EDITOR’S NOTE: Dear Readers, the below includes the introduction and the first two posts in a series we are featuring over the coming weeks on trafficking, human smuggling, and forced labor. Along with pieces from Ruby P. Andrew, Benjamin N. Lawrance, and Richard L. Roberts, upcoming posts will include commentaries from Margaret Akullo, Joel Quirk, Jody Sarich and Kevin Bales, and Oludayo Tade.
Introduction: “Trafficking, Smuggling and Child Adoption in Africa”
Benjamin N. Lawrance
During a recent research trip to Sierra Leone to attend a conference on Sierra Leonean history, participants, including myself, could not but help notice that the local new stations were captivated by new claims that the Help A Needy Child International Center, known as HANCI, had fraudulently removed children from their parents during the country’s recent civil war. Parents of over twenty children have now come forward to claim that their children were removed from their control under false pretenses in the context of conflict. They want their children back and they want to know where they are.
The Associated Press reported on May 8, 2012, that, “in a statement read by coordinator Abu Bakarr Kargbo, the parents of the 29 children also called on the police and government to look into whether more children were adopted without proper consent. Sierra Leone’s government on April 13 mandated police to reopen an investigation into the 1997 adoptions of children placed at the Help A Needy Child International center, known as HANCI, during the country’s brutal civil war.”
Since the complaints surfaced, HANCI contacted the Maine-based adoption agency, Maine Adoption Placement Service (MAPS), which sponsored the child placements. The agency reported that U.S. families had adopted 29 of 33 children. Both HANCI and MAPS continue to insist that “informed consent” was attained from all parents of adopted children. Continue reading