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Adoptive Moms Jailed in Egypt

To their defenders, all they were trying to do was provide orphans with a better chance in life. To the prosecution, they were involved in forging documents to try to adopt children illegally and smuggle them out of the country.

Two American women are currently sitting in an Egyptian jail awaiting trial for human trafficking. How did they end up there? Both women found orphans in Cairo orphanages and then both women made a fatal error. Instead of following the correct procedure (which includes getting permission from the orphanage to remove the child from Egypt and obtaining a rarely granted Guardianship Order); the women obtained fraudulent birth certificates for the children and presented these to the embassy.

US citizens often have the misconception that the consular staff is there to assist in bringing their relative to the US. In fact, the consular staff is charged with determining who is eligible for a visa and who is not. Every country has its own laws governing how children can be removed from that country. These laws provide a mechanism to prevent large scale child trafficking. The US government cannot and will not grant a visa to a child to enter the US unless it is satisfied that a Judge in the child’s home country has reviewed the matter and determined that the child will be safe. The US also has a series of checks and balances (including a mandatory social worker evaluation and an extensive criminal background check) to ensure that children don’t fall into the wrong hands. If a consular officer believes that someone is trying to unlawfully remove or traffic a child from a foreign country, he or she is obligated to inform local authorities. The procedure is the same regardless of whether the potential trafficker is a known pedophile or a well meaning prospective adoptive mother.

Unfortunately, the two women who are currently charged with child trafficking now face 10 year prison sentences in Egyptian jails and the babies they wanted to adopt have been returned to their orphanages and will likely remain there permanently.


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