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How Flawed Is The International Adoption Process?24:31


In 1998, Sierra Leone was in the midst of a brutal civil war. One in which children were especially tragic victims. Many were maimed. Others were drugged, beaten and forced to serve as child soldiers.

That year, American families adopted 29 children from Makeni, a town in the north of Sierra Leone. Years later, after the war ended, the birth families came forward and claimed the children were stolen. All of them.

Investigative journalist E.J. Graff pieced together the many confusing and conflicting parts of this story in a recent series in Slate, the online magazine.

The story raises difficult questions about international adoption. How can American parents be sure about the history of their adopted children? How trustworthy is the process? How moral is it? And when thousands of dollars in agency fees, and millions of dollars in humanitarian aid are involved, how can anyone be sure that children are not being bought and sold?


  • E.J. Graff, senior fellow, Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, Brandeis University


This segment aired on August 18, 2011.

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