Adoptions from Romania – The Devil is in the Details

23 April 2020

The Romanian adoptees who were adopted in the nineties and early 2000 have reached adulthood and have started looking for their roots. For their country. Their parents.

The Dutch TV programm Spoorloos (Traceless) has shown some of their stories. They found their parents. Their stories were different than they had been told. They were not abandoned. Often their parents had tried to find them. To claim tham back.

How could that happen?

My book Romania for Export Only, the untold story of the Romanian ‘orphans’ tells a lot about the wheelings and dealings that were going on in Romania. I have a lot more information and documentation. As of today I will start publishing some of that, so that adoptees can have access to the circumstances surrounding their adoptions.

Today’s focus:  The Romanian Adoption Agency Copiii Fericiti (Happy Children) and its relation with Solidarite Enfants Abandonnes Roumains (SERA)

Copiii Fericiti was one of the biggest end nineties.  Below some context and explanations:

Background 1993 Abandonment Law:

In 1991 Romania’s new adoption law limited international adoptions to children in ‘orphanages’. But those children were not legally free – not abandoned.

Under pressure of the US (senators, negative media disabled children, actors etc), during the negotiations of Romania’s Most Favored Nation Status (trade agreement) – Romania adopted a law that ruled that children, through court, could be declared abandoned and free for adoption if their parents had not visited for six months.

It was up to the Directors of the ‘orphanages’ to file the abandonment cases to Court.

New Romanian government in 1996. Tabacaru Secretary of State for Child Protection and Head of the Romanian Adoption Committee (RAC.

He was appointment after interference of Jacques Chirac (according to FdC).

In 1996 Tabacaru in his policy plan states there are 100.000 children in orphanages.

Summer 1997:  new adoption law   (Tabacaru)

September 1998: pointsystem developed by RAC.

June 1998 (SERA report 34)

To ensure that CF has good relations with the local Social Service Departments, SERA spends its aid through CF. Also, CF distributes to the Social Service Separtments part of the money received from adoptions. CF receives 2.000$ per child, of which 500 $ are given to the Social Service Department.

CF complains that even though they provide a lot of aid/money, and help to legally free children for adoption, there is no guarantee that they can facilitate these adoptions, or get children for adoption.

The SERA report contains handwritten lists of children, abandoned, free for adoption etc.

Comment: The decentralized Social Service Departments were set up as part of the 1992 Phare Programme – in 1996. In 1997, Tabacaru changed the names of these services into Child Protection Departments. Humanitarian assistance for families was now given through child protection only. That meant that too often children would end up in residential care, instead of providing aid…  (Example: the dead twins in Ireland).

In 1998 a law was implemented that made the DPCs responsible for the filing of abandonment cases to Court (so no longer the directors of orphanages) – page 18 SERA report 36.

November 1998 (SERA report 35)

CF works in 15 departments in Romania and did 200 ICA in 1998, mostly with France where Medecins du Monde (MdM) is their main partner.

Tabacaru’s system creates a link between the number of children attributed by the RAC to an adoption agency.

Points can be gained by donations, but also for adoptions: 5 points for national adoption, 5 points for adoption of a child older than 6 years, 5 to 10 points for adoption of a special needs child.

Budget of donations CF to local Departments of Child Protection (DPCs): 600.000 $ in 1998.

CF pays DPCs 6.000 $ per adopted child.

Ivanescu thinks the number of adoption agency will reduce: only 20 will continue to exist (now there are more than 100)

January 1999 (SERA report 36)

Translation page 58:

In 1998, CF is the first adoption agency with 200 adoptions, 30 more than number two, the Italian agency Solidarieta.

In 1999, CF hopes to double the number of adoptions and to get between 400 and 500 adoptions.

CF works mainly with France, and in France mainly with Medecins du Monde. But it works also with 8 other countries: Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece, US, Malta and Cyprus.

The honorarium asked from adoptive parents varies, depending of the country, between 3.500$ and 7.000 $. From this sum CF transfers minimum 1.000$ to the DPCs because adoption needs to contribute to the financing of the reform: prevention of abandonment, de-institutionalisation of the children in orphanages by the creation of a network of foster families, and humanization of the living conditions of the children in orphanages.

The working method of Dr. Ivanescu is to sign conventions with the DPCs: CF hereby engages to finance certain costs, such as payment of salaries of social assistants, and, in return, the Department engages to obtain a precise number of abandonment judgments and adoption judgments.

In 1998, CF paid 150.000 $ of aid to the Departments. Dr. Ivanescu wants to triple that sum in 1999.

He is convinced that SERA and CF ‘accentueront’ their cooperation: SERA will trasit through Copii Fericiti most of the financial aid that it gives to the DPCs (almost 2 million French Francs are foreseen in the 1999 budget), in such a way that it will assure the efficiency of this aid in terms of adoption.

May 1999 (SERA report 37)

Prime Minister of Romania writes to European Commission, 26 May:

147.000 children in institutions.

