Ghana certainly didn’t make it easy for one California couple trying to adopt four children in their country and bring them to the United States. After Sol and Christine Moghadam traveled to Ghana earlier this month with their two biological children and adopted four Ghanian children, they were detained by officials who were suspicious of illegal activity.
They adopted the children on June 14, but officials in the nation questioned the legality of their adoption, leading to their detention over the weekend, according to Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the State Department.
“Ghana was concerned that some of the documents they had weren’t filled out properly or were forged,” said Hank Fortener, founder of AdoptTogether, an advocacy group that provides a platform for prospective parents to raise funds. The couple used the group’s website to raise funds.
Though they are still in the nation, Ghanaian officials have since determined their documents are legitimate, according to Fortener.
A bond has been posted for their release and they were reunited with their biological children Monday, Nuland said this week.
“We are emotionally exhausted and traumatized from the entire incident but we are thankful to have support and prayers from friends and family worldwide,” the Moghadams said on their blog, Our adoption journey to Africa.
“Our case is not complete yet, but our chief officer from the Ghana police department has apologized for their overreaction and stated that our detainment was a mistake on their part. ”
The Moghadams initially planned to adopt a child in Ethiopia in 2010, but decided on Ghana after they saw the four siblings on the waiting list of an adoption agency.
Africa has seen a surge of adoptions in the past eight years, according to adoption expert Peter Selman from Newcastle University in Britain.
A new report from The African Child Policy Forum entitled “Africa: The New Frontier for Intercountry Adoption” says prospective adoptive parents are turning “en masse” to the continent as other countries toughen their laws.
Most children adopted from Africa go to the United States or France, two of the world’s biggest receiving countries, Selman said.
Some people may wonder why this couple would go through all of that drama to adopt children from overseas when there are children in need of parents right here in the United States. On her blog, Christine explains that her husband grew up in poverty in Iran and would see pictures of starving kids in Ethiopia and have compassion for them. She says she grew up in the United States, but visited India once and was heartbroken by the poor conditions. When they married, they both knew they wanted to adopt children from overseas and settled on Ethiopia because it was the only African country open to their adoption agency. Later, they came across the four children in Ghana on the agency’s waiting list and decided to adopt them instead.
It’s common knowledge that foreign adoptions are still easier than domestic; however, as this couple discovered, officials worldwide are starting to make the process harder. Despite celebrities toting their foreign babies in supermarket tabloids, Peter Selman told Fox News Latino that the number of orphans being adopted by foreign parents dropped from a high of 45,000 in 2004 to an estimated 25,000 in 2009.
He says the reason is attributed largely to baby-selling crackdowns, a sputtering world economy and countries that are putting more effort into placing children with domestic families.
In addition, human trafficking is a large concern because there are sickos who adopt children in foreign countries and sell them into the sex trade here in the United States. And there are countries whose officials will kidnap children from their parents and put them up for adoption. U.S. families, not knowing the child was kidnapped, then pay to adopt the child from the country and the biological family never sees their child again.
Despite these horror stories, what happened to this couple certainly seems uncalled for and it’s hard to tell if the detainment was about protecting the children or extorting money from the couple. I say that because why did they have to post bond if it turned out that their papers were official? Christine, who undoubtedly knows all about the good, bad and ugly concerning foreign adoptions, said she wasn’t too upset about the detainment because of the many human trafficking cases that have been going under the radar.
I’d like to believe that the interests of the children were at heart when the Ghana officials arrested them, but, though you can’t tell everything about a couple from reading their blog, theirs certainly makes you believe this is a couple who truly has a heart for adopting children. I hope the eight of them make it home safely soon.
What do you think about foreign adoptions?
Alissa Henry is a freelance writer living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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