Satara to Spain: Grandma wants adoption probed

Date: 2009-02-04

Swati Deshpande
TNN

MUMBAI: Kisabai Lokhande, an illiterate vegetable vendor from Karad, has been fighting a lonely battle to get back her two granddaughters who went "missing'' from a children's remand home in Satara in 2004. In 2005, the girls were learnt to have been adopted by a Spanish couple.

Lokhande (66), after having protested outside the Satara collector's office in 2007, has now filed a police complaint seeking a probe against the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), the Central Adoption Resource Centre (CARA), a Spanish NGO and a Pune-based private adoption agency for executing the allegedly illegal cross-border adoption without her consent.

She also sent the complaint to the Chief Justice of the Bombay high court with a plea to turn it into a suo motto habeas corpus petition to get her granddaughters back. The crucial issue she is raising now with the help of advocate Pradeep Havnur is that various agencies connived to get the girls declared "destitute'' in December 2004 to facilitate their international adoption.

After the children's mother disappeared and their father died in 2004, Lokhande began taking care of the two girls-then aged five and 10. However, she soon sent them to a remand home in Karad for proper education. The CWC sent the girls to the Satara home for "further rehabilitation'' where she visited them four times, social activist Anjali Kate, now helping the grandmother, said.

In September 2004, the adoption agency issued a notice in a newspaper inviting objections before declaring the girls as abandoned and destitute. The children were admitted by the Satara CWC to Preet Mandir, a Pune-based adoption agency. In December 2004, the CWC declared them destitute and, by September 2005, they had a new adopted home in Spain. According to Lokhande's complaint, she came to know about the adoption only in 2007.

Lokhande has now alleged that her granddaughters were "kidnapped'' and that despite being the children's guardian, she was not informed. She is alleging a larger conspiracy involving various agencies to have children declared abandoned and then be given away illegally, perhaps even "sold'', in the international adoption market. Preet Mandir's stand has always been that it has been following all the rules and regulations in inter-country adoptions.

"In spite of my residential address being available with the CWC, it declared the girls as destitute,'' Lokhande has stated in the police complaint.

Reply to an RTI query, a Pune district officer said, "Prima facie, it appears that procedures were followed by the agency, but the grandmother should have been contacted.... And children cannot be termed orphan when they have guardians. We hold the adoption procedure was illegal.''

"The law is often broken with impunity since the money in child trafficking is lucrative,'' Havnur said.

Lonely battle

2004 | The children's mother disappears while their father dies. Grandmother sends them to remand home for education

Dec 2004 | Child Welfare Committee (CWC) declares the two girls as destitute

Sept 2005 | Children reportedly adopted by a Spanish couple

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