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Worldwide messages flood newsroom after international adoption story

Bucharest Daily News - 07-feb-06 - Denisa Maruntoiu

Following the publishing in the Bucharest Daily News' issue on February 2 of the special report on international adoptions, "The orphans of our discontent", people all around the world have written to us, expressing their opinions and feelings. In today's issue you can read fragments from all their letters.

Mary Wheeler, USA: "Thank you so much for writing this article and saying the truth. I am Kathleen Richards' mother and today, when I read "The orphans of our discontent", I was in tears the whole time. It all came back to me, the struggle for Larisa. As the time went on I was wondering whether this would happen or not, but had to be strong for my daughter and her family. It didn't, but I bless the couple that adopted her, as she now has someone to love her and tuck her in at night. Larisa will always be loved by our family, and we will always keep her in our hearts. Again, thank you."

Kathy Frost, USA: "I think your research on institutionalized teenagers was a brilliant one to conduct. We are constantly hearing from adults on this issue of international adoption, be they Romanian or European politicians or prospective international adoptive parents. But only very rarely do we hear from the children themselves, their words spliced into a longer article that takes away from the children's voices. I loved this piece you wrote. I hope you will follow it up with more like it and allow the children themselves to have a voice."

Serita Mendelson Stevens, SUA: "Thank you for your balanced articles in the paper. In 1995, I was in your lovely country and was blessed with a wonderful baby girl, Alexzandra. Today, she is an accomplished actress, an ice skater and a gymnast, and an honor student in school. I bless the Lord every day for giving me such a wonderful child.
I attempted to get money together to help those left behind but as a single worker it was hard to do it on my own, but I did get together two anthology books of mysteries and the proceeds are donated to help the orphans."

Maire Hayes, SUA: Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart and the hearts of all the children waiting to go home from Orphanages in Romania for writing such a well balanced article on the situation of the children. Thank your editors too for the stand they have taken against the Baroness this was not an easy decision and probably will help these children more than all the work us as adoptive parents have tried to do for the children. I am the single parent of two adopted children from Romania, Emma and Costica, who are now over six years old. My son struggles daily from the time he spent in the orphanage. Life is not easy for him but he is getting the help he needs here in the US. Beside that, my kids are very proud of their Romanian heritage. My daughter says she is 100% Romanian, 50% American and 50% Irish! Please kep up the good work and know that many, many people around the world support what you have written."

Gwen Radu, Canada: "Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your article "Orphans of Our Discontent". I am the adoptive mother of an 11-year-old Romanian-born daughter, who was 31/2 years old when she joined our family.
Alina was born in 1994 to an unmarried gypsy woman who gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. Alina was abandoned at birth in a hospital in Iasi, while her twin brother was taken home with the mother. When I met her, she was one angry little 3-year-old. Alina initially had problems bonding to me, and it took several months for her to trust me at all. She still has troubles maintaining friendships (trust issues) and has major difficulties with her vision, among other things. But, in spite of all this, above all, Alina is our daughter, and we love her so much. And we are seeing results. A kind, loving, insightful, intelligent young girl is emerging from the anger that used to engulf her. Thank you for being one of the rare journalists to report (both sides) with integrity and heart, and may your example be an inspiration to other journalists. Our world needs more people like you."

Jocelyne Barthel, France: "Thank you very much for the articles on international adoption and Romanian children. It is a pleasure not to read only the bad and sad point of view of the baroness (Emma Nicholson). I adopted my daughter in 2004 as pipe-line case... Just see the photo attached and look how sad the adopted children are."

Ed Gehringer, SUA: "I read your stories on international adoption with interest. My wife and I adopted three children from Romania, the first (a boy) in 1999, and the other two (twin girls) in 2002 - an adoption that was delayed a year by the moratorium. We chose Romania because I am half Romanian: my mother's parents emigrated from Transylvania to the U.S. in 1909 and 1914 respectively.
Although our adoption journey had a happy ending, many others did not. I know there was corruption. I was suspicious of the large cash transactions involved, especially when I saw that banks, ATMs, and credit cards were as widely used in Romania as they were in the West a couple of decades ago. There was certainly a need to root out corruption, but shutting down international adoption entirely is literally throwing out the baby with the bathwater."

Nadine Manach, France: "Congratulations for your articles on adoptions and institutionalized children in Romania. Thanks for your efforts and courage to write such a well-balanced article. I am the French adoptive mother of a seven years old girl, whom I adopted from Romania in 2000. She is now a happy girl who learns well in school and she takes classical dance lesson on Saturdays. I am very proud of her and I'd like to adopt my second children from your country. Unfortunately, it's not possible. I have had to explain my daughter why I can't adopt another baby, why her birth country doesn't want to give a mother to the children in the orphanages. I will show her your articles when she will be older, in order to show her out that there are courageous and honest persons in Romania. Children have no voice, but by speaking about them, about their dreams, about their hopes, about their needs, you are the childhood's voice."

Mary and Al Clark, USA: "Thank you for this unbiased report. We adopted our children from Piatra-Neamt in 1997, respective 2000. They are now two very happy, healthy, and smart children, ages 9 and 6. Every day I look at them and wonder what would have happened to them if we had not adopted them."

