Malaysian Social Service placed children for adoption between 1991 and 2001 or 2002. Several of these children had been sent for adoption abroad. Police investigations showed that records relating to children at the agency, specifically the surrender affidavits, bore signatures of false witnesses. Several affidavits didn’t even have signatures. Malaysian Social Service Agency previously lost its license in 1998 after some children who had been reported missing were identified as those that they agency had made adoptable. The agency’s license was restored a few months later and revoked again after the scandal in 2001.
After the news broke, the police were besieged by scores of parents looking for their stolen and missing children. The details about how the children were allegedly abducted over a decade varied. M. Habib said that in March 1998 his wife came to Chennai with their 3 year old son, Amaruddin. While his wife was trying to see the number on the bus, her son was kidnapped. Another woman, Sivakami, said that in 1997 her 1 year old son, Subash was playing outside their house in Pulianthope when he disappeared.
Only a few parents were able to recognize their children from photos seized from the orphanage. Not only had they been given new names by Malaysian Social Service, but reports indicate that the agency did not take pictures of the children when they took them in.
An in-depth report by Frontline in May 2005 of this and other scandals in Chennai traces the root of the problem, of course, to money:
“Foreign adoptive parents pay their local agencies, which send the sums asFollowing the arrests, a few parents filed court actions demanding the return of their children. One petitioner said his son Satishkumar was taken in March 1999, another said his four year old son was abducted by a gang in an autorickshaw, and a third said that his 1 year old child had been missing since February 1999.
‘grant-in-aid’ to their Indian counterparts. It is difficult to find out how
much each parent in the foreign country has paid – but, according to some
estimates, it ranges from $10,000 to $50,000. There is, however, a clear link
between inter-country adoptions and foreign contributions. In fact, many
agencies admit they cannot survive without doing intercountry adoptions.”
Last month, a Division Bench of the Madras High Court ordered an immediate investigation by the Anti-Corruption Branch of the Central Bureau of Investigation into all three cases. A special team has been formed to probe these cases. According to one senior CBI official, “We have already collected the case details regarding the adoption racket case. There are a minimum five to six cases that we will be investigating with regard to the illegal adoption of children. The case details show that the children are sold to various parts of the world.”
Adoption monitoring agency ‘should be given more powers’, The Hindu, May 15, 2005,
Parents can’t identify missing wards, The Hindu, May 9, 2005
Missing child’s photograph identified, The Hindu, May 6, 2005
Police bust child abduction racket, The Times of India, May 16, 2005
Behind the facade, Frontline, by Asha Krishnakumar, Vol. 22, Issue 11, May 21-June 3, 2005
The Big Racket of Small Babies, boloji.com, by Ambujam Anantharam, June 12, 2005
Chennai lady waits for kidnapped son, IBNlive.com, June 30, 2005
Adoption: CBI registers three cases, The Hindu, by K.T. Sangameswaran, October 4, 2007
CBI to register case in child adoption racket, newindpress.com, by K Praveen Kumar, October 3, 2007