exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Cover-up claim over 'stolen' child's adoption


Cover-up claim over 'stolen' child's adoption

August 27, 2008

Sean Parnell

THE Bligh Government has been accused of covering up the case of a Queensland couple who unwittingly adopted an Indian girl now alleged to have been stolen from her parents.

The two-year-old Chennai girl was allegedly kidnapped in 2000 and sold to an Indian adoption company, Malaysian Social Services, as part of a child-trafficking scam that is now under investigation in several countries.

A Queensland couple adopted the girl, now aged 9, with the approval of Indian, Australian and state authorities, not learning of the devastating allegations until years later.

The Queensland Department of Child Safety first learned of the case in May last year, having been notified by the office of the then federal attorney-general, Philip Ruddock.

The Howard government minister had been alerted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in April.

It was unclear whether DFAT was contacted by Indian authorities or the adoptive parents.

Queensland's Opposition child safety spokeswoman Jann Stuckey yesterday took aim at the Bligh Government.

Ms Stuckey used question time in parliament to quiz the Premier - the minister responsible for adoptions in 2000 - and criticise Child Safety Minister Margaret Keech for keeping the case "secret".

"It's beyond comprehension how a government can keep something like this secret for more than a year," Ms Stuckey said. "The heartache and pain over finding out that your adopted children could have been stolen is terrible enough, but to learn that the Government knew for over a year and said nothing is just reprehensible."

Ms Bligh has no recollection of the case, but the files are being checked.

Ms Keech's department conducted an audit last year, which found the only other adoption handled by MSS was in 1995, before the period in which child-trafficking allegedly occurred.

Those records are also being checked, amid questions over Queensland's decision to keep dealing with MSS, even though other states had stopped using the company due to separate controversies in the late 1990s.

The West Australian government last used MSS in 1995.

It was informed by Indian authorities in 1999 the company's licence had been suspended.

The Victorian government sourced two children from MSS in September 1992 and is reviewing the circumstances. Although it had no further involvement with MSS, it is not yet clear whether that was the result of warnings from India or interstate.

The South Australian government - which in 2000 had informal responsibility on behalf of all Australian governments for monitoring Indian adoptions - found no record of any adoptions in the state involving MSS, nor any warnings about the company.

2008 Aug 27