Report lays bare how child theft syndicates thrive

A four-year-old girl from Liberia, West Africa, holding a sign that reads "not for sale".

A government team has exposed new chilling details of a thriving child theft racket involving adoption societies, charities, state officers, police officers, lawyers and social workers, all eyeing vulnerable children.

In a report handed to President Uhuru Kenyatta in December last year and accessed by the Saturday Standard Friday, child experts vouch for definite ban on inter-country adoption, citing numerous cases of abuse and theft of children.

For instance, out of a sample five adoption cases picked from court, DNA conducted on four of the childrenconfirmed links to their existing parents, yet they had been offered for adoption on grounds that they lacked parents. “These five children had parents looking for them, and yet they were given out to foreigners and a local family,” says the report dated December 2017.

It adds: “These were the cases that were obvious and had overwhelming evidence; otherwise there are many others full of malpractices that the committee is following up.”

The revelations contained in the report on Implementation of the Moratorium on Inter-Country and Resident Adoptions come as the country celebrates the Day of the African Child today. The national celebrations will take place in Kwale County.

The findings also come just a week after the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection launched a campaign to encourage children to leave charity homes and reunite with families – in what has turned out to be a recommendation of the team appointed by former Labour Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie (see separate story).

In November 2014, the government placed a moratorium on inter-country child adoption following reports that adoption and other forms of alternative family care for children in Kenya had been used by unscrupulous agencies and officials to traffic children.

The moratorium was to help the government to conduct a comprehensive audit of the claims by the team of seven, which compiled the present report.

In one of the cases examined in the report was referred to as “abduction, kidnap, forceful and fraudulent,” a mother of a child was wrongly accused of neglecting her child and put on a charge of “neglect” soon after birth.

Take away

“This mother was still having precious colostrum breast milk, probably still bleeding from child birth when her baby was forcefully taken away from her, causing serious health trauma to child and mother, which may take many years for her (mother) to heal,” says the report.

The report recommends measures be taken against duty bearers who commit such crimes to an infant in the name of welfare, philanthropy, charity or adoption.

In rooting for inter-country ban on adoption, the report says there are enough local parents available to adopt Kenyan children. For every one child available for adoption, the report says, there were six Kenyan parents waiting to adopt him or her.

By the time the report was compiled, Kenya had 440 families who were on the waiting list to adopt a child. It says that the country only met 15 per cent of the childrenwho were required for adoption, meaning there was still a huge deficit.

“Some of these parents have waited for more than four years without getting a child (for adoption),” the report says.

Of the parents who had lined up to adopt children, the team found, the majority were interested in children above one year.

The report said inter-country adoption only increased competition for children besides putting pressure on adoption societies to produce children.


The team established that some children’s homes were used to hold and hoard children who did, in fact, not require to be in the institutions, for purposes of adoption.

Such children, the report says, should otherwise be released to their families or for local solutions such foster care, guardianship and local adoption.

The team said there were many children in (children’s) homes who could otherwise benefit from the Government’s social protection cash transfer programmes.

They could also be aided through the Constituency Development Fund and other social protection services available at the community level. According to the team’s investigations, 86 per cent of all children who had been rescued from closed charitable institutions had their rightful families traced, raising questions on how they ended up being taken to the organisations.

“They were not orphans or abandoned children as had been put by proponents of those who justify existence of children’s homes and inter-county adoption,” the report says. The team said most children removed from charity homes were unified with their families within six months. “The committee analysed and found that it was possible to remove 80 per cent of all children from institutions and place them in families and communities within three years,” the report says.

It adds: “Given funds and availability of social workers, children in charitable children’s institutions will be reunified.”

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