Hard report hurts adoptive parents: 'As if I am part of a criminal circuit'

13 February 2021

In the 1970s, Hans Walenkamp and his wife Ina adopted three children from Colombia, Korea and Suriname. The harsh report on the role of the government in adoption abuses hurts him. "We couldn't have acted better at that time."

It did not come out of the blue. As early as the 1980s, he heard the first discord about adoption, and the image he and his wife had when they embraced their first child in 1971 turned out to be incorrect. Still, the report saddens Hans Walenkamp. “As an adoptive parent, I feel pushed into a corner by the conclusions of the Joustra committee. The advice makes it appear as if I am part of a criminal circuit. ”

Walenkamp (78) also finds the thought that he may have indirectly contributed to abuses. This week it became clear again that foreign adoptions have been forged papers, information has been erased and adopted children often cannot trace their roots. The rock-hard report on the role of the government in these kinds of problems led to a halt in international adoptions.

“My wife and I have talked about it a lot. But I have to say that we haven't felt guilty for a moment. We looked around the adoptions of our three children very carefully and enlisted the help of a bona fide government-approved broker. We have made decisions with a lot of good will, ethical awareness and care. We could not have acted better at that time. ”

'Even if you only save one'

'At that time', Walenkamp emphasizes several times. Because half a century ago, the atmosphere around adoption was very different. The first wave of adoption was caused by writer Jan de Hartog in the late 1970s. On television he told Mies Bouwman about the two Korean sisters he had adopted. With the phrase "Even if you save one" he encouraged viewers to do the same.

“We are going to help children, that was the idea,” says Walenkamp, ??who wrote several books about adoption and was on the board of the World Children adoption organization in the 1970s and 1980s. “Orphanages were bulging, we saw on TV. We thought it was a great idea to give them a future. ”

"Please note: we also wanted to help ourselves." He and his wife Ina were unable to have a baby. “We were childless and one child in the world orphaned. Those flaws connected for us. If adoptive parents would surround children with a lot of love, everything would be fine, we thought. ”

'Naive idealism'

Naive idealism, concludes Walenkamp. Now he knows that some of the adopted children want to know where they are from, that adoptive parents and organizations have sometimes been too trusting, and sending countries did not always check their children's origins well enough.

"If my own daughter, who is now 45, wants to look for her Colombian family, it will be difficult." Although he has a binder full of information about her, and has charted the adoption with lawyers, judges and local children's organizations, decades ago it turned out that Colombia does not have the administration surrounding her adoption in order. "Our contacts could not find anything back then."

Annoying and strange, says Walenkamp. Yet the quest was never continued. "My children have never shown any interest in the countries they come from." "Don't give it up, Dad," said his son when Walenkamp called him sadly this week, "you know how happy and rich we feel with you as our parents?" Walenkamp: “People should know that a lot of adopted children are doing very well in the Netherlands. It hurts that that is now being forgotten. ”

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Adoptees experience a grief that is unfinished. "The grief we feel is consistent with going missing."

Psychotherapist Daksha van Dijck was herself adopted from India as a baby under unclear circumstances .

The cabinet will stop adopting abroad because of abuses

A hard-hitting report on the role of the government in adoption abuses leads to an acute stop on foreign adoptions. Lawsuits may follow in the future .