8 August 2008

Liberia: Bishop Kofi Linked to Illegal Adoption

Monrovia — Deputy Health Minister for Social Welfare, Joseph Geebro has accused Dr. Edward Kofi, Bishop of the Africa Christian Fellowship International (ACFI) of illegally adopting over 40 children in Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties, but the clergyman has refuted the allegation, saying the recruitment was done in acquiescence with county authorities.

Minister Geebro said the adoption of the children from the two counties was illegal because Bishop Kofi did not get approval from the Ministry of Health.

He explained that the action by the clergyman to adopt children from the counties was wrong, especially when there is a current ban on adoption.

In reaction to the Deputy Minister's accusation, Dr. Kofi said he did not visit the two counties to adopt children, but to enable them benefit from his institution's scholarship program.

He said his request was done in acquiescence with counties authorities and has no link with adoption as is being alleged by Deputy Minister Geebro.

"We accepted the children based on appeals from their parents to have them placed on our scholarship scheme in Monrovia," the ACFI boss told reporters.

Dr. Kofi explained that during his visit to the United States early this year, he had discussions with a fellowship of medical practitioners to offer free services to less fortunate Liberians.

He said the group, which visited Liberia early July upon an invitation from the ACFI, traveled to the southeastern region on July 7, 2008 where they performed some medical operations.

Dr. Kofi noted that during the group's visit to the southeast, they were met upon arrival by the acting superintendents of Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties respectively.

He said following series of consultations, the medical delegation was allowed by county officials to use health facilities in the two counties in order to attend to the sick.

Based on the services rendered to the people in the southeast, citizens of Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties gave 150 acres and 50 acres respectively to ACFI for the purpose of planting church, schools and health centers.

Bishop Kofi said it was also predicated upon the kind of medical services rendered by the US medical delegation that some parents decided to give 40 children to ACFI to provide them scholarships.

He emphasized that the acceptance of the children was based on pleads from their parents, adding "so it is unfortunate for the Minister to term it as adoption."

Besides, Dr. Kofi argued that adoption is not illegal in Liberia until a bill can be passed by the National Legislature.

He said the pronouncement by Deputy Minister Geebro has the propensity to impede the opportunity provided for Liberian children.

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