Sophie Christiane, France: "For five years, I have been the very happy and proud mother of the most wonderful little boy in the world. My son is a very happy and loving little boy, very bright at school, the heart of the family. He was born in Romania nearly five years ago.
My heart aches when I think of children without a family because of the European policy.
Thank you for your articles, the little children without family are not alone with people like you."

Lawrence Webb, England: "Thanks for your voice of reason and balance. My wife and I adopted our daughter from Romania 4 years ago. Even though she was lucky to have been with a foster family from just after birth rather than in an orphanage, she was tiny and undernourished; she had rickets when she came to us and had been kept swaddled and could not sit up by herself even though she was 11 months old.
She is now five, 6 in June. She is kind and loving, and a much loved little girl, growing up with our birth son Noah who is one year older, and two older brothers still at home. She is the princess, a vital ray of sunshine or a challenging burst of thunder. I wish everyone could understand that isolation, absence of love and affectionate guidance, absence of nutrition and stimulation, all create damage. Damage that turns into damaged lives; damage that becomes hard wired."

Mary Macioce, USA: "I would like to thank you for your article in the Bucharest News. As the parent of a child adopted from Romania in 1991, I can attest to the effects that institutionalization can have on a child. Our beautiful daughter will turn 18 this year. She has endured years of dealing with severe learning disabilities that had left her behind in school and reading on a very low level. The one thing she got from her orphanage experience was her ability to survive. Because of this, she has worked extra hard to stay on level with her peers and be successful. It has though been a struggle for her. Three summers ago, we returned to Romania for a reunion with her birth family. Her birth family was so happy to see her and how she had developed and thanked us over and over again for giving her a life without the everyday struggles that they face. But so many other children in the "system" will not get these opportunities because of the laws now in effect. I thank you for your wonderfully balanced article that let the citizens of Romania know about what has been going on. It will probably not change the adoption laws, but perhaps it will entice more Romanians to adopt these beautiful children."

Sylvie Gillet, France: "I am the mother of a young girl born in Romania. She was six when I first met her and because of Nicholson's anti-adoption campaign, we had to wait until she was 8 1/2 before we could be reunited in France: more than two years lost for my daughter's development (she has spent 7 years in an orphanage all in all...), in many fields, more than two years lost for our family life, and non-measurable sorrow during all this waiting time... But she is now a very nice pre-adolescent girl, living happily with her family and friends. She is my treasure. However, I remember and will always remember Gabi, an older girl, who believed she would be adopted by another French family, while I knew this family just gave up adopting her because they could not stand this waiting time... Please go on investigating and reporting on the international adoption issue. Children need you."

Tracy Anderson, USA: "Thank you for reporting on the adoption issues in Romania. You are painting the true picture. I am very happy that Romania is trying to make things better for the orphans, but banning international adoptions is not the answer, not by far. I know they have set up model programs but I know that they are hiding many other institutions that are not so good. The teenagers are being put out on the streets with nothing and nobody, how heart-wrenching. We adopted a little boy in 2000. He was 7 years old when we brought him home, but he was very developmentally delayed. He only spoke about 20 Romanian baby words, he didn't know how to run or jump. He didn't know how to play with toys and his teeth were totally rotten. He struggles in school, but loves it anyway. He never would have come this far if he was left in that orphanage. I wish the baroness could have met Devon 5 years ago and see him today. He is a totally changed boy. With the love of a family."

Catherine and Gerard Kogel, France: "We daily thank you for your articles in Bucharest Daily News on the sensitive issue of the inter-country adoptions. We regret all the evil made by Emma Nicholson to the Romanian children.
We adopted two formidable children from Romania, in 1995 and 1999. We would have liked to adopt our third child, and we have sent our request in September, 2000. As the adoption was blocked, we turned into 2002 to the Ukraine.
We, however, are much attached to Romania and the inhabitants of this country, and made we several voyages there. The children were happy to meet their native country, as they are proud of their origin.
We hope that the international adoption will be soon resumed, and that all the children will have the chance to a loving family."

François de Combret, France: "Congratulations for having written this article and having given a chance to the abandoned children who dream of having a tender family to love them. Unfortunately this dream has been taken away because of the mean actions of Baroness Emma Nicholson, supported by Romanian Businessman Ion Tiriac.
I have created 15 years ago an association called SERA (Solidarity for Romanian Abandoned Children), which currently has 150, 000 supporters who fight for the right of each child to have a loving family. I want to thank you again for everything you are trying to do for these children."

Florin Rapan, Canada: "I am a Romanian living in Canada. Unfortunately, the new law on adoptions also forbids the Romanian citizens living abroad to adopt a Romanian child. My wife and I want to adopt a Romanian orphan, but we cannot, thus being forced to turn to another country, with a less restrictive law. I consider that not allowing the orphans to have a family that could care for them is a criminal act. We would have raised our child in the middle of the Romanian community and he or she would have been a bond between Canada and Romania. My heart bleeds because the current government is so eager to join the EU and so afraid of Nicholson, that it does not have the courage to stand up for the children."

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