Reports of the arrests set off a volley of phone calls from other mothers in the area who had recently given birth and had also been told that their babies had died. These mothers asked that the police also investigate their cases.
The health ministry of Kyrgyzstan responded by setting up a commission to investigate the records of the maternity and special care wards of hospitals in both the capital city of Bishan and in the neighboring region of Chu from the past three years.
Results of this investigation were presented at a press conference on March 28, 2007. According to newspaper sources summarizing the words of the deputy health minister, "there did not appear to be an organized racket selling babies, but irregularities had been uncovered in the paperwork for registering births and for the recording of transfers of babies to orphanages."
These irregularities included "birth certificates issues for stillborn babies," death certificates for newborn babies that did not include any cause of death, relatives and guardians being given newborn babies without presenting proof of their identities, and records of babies being sent to orphanages but no records of the same children ever having arrived at the orphanages to which they had supposedly been sent.
In other words, the investigations turned up sloppy paperwork that could very well have been hiding crimes involving newborn babies.
The heads of offending hospitals were issued reprimands and were instructed to take disciplinary action against the individual staff members who were involved in these irregularities.
As a precaution against further abuses, the health ministry said it intends to set up adoption units within the hospitals themselves.
(For my part, I'm not quite sure how this would help. Certainly, it would make it harder for babies to get "lost" between the hospital and the orphanage, but wouldn't it also make it easier for hospital staff to conduct their clandestine business dealings--with less chance for discovery--since the deal could be done quicker and closer to the source of the babies?)
The article in the Middle East times goes on to discuss the "ins and outs" of adoption in Kyrgyzstan. Of particular note are the following quotes:
Some hospital staff say the pitifully low wages paid in the public healthcare sector may tempt some to consider arranging an illegal "sale."
"The average monthly wage for a doctor is 1,200 soms [$35]. Of course, that is no excuse for committing a crime, but it is a factor tone needs to bear in mind," said Talant Marmytov, a surgeon at a Bishkek hospital."
The article reports that children who are legitimately available for domestic adoption in Kyrgyzstan are most often children born to women who abuse alcohol or drugs or children born to prostitutes. Many of these children, the article reports, have congenital health problems as a result of the poor lifestyle choices their mothers have made. Since most prospective adoptive parents want healthy children, reports the article, these orphans are, sadly, unlikely to ever find homes.
The shortage of healthy babies available for legal adoption could tempt prospective parents to consider trying to buy a baby. Even if they do find a child they want to adopt, going through the legal channels is a lengthy and complicated process.
So lengthy and involved ...it is implied... that some, apparently, would like to avoid the official process altogether.
Illegal Baby Trade Suspected in Kyrgyz Hospitals, Middle East Times, 4/18/07