by Rupert Wolfe Murray
Last week was a dramatic one in the ongoing lobby to persuade Romania to resume the trade in international adoptions, with pro-adoption statements coming from the United States Congress, the European Parliament and the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest. The Romanian government also spoke up, making it clear that they were not prepared to amend their child rights legislation in favour of a few hundred American families.
On Wednesday the 14th Chris Smith gave a speech to the US Congress in which he urged "the Government of Romania to amend its child welfare and adoption laws to decrease barriers to adoption"; the European Parliament made a statement on the issue; and the US Embassy in Bucharest attempted to link these two statements and imply that the European Parliament and Congress were in agreement on this issue.
On Thursday in the European Parliament the report of the Rapporteur for Romania, Pierre Moscovici, on "the State of preparedness for EU membership for Romania" was presented. Much debate had been going on within the main political groups in the European Parliament about an amendment to Moscovici's pro-adoption statement. The Parliament rejected the Greens position that adoptions should be resumed, as well as Baroness Nicholson's support of Romania's current position, and the compromise statement of the European socialist group was accepted - which "reminded the Romanian government of the need to settle the cases of application for international adoptions made during the moratorium of 2001."
As with many compromises, this one irritated both camps. Those keen to resume international adoptions (there is a particularly vociferous Italian Member of the European Parliament) felt it was too weak; and those who support Romania's ban of international adoptions resented the fact that the issue was raised again. But the Romanian office for Adoptions was not perturbed as it is already in the process of going through those cases which had been applied for during the moratorium (almost all of whom have already been placed with Romanian families).
So, in effect the European Parliament's statement was a big zero; it didn't call for a resumption of adoptions, it just asked that the so-called "pipeline cases" be resolved (a process that was already happening). However, the pro-adoption lobby, which has a number of high level "spin doctors" in Washington and New York City, quickly tried to turn this statement by the European Parliament to their advantage.
On Thursday last week the US Embassy in Bucharest issued a statement which tried to make a connection between the statements made in Congress and the European Parliament. This is an extract from their statement: "The U.S. Embassy in Bucharest welcomes the EU Parliament's vote today to urge the Romanian Government to settle international adoption cases registered during the moratorium of 2001-2004 ... This vote demonstrates the common concern of the U.S. Government and EU parliamentarians that these specific adoption cases be resolved..."
I have always noticed that American people lack a sense of irony and when Europeans say something sarcastic or ironic, our American friends often take it literally. I found this statement particularly ironic (even if they didn't) - the strongest Republican/conservative US Administration in years issuing a statement of support for a position that had been tabled by the European group of Socialist parties. Building on this irony, the US Embassy in Bucharest then added absurdity to the mix by suggesting that the European and American parliaments stand as one on this issue.
Meanwhile, the Republican controlled House of Representatives is, according to last Thursday's International Herald Tribune, "poised to pass one of the toughest border security measures in more than a decade..." The aim is to introduce legislation which will clamp down on illegal immigrants and their employers. If passed into law, this motion will "for the first time, make it a federal crime to work in the US illegally."
I find it difficult to comprehend is how the Republicans, on the one hand, are trying to stop the flow of immigrants into their country, a flow that has done much to build up their economy over the last few centuries, and on the other hand they want to oblige Romania to repeal its legislation so that American couples can come and adopt babies here. I can see no logic in these two positions, plenty of irony and perhaps some racism (do they want to keep out dark skinned Mexicans but adopt white Romanian babies?).
The other thing that became clear last week was that the visit of Condoleezza Rice to Romania didn't have much impact on the international adoption debate. I suspect there was not enough time to raise the issue; she was only in Romania for three hours; the airbases were the priority and Rice was taking flak about the CIA's secret prison facilities. Could this mean that the international adoption issue has finally been dropped from the bi-lateral agenda, and it remains an argument between specialists and lobbyists - which is where the adoption issue really belongs.
Rupert Wolfe Murray is a part time consultant on the "Education Campaign on Family Advisory Issues and Child Rights" (www.childrights.ro ). This comment was written in a personal capacity and represents the author's personal views.
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