Adoption racket connects India, Australia

Gopu Mohan

Posted online: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 0129 hrs

A Tamil Nadu racket under which children were abducted and then sold for adoption is back in the news three years after it surfaced. After a story in Time magazine about how some of these abducted children may be in Australia, authorities from here to Queensland are conducting a probe. A CBI investigation in 2005 had found that many of the children adopted by foreign couples from the state were kidnapped and sold to them. Touts would abduct the children and hand them over to adoption agencies for anywhere between Rs 500 and 10,000. One such agency, Malaysian Social Service (MSS) in Chennai, was believed to have sent 120 children for adoption to foreign countries, including 13 to Australia alone.

Though government guidelines mandate a preference for in-country adoptions, the focus was always on foster parents from abroad who “donated” money to these agencies.

Interest has peaked in the case again since the Time report and Australian media stories on Julia and Barry Rollings of Canberry, the parents of eight children, who adopted a five-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl from Chennai in 1998. After they heard of the racket, the Rollings conducted a personal investigation of their own into the children’s background and traced the biological mother of one of them. Last year, they visited the family.

Sympathising with parents who may still be waiting for their children, Julia has asked for a thorough investigation into the case. “We want an investigation so our children can know for certain what happened. And most importantly so their other mother can get justice. She is the one who has lost the most in all of this,” she was quoted as saying in the Australian media. Julia told The Indian Express that they were planning to pay another visit to India soon.

The CBI has now sent letters to interview the authorities and the foster parents in Queensland, while the Federal Government of Queensland has also announced a probe of its own.

However, authorities here and in Australia acknowledge that bringing any of the children back won’t be easy. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh refuses to speculate on what will happen to the children. “I think it’s far too early to be speculating about that and I think it would be wrong of me given the very complex human issues at heart,” she said.

Source - The Indian Express