sâmbătă, aprilie 13, 2024

Happy New Year ROMANIA

This is the time of year for greetings, congratulations, optimism and hope. I’ve sent my Christmas cards, eaten my roast ham and welcomed in the New Year. But something is missing.

I feel the need to say something important, new and unknown – not just that tired old phrase Happy New Year.

I want to tell people about Romania.

You may be thinking: „What the hell does Romania have to do with the New Year? Why should we congratulate a corrupt East European country that floods us with immigrants?”

Let me explain.

Romania is perhaps the most courageous nation in Europe. They have managed to stand up to some of the most powerful lobby groups in the world: the Kremlin, the State Department, the Israeli and French governments and massive offshore investment funds.

Not only does the international community not recognise these achievements but their own people, the Romanians, have nothing good to say about their own governments – whom they tend to regard as corrupt mafia clans.

On the one hand, Romania does seem to be particularly badly led: poverty levels are among the highest in Europe; corruption in public life is endemic and over 10% of the population have emigrated. On the other hand, their economy has been growing from an incredibly low base, there is macroeconomic stability and they have remained stable when compared to some of their neighbours: Greece and Ukraine in particular.

It is also the only EU Member State to have elected a member of an ethnic minority to the presidency. This fact alone is an extraordinary achievement in a political climate where nationalism, xenophobia, prejudice and fear are winning at ballot boxes on both sides of the Atlantic.

Full Disclosure

Many people reading this article may assume that I’m in the pay of the Romanian government or some dubious EU project. Otherwise, why would I be saying such positive things about a country that even its own people condemn as hopelessly corrupt?

I can assure you that I am not in the pay of any government agency and am not getting any money from the EU or any other organisation with an interest in promoting Romania. Nobody asked me to write this article.

What I can tell you is that I’m starting to work for a little Belgian charity called Against Child Trafficking, an outfit that challenges the legitimacy of international adoptions. I’d also like to explain Romania’s key role in standing up to these traffickers.

Romania stopped selling its children

After Romania’s „Christmas” revolution of 1989, the world was shocked to see televised images of thousands of malnourished children suffering in grim institutions. People from all over Europe drove to Romania with aid and international adoption was touted as a handy solution to institutionalisation.

The adoption industry didn’t talk about sales, catalogues or prices and they certainly didn’t use the words industry or business.  It all seemed so worthy: the front organisations were charities; it was presented to local authorities as an ideal „child protection” measure – poor families now had a way of getting a better life for their kids abroad. What the adoption agencies didn’t say was that they were charging western families up to $50,000 a child and some of this money was used to bribe local officials. They also didn’t say that papers were often falsified, identities were changed and the label „orphan” was often used when the child’s parents were alive and kicking.

The problem with international adoptions is that it is unaccountable. An estimated 30,000 children were adopted from Romania between 1990 and 1997 and nobody knows where they are or what happened to them. Some years ago, I asked the Romanian Office for Adoptions about these children: did they have any information about those kids and, to my amazement, they said „no – there are no records for international adoptions between 1990 and 1997.”

Romania has a model child welfare system

When presented with the evidence of this corruption, the Romanian government of 2001 imposed a Moratorium on international adoptions. This was backed up by a 2004 law on child rights and one of the most effective EU projects in Eastern Europe: the reform of its child welfare system. The network of children’s homes were closed down, foster care was introduced and it became illegal to institutionalise children under the age of two.

Rather than getting praise for reforming its disastrous child welfare system, Romania found itself under assault from the well-organised lobby for international adoptions. Highly placed Italian and French lobbyists (such as „mystery man” Francois de Combret) got their prime ministers to demand the re-opening of adoptions, and Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell and the Israeli Prime Minister piled on the pressure too.

Romania has destroyed the international adoptions industry

Against all expectations, successive Romanian governments have stood up to this global bullying effort. For this they deserve recognition, support and praise.

Romania’s stubbornness has been a disaster for the international adoptions industry, which preys on poor nations with easily corruptible institutions. This industry is used to manipulating countries that don’t comply with its business model and no other nation has managed to stand up to them like Romania.

Romania’s example has inspired other countries to follow suit. It is no longer possible to adopt children from Nepal, Venezuela and Guatemala – and the trade has been restricted in Russia, Congo and Ethiopia. International adoptions are down by over 70% and the business model is heading for an early grave.

