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France-adoption

Malians adopted in France file lawsuit for fraudulent adoption

350 Malian children have been adopted in France via Rayon de Soleil
350 Malian children have been adopted in France via Rayon de Soleil Riccardo Niels Mayer - stock.adobe.com - RICCARDO MAYER
3 min

Nine French citizens, adopted as children in Mali in the 1990s, have filed a complaint against French non-profit Rayon de soleil (RSEE) for fraud and breach of trust in its adoption procedure.

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The events, uncovered by Le Monde daily and broadcaster TV Monde, go back to the period 1989 to 1996 during which time RSEE is alleged to have deliberately lied to facilitate the adoption of nine Malian children.

Now in their 30s, they accuse RSEE and one of its senior employees, Danielle B, of lying to both their biological and adoptive parents.

Marie M., 32, one of the plaintiffs, was adopted in 1989 at the age of 18 months. She told La Croix her adoption had been "a happy one" but when she wanted to find out more about her origins she discovered her birth certificate had been "falsified using tippex". 

She returned to Mali in January this year where she discovered that during the 1990s poor families had been approached and promised that their children would return to Mali during the holidays and then permanently once they were 18.

Seven of the nine plaintiffs have traced their biological families in Mali and each claims they were tricked into giving up their children.

Abuse of the adoption-protection procedure

“Rayon de soleil tricked the biological parents, telling them their children were going to France for a limited period – to get a better education, for example  – but that most would return to Mali,” Joseph Breham, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers told RFI.

The non-profit used a procedure in Malian law known as “adoption-protection” which means parents can temporarily hand over parental authority in times of difficulty.

While some Malian families, often on low incomes, believed they were conferring their children to French families for a few months or years, all contact between them and their offspring was severed.

Illiterate families

“That kind of 'adoption-protection' cannot be transformed in France into plenary adoption,” Breham continued. “So to mislead the French judge the NGO made the parents – who couldn’t read and write – sign an act by which they agreed to abandon all their rights over the children.”

This allowed the French courts to pronounce a plenary adoption. But as Breham points out, there was also “an inadequate knowledge of the Malian legal system which at the time didn’t allow plenary adoption [at all]”.

Malian media had already voiced concerns over RSEE’s adoption procedures in the 1990s.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs believe there may be other alleged victims of fraud and expect them to come forward.

On its current website RSEE “denies taking part in any human trafficking of any nature whatsoever and is ready and willing to provide French courts with all documents relating to these adoptions”.  

The NGO maintains that the families concerned were told they were permanently severing all links with their children when they gave them up for adoption.

 

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