An Open Wound: The Scandal of the Kidnapped Yemenite Children

From time to time, the scandal of the abduction of Yemenite babies from the years 1948 through 1954 finds its way back into the headlines, leaving the entire country shaken and appalled all over again. It is happening again… but this time it will not end until all the classified documents from earlier investigations are open…

During the 1950s, Yemenite children were stolen from their parents’ arms in the State of Israel. This may sound bizarre, farfetched, and even unfathomable, but it is no longer questioned: It has been confirmed as fact. The State of Israel committed a crime against those children; their parents were told that they had died, while they were actually taken for adoption. In most cases, the children had been brought to a hospital or medical clinic for some reason, and they were taken from those facilities to be placed with the new families where they were raised.

Why were the parents silent? Actually, they weren’t silent at all. They screamed. They threatened. They pleaded. They wept. But no one listened to them. The Israeli government turned a deaf ear to their cries, hardening its heart to their anguish.

As for how such a thing could happen, we must turn back the clock to that period in the state’s history in order to understand it.  The establishment viewed the Jewish immigrants from Yemen as a group that had emerged from the Middle Ages.  In their view, the Jews of Yemen were primitives who adhered to a bizarre set of ancient traditions that had no relevance to the modern era.  They felt that it was an act of kindness to those children to extricate them from a life of ignorance, poverty and backwardness, and to bring them up in an enlightened, progressive society.  In short, the children were being given a chance for a good life.  In most cases, they were given to well-established Ashkenazic families who were interested in adoption.  The adoptive parents considered themselves highly privileged.

You can understand, then, that in addition to the actual abduction of the children, there was a campaign to tear them away from their religion. Children who had been born to Torah-observant parents were raised in secular homes, often on kibbutzim whose agenda was to deny everything about the past, creating a “new Jew” who had turned his back on the “golus mentality.”

Source: An Open Wound: The Scandal of the Kidnapped Yemenite Children –


THE BBC reported on this on June 21, 2017. Parents are now doing DNA to try and locate their lost children.

Next Generation Nepal | “earthquake orphans” | Reconnecting Trafficked Children with Their Families

Reconnecting Trafficked Children with Their Families. Next Generation Nepal rebuilds family connections torn apart by child trafficking and helps rural communities become stronger, healthier places to raise their children.

SEE: Next Generation Nepal – How We Work

NGN Turns 10: A Decade of Rescuing and Reunifying Trafficked Children with their Families

With your help, we have brought over 500 children home, raised awareness and started an initiative to stop trafficking before it begins.

Dear Friend of Next Generation Nepal,

It has been 12 years since I first arrived in Nepal for what I thought would be a small blip in my story. Little did I know that I was about to embark down a path that would change the entire trajectory of my life in ways I couldn’t imagine.

This journey began in 2004 when I volunteered at Little Princes Children’s Home on the outskirts of Kathmandu and met a group of boys and girls who would change my life forever. I’d been led to believe that these kids were orphans, which invoked heartfelt empathy and a strong desire for me to bring them joy in their young lives. I soon learned the truth—they had mothers and fathers, siblings and communities where they once had a full and happy life which they had been taken from. I was shocked to know these kids had been trafficked. It was because of this realization that I made a promise to do whatever possible to bring them and as many others back home. Out of that promise the seed that would grow into Next Generation Nepal was planted.

It took two years of commitment and hard work, but, in 2006, NGN was finally able to open the doors of its official office in Nepal and rescue the Little Princes. Soon after, I set off to the remote district of Humla in search of their families. This was the first rescue and reunification that NGN did.

Over the last 10 years, NGN has continued to grow.  Today we work in 31 districts and have helped reconnect over 500 children with their families! In addition to our reintegration work, NGN is now considered an expert on ethical volunteering in Nepal, and our Community Anti-Trafficking (CAT) project works to prevent children from being trafficked in the first place.

NGN has persevered through a civil war, earthquakes and constant political unrest, but we have not let anything stand in our way in accomplishing our mission. Our teams continue to rescue, care and search in the remotest parts of Nepal for the families of these children so that we can bring them home.

