OPEN LETTER TO MRS URSULA VON DER LEYEN PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
1st of March, 2021
Open letter to Madam President of the European Commission
Madam President Ursula Von Der Leyen,
My name is Maria Cotoara, I am of Romanian origin born under the dictatorship of Ceausescu and adopted by a French family in the 80s. I refuse to use my French first and last name because my identity was stolen without my consent. My birth certificate is false, since my first name and official name do not appear anywhere, as well as the identity of my biological family which is part of my genetic heritage. Like many adoptees, I felt like "a pawn" in my own story.
Because I grew up in a nest of lies, of "unspoken" in my daily life. These lies are everywhere, in our files, in our identities, in our stories, in our abandonments since I was told, and my adoptive parents, that my birth mother had passed away. It took me over 10 years to look for her and find her by chance. She was not dead. The Romanian authorities told her I was dead. My mother, who was in a situation of precariousness placed me in a nursery but never wanted to abandon me. She did the necessary to come and see me every day, management prevented her from doing so and forced her to sign an act of relinquishment before I was transferred to another city (400 km from my hometown) and another institution without her consent.
In Romania, under the Ceausescu dictatorship, legal contracts had no value to validate an international adoption, the official signature of Nicolae Ceausescu was required. In the 1980s, there was strong political pressure from parents and lawyers to have an adopted child, and many wrote to French politicians. For some reason or another, Elena Ceausescu in 1988-1989 said no to international adoptions. Following the
fall of the regime at the end of 1989, on January 6, 1990, 63 children were brought in a plane to France,
and the Authorized Adoption Organization (OAA) Médecins du Monde was created. A new political regime is set up (Ion Iliescu) and takes the decision to let go 'the children de Ceausescu 'who were in the process of adoption. This new regime wanted to stop international adoption. But the opposite happened because the international adoption lobby made the whole world believe with a great media campaign to raise awareness of the great public, that adoption would be the first response to the problem of minors placed in Institution. This is when a system is put in place between humanitarian aid and OAA (Authorized Adoption Organization) without considering the stories, the needs of the child and his family. A law on adoption was introduced in November 1990, amended on 8 July 1991. "Any application for the adoption of a Romanian child by a foreign couple must be presented through an adoption agency approved in France and in Romania”.
This is how international adoptions are organized by foundations, agencies "private" Franco-Romanians (and other countries) without any supervision, without authorisation, without constraint and with astronomical sums of money. Hunters of children also came to France to find parents who wished to have a
child at all costs. In a few days, the parents were going to Romania with suitcases full of money to buy their future offspring. A whole organization is being put in place since 1991 and researchers of children (social workers, lawyers, notaries, doctors and others) went to poor areas to find children. A real hunt for fake “orphans” is on its way.
In the 90s, Romania made adoption a measure of child protection It is a deception, since once the adoption judgment has been validated, the child is not accompanied in its integration into its new family.
The hour of capitalism arrives in Europe. To bring Romania into this system, industrial mergers are taking place. As for example Renault-Dacia, and in the margins of the negotiations a new adoption law is decided. The child has become a commodity.
In 1993, the Hague Convention gradually replaced the Convention on the Rights of the child (CRC). In addition, under pressure from the United States, Romania redefines an abandonment law: "If there is no visit for 6 months, parental rights can be terminated by the judge”… and the business of the child becomes flourishing.
In 1994, Romania ratified the Convention on Child Protection and Cooperation in international adoptions (The Hague).
In 1995: In the Hague Convention, a flagship text appears: “A child has the right to a family” and “institutions and foster families are not a family”. This means that the State no longer wants to protect the child, the State cuts off all his rights and measures of protection. It seems to be more in the interests of lobbyists and adoptive parents than in the child's right to be protected and to know its parents.
In 1997: Mr. Tabacaru became the youngest secretary of state in Romania, president of the national authority for the protection and adoption of children. He conducted a policy of deinstitutionalisation. He passed a new adoption law with a system of bonus points in 1998. As the Romanian state had no money for the protection of childhood, this points system is a source of money.
