Committee requests CBS to conduct survey among intercountry adoptees

(by Henri Kruithof)

The Committee Investigating Intercountry Adoption in the Past has requested the Central Bureau of Statistics to ask a large number of intercountry adoptees about their personal situation.


Why, anyway?

Tjibbe Joustra replies: “The Committee considers it important to know how adoptees that have come to the Netherlands from other countries fare. What is their lifestyle and what are their opinions? For example, we want to know how they look upon their own adoption. How is or was their relationship with their educator? How are their social contacts, how is their health? But also: are they searching for their roots? Or do they feel discriminated against? Those kind of important, personal questions.”


Who are being approached?

Joustra: “The target group for the questionnaire consists of all the intercountry adoptees living in the Netherlands who were born in the last three decades of the last century. Of all those adopted, about half receive a letter with a code to complete the questionnaire online. In addition, CBS will also approach a control group of non-adoptees in order to make a comparison.”


When is the letter coming?

Joustra: “The letter will be in the letterbox from mid-April. What I would like to stress is that our aim is to be able to say something about the international adoptees as a group. Our research is not about individuals. The investigation is therefore strictly confidential. And I’m sure the protection of privacy is in good hands with CBS.”


Is this actually a good time to start such an investigation?

Joustra: “You have to imagine that such a large survey requires good preparation.  Respondents should be given time to complete the questionnaire. And processing the results also takes time. We planned to put out the letters in mid-April. Because of all the consternation surrounding the Corona-virus, we hesitated for a while whether we should stick to that. Maybe many people’s heads aren’t there. And moreover, many people among adoptees will also work in healthcare, education, etcetera.  They have something else to do. On the other hand, of course, we do not want to delay the investigation unnecessarily. Also because it is still uncertain what the situation will look like in a few months from now. That is why we have discussed this with the experts of CBS. They advised us to continue the investigation. ”


But won’t that affect the results?

Joustra: ” Of course we discussed that with CBS. Most questions are factual in nature. The response is unlikely to be affected by the current situation. Some questions however, particularly the ones that are emotional in nature, can be affected. That is why we ask people to think back to how they felt before the measures when answering these questions. Fortunately, CBS is also approaching a control group of non-adoptees and therefore they are well able to filter out the Corona influence with the help of statistics.”


What do the measures mean for the Committee’s work?

“Fortunately, the work of the Committee itself continues as well as possible. With some adjustments, of course. In recent weeks, for example, the Committee has not met physically, but online. And of course, the Committee can no longer receive any stakeholders for interviews”, Joustra says. “All researchers are now working from home. Fortunately, they still have enough archival material available to investigate.” “What can play a role in a few weeks is whether the paper archives, such as the National Archives and those of the various departments, will reopen. They’re closed for visitors now. And also travelling to other countries is not possible now. No one knows how long that’s going to take. So unfortunately, the original goal of reporting in October is no longer possible, I’m afraid. That’s too bad, but necessity knows no law.”


What about research abroad, by the way?

Joustra: “In 2019, our researchers have been in Sri Lanka. And before the outbreak of the Corona crisis, they went to Colombia. Colombia was an important adoption country for the Netherlands in the 1980s and 1990s. The researchers are positive about the cooperation in Colombia. They were also able to discuss matters with the Colombian Council for Child Protection. We believe that the research on the ground in Colombia has produced sufficient material to give a good picture of the context of intercountry adoption practices in the past over there.”

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