adoption of their child(ren) and the adoption procedures can continue.

Two children were withdrawn just before the visit of the delegation, because their biological parents were not aware of the consequences of adoption and/or had not signed for the relinquishment of their child.

For one child the procedure is for the moment on hold, awaiting a decision of the biological father.

The adoptive parents concerned and the adoption agency that mediates the adoption of children from Uganda, Foundation Child and Future (Kind en Toekomst), have in the meantime been informed about the outcome of the investigation and the decisions that I took on the basis of that.  Also the prospective adoptive parents whose adoptions were earlier stalled, but which now can continue, were informed about my decision that these adoptions may still be finalized.

I realize that there are prospective adoptive parents that are touched by my decision to suspend adoptions from Uganda and that this decision has a large impact on their personal lives. I would, however, like to emphasize that I took my decision wholeheartedly, inspired by the interest of the interest of the child and the interest of careful adoption procedures.

I deliberated if there should be an investigation into adoption cases that took place from Uganda in the past, but I decided not to do that. The children are already quite a while with their Dutch adoptive families, whereby there is family-life, and in any cases the adoption according to Dutch law already was done. I do ask Foundation Child and Future, in cooperation with the children’s home, to inform the biological parents carefully about the wellbeing of the children they relinquished.

An investigation into the 22 children and the general findings of the ministerial delegation’s visit to Uganda in March, confirms what I announced in my letter of 11 June. The suspension that I announced in my 11 June letter will be maintained. This does not change the fact that I will continue to follow developments in adoptions in Uganda very closely.