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Colombian state 'kidnaps' children for overseas adoption: Reports

Colombia's Family Welfare Institute "kidnaps" Colombian children by giving them up for adoption to foreign families against the will of their biological parents, several reports said.

In a program aired Sunday, television station Caracol told the story of a young boy named Steven who was born in Colombia but adopted by a Dutch family.

Steven's biological parents said he was taken from them against their will by the ICBF. The agency said Steven's original parents were unfit to care for him and that the state put the child up for adoption for his own safety. Colombia is one of the few countries where children can be placed with foreign families without the consent of their biological parents.

This is not the first time the ICBF has been accused of unjustifiably taking children from parents and sending them abroad. Colombian channel RCN TV and Colombian newspaper El Tiempo have run similar stories in the past.

Responding to the accusations ICBF Director Diego Molano told the El Colombiano newspaper the claims were based on errors made in old cases and the ICBF is changing its policies to correct them.
"It's eight or nine problem cases and we're looking into them now," said Molano.

In cases of children being forcibly taken from parents Molano said, "There are reasons the [ICBF] has taken these decisions," citing children in at-risk situations.

According to the U.S. State Department Colombia allowed the adoption of 216 children by U.S. families last year. In comparison, Colombia's neighbor Ecuador allowed six children to be sent to the US in 2011.