REVEALED: The KSh3 billion child trafficking trade and top 10 countries that take Kenyan children

Are you a parent, a guardian or relative to a child that has gone missing never to be found and to date you are still wondering what happened to the child? Are you from one of those families that assumed their long lost child had died after futile attempts to trace the child?

In this article, Kurunzi tells you the countries where your ‘dead’ child may have been sold to by the child trafficking cartel in Kenya for millions of shillings.

As we have consistently called out, this complex network involves children’s homes, adoption societies, social workers, children’s officers, police and lawyers, among others; who do everything they can to have children to continually feed their appetite for quick cash.

How much is the child trafficking trade in Kenya worth?

International adoption societies also benefit from the adoption fees, which can be as high as KSh10 million. PHOTO/COURTESY

To give you an idea of how big this illicit business is, we will break down the numbers in terms of fees involved per single child. The average annual turnover for these cartels is in excess of KSh2 – 3 billion per year.

The whole process of adopting a child would cost a minimum of KSh5 million, which is spread among the different players involved. The lawyers get the highest chunk of the cash, with a minimum fee note of KSh700, 000 while the children’s home and adoption society rake in an average of KSh300, 000 – 500,000 from one child’s adoption.

All the other players, including the guardian ad litem and social worker would earn upwards of KSh50, 000 per child but this figure could be multiplied depending on the role they play in getting the child on the conveyor belt.

International adoption societies also benefit from the adoption fees, which can be as high as KSh10 million.

Stealing children from neighborhoods or hospitals is one of the cartels’ major tricks, after which they would take the children to police stations where they have their collaborators to obtain occurrence book numbers and police letters.

They also deceive unsuspecting poor and desperate parents how their children would live a better life if they were given up to parents in Europe and other destinations, only to separate the families permanently.

Foreign adoptive parents coming to Kenya

So which are the countries where Kenyan children are mostly adopted to, one would ask?

Country No. of children
Sweden 43
USA 28
Germany 25
Italy 24
Netherlands 22
Norway 21
Denmark 17
Finland 12
Canada 5
Belgium 5
Australia 2
Uganda 1
Switzerland 1

At the time of compiling the report, Sweden had the highest number of the prospective adoptive parents coming to Kenya, followed by USA, Germany and Italy. Citizens of Netherlands, Norway, Belgium and Denmark had also applied to adopt Kenyan children as had Canadians, Australian, Swiss, Finns and a Ugandan.

The statistics are from the six adoption societies that are actively operational in Kenya, namely Child Welfare Society of Kenya (semi-autonomous government agency), Little Angels Network, Kenya Children’s Home, Kenyan to Kenyan Peace Initiative, Buckner Kenya and Change Trust. 

Former Labour Cabinet Secretary Kazungu Kambi appointed the expert committee vide Gazette Notice 1092 on 20 February 2015. PHOTO/COURTESY

When then Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection, Kazungu Kambi, appointed the committee, he directed all adoption societies to submit pipeline case files to his office and to the committee. A list of 206 applications, at various stages of adoption, was submitted.

“At the time of the directive, Child Welfare Society of Kenya did not have pipeline inter country or resident adoption cases but had a list of 300 Kenyan parents waiting to be placed with children for adoption,” notes the report.

“Change Trust Adoption Society responded to the CS through a formal letter indicating that they did not have any pipeline cases while Buckner Adoption Society did not respond to the directive.”

Victims of local cartels’ schemes


While majority of the foreigners who apply to adopt Kenyan children have legitimate reasons to seek to do so, there are those who are part of the inhumane cartel that work in cahoots with the local network to smuggle children abroad and others arrive with good intentions but end up being victims of the mischief and schemes of corrupt local cartels, which often distort or misrepresent facts for their own interests.

The report reveals that a majority of the cases involve foreigners on temporary tourist visas and who, once they get custody or guardianship orders, travel with children never to come back or provide information about subsequent whereabouts of the child abroad.

The cartels would advise them not to bother with coming back for the case because of weak or total lack of follow up mechanisms after the children have gone out of the country.

Unscrupulous children’s home owners


Children’s homes involved in this business will get ‘abandoned’ children and place them in the sole custody and guardianship of foreigners, instead of the home tracing their families or exploring local alternative family care, pending expiry of the minimum six months required to declare a child adoptable.

Upon expiry of the six months and pending determination of adoption applications, the unscrupulous homes and adoption societies, in collusion with lawyers, file a miscellaneous application to travel with the child abroad “under the guise of medical attention or specialized medical treatment”.

The claims of medical need abroad are in most cases never backed by any medical documents, leaving the court without evidence to rely on except the already-compromised children officers’ reports and affidavits by the applicants.

“Most of the applications for sole custody and movement of children from the country are based on treatment of “serious medical condition” but none of the allegations were supported by any medical reports,” states the report by the seven-member committee, chaired by Lydia Muiru.

“Some reports from the DCS did not have supportive documents to prove the claims. Some of the missing supportive documents include investigative reports, social inquiry reports and medical reports where sickness or treatment is alleged. 

“Most of the children officer’s reports appeared to be similar and yet circumstances surrounding cases vary on a case by case basis, which is an indication that no serious efforts were made to adequately investigate each case as it arose.

“This is an indication of lack of professionalism, ethics and commitment to duty by DCS officer(s) yet the court places a lot of reliance on them.”

Cases contain serious inconsistencies


For instance, the DCS report in one case showed that an applicant had known a 10-year old child for 12 years and in another, the father was alleged to have died in 1995 yet the child was born in the year 2002.

“Furthermore, the name of the father was entered in the child’s birth certificate, a fact the DCS failed to detect.”

Evidence of fabrication, forgery, deception and falsification of documents used in some of the applications for guardianship is best demonstrated by a birth certificate showing a child born in 2002 to a father who died seven years earlier.

Another surprising case, recommended by the DCS and guardianship orders granted by the court, had the name of the father on the child’s birth certificate starkly different from what was on the death certificate of the alleged father. 

“These particular cases contain serious inconsistencies which would have been revealed had a proper social inquiry been conducted.

“This raises concern over accountability, dismal and the casual approach to the children’s wellbeing, welfare, safety and security by duty bearers   (courts, children officers, adoption societies, immigration department, Police, etc).”

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