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Netherlands Halts Adoptions From Abroad After Exposing Past Abuses


Last year, she sued the agency and the government for what she called questionable practices, but a court dismissed the claims, saying too much time had passed.

“I have mixed feelings,” about the commission’s investigation, Ms. Butink said in an interview. “I didn’t expect that the minister would take action.”

But, she added, “we knew that something was wrong.”

In 1998, the Netherlands joined The Hague Adoption Convention, an international agreement aimed at preventing crimes and fraud in international adoptions. That made the rules stricter, but it did not go far enough, Mr. Dekker said.

While the report covers tens of thousands of children brought to the Netherlands over several decades, international adoption has dwindled in recent years. In 2019, Dutch parents adopted just 145 children from other countries, according to the government.

“I hope that there’ll be an open discussion about this worldwide,” said Hilbrand Westra, a specialist on the topic who was adopted to the Netherlands from Korea in the early 1970s. Mr. Westra said he had worked with people for about three decades who have suffered psychologically from adoption.

“We need a permanent stop,” to adoptions from abroad, Mr. Westra said.

Many others disagreed.

Sander Vlek, the chairman of the National Organization for Adoptive Parents and the father of two adopted children from South Africa, said the decision to suspend international adoptions was made hastily, without input from Parliament or scientific research about contemporary adoptions.

“This severely disadvantages children for whom parents will no longer be available,” he said.

Statistics Netherlands, a governmental statistical bureau, surveyed more than 3,000 people for the commission’s report. Among both adoptees and others, about 70 percent said they thought international adoption should remain possible.


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