Panelists

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As the Field Investigator, Researcher, and Executive Director of Against Child Trafficking (ACT EUROPE), Arun is an expert in child rights. A German couple adopted Arun from an Indian orphanage in the 1970s. The Indian orphanage did not want to provide access to his file upon his return in 2010. Arun addressed the Indian Courts, and it took 17 years to finally obtain access to the desired information. Following a significant trafficking scandal that came out in 2005, Arun took up the cases of several Indian families whose children were kidnapped, sold to orphanages, and adopted abroad. The media reporting about his case led many Indian adoptees to contact him. Arun gave up his job as a financial consultant to dedicate his life to child rights and to correct the injustice of inter-country adoption – one case at a time. Here is a link to his latest podcast interview on his activism. Mr. Dohle has been included in Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists. He has been interviewed by numerous journalists and in the media worldwide and was also featured on Tedx in India at the National Institute of Technology Silchar


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Rev. Dr. Janine Vance (aka Janine Myung Ja) is the Visionary and Program Director of the Adoption Trafficking Awareness Symposium and the director for Against Child Trafficking (ACT USA). An international multi-award recipient and a gold-medalist author, Janine has spent more than twenty years researching and investigating the practice of international adoption. She has independently written and curated more than twelve books, a series of screenplays, and documentary scripts on the diverse evolutionary experiences of adopted people. You can find her books The Search for Mother Missing: A Peek Inside International Adoption, Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists, and Adoption: What You Should Know (note: the textbook version is called Adoption History), plus other books in the collection she calls “Rare Adoption Books for Adults ” at online stores everywhere. Janine’s latest interview can be found with Donna Seebo of Delphi International Broadcasting, interviewed by host, Donna Seebo and on BBC Radio, The Conversation: Why was I adopted? Women looking for birth stories.


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Sandy White Hawk is a Sicangu Lakota adoptee from the Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota. She is the founder and Director of the First Nations Repatriation Institute.

First Nations Repatriation Institute (FNRI)is the first organization of its kind whose goal it is to create a resource for First Nations people impacted by foster care or adoption to return home, reconnect, and reclaim their identity. The Institute also serves as a resource to enhance the knowledge and skills of practitioners who serve First Nations people.

Sandy organizes Truth Healing Reconciliation Community Forums that bring together adoptees/fostered individuals and their families and professionals with the goal to identify post-adoption issues and to identify strategies that will prevent the removal of First Nations children. She was a Commissioner for the Maine State Indian Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission and was an Honorary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation on Residential Schools in Canada. Featured in the documentary Blood Memory.

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Tyler Graf was adopted from Chile. Last year Tyler was told there was a DNA match with his Chilean mother, and it was then that he learned he also has three sisters. He learned that his mother lived in the countryside. She went to the hospital for a C-section but was told that her infant had died at birth. Tyler was kidnapped and sent to an orphanage three months before being adopted overseas. The doctors, nurses, lawyers, social workers, and judges involved were part of this adoption scheme, and his paperwork was considered legitimate. The adoption agency did not do their due diligence to research outside of the country, and the financial, home, and criminal background checks are done in the United States. Today, Tyler set up an NGO called Connecting Roots, which focuses on providing adult Chilean-born adoptees and their parents with free DNA kits to speed up the process of potential reunions and to spread awareness and education to hopefully reach Chilean mothers and adoptees.

Nightline Mi Niño  Chile’s Stolen Children:

ABC NEWS Video One: Juju Chang Dives Into Tyler Graf’s Journey to Return to Chile to Reconnect with His Mother He Never Knew.

ABC NEWS Video Two: Man Stolen from Birth Using DNA kits to Help Fellow Adoptees.


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Adoption Trafficking Awareness Symposium image

Osmin Ricardo Tobar, son of Gustavo Tobar, was stolen from Guatemala at six with his one-year-old half-brother and placed in an orphanage. Even though the adoption attorney sent Osmin to Pennsylvania and his one-year-old brother to Illinois, Osmin blames himself for the separation. “They took part of my soul from me.” He believes he did not protect his little brother. Osmin’s memories of his mother became his biggest motivation to go back to Guatemala while being raised in the United States. His Declaration made Osmin the first person to win a case against the Guatemalan Government over fraudulent adoptions. In 2011, Osmin and his dad, Gustavo, were able to reunite in Guatemala after Gustavo found his son through Facebook. Now, together again, the Guatemalan father and son are the faces of Justice against adoption trafficking. Learn about the issues Guatemalan adoptees face from this NBC report, A painful truth: Guatemalan adoptees learn they were fraudulently given away.