NGN is celebrating the joy of 10 years of rescuing and reunifying trafficked children as well as broadening NGN’s reach into bringing awareness to families and communities of the causes of trafficking and stopping it before it begins.

There are still thousands of children who have been displaced from their families and living in abusive conditions for the financial gain of their captors. Please help us to begin this next 10 years by supporting NGN’s work so we can not only bring hundreds more children home, but to stop child trafficking at its core.

With Gratitude,

Conor Grennan (author)
President, Next Generation Nepal

MORE:  After the Great Nepal Earthquake
April 25, 2016

I drove to the NGN transit home where I was overjoyed to find 17 children playing games in a make-shift tent of tarpaulins, and being cared for by our staff and —believe it or not— the Little Princes!  Yes, the now young adults whom NGN Founder Conor Grennan had made famous as children in his book, “Little Princes,” had kept their promise that in the event of an earthquake they would protect the younger children. In addition to this we had a four-week supply of food, water and medicines, so even if the roads and airport were shut off, we could all still survive.

Within the heavily cracked walls of a room at the Central Child Welfare Board, I joined the Government and other NGOs to plan what our response would be for affected children. We knew that the situation in Kathmandu was not as bad as the rural areas. But we also knew that the traffickers were already prowling the villages looking for children to remove them from their frightened parents and place them in profit-making children’s homes.  To make matters worse, several children’s homes were already announcing hundreds of new places for children to come to Kathmandu. It was like the previous decade’s civil war all over again—families would be torn apart by hollow promises of safety and education, only to be used as fundraising tools by organizations wishing to profit from the millions of dollars of disaster aid money flowing into the country.  All these unscrupulous organizations needed to succeed in their plans were children to be falsely presented as “earthquake orphans.” We had to act fast.

…A child-friendly space is a basically a large tent that acts as a safe space for children after a disaster. In the NGN child-friendly spaces, the children were offered structured play and learning activities, psycho-social counseling and locally-prepared nutritious meals. This gave them the opportunity to regain a sense of normality in their lives, and allowed their parents some much-needed respite.  But our child-friendly spaces were more than this—they also built trust with the local community, which, in time, allowed NGN to start raising awareness within the community of the dangers of child trafficking and the importance of family preservation.

By July we had established 11 child-friendly spaces in hard-hit villages where we had assessed there was a high risk of trafficking. We had also supported the Nepal Police to establish two transport check posts where we could intercept buses to search for children who might be being trafficked to Kathmandu.  When we found unaccompanied children on the buses, we rescued them, and the local government returned them to their families.

By now we were also able to roll out our awareness-raising campaigns. These included a traveling acting troupe that performed a street drama about child traffickers pretending to be representatives of NGOs to lure vulnerable children to the city; several passionate street rallies led by school children demanding an “end to child trafficking”; leaflets and posters; competitions and speeches; and a radio jingle to reach the most remote families whom we could not access by road or foot.


An International Adoption Clouded in Deception

February 20, 2012: Imagine a complete stranger telling you that your adopted daughter, who you always believed was an orphan, was actually not. “Surreal and heart wrenching” is how Ana would describe it.
Names have been changed in the story to protect the privacy of those involved.

In early 2004, a Spanish woman named Ana wanted to adopt a Nepalese child. Nepal was still in an armed conflict and she was told that many children were losing their parents. She arranged a meeting with a representative at the Consulate of Nepal in Spain to find out more information. Ana was given the contact information for an orphanage in Nepal and started the complex process necessary to adopt a child.

After about one year, the adoption became official and Ana, overcome with joy, traveled to the orphanage in Kathmandu to meet her new daughter and bring her home to Spain. The orphanage had arranged for Ana to adopt Sunitha, a six-year-old girl with a personality that enchanted Ana from the beginning. As months passed, Sunitha quickly learned Spanish and slowly began assimilating to Spanish culture. “Sunitha was becoming a Spaniard, but I also wanted her to be aware of her Nepalese heritage. I did not want Sunitha to forget her origins,” said Ana…

Keep Reading


Editor’s Note
Many of the children in Nepal’s “orphanages” are there because traffickers (who are sometimes relatives) deceive parents in remote villages into allowing them to take their kids to “elite educational facilities” that are actually centers for child exploitation. In fewer instances, impoverished Nepalese parents make desperate decisions to take their children themselves to children’s homes under the assumption that they will at least have a chance at an education and a successful life. However, these parents do not think the homes’ managers would ever send their children overseas through adoption. They assume that children’s homes will care for their kids until they enter college and can work on their own.