Other examples of Romanian bravery

There are other examples of Romanian courage in the face of powerful lobby groups: unlike Hungary, Romania has managed to avoid the siren call from the Kremlin and is one of the most stable pro-NATO allies in Eastern Europe; they have stood up to a multi-billion dollar offshore investment fund which plans to make the biggest gold mine in in Europe, resulting in a vast cyanide lake that would ruin the unspoilt environment of Transylvania.

For all this the Romanians deserve a hearty congratulation: Happy New Year.

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    • Happy New Year, mr. Murray!
      I’m sorry I missed this article earlier so I’m late to reply.
      I’m also sorry for most comments above: you probably can’t follow this website because it’s in Romanian. Otherwise you would have known your kind words come against the ethos of this online community.
      Such people are part an aggresive self-anointed elite.
      Of course, the „elite” part is all just in their minds, but to them it’s true.
      They think they are better than most people in this country and the fact that their vote is equal to any other Romanian’s vote is certainly a major flaw of democracy. In fact, I’m pretty sure that some of them already made up their mind by now that elections altogether are a major flaw of democracy, unless of course their favorites win.
      After the protests in November 2015 which could easily pass for a coup and caused the prime-minister to resign, they thought they are Romania or, at least, they are „the people”.
      One year later, on December 11th 2016 (parliamentary elections), they found out they’re not. It must have been a shock, so we’re seeing cases of online amok.

      • Thanks very much for your comment.

        I don’t mind getting criticised for stating my point of view, it always happens. In fact, it is a healthy indication that people are reading the article.

        And the commentators on this blog always seem quite smart–their comments are interesting.

        BTW, I do know Romanian dar nu scriu foarte bine. Am stat in Scotia, si acuma Olanda, prea lung. Am dor de Romania.

        Cu respect


  1. Can you proove the 50k USD adoptions assertion and many such copy-paste propaganda quotes? Otherwise I kindly suggest Contributors dot ro to retire this article as it does not meet the minimal ethical standards.

    What about the fundamental right of the child to have a family? What about the fact Romanians do not adopt gipsies, Hepatitis B positive children and so on? Which deprieved many such children of a decent life and, most important, of parental love. Just adding Romania’s no hope adults.

    Inter-state agreements, as per the Hague Convention for the child rights ,of which Romania is a signatory, mandated follow up reports for every adopted child and if Romanians did not keep them, the charities did. Fortunately, there are not available for third parties, journalists included, as the family intimacy and the fundamental privacy rights prevail.

    I am quite sure Mr Francois de Combret did not take any money while helping Romanian children, on the contrary. What you forgot to say is the fact he is an adoptive parent and this tiny detail might count.

    • Dear Radu,

      Thanks for your interesting comment but who are you? I am quite open about who I am, who I work with but are you? Have you ever worked with SERA or any other child-protection NGO in Romania?

      I also worked in a kids home in Botosani between 1990 and ’92 and that was when I first came across foreign couple, and their local fixers, offering large sums of money to adopt Romanian kids. The same industry acts with impunity in poor countries all over the world. Every adoption agency charges differing fees for adopting kids from poor countries, and I have just heard that adoption from Romania is gearing up again – but only a few every year at this stage. If you want to know more just ask Bogdan Simion of SERA.

      You make a good point: „What about the fundamental right of the child to have a family?”

      But the real question is „What family?” The international adoption lobby would always say that the western/rich family is better and more loving than the child’s own extended family – where a solution can often be found. And how can it be good to rip a child away from its family, friends, language and culture and place it in a foreign family/culture/language – and then have its identity and birth certificate changed. No wonder most adoptees have teenage identity crisis and want to re-connect with their birth families, a process that is made almost impossible by state authorities sealing and making secret original birth certificates. This is identity theft on a grand scale.

      The Hague Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (both signed by Romania) state that if there is a problem with a child the priority is to support the BIRTH/BIOLOGICAL family and that international adoption is the last resort. In other words, the social welfare authority must help poor Romanian families and not send their kids abroad for a payment and call this a „child protection” measure.

      International adoption is in the interest of rich famlies in the west, but not of the kids themselves and certainly not in the interest of the families who are then deprived of their kids – often by unfrair pressure, deceipt, bribery and false promises. It is easy to convince single young mothers to sign a statement saying that they „abandon” their child and make it available for adoption.

      But how can local authorities compete (why would they search for a local solution? if a foreign adoption agency is offering thousands of Euro to take the problem away – with the promise of a better life somewhere rich.