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When Leslie was 18 years old, she was sent to a Catholic Unwed Mother’s Home. The religious orderlies gave her a different identity. In the home, she discovered that if the pregnant women waivered from surrendering their babies, the authorities automatically placed the mothers in isolation. This would prevent the soon-to-be mothers from being influenced to keep their babies. Leslie was groomed and then forced to relinquish her son during her stay. She was told never to mention his existence to any future husband and simply forget about her baby. Years later, she became brave enough to write letters to him and gave the letters to the agency if he searched for her. Leslie is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and a board member of Concerned United Birthparents. Leslie has been on Dan Rather’s investigative report: Adoption Or Abduction. CNN to discuss the impact of the internet on adoption, and Katie Couric’s show with her son alongside Philomena Lee, the woman on which the movie “Philomena” is based. When interviewed on Katie Couric’s show, Leslie’s son revealed that the agency withheld information from him on multiple occasions. They said his birthmom did not want contact with him, and they attempted to keep her letters from him. Fortunately, because an employee slipped out information, the two were able to reunite. Leslie says finding her son has made her whole again.


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Renee was misinformed and misled about adoption when she was pregnant at 41. Because of her high-risk pregnancy and medical bills of more than $100,000, she felt overwhelmed, scared, and ashamed for not being able to pay off the growing debt. She lost hope and did not feel she could afford her new baby. The social worker employed by the adoption agency did not tell her of other resources that could help her but pressured her to relinquish instead. As the days became closer to her due date, she felt more pressure to sign. After losing her son to a devastatingly unnecessary adoption, Renee felt like she had died. Renee copes with her grief and loss by helping pregnant mothers from her charity, Saving our Sisters (SOS), and educating them on their rights to keep their children. Now a national network, Saving Our Sisters informs women of strategies used by agencies to convince mothers to relinquish. Tactics include conning pregnant women to pick out the adoptive parents from a catalog as if it is for her benefit and/or allowing the presence of paying applicants in the birthing room, which increases the pressure to relinquish.


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Mohamed Emmanuel Nabieu (“Nabs”) is a global child advocate for orphaned and vulnerable children and their families. He spent ten years of his childhood living in one of the most respected orphanages in Sierra Leone, West Africa. After completing university, he was employed as the Director of the same orphanage he grew up in. Under his leadership, he successfully transitioned the orphanage to family-based care. This ensured that the children had the opportunity to grow up in safe, loving families. Nabs is passionate about keeping families together due to his experience of being separated from his loved ones. He is focused on creating a holistic future where vulnerable children and their families can thrive with dignity, rather than being separated and dependent on external assistance. He works as the Director for Mission Advancement & Partnership at Helping Children Worldwide, a nonprofit organization based in the greater D.C. area, which supports over 600 vulnerable children and their families in Sierra Leone. Nabs is a thought leader, a motivational speaker, a child advocate, and a Master Life Coaching Practitioner. He holds a master’s degree in Applied Organizational Psychology and Leadership. He finds immense pleasure in engaging, equipping, and empowering vulnerable populations to go beyond dependency to self-sufficiency. Article from the Post and Courier, (Rebels ordered him to shoot his father. He was 6. And now he puts families back together) and on TedxUSW.

 

Barbara was acquired from her unsupported teenage mother by a “good Christian married couple” to resolve their infertility. The law and normative social practice required her to live as if she was their natural child. Barbara mounted a legal challenge to the permanent sealing of her adoption records. She succeeded in gaining some of her files. These reveal the timeline and methods used to procure her in a process she describes as child trafficking. She is currently navigating the complexities of sibling reunion.

Barbara is actively engaged in political discourse around forced adoption in New Zealand. She is working to change the narrative of adoption as a social good to one of human trafficking. Her goal is to see the end of human adoption in her lifetime. Barbara is a multi-award-winning, Oscar short-listed documentary filmmaker, a former magazine features writer, mother, and grandmother.


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Trafficked from Colombia in 1987, Melisa and her two younger siblings were adopted by US Citizens. Within hours of meeting their new adoptive parents, Melisa and her siblings were naked in a Colombian hotel shower, being photographed by the adoptive father, a prominent teacher. Prior to the adoption, his sister warned the agency that she and her sister had been sexually abused and raped by their brother (the new adoptive father). Despite the warning, the children were adopted. At age eight, Melisa reported sexual abuse to the local police. Despite the adoptive father’s confession, the abuse was ignored and Melisa was admitted to a group home for troubled youth and delinquents at age 14. For her survival, she moved far away but holds guilt for leaving her siblings behind. Devastatingly, Melisa’s little brother was found dead years later. Recently, Melisa has been pushing to pass the Childs Victims Act in Wisconsin. The symposium gives her hope and validity. “This adoption, massive systemic failure, and cover-up of child sex abuse ruined our lives, and ultimately resulted in my little brother’s death.” Read Melisa Trejo’s story here.


