As we have consistently reported, there is massive child trafficking in Kenya and many a child who have disappeared never to be found may have been given up for inter-country adoption and is living somewhere abroad, where they could going through untold exploitation or abuse.
The child trafficking syndicate in Kenya is a complex “network of adoption societies, children`s homes, lawyers, police officers, immigration officers, hospital staff and social workers”.
In this article, Kurunzi News dissects the findings contained in the expert/steering committee on the implementation of the cabinet moratorium on adoption of Kenyan children by foreigners to exclusively reveal details of how this cartel takes advantage of the gaps in the adoption law to place children for adoption irregularly.
We will expose the number of child adoption cases concluded or pending before the courts in absolute contravention of the rule of law, applicable guidelines and international conventions to which Kenya is a signatory; which treaties and conventions form part of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, according to Article 2 of the supreme law of the land.
Find out how many players are involved in this inhumane trade, the number of children involved and how the directorate of children services has failed in its role and mandate of protecting children.
206 pipeline cases on children adoption
While the actual statistics on the number of cases already determined or pending in court are difficult to establish, there were at least 206 pipeline cases at various stages of inter-country and resident adoption by the time of compiling the report in early 2017.
Getting actual data is a difficult task as most, if not all, of the adoption societies do not fully disclose this information, according to the committee.
“Despite being requested by the CS (Labour and Social Protection) to submit files for thecases, none of the adoption societies submitted the files,” the report says, giving a hint to impunity with which the cartels operate.
“However, through the support of the Judiciary the Committee was able to access 63 files that were being processed by different courts.”
Four societies, five homes and five law firms involved
A quick analysis of the cases shows a consistent trend and identity of the stakeholders involved – four adoption societies, five children’s homes and five law firms, which have filed nearly all the matters for child adoption in different courts.
More than 65%of inter-country adoption cases reviewed were filed, heard and determined after the moratorium was in place, while in 36.5% of cases, the children had been placed with adoptive parents after issuance of the Moratorium contrary to the Cabinet directive.
“83.33% of the 18 adoption cases reviewed from Mombasa High Court revealed that the children originated outside the coastal region and were sourced from Kakamega, Naivasha, Kisii, Kirinyaga, Narok, Nairobi, Vihiga, Bungoma and Kisumu, pointing to the possible existence of internal child trafficking.
“All these were placed in inter-country adoptions.”
Curiously, “adoption Orders for up to seven inter-country cases were granted in one day” by the High Court in Mombasa, which pays testament to the fact that the cases are hurriedly done.
A particular judge has been cited, in the report, for further investigation and administrative action against him.
Contravening all laid-down procedures
In addition to contravening the moratorium, the set adoption processes are flouted and the children given for adoption or guardianship without following all the steps as set out.
Children are declared free for adoption without proper tracing of families despite there being available information that could facilitate tracing of the family, while most police reports on alleged abandonment of children are made at stations far away from locations of alleged abandonment.
“This serves to defeat the process of family tracing since the tracing is likely to be successful if conducted within the area where the child was lost,” states the report.
“Lost children are presumed to have been abandoned and therefore are declared available for adoption instead of tracing and reunifying them with their families.”
False promise, hope to obtain ‘parental consent’
Where parental consent has been cited as basis for adoption, the report says such consent was given by coercion, false promise or hope and often without proper information from the parents.
“In some guardianship cases, children`s relatives were made to swear an affidavit to the effect that the foreign guardian holds no responsibility for death, injury or lossthat may occur to the child while the child is under his/her custody.”
Preference of foreign to local adoptions, contrary to law
Contrary to the Hague Convention, that prioritizes local adoption, the children homes consider inter-country as the primary option thus giving out children who could have been adopted locally instead of being given directly for inter-country adoption.
“In some cases, it emerged that foreigners were placed with more than one child. In other cases, foreign applicants are placed with a second child within a span of two years, yet Kenya has a pending list of over 300 Kenyan families who are willing and have applied to adopt children within the same age bracket with some having waited for more than a year without a child being placed with them.
“International adoption cases are processed faster than local adoption cases and without considering the Principle of subsidiarity. There appears to be a preference to place children for adoption with foreign prospective adoptive parents as opposed to local prospective adoptive parents.”
Hoarding children at homes ahead of adoptable status
Children alleged to have been abandoned are freed for adoption immediately after expiry of the required six months to meet the bare minimum period required before a child can be declared free to be adopted.
In this regard, the report states: “One cannot rule out people taking a child, keeping it and doing nothing and waiting for the elapse of the period so that they meet the law requirement and use the same law as an excuse for giving out children for adoption without tracing their families.
“Such fast tracking could be an indication of trying to meet a rising demand for children for inter-country and resident adoption. This practice further confirms the fact that little effort is put in actively tracing a child’s family or even exploring local options such as family reunification, kinship care and foster care.”
Indeed, this conclusion by the committee is corroborated by how Child Welfare Society of Kenya managed to trace families of five of the many children who had been given up for adoption.
In all the cases, it took a maximum period of three weeks to find the children’s parents or relatives and facilitate reunification in accordance with their wishes.
“There was no evidence of any social inquiry having been carried out by the Adoption Societies to enable them trace the parents or guardians of children as per the provisions of Section 177 (7) (d) of the Children Act that requires adoption societies to take all possible and necessary steps to trace all the parents and relatives of child before placing the child for adoption.”
Falsification of documents
The cartels have also mastered the art of manufacturing required documents including “police letters presented in court” bear information that is starkly different from the “one contained in the actual occurrence book” at the police stations the children were reported to have been abandoned.
“100% of the guardianship and custody orders were filed under miscellaneous application and most of them were used to take children out of the country…
“This has involved the falsification of the documents in order to obtain the guardianship orders which allow children to travel outside the country. 100% of all the 13 guardianship cases reviewed from Malindi Law Court had falsified documents.”
Consistent with the trend of working with specific law firms, guardianship and custody in Malindi originate from one particular home and are filed by the same legal teams.
Collusion with directorate of children services
The report indicts the directorate of children services for working in cahoots with children’s homes (CCIs) to perpetrate “interference with local solutions for children” in at least 28 cases by “misleading the court through adamant refusal to recommend local adoption”.
The placement is initiated by CCIs and supported by DCS and the courts.
“Children allegedly abandoned and resident in CCIs are placed on sole custody and guardianship of foreigners instead of the CCIs tracing their families and, as a last resort, eventually opting for adoption if their families were not traceable.
“Guardianship makes it easy for them to travel outside the country without proper follow up mechanism to ensure the children come back.”
One unclear situation is whether or not the DCS is trying to frustrate the efforts of placing children with Kenyans to hit at CWSK.
CWSK has sustained a campaign of tracing families of separated children and reuniting them with their families or placing them with Kenyan families either through kinship care or temporary measures such as foster care or permanent arrangement of local adoptions.