Heartbreak for parents in Indian child scam

Heartbreak for parents in Indian child scam

Shannon Molloy and Melissa Singer | August 24, 2008 - 6:29AM

Families who are victims of an alleged Indian adoption racket face the prospect of having to return their child to their biological parents.

Indian authorities say at least 13 children adopted by Australians were snatched by gangs between 1998 and 1999 and sold for less than $300 to Chennai-based adoption agency Malaysia Social Services.

An article due to appear in this week's Time magazine, reports that investigations centre on one girl, identified only as Zabeen, who was snatched as a two-year-old from outside her home in Chennai.

The girl, now 9, is reportedly living in Queensland with her adoptive parents, who are said to be stunned by the revelations.

Queensland Child Safety Minister Margaret Keech told The Sun-Herald her department was told of the allegations last year and immediately launched an internal audit of all adoption cases involving Indian children between 1995 and 2007.

Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland has also ordered an investigation. It is understood most of the children ended up in Queensland, the ACT and Tasmania.

''These allegations demonstrate why it is necessary to maintain rigid procedural safeguards to ensure the integrity of the overseas adoption system and, in particular, to avoid the exploitation of children,'' Mr McClelland said.

Federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson said Australia had a moral responsibility to return any children found to have been stolen.

''Let us hope the inquiry, in fact, does not find that children have been effectively kidnapped,'' Dr Nelson said.

''And the right thing, we would expect in most cases, will be to look at returning them to their rightful families.''

Ms Keech said she had ordered a fresh review of Queensland's inter-country adoption processes.

The NSW Government says no similar cases have been reported in the state.

Ms Keech said her department had contacted the Queensland family concerned and offered support.

''As a mother myself, my heart goes out to them ... this Queensland family has been absolutely devastated by this news, but I also feel for the family in India that has lost a child.''

She said responsibility for the child's adoption rested with the High Court of Madras, which ''endorsed and approved the adoption''.

Tony Dunne, president of Intercountry Adoptive Families Queensland, said Australia's adoption processes were extremely rigorous.

He said Australia only dealt with countries that were signatories to The Hague convention on inter-country adoption.

''I am comfortable that children coming to Australia are genuine orphans.''
Figures from the Attorney-General's Department show 327, or 10 per cent, of overseas adoptions between 1997-98 and 2006-07 were from India.

Source: The Sun-Herald

A sample of the AP perspective

I posted a similar article, one that features the AP experience is this type of "child placement".

Apparently, kidnapping means very little to those who really want a child.  [See:  http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/21144#comment-5697]

hearbreak for which sets of parents?

When are we going to talk more about hearbreak of the parents?
I mean the parents who would be called parents without the terms "bio", "natural", "birth", "first" if there was no child trafficking...

An update on the case

A Tasmania government press release states: 

A thorough audit of Tasmania’s adoption records has revealed that no children have been adopted by Tasmanian parents from the Indian agency at the centre of international investigations into child stealing.

The Manager of Adoption & Out of Home Care Standards in the Department of Health and Human Services, Una Hobday, said the audit had examined all 14 adoptions of children from India by Tasmanian parents in the past 20 years.

“None of those adoptions involved the Indian adoption agency Malaysian Social Service which is the subject of an international police investigation into allegations that children were snatched from Indian streets and adopted out under fake identities.

“All of the Tasmanian adoptions were legally endorsed by the courts in India after approval by the central authority for adoptions in India, the Central Authority Resources Agency, and were completed in accordance with Australia’s inter-country adoption protocols.”

Ms Hobday said inter-country adoptions had comprised almost two thirds of Tasmania’s adoption program over the past three years.

In the three years to June, 85 children were adopted by Tasmanian parents, including 53 from other countries. http://www.media.tas.gov.au/release.php?id=24586

I can't help but ask, if records can be falsified, and people can be paid to keep certain facts secret or hidden, how reliable is a "thorough investigation"? 

Meanwhile, over in India, reports are still pending:

 A lucrative racket worth Rs.10 million in selling kidnapped children abroad has been discovered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), officials said on Monday.


At least three such children have been traced to Queensland, Australia, and Wisconsin, in the US, they said.

"A case has been registered against the Malaysian Social Service, a Chennai-based private company licensed by the Indian government, for having sent at least 120 children for adoption abroad. Our investigations found a simple modus operandi. Street children were kidnapped for a mere Rs.500 and given for adoption abroad for sums ranging from as low as Rs.10,000 to as high as $10,000 per child," a CBI official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

In 2005, the Madras High Court, hearing public interest litigations, had ordered the CBI to probe the matter.

The CBI is set to submit its investigation report to the high court "in a day or two".

Inquiries revealed that the NGO had collected at least Rs.10 million by way of 'adoption fees' and proceedings have been initiated against it, the official added.

The Indian Council for Child Welfare, an NGO, felt that exposure of the racket was a "crying necessity".

"Obviously, kidnapped children have been passed off by impostors claiming to be their mothers donating them for adoption. Their real parents may not even be aware where their children are and may not have received a single rupee as compensation," said ICCW secretary Chandra Thanikachalam.

"While bringing the guilty to book may be a problem due to the absence of complainants, disturbing children living abroad with emotional moorings may prove counterproductive as none of them would like to return to a poverty-stricken life back home," Thanikachalam added.

It may be impossible to prosecute foster parents based abroad for their unwitting role in the crime, legal experts said.

"Many foreign countries do not recognise Indian laws or some can reject efforts to prosecute alleged wrongdoers outright because their deeds may not constitute an offence in the countries where the children are living now," advocate N. Raja said.  [From: "CBI unearths child kidnapping racket", http://www.hindustantimes.com/storypage/storypage.aspx?sectionName=&id=e1802117-cbc6-4bd0-a31b-6b9f623243db&&Headline=CBI+unearths+child+kidnapping+racket&strParent=strParentID]


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