La Procure Saint Anne is a Catholic Monastery built in 1920 in what is today the Democratic Republic of Congo. Abutting Kinshasa’s first cathedral church, La Centre d’aceuil Saint Anne (in the local French) sits just off Kinshasa’s main thoroughfare, the Boulevard 30 Juin, named for the date of the Congo’s supposed independence from Belgium on June 30,1960.
At La Procure Saint Anne you can see black Congolese ‘orphans’ meeting prospective white American ‘parents’ before these children are packaged for export, with all the requisite paperwork and necessary U.S. Government approvals, and trafficked into international commerce for transshipment to the United States. Cloistered behind 10-foot stone walls, with a lush tropical garden in front and a shady courtyard in back, La Procure sits just a few hundred feet from the United States Embassy.
No longer a mainstay of the Belgian colonial enterprise, La Procure is now run like a tight profitable business. The original, quaint, simple but truly charming colonial era furnishings, which were evident throughout the austere halls of the monastery even as recent as 2006, have been replaced by tacky furniture and cheap post-modern décor with as little character and as much charm as the cold business dealings of the head priest. Listed today as a lower- to middle-range lodging option in the city, these days La Procure accommodates foreign couples for weeks at a time, generating substantial income, especially in Kinshasa … //
… In God We Trust: … //
… How does child trafficking from Congo occur?
A Child is Born:
- In Congo, the ‘richest country in the world’, and one of those with the poorest most disabused and suffering people, trafficking in children has become another industry of exploitation, and it has happened almost overnight. It has been going on in Ethiopia and other countries for years.
- A survey of Internet web sites where Successful Adoptive Parents or Prospective Adoptive Parents have posted feedback on adoption agencies they worked with in Congo reveals an across-the-board awareness of significant ethical and moral issues associated with international adoptions from the Congo. There are also plenty of horror stories, making it clear that this is serious child trafficking.
What do adoptive parents who have returned to the USA with Congolese children have to say?
- There are many waiting families eager to adopt and many who already have and often they will open pages on social media (Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs, etc.) to share their excitement with friends and family, to fundraise their ‘adoption’ project, and to post updates during their process. Numerous families were contacted to discuss adoptions from Congo, but no one wanted to talk. Facebook pages came down or were made private, nasty emails were received from some, and almost everyone expressed anger that someone was asking such questions: there was a tacit assumption of the purity of motivations and the unchallengeable sanctity of ‘providing a loving home for a homeless child’.
- “[I] was forewarned about you [Keith Harmon Snow]…” Adoptive parent Tessy Fuller lives in Missouri and studied at the Central Christian College of the Bible. Fuller’s blog Divine Moments is about faith, scripture, and her adoption journey to and from Congo. Alerted by someone connected to Wasatch Adoptions, her email responses to our inquiry were hostile from the beginning. “A sheep in wolves clothing?! May God give you what you deserve.”
- Most adoptive parents are silent. They are afraid to speak with a journalist. They are terrified that they might for some reason lose the Congolese child that they have claimed as their own. Some newly adopting parents are self-righteous: they believe that they have saved a child from a life that would otherwise be nasty, brutish and short. They offer the specter of starvation, disease, war, prostitution, suffering, and a life without a home and without love. To question their motivations or intentions is akin to heresy or Satanism. As far as they are concerned, it seems, they do not have to answer to anyone but their God, and He has already answered their prayers with a (adopted) child.
- Many newly adopting parents are perhaps terrified that they have erred. The little voice that they heard telling them that there was something wrong with the process, the little red flags that they ignored, have turned into what they fear is a pestering journalist intent on exposing the crimes they perhaps know in their hearts were committed. Adoptive parents, like most parents, are very possessive: No one wants to lose their new child.
- While their fears are understandable, their reactions beg the question: Why is no one willing to talk about it? Some internet chat rooms on DRC adoptions and blogs had interesting insights, like this one, which suggests that the tail is wagging the dog, and ‘orphans’ (supply) are being generated to meet the ‘parents’ (demand): “You submit documents and then a referral is found, and your fees go to make that child eligible for adoption” … //
… From God’s arms, to our arms, to your arms: … //
… African Solutions to African Problems?
