Delegation of the European Commission to the United Nations
EU-UN related questions
Madam Sarah Curran
222 East 41st Street 20th Floor New York, NY 10017
Brussels, 19th Mars 2007
More than 900,000 children each year are victims of abuse or neglect, and research shows that this has far-reaching negative effects on our society. Children and youth who have been abused or neglected are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, fall victim to teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, suffer from depression and mental illness, be involved with law enforcement, and abuse their own children. And the direct costs to our society for the damage resulting from child abuse and neglect are enormous.
Attempts by Western families to adopt children from poor nations have fuelled a rogue market in young lives.
Overseas adoption is big business, and growing: last year, more than 2,150 Ukrainian children and almost 8,000 Russian children were adopted to foreign countries. Most of those went to the US, where Russia is second only to China as a provider of adoptees and Ukraine ranks sixth. Italy and Spain adopt hundreds of children each year, as do Canadians.
In an industry fuelled by money and the desperation of would-be parents, and complicated by haphazard or non-existent regulations, private agencies and corruption among poorly paid officials, there are countless tales of fraud – babies sold twice to different families, adoption facilitators who have made off with thousands, mothers who were duped into giving up their newborns.
Romania, which 15 years ago had massive media coverage over the state of its orphanages, passed a law in July limiting foreign adoption to a child’s grandparents. Last month, France and Romania set up a committee to help 130 French couples already in the process of adopting Romanian orphans.
I’m sure that you share my concern about child maltreatment and adoption, and recognize this as a tragedy that demands european and international leadership.
It’s the best response to such an immense and complex issue and I believe is the most effective way to focus the public health and child welfare resources necessary to create a safe, caring, and healthy future for our children.
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