According to The U.S. State Department website, the United States “continues to strongly recommend that prospective adoptive parents refrain from adopting children from Nepal due to grave concerns about the reliability of Nepal’s adoption system and credible reports that children have been stolen from birth parents, who did not intend to irrevocably relinquish parental rights as required by INA 101(b)(1)(F). We also strongly urge adoption service providers not to accept new applications for adoption from Nepal.” To read more about the US State Department’s guidelines on adoptions from Nepal click here.


Last year: Children left devastated by the earthquake in Nepal in 2015 were preyed upon by slave traders… Wealthy British families are buying children left devastated by last year’s earthquake in Nepal to work as domestic slaves. The children – who are as young as 10 – are being sold for as little as £5,250 (Rs 500,000, $7,468) by black market gangs operating in India’s Punjab region, according to an investigation by The Sun. I published about Nepal here.

Here is another adoption trafficking victim here.

Just remember conflict areas like Syria are ripe for human trafficking.


Trafficking in children headlines

I sweep twitter for updates and found these: (click headlines)

Facing the Skepticism in Adoption, in Qatar and in the U.S.

Grace and Matthew Huang, whose daughter died in January 2013, were found guilty in the death and sentenced to three years in prison.
Tara Todras-Whitehill for The New York Times  April 2, 2014

In the United States, when others voice their confusion about why parents adopt, it is simple enough to smile and ignore it. In other cultures, that gap in understanding may not be so easily handled. I read the story of Matthew and Grace Huang, the Los Angeles couple sentenced last week in Qatar to three years in prison after being found guilty of killing their 8-year-old adopted daughter, with familiar sorrow. In January 2013, the Huangs rushed their daughter, Gloria, to a hospital in Qatar, where they lived with their three African-born adopted children. After her death, the couple was arrested and accused of withholding food and water from the girl for four days, which they deny….Qatari prosecutors suggested that the Huangs were child traffickers intent on selling their daughter’s organs.


Eager to Adopt, Evangelicals Find Perils Abroad

In March, sending shudders through adoption agencies and would-be (US) parents, the State Department issued an alert about Congo. It warned that several children whose adoptions had already been approved by the Congolese government had been “taken from orphanages by a birth parent or relative,” indicating that those children were not orphans eligible for American adoption in the first place.


Chinese parents compete with foreign applicants to adopt healthy babies

For families like Zhao and her husband who are facing fertility issues, adoption is now their only hope to have a healthy child. However, due to the shortage of healthy adoptable kids, many people have turned to an underground market to find children from dealers. While Zhao knew adopting a child would be a difficult endeavor, it was only recently she discovered it could be illegal. Zhao had heard the tale of 60-year-old Shen, a Shanghai native, who adopted a grandson from a single mother in the city’s Chongming county last year because her daughter was infertile. She was among 19 “illegal adopters” arrested by the Shanghai police in a crackdown in February.


and some good news!

Reunite Uganda

Children Belong In Families

We believe that children belong in families, not orphanages.

Since 2011, Reunite has been resettling Ugandan children back with their birth families. An estimated 80% of children in orphanages across Uganda have living, loving family members. These children have been lost in the orphanage system, trafficked for international adoption or kidnapped. In many cases, they are reluctantly relinquished when a family has no resources to provide for their own child.  These families would love to raise their own children if provided the opportunity and resources, and it is Reunite’s goal to give them that chance. With minimal resources, 40,000 children could return home rather than whiling their days away in an orphanage.

Our goal is to preserve families rather than tear them apart, and we acknowledge that children deserve a chance with their biological family. Poverty should never be a reason to create an orphan.