Because of economic crisis, impossible to raise enough funds to nourish the children.

Apply for extremely urgent aid.

New adoption regime begins to function well. 2.000 adoption in 1998, and this year it should be between 3.000 and 3.500 children.

CF is among the first Romanian adoption agencies. It did 200 adoptions in 1998 and hopes for 300 this year. Second in place are the agencies directed by Ms. Bustea, Irene and Stuart, who mainly work with Spain. Behind those, some thirty small ones are in process of concentration: soon fifteen will remain, of which five or six at national level.

Tabacaru has created a virtuous circle of the financing of adoptions.

CF donated in 1998 600.000 FF to the DCPs. The first five months of 1999 CF already donated 800.000 FF financed by SERA.

The main break on adoptions is the legal status of the children. To make them adoptable needs time, will, competence, and money.

  • In one department (Dolj) CF has employed a law student, named Alin, who does an extraordinary work. He is paid by CF 600 FF per month, plus an extra 120 FF per file. Since beginning of the year, Alin has succeeded to make 80 children legally adoptable (abandonment law).
  • In the department Botosani CF employed two social workers from the DPC, but that does not work. They only manage to free files very slowly.

The ideal would be, says Ivanescu, that CF had the means to employ in every department an Alin. If we could submerge the territory with Alins, we would really become performant: many abandoned children would find a family, and the others would be better treated.

Copii Fericiti facilitated (data 1999):
Small World Inc. – USA
(MAPS Maine Adoption Placement Services)  – USA
Universal Aid for Children. Inc.  – USA
Uniting Families Foundation  – USA
SEEK (Saving Eastern Europe’s Kids) Inc.  – USA
Wereldkinderen (Netherlands Intercountry Child Welfare Organisation) – Netherlands
Medecins du Monde – France

Unknown which agencies they worked with in Belgium, Cyprus, Malta and Sweden.

COURTCASE  Copii Fericiti  – 1999

Summarised the story is as follows:

The child (born 1993) was placed in children home by her mother, together with two siblings, in 1996. The husband had left the family and she was too poor to keep them. In 1998 (so under the new Hague legislation) the child was placed on the adoption list and Copiii Fericiti got the task to find adoptive parents.  They ‘selected’ a Cypriot couple (so in fact it was an independent adoption – no Cypriotic agency involved).

When at the Court, it appeared the child was not free for adoption (I guess that means the mother visited the children, otherwise the abandonment law could have been applied).

The mother was contacted by Copiii Fericiti and she signed relinquishment papers.

The father and his concubine, however, asked for 5.000 dollars – but 4.000 was negotiated. Which the couple paid – through the adoption agency’s worker Cosmina Simon (they transferred the money from Cyprus to Copiii Fericiti, who changed it into Romanian lei and gave it in a plastic bag to the father.

When the mother heard about this, she wanted also money/a house. The overwhelmed Greek couple then went to the police.

In the end the Court decided that, according to the Romanian law, only THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD counted, and the adoption could take place because the Greek adopters had the material conditions to raise the child.

The father was the only one who got convicted – but he did not come to court (is on the run).

Comment:  The Court of course took its decision based on the adoption law – which was drafted in such a way that nobody else than the biological parents could be convicted…

Nobody adressed the fact that the child should not have been on the adoption list at all – the mother had the parental rights, meaning she visited the children – and where are the siblings???


Bogdan Ivanescu, as well as Tabacaru are part of the Romania Team of Ron Federici’s Care International.

International members of Care International are the professors who did the brain experiment in St. Ecatarina (with participation SERA), and the Dutch adoption profressor Hoksbergen.

‘The foundation that I have found to be the most reputable in all of Romania is “Fundata Copii Fericiti” run by Dr. Bogdan Ivanescu.”  Quote Ron Federici


MdM was set up by Bernard Kouchner. When he was Minister for Health (1993?) he asked MdM to also engage in ICA.

’Coût d’une adoption en Roumanie en 2000 : 70.000 Francs Français. J’ai emprunté une partie à ma grand-mère et une partie à ma banque. Le coût varie selon le pays d’origine. A la même époque, adopter au Brésil coûtait 120.000 Francs.

Ce coût est un coût global : la moitié environ a été réglée à Médecins du Monde qui en reverse une partie à l’organisme roumain qui gère l’orphelinat. Cette argent a servi a améliorer la vie de ceux qui sont restés. L’autre moitié, ce sont tous les frais (avion, hébergement, démarches diverses à payer, etc…)

Concernant l’âge, ATTENTION !!!! J’ai adopté un enfant de 6 ans (qui en a 14 aujourd’hui même 07/01), et nous vivons un enfer depuis le début. Je cotoie beaucoup de gens qui sont dans la même situation. Il me semble, mais ça n’engage que moi, que les enfants adoptés tout-petits présentent moins de problèmes.’ 0.000 FF = 10.000 Euro

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