This is when the European Union came into play. European Commissioner Günter Verheugen declared. "Organisations seeking to adopt and appear to be doing so for humanitarian organisations receive points based on the number of donations. A market had been created, I myself have seen catalogues in which you could choose a child”. The European Commissioner is shocked by the point system of adoptions. In view of its accession to the European Union, on January 1, 2007, the moratorium
of June 2001, renewed several times, suspended international adoptions in Romania, which had caused, after 1990, a real traffic of orphans.
It would seem that all the work made by the European Commission and the European Parliament from 2000 to 2005 is in the process of destroy itself in Romania.
Mrs Von Der Leyen, I alert you because I am extremely worried about the future and the protection of children in Romania, knowing that the European Commission has paid nearly of 80 million Euros to reform it. The latest events taking place with this law adopted on January 1, 2019 marks a new step towards the closure of these institutions public. It prohibits the placement in an institution of children before the age of 7 (compared to 3 years ago), in favour of foster care professionals. The children will be placed for adoption after one to two years of placement in host family. More than 8,000 children can be adopted according to the data of Romanian child protection (September 2020). More than 8,000 parents have lost their parental rights.
Most of these children are from Roma ethnic minorities and/or in a situation of handicap. The National Child Protection Authority distributes 4,000 lei fines (€ 820) to their child protection officials if they wait t too long before declaring the child abandoned. The adoption market is reopening.
There is this sad observation that adoption evolves according to the values and needs of our societies and not according to the needs of the child.
In France, the 2016 law known as Meunier-Dini with significant lobbying associations of adopters aim to disqualify families non-guilty parties and trusted third parties to fuel the adoption market they intend to control. It is the same system that is put in place in Great Britain where children can be taken from their parents, and put to adoption. Also, in France a new bill to reform national adoption has been in the headlines of our media since November 30, 2020. The right to identity is not mentioned at all.
Many adult adoptees are in search of identity. Full adoption legally erases the original identity of the child from the judgment of its adoption. All fades away. No bill is made to accompany individually and professionally the thousands of young adults to repair themselves in their quests, and in their reappropriation of its culture, history and roots. It is part of his right to knowing his identity and the state offers nothing.
News shows that in the Netherlands, following the publication of an official report that revealed illegal procedures, the government suspended adoptions of children abroad. Also, the Dutch government offered its apologies to the adoptees.
In France, a petition has been circulating for a few days asking for an investigation to be carried out on illegal adoptions and for several countries of origin (Sri Lanka, Haiti, Mali, Romania etc.), several adoptees and adoptive families have launched this process. To date nearly 12,000 people signed it.
Also in other European countries adoptees demand that their governments clarity on intercountry adoptions. They ask for recognition and reparations.
Madam President Von Der Leyen, I ask you to:
- To stop intercountry adoptions in Romania in the best interests of the child and to stop illegal adoptions.
- That an investigation be set up in France and Romania on all these adoptions illegal since the 1980s.
- That real protection of children and their families be put in place against collective interference in Romania and France
- That an apology be made to all adoptees resulting from illegal adoptions
- That a reflection with urgent and concrete actions be put in place on support in the search for origins with compensation and assistance made available to all adoptees resulting from illegal adoptions. That associations of adoptees are supported.
- That the EU applies the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- To conclude, as a European citizen, I ask you Madam President Von Der Leyen that the European Commission can inform me of objectives and results obtained with the 80 million euros and whether this has contributed to the respect for children's rights. I want to know if this system has not recreated a market adoption of children because these 80 million were accompanied by a project of 10 million euros to create an electronic system with the aim of stimulating adoptions and false abandonments in Romania.
Awaiting your response, Madam President Von Der Leyen, please accept my further respectful greetings,
Marion LE ROY DAGEN
Co-author with the author Xavier Marie Bonnot of “The Child and the Dictator” (Belfond 2018 publishing house)
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