      You also say that „Romanians do not adopt gipsies, Hepatitis B positive children and so on?”
      Really? I used to work for the Romanian Adoption Office and they had constant requests from Romanian families and I don’t remember Roma ethnicity being a problem. I’m sure some Romanian families wouldn’t want Roma kids but some surely would. I actually think Romanians are the most tolerant people I’ve come across when it comes to the Roma; they might hate them but they do tolerate them. Hepatis B would certainly be a problem for any couple adopting. But again, the problem Romanian families face is that the adoption process is very complex and slow – and they can’t compete with foreign families who want to adopt and are asked to pay for it by the agencies. (And I have just learned that Romania is slowly opening up international adoption again).

      Finally, you say that follow up reports are done by the charities. I have visited scores of famlies in Romanian villages who have lost children to international adoptions and none of them has ever received a follow up report. And why should they? As soo n as the kid is sold its identity is changed and it vanishes into another country; nobody in the sending country (Romania in this case) has a right to that information and nobody has the time to follow up.

      Regarding, Mr Francois de Combret, I did not say he took money for this. I said he and his agency SERA was the most effective lobbyist for international adoptions from Romania

  2. amu io inteleg ca i anu nou, da io nu scriu cind beau !
    ca cunoasteti politica romineasca ca orice japonez, nu ma mai indoiesc
    da, ca sa nu fiti nelamurit, minoritarul presedinte ales de romini facea parte dintr o etnie de vreun milion,ce a trait aci vreo 800 ani. in buna traditie a rominilor. ea azi nu mai exista
    in privinta vinzari copiilor, majoritari patriei care inca nu si luasera in acele vremuri numele de romini, au vechi traditi. da atunci ii vindeau la otomani
    si ca sa intelegeti cit de „they have stood up” ;tecnocratul din cuibul securist trebuia sa semneze ce ministrul mediului, Suteu,a pregatit ptr inregistrare ca Patrimoniu UNESCO,da n a semnat !

  3. Add to this ( standing up to adoption and goldmining lobbies) the most efficient anti-corruption system (probably in Europe and possibly in the world), one of the most advanced system of representation of national minorities, and yes, Romania does deserve a lot more internal and external recognition than it actually gets.

  4. „You may be thinking: “What the hell does Romania have to do with the New Year? Why should we congratulate a corrupt East European country that floods us with immigrants?””

    Așa ceva nu ar putea gândi decât un slab de minte ignorant și arogant, probabil un kipper (alegător UKIP).

    A porni de la o întrebare retorică de proastă calitate pentru a o contrazice ulterior este o strategie ieftina și inutilă, care nu doar că nu demonstrează nimic, dar poate trezi și reacții opuse celor scontate.

    Sa ne imaginăm un text intitulat „La Mulți Ani Marea Britanie !” care ar avea ca punct de plecare întrebarea :

    “Ce dracu are de-a face UK cu Anul Nou ? De ce ar trebui să felicităm o țară care și-a întemeiat bunăstarea pe genocid, sclavagism și colonialism și care revarsă asupra noastră huligani și pedofili?”

    După care ar urma argumente cum că lucrurile nu stau chiar așa, în definitiv Marea Britanie a dăruit lumii jocul de cricket și i-a bătut pe nemți în ultimul război.

    Chiar dacă textul ar fi fost scris cu cele mai pure intenții, sunt mari șanse a fi înțeles mai curând ca o batjocură.

    Cam așa stau lucrurile și cu acest text, scris, nu mă îndoiesc, cu bune intenții.

    Mă întreb în ce măsură este relevant mesajul acestor Prieteni ai României, un fel de Amicii Poporului, probabil animați de cauze frumoase, dar inadecvați la realitatea pe care se flatează că o cunosc.

    De altfel, de stricat, tot noi stricăm: cât timp stau în România, expații sunt curtați și căutați în coarne de autohtoni, mai abitir decât niște copii supradotați: e firesc să capete chemarea misiunii și convingerea indispensabilității.

    În rest, așa este: comerțul internațional cu copii a fost înțărcat. Dar pentru a spune asta, nu era musai nevoie de întrebări retorice fără noimă.

  5. Thank you, Mr. Rupert! Issues like this are growing up our self-esteem. Romanians need encouragements like this in order to be confident about their future.

  6. The author is right about this.We should recognize the positive facts about Romania.
    I would add the lowest drugs use & gun ownership per capita in all EU.

