The Rights of the Child in the EU: Denmark intends to put many more children up for adoption

2 January 2020

Today there is a lot of attention for the NewYear Speech of the Prime Minister of Denmark. Mette Frederiksen. She announced her intention to get more children into care and have part of them adopted in Denmark, in particular children from minorities.  That is a shocker.

Read more about that in this article (use Google Translate, which indicates that this could mean an increase in children in care from 14.400 to 50.000):

Do we have a Prime Minister who will not comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the ECHR?

This is unfortunately the outcome of a more than 10-year process. Every since the European Commission forced Romania to properly implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and thus to stop the export of children for intercountry adoptions, the adoption agencies in the US and the EU have been up in arms and pushed the EU to make a 180 degree U-turn.

Long story short, this is what I blew the whistle about. About the Hague Adoption Convention and its perverse effects.
First by publishing in 2007  the book “Romania for Export Only, the untold story of the Romanian ‘orphans”, and secondly by sending a letter to the President of the European Parliament in 2016, copied to the Dutch EU Presidency, the EU Ombudsman, and the EU Ombudsmen on child rights.

We should keep in mind that, once children are made ‘adoptable’ it could well be that they will also be adopted abroad…

Below the text of the Annex to my whistleblowerletter. A letter that remained without reply, as a result I got fired in August 2018.

and the

During the last 10 years children’s rights in the EU are being manipulated by adoption proponents and others with vested (financial) interests in the business with children. These actors succeeded in getting their grievances onto the agenda of the EU institutions. This led to a biased interpretation of key international instruments on (intercountry) adoption and child rights. The results are devastating for families.

1. The Issue

The European Commission does not hold the competence to legislate on family law and child protection. These policy fields are the exclusive competence of the EU Member States. During the accession negotiations with Romania, the issue of the poor state of Romania’s child protection (socalled “orphanages”) became a key issue due to pressure from civil society, and those with a vested interest in intercountry adoption.

In 1997 the European Council decided that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was to be considered inseparable of the EU Treaty and thus was placed on the acquis list as legal basis for the accession
monitoring and negotiations under the Copenhagen Criteria. Article 24 – The rights of the child – of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights is also based on the UNCRC.

There is also another international convention, the Hague Adoption Convention (1993). This private law convention, however, is not part of the acquis. Although it was meant to prevent child trafficking, in practice, in Romania, it created a demand-driven market in children. Behind this legal market, all kind of abuses are hidden, such as corruption, abuse of power and the infiltration of pedophiles.

The European Commission and the European Parliament, at the time (2000), spoke with one voice in condemning this market, and requested from Romania the full respect of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Especially as concerns article 21b of the UNCRC, which limits intercountry adoption as a last resort – after all local care options such as foster care, adoption, residential care and any other suitable manner of care (the so-called subsidiarity principle).

It then appeared that those with vested interests in intercountry adoption (United States, Israel, France, Italy, Spain and the Scandinavian countries) interpreted children’s rights in a different manner. While these countries respect the UNCRC, article 21b, for their own children (except the US which did not ratify the UNCRC), they apply the Hague adoption Convention’s version of subsidiarity for countries from where they adopt children.

The Hague Adoption Convention’s interpretation of subsidiarity conflicts with article 21b of the UNCRC, as it does not consider foster care and residential care as suitable care, but only as short term temporary options. Instead the adoption proponents see three options: return of the child to the children’s family, national adoption, intercountry adoption. Strict time limits for the first two options then automatically lead to the availability of children for intercountry adoption. If families cannot take back their children from residential care or foster care timely, their parental rights are terminated and children become “adoptable”.

2. What Happened

Romania found itself between conflicting requests from the US/Israel (and some EU Member States) and the EU, and also inside and outside the European Commission and the European Parliament private opinions differed.

The EU legal position was that Romania should respect the UNCRC, where intercountry adoption is not a child protection measure, but an extreme and exceptional measure that may (but does not have to) be invoked if no care is available in-country.

The “other side” pressured for the Hague Adoption Convention’s interpretation, which makes intercountry adoption part of the national child protection system.

UNICEF, which serves as reference for other child rights NGO’s, was at the time at best unclear in their position. Formally UNICEF is promoting the UNCRC, but in practice they preach the Hague Adoption Convention.

In 2003 Romania requested assistance from the European Commission on solving this juxtaposition. The Commission then set up an Independent Panel of Family law Experts from EU Member States with as task to provide a technical, non political opinion.

This Independent Panel, in 2004, said that (intercountry) adoption is not, and should not, be seen as a measure of child protection. EU Member States in any case are obliged to have family support and child protection measures in place, so that they do not need to export children. Moreover, foster care and residential care (in conformity with the UNCRC) come before intercountry adoption. Intercountry adoption can, if all, only be an exceptional measure of last resort, as it is an extreme measure.

As a consequence, Romania’s new laws on children’s rights and on adoption that entered into force on 1 January 2005 did no longer foresee the option of intercountry adoption by non-related foreigners.

The adoption community (adoption agencies, prospective adoptive parents and others with vested interests) were greatly alarmed, and feared that other countries, worldwide, might take the same position and the business of intercountry adoption would no longer be possible.

Countering the Opinion of the Independent Panel: since 2004 there are efforts to get the European position on intercountry adoption reversed by forces inside and outside the European Commission. This resulted in:

- no longer considering the UNCRC as acquis (= legal basis);
- pretending that the Hague Adoption Convention is acquis,
- thus including intercountry adoption as integral part of national child protection systems, and not as an extreme exception, a measure of last resort.

3. Result

Over the last 10 years, some individuals and groups having a vested interest in intercountry adoption are working towards reversing the position taken in the Romanian case.

These inside and outside forces have been successful in:
- removing the UNCRC as legal basis, it now only “guides” the European Commission;
- promoting the Hague Adoption Convention;
- creating a smokescreen by promoting a de-institutionalisation campaign in Eastern European Countries, whereby the word intercountry adoption is rarely used. But which will have as result an important increase in such adoptions, the first effects are being seen in Bulgaria;
- UNICEF and the European Commission now speak with one voice. The EU is now one of the main funders of Unicef and a formal political partnership is being prepared;
- EU Member States and accession countries are becoming more and more sending countries (Portugal, Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland, Serbia, Montenegro – to name a few).

They were not successful in:
- creating a European Adoption Policy (2006/2009). Now, this initiative is being taken up again under the name “cross-border adoptions”.

The above has dire consequences for families. It departs from the European values, which obliges Member States to provide assistance to families in raising their children, and to provide suitable care for children temporarily deprived of their families.

Roelie Post
14 January 2016

The undersigned is a civil servant of the European Commission since 1983.
I was from 1999 until 2005 the Task Manager for the Romanian Children File in the European Commission (DG Enlargement). I was forcibly removed from my tasks and not allowed to work in- or outside the European Commission and forced into sick leave.
The Secretary General of the European Commission, eventually, “rescued” me by seconding me to the NGO “Against Child Trafficking (ACT)”, which was set up for this reason.

In August 2014 the Commission’s secondment contract with ACT ended, and I was reinstated into the European
Commission. However, I was still not welcome and all efforts were taken to discourage me to reintegrate, to humiliate and destabilise me, which made a successful reintegration a mission impossible. I am now on forced sick leave, likely facing invalidity procedures.

In 2007, I authored the book “Romania for Export Only, the untold story of the Romanian “orphans”. This book inspired the German TV Documentary “Search a Child, Pay Cash”, which was awarded the 2010 Media Prize of the German Child Rights Organisation “Kindernothilfe”

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