- The adoptions industry has been running rampant for years. Buyers (adoptive parents) are shuffled from one country to another as rules and regulations evolve, as domestic awareness about corruption and trafficking prompts new controls, international scrutiny, and as new methods evolve to achieve the same ends: trafficking of children. Congo is just one of the latest countries where Westerners can quickly and more easily snatch children; Mongolia is another.
- Ethiopia offers an example of a country where international child trafficking under the aegis of adoptions has been going strong for many years. Western media personalities like Angelina Jolie (from Ethiopia) have taken babies of color from Africa, and Jolie, at least, has legitimized the international plunder of Africa through her celebrity actorvism as a special “ambassador to Congo” through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Jolie is also the main character in the Hollywood film Beyond Borders, which is nothing more than a sales pitch for the misery industry, especially UNHCR, and propaganda tool for the intelligence establishment.
- Obang Metho, an Ethiopian-born Christian and director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, points to the massive problem of child trafficking through adoptions as just one of the interrelated problems and structural violence confronting Africa’s people. Problems like land grabbing, militarization, low-intensity warfare, intractable poverty and state-sponsored crimes. The Ethiopian regime is very tight with the Pentagon, and Ethiopia supports several U.S. military bases, covert forces and, for example, UAV drone operations.
- “According to a recent study by Global Financial Integrity,” Mr. Metho told us, “in the year these land grabs began in full force, 2009, the amount of money leaving [Ethiopia] from bribes, kickbacks, corruption and export mispricing doubled from the previous two years to $3.26 billion while exports were only $2 billion. The author concluded: ‘The people of Ethiopia are being bled dry. No matter how hard they try to fight their way out of absolute destitution and poverty, they will be swimming upstream against the current of illicit capital leakage’.”
- Everything is being ‘grabbed’ by the [Ethiopian] regime: our land, our children, our women and our futures: anything from which a kleptocratic regime might profit. In the case of our children, investigations have revealed that in many cases, these children are not truly orphans, but regime cronies are getting away with it because they are above the law. These children are sometimes exploited as commodities to unknowing and sincere prospective adoptive parents.”
How much is that baby in the window?
- “It is important to examine the intentions and motivations behind these international adoptions.” Pastor John Stone is a Southern Baptist pastoring a family-integrated Christian evangelical church in Southern California. Out of respect for his church and his community he asked that his real name be withheld. He initially contacted us (through Facebook) in support of a family from his church that contacted him after we questioned their Congolese adoptions.
- “The family who is desirous of adopting [from the Congo] is a very fine family. They are members of our church and are doing an excellent work. They have already adopted one child from this orphanage and [name redacted] will be the second. How familiar are you with children who are put up for adoption in the [DRC]? Has anyone done any research? Are these children legitimately qualified to be adopted? Has the very corrupt [Congo] government seen this as a way to bring money into their coffers?”
- Pastor John Stone is both offended and worried about the growing adoptions industry. He is particularly offended by the deeply hypocritical actions of evangelical Christians who he says are ‘snatching children’ from foreign lands. He sees adoptive parents showing off their ‘exotic’ children: “It becomes a prestigious move amongst families to be able to say, ‘Oh, we adopted our child from Kazakhstan’.”
- “The Bible is very explicit in caring for widows and orphans, but we have to be sure they are orphans.” Out of a deep sense of belief in right and wrong, and the importance of Truth under God, Pastor John Stone feels that his criticisms of the evangelical Christian adoption movement must be addressed with urgency … //
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(Jennifer Fierberg is a social worker in the US working on peace and justice issues in Africa with an emphasis on the crisis in Rwanda and throughout the central region of Africa. Her articles have been published on many humanitarian sites that are also focused on changing the world through social, political and personal action. She can be reached here.
Keith Harmon Snow is a war correspondent, photographer and independent investigator, and a four time (2003, 2006, 2007, 2010) Project Censored award winner. He is also the 2009 Regent’s Lecturer in Law & Society at the University of California Santa Barbara, recognized for over a decade of work, outside of academia, contesting official narratives on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide while also working as a genocide investigator for the United Nations and other bodies. The first UCSB Regent’s Lecturer, in 1960, was Aldous Huxley; other recipients include Margaret Mead, Peter Matthiessen and Meredith Monk. Read other articles by Keith, or visit Keith’s website. Read other articles by Jennifer Fierberg and Keith Harmon Snow. Keith Harmon Snow’s Blog: Black Agenda Report).