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When Christopher’s girlfriend became pregnant, he was extremely excited and supportive of her and the pregnancy. The couple even prepared to move in together and become a forever family. However, the mother’s parents disapproved of the inter-racial relationship. The grandparents pushed their daughter towards adoption, and the predatory agency convinced the pregnant mother to pre-select the adoptive parents. The mother of his child slowly grew distant as her pregnancy progressed. She eventually gave birth without telling him. Their child was secretly adopted-out in 2014 without his consent, signature, authorization, or knowledge. Fortunately, upon the advice of his friend, Christopher signed the South Carolina Responsible Father Registry. After months of fighting a stressful legal battle, he won custody of his daughter! Christopher founded The Sky is the Limit Foundation and serves as Executive Director. He takes pride in educating, empowering, and equipping fathers, families, professionals, and organizations on parental rights and adoption in relation to the Responsible Father Registry. Oprah named Christopher Emanuel an Honoree Dad on the OWN website, and his story has been highlighted in the New York Times, The Atlantic, and ABC Nightline News to list a few, and preserved in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.”


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Maline Carroll was born in Haiti and spent several years in an orphanage before she was trafficked into a white family. She struggled to grapple with the reality that she really was not an orphan but a “paper orphan.” Her adoptive parents were missionaries that built villages; instead of empowering villagers, they created dependency. Maline knew something was not right, so she sought answers. It was not until she was in her mid-30s that she had a chance to connect with some of her biological family. After months of getting to know them, she finally began to learn truths, and these truths, in part have set her free. She learned that her adoptive parents paid a lawyer money to buy someone else’s documents, and her adoptive grandfather paid $30,000 for her adoption. Today Maline is a Consultant at Post Adoption Services for Adoptive Parents with Kids of Color and an author of twelve books on adoption. Featured on ListenNotes Postcast here.

Enrique J. Vila, Adoption Trafficking Awareness Symposium 2022

Enrique J. Vila, (Santa Isabel birthplace, Valencia, May 18, 1965) Spanish lawyer and writer, adopted as soon as he was born in a religious birthplace in Valencia (Spain), has dedicated his professional career to defending the right of all children and mothers to meet again. Social activist, he belongs to several human rights NGOs (Unesco, AI, SPMUDA) has written several books on child trafficking, adoptions, participated in conferences and documentaries, and television programs around the world. He uncovered in 2011 the mafia of stolen children in Spain. Of recognized professional prestige, he says that what satisfies him most is living life the hundreds of family reunions that he has facilitated.

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Rachel Krohn discovered she was pregnant at 16 years old. The adults surrounding her referenced all the families “created through adoption” in her church, and it took one meeting with a pastor to be pre-matched with a hopeful adoptive couple across the country who ultimately took her daughter from the hospital four days after birth. Despite the secrecy surrounding the adoption, Rachel found her daughter 18 years later, and they’ve been reunited for five years. She has since become a staunch advocate for the rights of adopted people. Her goal is to save families from experiencing the same trauma and grief.

Kat Nielsen, MSW Adoption Trafficking Awareness Symposium

At age seventeen, Kat was led to believe she had two options: consent to adoption and be able to maintain contact with her son throughout his life in an open adoption or have him placed against her will and never see him again. Kat consented to adoption so that she could stay connected to her son, but she is committed to stopping more mothers from experiencing the same fate. Over the years Kat has tried to improve adoption from within the industry as well by advocating for adoptees in legislative hearings. She has also been designated a Rudd Adoption Research Scholar by the Rudd Adoption Research Program and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Kat also earned degrees in social work with the goal of providing support and real unbiased counseling for pregnant women. Every day Kat works to come to terms with the lies the adoption industry told her.


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Amy and Jennifer work closely together as Adoption & Trauma Therapists, retreat facilitators, presenters, and creatives. Both have trained in anti-trafficking and are passionate about shining a light on its intersection with adoption as it has impacted them personally and professionally.

Amy is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Clinical Supervisor in private practice in Shoreline, WA focusing on Adoptees and Parents, and the founder of AdoptionSavvy.com. She previously worked in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Turkey with trafficking victims and care providers. Amy is the Newsletter Editor for Concerned United Birthparents (CUB). She’s also an Adoptee from a closed adoption in long-term reunion and has ongoing contact with her grown son of an open adoption.

Jennifer completed her Masters in Social Work at Columbia University, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and is certified in Relationally-Focused Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. She has a private practice in Yakima, WA focusing on those impacted by adoption. Jennifer has a unique open adoption experience with 20-year-old Chloë and her adoptive family.

Jenette Yamamoto Co-founder of Adoption Truth and Transparency Worldwide Network

The Vance Twins established Adoption Truth and Transparency Worldwide Information Network (ATTWIN) in 2011 and is now the largest adoptee & families separated by adoption-led group on social media. Members include domestic, late-discovery, transracial, and international adopted people from every continent. The purpose of the diverse group has been to:

  • validate the vast experiences of adopted people;
  • balance the professional field of adoption;
  • encourage global discussion;
  • inform and empower all family members separated by adoption.

Advantages of having an expanded bird’s eye view of the industry include support from and for others placed in similar situations and connection with fellow equal-rights advocates and activists.

Adopted? We are heavily biased on the issue of human rights. Antiquated adoption laws ignore the human rights inborn in all humans to develop relationships with blood-related families if we so wish. To build this community or to volunteer, email [email protected] Visit AdoptionTruth.org for more information.

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