Israelis Hear About Bribery In Latin America Adoptions

Date: 1988-07-18

She is just one among hundreds of Israelis to adopt Brazilian-born infants, and she insists that her son’s papers are all in order.

She is just one among hundreds of Israelis to adopt Brazilian-born infants, and she insists that her son’s papers are all in order.

But at the same time, she admits that she helped bribe Brazilian officials to expedite the boy’s adoption and never got his real mother’s signature on the birth certificate. And now, like many others, she is suddenly so afraid that she will not even give her name.

”I paid for the adoption service, and they told me that most of the money went to bribe the police and judge,” said the 35-year-old mother of a child now 2 years old. ”They brought me the papers and asked me to sign, so I signed them. But I was never in court.”

This mother and hundreds like her did not worry until this spring. For the last four months, though, Israel’s attention has been riveted by a court case that centered on a Brazilian-born child adopted by Israelis.

The court found that the little girl, Bruna Vasconcelos, who is 2, had been kidnapped. Recently, under court order, she flew back to Brazil with her natural mother, Rosalida Goncalves. Miss Goncalves traced her daughter to Israel after the infant’s abduction by a babysitter in 1986. TV Station Finances Suit

A British television station, making a documentary about widespread baby-trafficking in Brazil, paid for Miss Goncalves to pursue her daughter to Israel and then sue for her return in the Israeli Supreme Court.

The adoptive parents, Simone Turgeman and her husband, Yaakov, said they did not know that the girl had been kidnapped when they adopted her from a Brazilian agency 20 months before.

The case dominated Israeli newspapers and television. A court-appointed psychologist determined that the little girl would fare better if handed over to her Brazilian parents quickly after the court decision.

David Ben-Nahum, the director of the Association for Private Adoption in Israel, estimated that 2,000 South American infants have been adopted by Israeli couples who were unable to get children from the Government adoption agency. ‘Something Not Right’

”People fell prey to crooks and paid huge sums, and in quite a few cases something was not right about the procedures,” Mr. Ben-Nahum said. For example, many of these Israelis may have taken babies with the permission of the mother but not of the Brazilian court, he explained.

Many other Israelis used brokers or lawyers to handle adoptions, as did the mother who helped bribe Brazilian officials. Like her, they had to rely on these go-betweens to complete the adoption procedure.

She said that ”they offered me my son’s birth certificate, with the signature of his real mother” showing that she had given him up. But the Israeli woman said she had taken only a month’s vacation from her job, and by then she had already been in Brazil seven weeks.

”I couldn’t wait,” she added. ”I told them I just wanted to go home.”

The lawyers later sent the birth certificate by mail, but without the mother’s signature. Parents at Risk

It is parents like her who are now the most frightened, according to a study by Hebrew University’s School of Social Work.

”The people who didn’t see the procedure all the way through are afraid,” said Professor Eliezer Jaffee, who directed the study. ”They worked with brokers and lawyers, and they didn’t know if they were black marketeers or not.”

What Israel needs, he said, ”is an independent, nonprofit, private adoption agency that can make arrangements with all the international agencies.”

But under current law, Israelis turn to other countries for babies because of an adoption monopoly by the government agency, Service on Behalf of the Child, Mr. Ben-Nahum continued.

Mr. Ben-Nahum, himself the father of a 22-month-old boy adopted outside Israel, said his association also wanted to see private adoption agencies established in Israel.

”The only solution now is for people to go abroad, not knowing the language or the laws – just out into the wilderness to find babies,” he said.

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