Embattled Utah adoption center loses its license

(Al Hartmann | Tribune file photo) Terry Achane of South Carolina and his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Teleah, on Jan. 25, 2013. Achane was united with his daughter, who placed for adoption at birth without his knowledge or consent. His then-wife claimed Achane had abandoned her and had no interest in the child. A 4th District Court judge made it official during a hearing in Provo.
Background story:

Father is ready to turn page on Utah adoption horror story

Utah courts • Judge orders adoptive parents to return child to father, who is ready for new life with daughter.

By Brooke Adams The Salt Lake Tribune, December 3, 2012



Note from Trace/Lara: I do believe this is a sign of the shift in adoption practices which has taken years to materialize.

nuns selling babies: adoption scandal growing worldwide

Adoptees Sold by Nuns WorldWide

March 28th, 2012 | (see link and photos:

Nun’s Habits in Spain
It started with a whisper in Spain. A Catholic nun was charged for the first time with abducting a baby from an unwed mother which was sold to a childless couple. Sister Maria Gomez Valbuena told the mother that the baby had died at first, later admitting that it had been adopted. There had been whispers before in Quebec in the 1930-1970s with thousands of French Canadian babies being taken from their single mothers who were coerced into signing releases, often while still under the effects of anesthetics or immediately after childbirth. Many young girls were told that their baby had died but that they couldn’t see the body. When it happened in Quebec, over half a century ago, the power of the church swept the atrocity under the carpet. In this day and age, it’s much harder to hide such shocking news.

The UK Daily News reports that the case in Italy is strong.

Mr Moreno’s ‘father’ confessed on his deathbed to having bought him as a baby from a priest in Zaragoza in northern Spain.

He told his son he had been accompanied on the trip by Mr Barroso’s parents, who bought Antonio at the same time for 200,000 pesetas – a huge sum at the time.

During the investigation, some of the babies’ graves were exhumed. Some graves were empty but others had animal or even adult bones. One wonders who’s grave was desicrated to obtain the human bones.

Australia, Quebec and Beyond
The mother and child in this case were very lucky. According to the Herald Sun out of Australia, they were reunited a decade ago when her daughter was ten years old. Many parents are afraid or ashamed to look. Many adoptees don’t even know they are adopted. Others spend a lifetime looking and never find their birth parents. Whether an adoptive family was a good match or a bad one, whether the child got the best of everything or scrabbled in the dirt playing with sticks, everyone deserves to know where they came from. And they should have the right to look in the faces of relatives and know that they belong.

Now Dan Rather has sent journalist investigators to look into the story. In a hard hitting news story titled, “Adopted or abducted?” Mr. Rathers reports:

From Australia to Spain, Ireland to America, and as recent as 1987, young mothers say they were “coerced”, “manipulated”, and “duped” into handing over their babies for adoption. These women say sometimes their parents forged consent documents, but more often they say these forced adoptions were coordinated by the people their families trusted most…priests, nuns, social workers, nurses or doctors.

In February of 2012 the Australian Parliment released the results of an 18 month investigation into charges of child abduction in immoral and illicit practices in the child adoption business. The parliments report revealed:

.. illegal and unethical tactics used to convince young, unmarried mothers to surrender their babies to adoptive homes from the late 1940s to the 1980s.

The story reveals that Australian Senator Rachel Siewert who headed the government investigation claimed that there was mostly testimony from people ‘associated’ with Catholic institutions.Siewert stated that:

In some cases, mothers in Australia were drugged and forced to sign papers relinquishing custody. In others, women were told their children had died. Single mothers also did not have access to the financial support given to widows or abandoned wives, and many were told by doctors, nurses, and social workers that they were unfit to raise a child.

Siewert went on to point out that these practices were worldwide. I can only speculate that they heard a lot of evidence from the nuns and priests that indicated this was a standard practice around the world but especially in the UK, Ireland, US and Canada. Siewert said:

It wouldn’t surprise me to hear the same thing happened elsewhere,” continues Siewert, “…the U.K., the U.S., Canada and Ireland. So you could, I think, expect that those countries also had these sorts of practices.”

