In Summary
  • The multi-million-shilling child trade industry has been thriving for years and poor households, especially in the slums and villages, have been the target of its scheming directors.
  • Babies are not only being snatched off the streets by strangers in passing cars, but also being stolen right after birth by nurses and midwives and passed on to social workers.

The distraught mother was kept waiting in a room for seven hours last Saturday, her stomach in knots as she waited to be reunited with her son.

But those seven hours were nothing to her, because the last time she had seen her son was almost five years ago.

When the minor, whom the mother could only remember as an infant wrapped in baby shawls, walked into the small room, she broke down tears.

SEPARATION

She stared at the young boy, probably trying to come to terms with the years of separation that had denied her the excitement of watching him take his first steps.

The Nation is not revealing the identities of the mother and baby for legal and ethical reasons. The boy’s grandfather, who was in the room, excitedly took the boy in his arms as the grandmother burst into song and dance, followed by five resounding ululations.

The grandfather never had the opportunity to meet his grandson and only got reports on how he had been taken into a new home.

Last year, he moved to a court in Nkubu seeking orders to be given custody of his daughter’s son.

He got the orders, but the case exposed a disturbing truth about Kenya’s child adoption services; a child theft syndicate that has been using the Judiciary, the police, lawyers, several adoption societies and children’s homes to label stolen children as abandoned and later sell them off.

POOR HOUSEHOLDS

The multi-million-shilling child trade industry has been thriving for years and poor households, especially in the slums and villages, have been the target of its scheming directors, who are the face of the ugly underbelly of Kenya’s child adoption business.

Babies are not only being snatched off the streets by strangers in passing cars, but also being stolen right after birth by nurses and midwives and passed on to social workers and registered adoption agencies eager to meet the demands of their clients. In the maternity wards of private and public hospitals, new mothers are often shown dead foetuses while their healthy babies are stolen and sold off.

When the theft scheme does not involve dead bodies, it uses clever paperwork by adoption cartels, who have been taking advantage of the poor by stealing their babies and giving them to rich families for adoption after framing the parents as “careless” with the connivance of social workers, who take away the “neglected” children.

On Saturday morning, the Nation watched as an elite squad of detectives retrieved the boy at the beginning of this story from a wealthy family in Nairobi’s upmarket Kilimani neighbourhood and returned him to his family in Nanyuki.

POLICE CELLS

The mother recalled how women accompanied by police officers stormed her house in Kibera, Nairobi shortly after she returned from the shop, accusing her of leaving her son unattended.

She was booked at the Kilimani Police Station and locked in police cells, where she spent the night with her baby. The following day, police officers took the boy to a children’s home, and that was the last time she saw her child. She was accused of child abandonment and found unsuitable to be a protective mother.

She was taken to court and remanded at the Lang’ata Women Prison for close to nine months. The child was placed for adoption and given to new parents. When she was finally released, she was dealt another blow; her two-year-old son had been taken away and placed under the custody of foreigners.

Although adoption cannot take place where parents or family members have been located and have agreed to take care of the child, in some instances the Judiciary and government officials have looked the other way and granted such requests, mostly against poor families who cannot afford legal aid.

ADOPTION

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