Tens of thousands of children born under these brutal conditions. Though the children were not orphans, pictures of these benighted children made their way into the press. Largely advertised as orphans, many were adopted in the United States and the United Kingdom. When the children disappeared, mothers were told their children had died.
The nightmarish, futuristic world was not invented by some novelist: It was the real world of Romania under the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in the 80s.
A PAPER ORPHAN
One of those "paper orphans" was adopted by a Canadian couple, Pat and Bruce Beanland. Bruce had traveled to Romania and was told that the girl, 11-months-old at the time, had been abandoned by her mother. The girl had scabies, the orphanage was disgusting, and he brought her home with papers that looked legal, including a birth certificate. It had taken him about a month to sort out the paperwork, greasing the bureaucracy with bribes along the way. The Saskatchewan government gave the adoption its stamp of approval.
Once in Canada, the little girl--now Andreea Beanland--had screaming tantrums at night, nightmares that continued into her teens. “The older I got, I really struggled with my identity,” Beanland told a reporter for the Toronto Star recently. Andreea grew up hearing that her parents probably had died in the uprising against Ceausescu who was shot, along with his wife, on Christmas Day, 1989.
Andreea moved to Toronto to pursue film making a year ago, and there she began to search her history. Using information on her birth certificate--a mother's name, father's name, and a birth date--she registered on a Facebook site for Romanian adoptees. But the spelling of her mother's name was off and that nearly thwarted the search. Though nothing matched initially, someone suggested she check Facebook again. In August of this year, she got a hit with her information, and immediately messaged the woman. The reply came back: I am your mother.
ON A PLANE TO 'HOME'
Andreea did not sleep for the next 32 hours. Because of facial similarity, there was no doubt in Andreea's mind that she had found her mother. The birth date on the certificate that Andreea had was also off by about a week--it listed her birthday at Nov. 23, 1989, when it is actually Nov. 16. The father's name is also incorrect. The mother's birth certificate has no serial number, and does not list her name, or the father's.
Andreea was on a plane to Romania in early November; she stopped in Ireland to meet three sisters and celebrated her birthday with her mother this year. The gifts were simple--shampoo and body wash. They did, however, drink champagne and have a chocolate sponge cake. "I'm at home," she said in an interview via Skype with the Star. The reporter noted their similarity, and how comfortable they were with one another. Andreea plans to apply for Romanian citizenship and attend a university in a nearby city, and meanwhile is living with her in mother in her mother's small village.
Andree's mother, Cocuta Buzatu, says that Andreea was her tenth child, and after she gave birth to her at home, an ambulance came and took the baby away. The father was abusive and is not a part of the reunion. The story is a little fuzzy here, but it appears the girl was returned home, developed pneumonia, and in December and was taken to a hospital, along with her four-year-old sister, who had epilepsy. Buzatu traveled to the hospital to see her daughters, but only two weeks later, she was told that they both had died. When she protested, she was told the deaths could not be proven because the bodies had been incinerated.
Eleven years ago, Buzuta received a letter informing her that the older girl was indeed alive and institutionalized; the family picked her up the same day. After that happened, Buzatu wondered if her other daughter might be alive and that is what led her to investigate the Facebook page and register her information.
LYING THE NORM
“The Romanian government stole and sold me,” said Andreea in the interview. “(My mom) did not sign my papers; she still has my birth certificate, and those are the two things you need to be adopted.” She wondered how many other adoptees are in the same position, knowing that most of them will never find their parents, or learn the true story.
|...about being adopted from Romania...|
“Often the families were forced to give up the children,” Federici said. “It was a disaster zone, and people were buying and selling kids left and right.” Of course we know that it was not only in Romania that such corruption in adoption and trafficking of children took place, and still does today. Any country that has a mass exodus of children via adoption is almost certainly a hot bed of kidnapping and child selling.
In May 1993, Canada and more than 60 other countries implemented The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, a framework to regulate overseas adoptions, though corruption is still rampant.
Andreea did not have a bad adoptive family. Her relationship with them was not the reason that she chose to find her other mother, and she remains in close contact with the Beanlands. Her adoptive mother said: "I hope she finds whatever it is she is missing."
Years ago, I met one of those Romanian orphans, adopted by a single woman. The girl was about three. I remember staring into her face and wondering then what her real story was. As I write tonight, I can't get her face out of my mind.--lorraine
NEXT: How did most of the Romanian adoptees fare? How did the ones who were institutionalized and not adopted do?
Romanian reunion with a birth mother thought dead
Andreea is on Facebook, and has a blog where she talks about her experience:
The Lucky Fork in the Road
I was not able to use any pictures.
Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists
Essays compiled by the Vance Twins
"...Though I am no fan of adoption in general I recognize that sometimes adoption is the best solution to a bad situation. But I have read enough about intercountry adoption to see it as
a form of child-trafficking, often carried on by unscrupulous officials and just plain scumbags in order to line their pockets. We've written about the dark and ugly side of adoption from Guatemala, Ethiopia, China, Haiti and poor nations in general (links below), nations from where children have been used as a commodity to enrich themselves and in turn, their country, but even I was not prepared for the fierce writing in this remarkable collection."--from my review: Adoptionland: Brutal essays by adult adoptees expose the truth of intercountry adoption
The Tip Jar
by Viorica Culea
"And apparently this same kind of story--finding parents alive--happened to more than one: "Follow one young woman's real life journey from infancy in a horrific Romanian orphanage, to the broken promise of a loving adoptive family. Her new life with her adoptive parents turns into a nightmare of drunken rage and hostility towards she and her heritage. As she discovers where she is from, she decides to reconnect with her roots and seek out her natural family, still living in Romania."--Amazon
A holiday gift idea, we love the title...
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand
....the inspiring true story of a man who lived through a series of catastrophes almost too incredible to be believed, from the Olympics to a prisoner of war by the Japanese. But the title sounds like us, right? Hillenbrand is a good writer, and the movie will be released soon. It's definitely on my list.