Rapid Adoption

In Australia, the practice wes called ‘rapid adoption’ and if a married woman had a baby who was stillborn she would be offered a baby taken from a single mother. When paperwork was actually obtained, it was often passed off as permission to baptise the supposedly dead infant. Often the signature was just forged with no attempt at obtaining a legal signature. One woman, Valerie Linlow, thought her son was stillborn until he knocked at her door 30 years later.

The whispers heard round the world are now coming back to implicate those in Quebec whose rotting pile of lies that lay moldering under those rugs for the last seven decades are finally starting to stink enough that they can’t be ignored. Tony Merchant, a high profile Quebec Lawyer, told the Montreal Gazette

“The beliefs the Catholic Church (in Quebec) had about premarital sex and the judgmental approach the church had, made it particularly aggressive in pressuring women into putting their children up for adoption.”

Mr Merchant’s law firm, is bringing a class action lawsuit against the Catholic Church charging them with kidnapping, fraud and coercion. Unwed mother’s were often coerced to sign release forms without being informed they had the right to keep their newborn babies. Over 200 women have joined in the lawsuit before the lawsuit even came to the public’s attention. The National Post published the first of a series of articles on the systemic corruption behind the kidnapping ring on March 24th, 2012. According to their reporter, Kathryn Blaze Carlson, in an article titled, Your baby is dead: Mothers say their supposedly stillborn babies were stolen from them. :

Valerie Andrews, who was forced to give up her child as a teenager, studied Statistics Canada data on illegitimate births from 1945 to 1973 and estimates 350,000 unmarried Canadian mothers were persuaded or forced into adoption.

Profiting from Loss

The mothers were told their babies were dead to stop them from looking for their children. If you know that you have to tell that kind of horrendous lie to stop a mother from looking for her child, how can you hide behind the idea that you thought you were doing what was best? Especially in light of the fact that there was always an exchange of money for the baby, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars in 1950s money that went into the church’s coffers. Any institution which doesn’t have to declare where it’s income is from can get away with anything.

In her 2011 book, The Traffic in Babies: Cross Border Adoption and Baby-Selling Between the United States and Canada, 1930-1972, McMaster University professor Karen Balcom wrote that in Nova Scotia there were “numerous examples of birth mothers who were falsely told that their children were dead so they would not interfere in adoption placements.”

And it’s not just mothers whose rights were violated. The fathers were rarely, if ever contacted for consent. The church wouldn’t want to embarrass it’s male patrons nor run the risk that they would want their child and refuse the lucrative adoption.

In addition, in Quebec children were often adopted across to Jewish couples in the US with paperwork claiming the child was born of Jews. Just another lucrative lie. And, of course, no one ever talks about the rights of the children to know who they are. The rights of siblings to know each other. The harsh handicap of having no family medical history. The half century of child abduction by the church and others has caused even legitimate adoptions to be questioned. How can an adoptee not wonder if their parent is out there looking for them, or out there mourning them. Everyone who ever had a stillborn baby must now wonder if their child is out there somewhere, looking for a way to come home.

House of the Good Shepherd Seatle where single pregnant girls were inmates and unable to leave.

Finding the Way Home–DNA

Much of the paperwork was destroyed and even more of it was manufactured. Often the only way to find out who you really are is DNA testing and even at that, the testing companies are lagging far behind the science and even further behind the need and desires of their customers. Both 23andMe and FTDNA have a ways to go to meet the needs of those seeking to find their families. But in light of these tales of horror that finally being exposed, they simply must step up their efforts to help those that have been lied to, abducted and sold. In my view, the governments of these countries needs to offer free DNA testing for anyone seeking to find their family and to work with the top genetics companies out there to develop a network of interwoven databases comparing adoptees and birth parents across companies and borders. It’s simply the right thing to do.

For more Adoptee news, follow me on Twitter: @Kasa.Rose

Credits: Herald Sun; Yahoo News and Dan Rather; Montreal Gazette; National Post; UK Daily News

Photo Credits: Rex @BBC and Vintage Seattle