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"Romania should give its abandoned children another chance"

Bucharest Daily News - 17-mar-06 - Denisa Maruntoiu

French MEPs Claire Gibault and Jean-Marie Cavada believe Romania would take a great step towards EU accession by resuming international adoptions and rejecting Emma Nicholson's pressure which, according to Gibault, is the result of a personal negative experience with her Iraqi adoptive son.

Do you know how many members of the European Parliament (EP) are in favor of international adoptions and what are their arguments?
In December 2005, during the vote on the resolution on the extent of Romania's readiness for EU accession, a huge majority of the MEPs voted in favor of the oral amendment that urges Romania to solve the pipeline cases.
In Romania, international adoption can serve the best interest of the child. In institutions children are forgotten: they are hazily considered as one of many, not as the individuals they are. Foster families, even if they are well prepared, remain temporary measures and therefore can't totally fulfill the affective needs of the children. (...)
It is illogical to stop international adoption using the excuse that there were cases where it was misused: nobody proposes banning driving on roads just because there are traffic accidents!
International adoption is a way for an abandoned child to find a mom and a dad. It also leads to cultural mixing, open-mindedness and tolerance. Therefore the ban on international adoption should be lifted.

Do you believe Romania should completely lift the ban on international adoptions or allow only the pending cases to be resolved?
The situation of the children whose files are "pending" is the most awful: before the moratorium came into force, in June 2001, they already had close contacts with their potential adoptive family. Therefore, the moratorium destroyed their hopes of joining this family: they felt as if they had been abandoned again! This is why the resolution of the pending cases is an absolute priority for us. However discussions should also be held in order to lift the ban on other international adoptions as soon as possible.

Has Baroness Nicholson ever presented the EP factual evidence of cases in which adopted children have been trafficked?
No. She keeps talking about the existence of "constant evidence," but she has never presented any. All she can say when she is put under pressure is "But everyone is talking about it!" We do not deny that there were some cases of abuse or trafficking, but it concerned a very small minority of children. Baroness Nicholson wants to make us believe that all international adoptions lead to abuse. But as long as she does not bring us concrete evidence, she will not convince us.

Why doesn't the EC reconsider its position the same as the EP?
The truth isn't that the EC shares Baroness Nicholson's view on international adoptions, but that she managed to convince the EC with arguments she was never able to prove.
We think the EC should take the MEPs' change of position as a sign that it is time to stop ignoring reality.
For instance, in a press release dated November 29, 2005, the EC states that "there are 1355 Romanian families registered to adopt one of the 393 children available for adoption. Thus there is little scope, if any, for international adoptions."
However, according to Romanian authorities in August 2004 there were 81,233 children in care, but only 393 children are officially available for adoption!
The gulf between these figures should lead the EC to question the capacity of this data to reflect reality. Here, the truth is that the criteria used to decide if a child is 'adoptable' or not are so restrictive that the result is used as a screen to hide what the real situation is.

Do you think that by resuming international adoptions Romania would jeopardize its EU accession? No, on the contrary! After the fall of Ceausescu, the Romanian authorities had to face a very difficult situation in the field of child welfare, and we want to emphasize more clearly the considerable efforts made over the past few years. For instance, trying to make the abandoned children return to their biological families represents progress.
However, there is still a lot to do in the field of child protection. By resuming international adoptions, Romania would make a great step forward.
If Romania acts resolutely in the best interest of its children, Romania will have our support.

If the majority within the EP does not agree with Nicholson's opinion, why is it that the Romanian authorities and public consider her to be "the voice" of the EP?
When Baroness Nicholson was the EP's Rapporteur on Romania, she wrote several reports urging the Romanian authorities to ban international adoptions. As much as we regret it, we have to say that the EP voted in favor of those reports. We think it happened mainly because most of the MEPs at the time didn't know exactly what the situation in Romania was. (...)
Now it seems that our colleagues have found out what the reality is, and consequently changed their minds. With some of my colleagues, I sent a letter, which has unfortunately gone unanswered, to the Romanian authorities to bring this change to their attention.

The media has suggested that Nicholson's anti-international adoption campaign is a result of her personal, negative experience in the matter. What do you think?
Emma Nicholson adopted an Iraqi child after the first Gulf War. But a rift developed between her and her child and now they are no longer in contact (as reported, for instance, by the Daily Telegraph on March 05, 2004). We don't know, and don't want to know, anything else about this, as this is Baroness Nicholson's private life. But just because she experienced an adoption failure does not mean that she has to carry on a personal crusade against international adoptions, thus preventing Romanian children from finding a family.

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