    I would also add the fact that romanians consider Russia their biggest security threat which looking around these days seems to be an exception.

      • Mr. Murray,

        I appreciate your preference for a meaningful dialogue and for the link to that documentary. Yet, you have just assumed I disagreed with your position on adoptions and I can tell your assumption is incorrect. That would not be a problem at all since I have not provided any details and arguments in support of my statement that you are exaggerating by portraying Romania/Romanians/Romanian politics/…? in that fashion. These being said allow me to present very briefly some of my arguments.

        1. It is not clear for me who are you praising in the article: Romanian politics? Romanian governments (all governments or just some of them)? Romanian people? I am saying this for there is a matter of competency and potency regarding decisions and policies that formed the attitude that you admire in your article.

        2. On the same token, you are praising Romanians for resisting Kremlin’s propaganda and its efforts to destabilize Romania. I kindly remind you that it was quite that pro-Kremlin attitude in the aftermath of the 1989 events that has thrown us into the sociopolitical misery we are today. And there are still many Romanians who vote for Ion Iliescu’s party and his offsprings. You have just seen that happen not long ago.

        3. You mention the State Department lobby as one of the things Romanians (?) stood against. I assume you are talking about the US State Department. In what regard exactly the institution you mention has tried to harm Romanian interests?

        4. I do not intend to teach or advise you in the matter of politics but you must keep in mind that a documentary, some news, hearsay, or internet search cannot give you even a fair image of reality. And if that would comfort you I am telling you that many „political scientists” form their opinions of what they arrogantly present as reality from their offices. In most cases they have never been in the country or region they are talking about (or „analyzing” I should say); not even as tourists. I cannot go into details with this for it is a laborious topic but I can recommend you to read „Seeing Like a State” by James C. Scott and „Personal Knowledge” by Michael Polanyi.

        Although I do have more observations to make I will stop here for the moment.

        • Thanks for your response. Here are some quick replies:

          1. I want to praise „successive Romanian governments” for standing up to the powerful international adoption lobby and maintaining the ban. In doing so they are upholding the values of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which says that local solutions must be found and poor families must be helped (e.g. with welfare) to look after their own kids.

          2. I’m not sure what to say about your second point, but I did make a documentary based on what Romanians were saying in January 1990. It’s called After teh Revolution and you can see a long trailer of it on Youtube.

          3. I do mean teh US State Dept, which is one of the strongest lobbying forces for intercountry adoptions.



  7. Yeah, mister Murray, we do not sell children anymore (1997), indeed.
    We burn them now (2010) :

    If they grow up, we burn them (2015) :

    If they grow old, we refuse them the medication :

    Oh, and about the ethnic minority the president belongs to, we sold them too :

    Actually, we kind of sold everything we could, really :

    All expats or foreigners living in another country are in a „bubble” that shields them from the society. Some may see the big picture, some may see the Fata Morgana. A Happy New Year to you too !

  8. hohoho – „the most courageous nation in Europe” – hohohoho –

    may be there is a bunch of people that are courageous, but in general speaking Romanians are far away from being brave right NOW!!!!!!

    For confirmation please read the post signed by the current Minister of Justice- Raluca Alexandra Prună.
    No more comments here.

  9. Zice unul ceva frumos despre Romania si sar o suta sa-l contreze.
    Ma mira chiar inversunarea unora de a demonstra contrariul.
    Chiar nu inteleg.
    Poate doar daca au vreun interes sa fie asa.

    Anyway, propun sa respectam opinia si gata..
    Thanks, mister Rupert Wolfe Murray.

    You’ll see that many romanians have nothing good to say about their own governments or their people.Oh, wait, you’ve allready, seen that :)
    Don’t give up on us. I know I won’t.
    The more people will think the same/see the positive around, the better for all of us.

  10. I think using less bombastic wording could have been produced a better balanced article… the author’s message is honest but eventually gets overwhelmed by useless exaggerations: „Romania has a model child welfare system„, „Romania has destroyed the international adoptions industry”, „Romanian bravery„.

    Happy New Year!

  11. Hi Rupert,
    Happy New Year!
    Don’t be upset about all these answers.
    People are quite frustrated after the last elections as you can imagine.
    It is pure revolt, the second phase after negation. For a while we’ll go this way.
    However, the very bad quality of public opinion and mass media is an important factor for our current crisis.

    hope to see you sometime soon.

