Tuesday, May 01, 2007

India: Obstetrician and Social Worker Charged in Scheme of Selling Newborns for Adoption

An apparent scheme for illegally selling newborn babies to agencies and families for the purpose of adoption was recently uncovered in the city of Navsari in the state of Gujarat, India.

The discovery of the alleged scheme happened when a woman gave premature birth to her baby at Krishna Maternity Hospital. She apparently had not intended to give birth at this facility, but had gone there after being refused treatment at a local hospital. When the woman later returned to reclaim her premature infant the doctor would not give the baby back--presumably because the child was not there.

(It is not clear from the articles exactly why she left the child behind in the first place. Did she leave the child behind for treatment of the child's prematurity? Or did she leave the child behind because she intended to relinquish the child and then changed her mind within the legal 60 days window for reclaiming children?)

At any rate, when she could not get her child back, the woman went to the local police.

This set in motion an investigation of the Krishna Maternity Home, the doctor who ran it, his wife (who is a social worker), and the wife's involvement in a local charity, the Ayappa Bal Asha Trust, an organization "to help the needy" which is registered with the Social Welfare Deparment.

According to the news articles, neither the Krishna Maternity Home nor the Ayappa Bal Asha Trust were registered to faciliatate the adoption of children.

Despite the lack of license to do adoptions, the doctor and his wife, according to news accounts, had "sold" for adoption (to both individual families and also to agencies, more than 60 children).

Police were attempting to track down where individual babies came from, and where exactly they went, but this was made harder by the fact that doctor and his wife apparently did not keep good records.

In apparent violation of the law, many of the births and deaths were not recorded.

The children allegedly sold for adoption were widely dispersed, ending up in various places in Gujarat as well as in the cities of Pune, Mumbai, and Thane, and also, allegedly "abroad"--outside of India. (Hmmm....)

As a result of the preliminary investigation, the Gujarati obstetrican/gynecologist and his social worker wife were arrested and charged with "concealment of birth by secret disposal of bodies, [the] selling of minors, causing miscarriage without consent, wrongful confinement or abduction, forgery, and criminal conspiracy" in India in March of 2007.

Despite the impressive number of news reports covering this case (as listed below), the details of the scheme of which these two are suspected and the details of the crimes with which they were charged, are hard to piece together.

With this dearth of information and only the facts of the case as they are presented in the news accounts, it might be possible to imagine this case as one of the doctor and his wife simply failing to follow proper paperwork procedures while carrying out essentially legal activities. (and this may yet turn out to be the situation)

However, the zealous way the police have pursued the case and the serious charges filed against the doctor and his wife suggest otherwise.

There was an argument for not covering this case on my blog until more facts were known, but the huge number of children involved makes this an important case.

As does the fact that the case may potentially shed light on the reportedly large underground domestic adoption trade in India.

I'll update this blog entry as further facts on the case become available in the press.


Navsari adoption racket still out of police probe range, Yahoo News India (India Express), 4/04/07

Adoption scam: Doctor, wife remanded in police custody, Yahoo News India (India Express),3/31-07

Cops to Probe Mumbai Link in Gujarat Child Adoption Scam, MumbaiNewsline, Indian Express, 04/29/07

Cops to Probe Mumbai Link in Gujarat Child Adoption Scam, Yahoo News India, 04/29/07

Gujarat Gynecologist and his social worker wife arrested in adoption scam, Gujarat Global.com, 03/27/07

Adoption scam: Baby’s remains recovered near Navsari temple, Ahmedabad, 03/27/07