After the drama 2 weeks ago, when Madame Rose was taken away for questioning and the orphanage was effectively closed down, things returned to a semblance of normality the following week when school started back. Madame Rose had been allowed to return to the orphanage, but had had to go to the Police Station each day for further discussions.
It turns out the issue did not concern the two children who went to the US the previous week after all, but rather, an adoption of 3 siblings that took place in 2008. Madame showed me the paperwork and it seems the adoption was arranged legitimately through an adoption agency. There was a document relinquishing all parental rights, ostensibly signed by both parents, although the same person had signed for both (ie someone had written the equivalent of “John Smith and Mary Smith” where the parents were to sign) and the signature was witnessed by Madam Rose. Nonetheless, it seems that the birth mother had had no problem with the adoption until very recently, when the two parents came into conflict with one another. The father had been receiving annual updates on the children but had failed to pass on the news to the mother; I imagine they had other gripes with one another as well.
I never got to hear how things ended up, but the general feeling at the orphanage was that it was no big deal and would soon blow over.
The interesting thing for me was hearing the locals’ opinions about the whole thing. The idea that everyone in the West is rich is so entrenched that most people thought the birth mother should be happy that her children had gone to America. Others thought the American adoptive mother could easily send the children back, either for good or for a few days to sort things out. There was no understanding that adopting a child is a big deal for a Westerner and the cost is prohibitive.
Enoch, the young boy whose family I befriended, had been telling me for a long time that his mother would be overjoyed if he could go to America. His mother told me the same thing, until I explained to her that adoption means that the child becomes the son or daughter of the new parents forever. She had been under the impression that kind Americans came and took children away, looked after them and gave them a good education and then brought them back when they turned 18. (Madame Rose had told her this.) Once she understood adoption, she said she would never allow it for her children.