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International Adoption Parents Beware! Human Trafficking Scandal in Uganda

The international adoption process has the potential to involve underhanded actions, where adoption agencies will purposely take children from their loving families and mislabel them as orphans in order to fulfill adoption requests.
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Two families’ worlds shattered when they realized each of their adopted daughters, Namata and Violah, weren’t originally orphans – Uganda took the girls from their birth mothers.

In a CNN opinion article, Jessica Davis explained how she and her husband, Adam, wanted to make a difference. The couple decided to adopt at least one child. They thoroughly researched the adoption process to ensure that the adoption was ethical and proper.

Although Jessica did her research, she did not anticipate the news she received later. According to WGNTV, the European Adoption Consultants (EAC) told the couple that Namata’s father died and her mother neglected her. An official document states that the agency closed in December after the US State Department prevented it from placing children in homes because it failed to comply with safety procedures. God’s Mercy Orphanage, which the couple received Namata through, closed four months later due to its illegal operations.

According to CNN News, the Davises believe that Ugandan children like Namata are being trafficked and their families are told that they will receive a better education. The network’s investigation revealed that some children are sold for as much as $15,000 and multiple families have become victims of this deception.

In a March 2015 study, Unicef describes how birth parents give up their children in exchange for financial incentives from the adoptive parents. These incentives include school fees, the establishment of businesses, or financial support for the family. The report further states that several children were misclassified as abandoned specifically for adoption purposes.

Adam expressed how he felt as if he bought a product and unknowingly disrupted a child’s life as a result of this adoption.

“We unwittingly placed an order for a child,” Adam told CNN. “The only trauma this poor kid ever experienced was because we essentially placed an order for a child.”

After these shocking and disappointing revelations, Jessica and Adam returned Namata to her village in Uganda.

Stacey and Shawn Wells also used the EAC agency to adopt a young girl named Violah. They knew something was wrong when their daughter told them that she attended church with her birth mother and cooked with her. These stories didn’t match the narrative of abandonment that the EAC had told them.

The couple eventually stumbled upon the Facebook page of Reunite, an organization Keren Reily started that returns Ugandan orphans to their true homes. On this page, they read a story about a mother whose children were taken away against her will. They instantly realized this was the story of Violah’s mother. According to CNN, it’s easy for the birth mothers to misunderstand what they have agreed to due to a lack of translators at court proceedings.

Just like the Davises, the Wells returned Violah to her home village – the same one Namata lived in. Although saying goodbye was very hard for the Wells family, they knew that returning Violah to her mother was the right thing to do.

“In that moment,” Stacey said in a CNN interview, crying, “I knew she was where she was meant to be.”

CNN’s report reveals the potential dangers of international adoption and the flaws within the Ugandan adoption system. As a result of this report, reforms in the country may take place and parents considering adoption can become more aware of the potential dangers within the adoption process.

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