Pay in dollars and adopt a child
VK Shashikumar / CNN-IBN
PUNE: Adoption is not charity—it's about creating a new family. However, for foreigners looking for Indian babies the drill is simple. They just need to talk dollars.
Six CNN-IBN reporters conducted a Special Investigation over six months in Pune, Maharashtra, Rourkela, Cochin and London.
Two CNN-IBN reporters posed as an NRI couple wanting to adopt a child. They landed up at an adoption center in Pune called Preet Mandir, where the owner J S Bhasin has babies on offer—readymade and off the shelf.
What J S Bhasin does is a crime and the law calls such a person a child trafficker. Bhasin has been selling babies to foreigners for years, breaking every adoption law in the country. Preet Mandir is his baby shop.
The CNN-IBN investigation found that Bhasin runs a countrywide network to source unwanted babies and he may be even stealing them. The babies come from hapless unwed mothers, and he always makes sure he gets the babies cheap.
Bhasin then sells them to uninformed foreigners, often for as much as Rs 5.5 lakh per baby.
CNN-IBN reporters posed as wealthy and childless NRIs and pretended that they were scared of paperwork and red tape.
A conversation with Bhasin revealed that he would go to any length to traffic a baby.
When the reporters met 'social workers' at Preet Mandir, they were assured that the adoption was a simple process.
The team just walked in and the 'social workers' asked them to select a baby.
CNN-IBN: "I have a medical problem and want to adopt a child, but my husband is dead against it. I however, am convinced but I have no idea how to go about the entire adoption process."
CNN-IBN: "How much do NRIs normally pay to adopt a child?"
J S Bhasin: "Well earlier it was between $6000 to $8000. Then prices went up and it is now $12,000. You see Indians — soldiers, rickshaw pullers — cannot afford to pay so much. They just give about Rs 5000, but I say it's okay because then there are people like you who are supporting them $12,000."
And in the process all these laws are forgotten.
NRIs should first register with a child welfare agency in the country of their residence.
The agency has to be recognised in India as well.
Inter-country adoption is a year-long process that ends with the mandatory approval of a High Court.
The bottom line is that the law prohibits direct contact between couples and an adoption agency, so the reporters posing as an NRI couple should not have been at Preet Mandir in the first place.
Even more damning is an open offer to take a pick. If the CNN-IBN reporters had cash ready, they could have simply walked off with a child.
"You will be shown the children we select. We will show you three children you can chose from. We see to it that you are satisfied with the choice. As a rule we don't show children to adoptive parents, but we are not so hell bent upon rules. We want parents to feel satisfied," said a social worker at Preet Mandir, Pranauti.
Six years ago, Bhasin's license was revoked when he defrauded a foreigner. However, he was back in business within two months.
When the CNN-IBN team reached him, he first checked how well off the "NRI couple" was.
J S Bhasin: "Can you say you earn roughly say $20,000 per year?"
CNN-IBN: "Yes, yes. In fact a lot more than that."
Convinced with the answer, Bhasin was willing to bypass all laws.
J S Bhasin: "You just select a child. We will the rest of it done legally—paperwork, passport documents for the baby — just don't worry."
CNN-IBN: "So in $12,000 you will take care of all our needs at getting this done?"
J S Bhasin: "Our social and legal department will do everything, so don't worry. It's not a problem at all."
CNN-IBN: "If I decide to adopt siblings or twins?
J S Bhasin: "Double the price for two children."
Bhasin and Preet Mandir treated CNN-IBN like customers at a super market. The SIT simply wheeled in a cart and like smart sales people Preet Mandir and its staff were ready to stock the cart with goodies.
For $12,000, J S Bhasin would have thrown aside every adoption law of the country. And he is just one trafficker in a racket which spans the country.
(With inputs from Anjita Roychoudhury)