Completing the B Ring

Mircea Dan Opris

I finally managed to close the B Ring, after almost five months of travel and research. And what do you think the “B Ring” is? A network of cities and places I traveled across this summer.

Surprisingly, when I started my research into child-trafficking networks, international adoptions and political lobbies, I thought I knew almost everything about these things.

I would find out so many new things and so much information never revealed before about the fate of lost children, abandoned children and children born outside their parents’ native countries.

Berlin was the first B, a starting point for one of the most challenging projects I have done in recent years. I admit I learnt a lot about the need for accuracy and fact checking when writing a good, international-standard story. It was enough to make me understand that even after 16 years of experience, there is much to learn about writing.

Bucharest was the hot B point, as Romania is the only EU country that has outlawed international adoption; a good measure to stop the wild child-trafficking phenomenon of the 1990s and early 2000s. But it was a measure that incited against Romania the anger of NGOs, politicians and lobbyists in many European capitals, from Brussels to Rome, Paris and Madrid.

Belgrade was a lesson for life. Here the issue is different, as the country harmonises its laws with EU regulations in order to become a member of the European Union.

Fears that abandoned children here may suffer a similar fate to the one that occurred and still happens in Romania and Bulgaria are growing among those who monitor inter-country adoptions and possible child-trafficking cases. Let’s hope the Serbs are wise enough to play the winning card and negotiate this issue before accession to the EU.

Brussels is the place where all the political strings come together. It is from here that pressure is put onto small member states that disagree with adoption practice in Western Europe and North America. A big surprise, which will be part of the story, has to deal with the fake reports of the European Commission, struggling to set up a common European adoption institution.

It’s an attempt to take total control over the whole European space in terms of the children’s movement. The issue is who is going to have this total control over this institution – people with good intentions or those with hidden interests.

Finally, it was Prishtina, capital of the new Republic of Kosovo. It was the last point of my research, the final Big B, I would call it. Why? Because this is the mecca of Kosovars who live abroad, here are Serbs living isolated lives in an absurd enclave, and here are forgotten Roma and their vulnerable children.

Pristina is also the base of many European and international agencies and NGOs. Some are here to help, but some have a negative history concerning their work with child adoption. The country is new, laws are missing or are unclear, so it is the perfect place in which the sad story of the Romanian orphans, after the fall of communism, can be repeated.

This is the story of the B Ring, a sad but interesting one. I feel I haven’t done enough and much research will still be needed, as things move on. In the end, it’s the lives of children that are most important. They are not commodities for sale. This is what some people from the B Ring do not want to accept. A long battle with an unknown end.

Fellow Bio

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Mircea Dan Opris

Mircea Dan Opris is a Romanian investigative reporter and photographer for the national daily newspaper Jurnalul National

Topic

Topic 2010: Taboo

Taboos change – rapidly. Homosexuality was once a taboo in Western Europe, as was “living in sin”, [i.e. outside marriage], abortion, childlessness, physical disabilities, atheism and suicide

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