    În ceea ce îi privește pe năbădăioșii noștri comentatori…
    Puțină cumpătare și bun simț nu ar strica mai ales când vorbiți cu un om care în loc să se vaite a făcut ceea ce puțini dintre noi știu să facă, adică să ajute oameni și copii aflați la nevoie.
    Probabil că sunteți obișnuiți cu oameni care scriu mai mult și fac mai puțin și atunci dați la gioale ca pe maidan.

    • @Razvan
      Inainte de-a face acuzatii de lipsa de bun simt ar trebui ca dvs. sa demonstrati ca-l aveti si acest lucru nu reiese din comentariul dvs.
      In primul rand faceti o eroare logica elementara, un sofism mai exact. Daca un tamplar, medic chirurg, macaragiu, asistent social, taran agricultor, profesor, sau voluntar al unui ONG ce ajuta copiii orfani si familiile in nevoie, oricare dintre acestia facandu-si foarte bine meseria, spune ceva superficial, fals, incorect, sau sare in concluzii bombastice, nu inseamna ca profesonialismul lor la locul de munca le confera veridicitate spuselor. Aplicand aceasta logica in cazul de fata, spunem ca excelentul profesionalism al domnului Murray in materie de trafic de copii sub paravanul adoptiei nu-i poate confirma sub nici o forma cateva aberatii emise in acest articol; si acelasi excelent profesionalism al domnului Murray in materie de adoptii nu-mi poate invoca mie lipsa de bun simt in urma unei critici argumentate si pe puncte asa cum am facut-o mai sus, desigur in limita spatiului acestei platforme.
      Acum, daca oricare dintre mai sus mentionatii meseriasi exceptionali profesional cat si alti meseriasi catastrofali in profesia lor sau daca pur si simplu un pierde vara, face o declaratie pe care o argumenteaza suficient si corect atunci nu putem decat sa acceptam adevarul astfel revelat si sa-l apreciem deschis pe cel ce ne-a impartasit acest lucru.

      Un al doilea lucru ce vreau sa-l semnalez din comentariul dvs. mustrator este legat de ultima fraza din comentariu unde sustineti ca „Probabil că sunteți obișnuiți cu oameni care scriu mai mult și fac mai puțin și atunci dați la gioale ca pe maidan.” Formularea cel putin ambigua atunci cand va adresati noua, comentatorilor „nabadaiosi”, „fara cumpatare”, „lipsiti de bun simt” si „datatori la gioale pe maidan”, spunand ca suntem obisnuiti cu „oameni care scriu mai mult si fac mai putin” ma lasa in ceata. Incerc totusi sa razbat ceata semantica si spun ca dvs. ati fost educat in spiritul „datul cu tarnacopul e munca si nu studiul si scrisul”; ca poate scrisul e vreun „moft” (ca sa citez un mare faptuitor ce credea ferm ca proprietatea privata cade in aceasta categorie). Pai eu sunt obisnuit cu oameni ce „scriu mai mult” ca asa mi-am deprins educatia si am fost capabil cu ratiunea proprie sa incep a distinge ce e bine si ce nu, ce e drept si ce nedrept samd. Si va aduc aminte ca ideile de ajutor si binefacere pt. cei oropsiti vin tot de la indivizi ce „scriau mai mult”. Si in ultimul rand, va intreb, a scrie nu inseamna „a face” ceva, a faptui un lucru si aici vorbesc in special de efectele scrisului?

      • 1. nu aveam in minte comentariul dumneavoastra.
        2. dar acum si dumneavoastra exagerati. Simtiti nevoia musai de bombastic si aberatii ? Treaba dumneavoastra.
        3. Romania s’a schimbat in ultimii 10 ani. Ca s’au petrecut si lucruri bune … poate nu e de amintit. Asteptarile tot sunt mai mari decat cele petrecute.
        4. Cineva vrea sa fie si putin optimist. Nu ii impartasesc optimismul dar de aici pana la aberatii e mult.
        5. ma refeream la scrisul online. Comentariile sunt mai aproape de a vorbi decat de a face.


Vă rugăm să introduceți comentariul dvs.!
Introduceți aici numele dvs.


Rupert Wolfe Murray
Rupert Wolfe Murrayhttp://www.wolfemurray.com
Rupert Wolfe Murray este consultant independent pe probleme de comunicare. Scotian cu resedinta la Bucuresti

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