6 April 2004



Stamford, CT – June 6, 2004 – Thousands of international parents of

children adopted from Romania expressed their outrage today at the

announcement on June 1st of the establishment of a toll-free hotline

by the Romanian government, whereby Romanian orphaned children in

institutions may call to complain about their rights being breached

(0800.8.200.200) to "The "Children's Voice Association", a Romanian

government-funded organization in partnership with the Romanian

Child Protection office and funded by the European Union.

Adoptive parents from Spain, France, Switzerland, Ireland, England,

Italy, and the U.S. expressed their anger and incredulousness at

the toll-free hotline initiative.

"While we support any reasonable and effective method of improving

the lives of Romania's orphans, this project is ludicrous and a

waste of European Union funds.

These children don't need a hotline - they need love, care and a

permanent family." Said Marco Griffini of Italy. "Institutionalized

children are ignorant of what their "rights" are and do not know

that it is not normal to be hungry, to be cold, to be exposed to

every manner of abuse and disease imaginable, to be without hope.

The role of a civilized society is to protect it's children and

provide for their needs, not to close your eyes to their plight,

while pretending to give them a chance, alone, to stand up for their

rights, as if they can, as if they will, as if anyone will listen to

them anyway.

If this is the EU's idea of how to solve the "problems" of tens of

thousands of abandoned children, how hopeless is the future for

Romania's next generation ? " said Karen Hauber of the United States.

"Most Institutionalized children don't have access to telephones or

have never used one. How will they find out about this program –

printed notices ? At least half of the children haven't learned to

read !

And who is going to assist disabled children or abused toddlers in

making a call ? This is unconscionable and clearly not the solution

to institutionalized children's rights being violated." Said a

furious Jean-Pierre Clement of France.

The Children's Voice Association supports the institutionalized

children and youth in voicing their rights and devising their

perspective of an independent life. Its founding members are the

winners of the Edelweiss National Talent Competition that took place

as part of the awareness campaign, "A Children's Home is not a Real


The campaign, which lasted for two years, was initiated by the

Government of Romania through The National Authority of Child

Protection and Adoption, and was financed by the European Union,

under the Phare program. Sadly, the winners of the competition still

remain institutionalized.

Stated Elena Dimitru, Romania's Minister of Labor, Social Solidarity

and Family, "Another proof that what we are doing for the children

is right, is the setting up of this Association.

It is wonderful to see that these children have the strength, the

intelligence and the ambition to support their rights. This gives us

more satisfaction than anything else as it is the best evidence that

children benefit from good care and education and that they have the

necessary skills to live an independent life."

Said Fernando Manzano of Spain, "At a time when the Romanian

Parliament is debating legislation that will permanently ban

international adoptions if passed, I think all orphans should be

told their government may soon violate their rights as signators of

the Hague Treaty, which gives them the right to a permanent family.

I hope they also give these children a toll-free number to Baroness

Nicholson, Romania's EU rapporteur, to complain that those rights

are being violated."

At the official launch of the Association Jonathan Scheele, the Head

of the Delegation of the European Commission in Romania stated : "We

are happy to see that Romania has increasingly proved over the

recent years that it can take care of its own children.

We are very pleased to note that the children who won the Edelweiss

competition not only stayed together as a group, but also decided to

become more involved in developing the dialogue between

institutionalized children and child care authorities."

Emil-Noni Iordache, President of The Children's Voice Association,

added : "The Association aims at solving institutionalized

children's specific problems. These problems will be identified by

young people who have been raised under similar social conditions."

Said Maire Hayes of Ireland, "I should think after a three year

moratorium on international adoption and the millions of Euros and

dollars poured into the childcare system, the EU and the Romanian

government should have a very clear idea of what those problems are

by now.

Children are not qualified to identify problems in other

institutionalized children. That is the responsibility of

caregivers, social workers, doctors, teachers and government

officials - and to subsequently find appropriate solutions."