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Kenyan family reveals Danish couple in adoption of girl were duped

Sunday January 29 2017

adopted child

An adopted child with his new family. Cabinet issued an indefinite moratorium outlawing all inter-country adoptions of Kenyan children. FILE PHOTO 

SUNDAY NATION REPORTER
By SUNDAY NATION REPORTER
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A Kenyan family says a Danish couple compelled to give up a girl they had adopted from Kenya were victims of deception.

“We forgive them and really pity them. They are innocent victims of deception as they came to Kenya and went about adopting our child in the belief they were doing the right thing.

"They had been deceived. We hold no grudges against them and we pray to God to comfort them,” the auntie to the girl, Mrs Esther Muthoni Muchiri, said.

Mr Jeppe Osteroskor Ekstrom and Mrs Annika Matilda Broberg Ekstrom informed the court that they had adopted a boy in 2012 back home, who was six years old today, and had desired to adopt a second child.

They applied to the Danish Ministry of Social and Integration Department of Family Affairs for permission to adopt a foreign child.

The application was approved and an adoption agency sent their application to Kenya, where the National Adoption Committee approved it on November 18, 2014.

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By coincidence, the Cabinet issued an indefinite moratorium outlawing all inter-country adoptions of Kenyan children the following week, November 26, 2014, and revoked all licences to conduct such adoptions.

The following year, on March 7, 2015, the couple visited Limuru Children’s Centre, through the Kenya Children’s Home Adoption Society, to meet the girl in question for the first time.

ECONOMIC STRAITS

Four days later, on March 11, 2015, they were granted custody of the girl to begin a three-month “bonding and supervision” statutory period before the final adoption orders could be granted.

All this time, the couple was under the impression the Kenya Children’s Home Adoption agency had undertaken all the necessary administrative and legal work.

Adoption agencies charge unspecified amounts of money for their administrative overheads and professional fees which, at times, include local accommodation for international clients for the period of their stay.

It is during the “bonding” period that a task force appointed to implement the Cabinet Moratorium accessed adoption files for legal and regulatory compliance review when, apparently, it stumbled on anomalies and gaps that eventually led to the court case and the termination of the adoption process.

Ms Annika testified in court that her family had suffered anxiety, trauma and stress as they had been under the impression “all steps had been undertaken”.

“We wish them well in their quest to adopt a child and pray for them. They meant well, they had accepted my granddaughter as their own, but someone had misled them,” Esther said in an interview.

High Court Judge Rose Ougo ordered the girl (name withheld for legal reasons) vested in Esther’s custody because her mum, Ms Ann Wanjiku, seems to be in economic difficulties.

Esther and her husband live with Ann’s two other children in Maruti in Naivasha, near Kijabe Mission Hospital, Nakuru County. Ann is Esther’s late sister’s daughter.

The court also ordered that Ann could visit her child as necessary, contribute to her welfare, education and upkeep but cannot take her in her custody, and the Child Wefare Society of Kenya (CWSK) to undertake reunification.

REUNITED

Esther said although the child went missing while in the care of her niece, she bore the brunt of the trauma, anxiety and anguish of explaining to the other relatives, friends and society about what happened.

“Initially, the community was sympathetic and supportive. Then, as time went by and people continued asking questions, I had no answers for stories emerged insinuating I had some what connived with my niece to sell the child, or I knew more than I was willing to share. The child had been in our home and people knew her,” she recounted.

The trauma and speculative rumours would turn into shame and isolation for the family, as Esther made numerous trips for court hearings.

She says friends and relatives shunned the family and her husband remained her only pillar of support and encouragement.

“My children and Ann’s children kept pestering [me] with questions I had no answers for. They could not understand.

"I kept making up stories for them that their sister went to visit an uncle and would come back. Only my husband seemed to believe me,” she recounted.

Esther is visibly pleased to be reunited with her granddaughter, and full of praises for the government and the courts for restoring her family.