The second story also involved a woman from a village in the same area who had seven daughters and, like the first woman, wanted to sell her newborn girl. Both of these infants were taken to Sishu Vihar, a home run by the Women and Child Welfare Department. Unfortunately, many children who ended up in institutional care would still fall victim to unethical adoptions because of the large number of fraudulent orphanage and adoption organizations, and the lack of adequate regulations and government oversight. Both accredited and unauthorized placement agencies have been raided and accused of commercializing adoption.
Using scouts or brokers to identify children in these tribal hamlets, they prey on destitute and illiterate parents and falsify records in order to adopt the children out, making big profits. The well-respected magazine India Today ran an expose of this practice in 2001, illuminating hundreds of children who had been “rescued from institutions with a question mark, up in the shop window, their souls commodified, a profit margin marked against their existence.”
In other cases, children were not bought from their parents but simply kidnapped. In May 2007 a four-year-old boy, Mohit, who had been reported missing, was taken from a Delhi railway station to Delhi Council for Child Welfare. Unlike the image its name implies, the enterprise is actually a private adoption agency better known as Palna. When Mohit’s frantic parents finally located him, officials at Palna were uncooperative and refused to let them take the boy home. The couple had to enlist the help of the local Child Welfare Committee. The government has established such committees around the country and vested them with judicial powers. Finally, on these legal orders, the parents were reunited with their son.
The Indian Department of Social Welfare (DSW) reported that such agencies “are getting children through legal or illegal means and are selling them in the market. The foreigners give higher prices therefore they prefer to sell them to the foreigners.” Despite a long waiting list of hopeful adoptive parents, adoption agencies ignore poor prospective parents in favor of wealthy Indians and foreign nationals. A senior DSW official said that if Mohit’s parents had not been so persistent and sought legal government help, their son would likely have languished at Palna for months while the agency secured an illegal relinquishment and then given the child to complete strangers – for a large profit, of course.