Sri Lanka admits existence of 'baby farms' for adoption
The existence of so-called ‘baby farms’ was the most important reason for the Sri Lankan government to suspend intercountry adoption in 1987. At these baby farms, women were impregnated to meet the demand for adoptive children. This is confirmed by Sri Lanka’s Minister of Health, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, in response to the investigation by ZEMBLA. “There were a lot of baby farms back then,” says the minister. “They collected the babies there and sold them to foreigners for adoption.” This is the first time the Sri Lankan government admits the existence of ‘baby farms’. Stories of ‘baby farms’ had previously been dismissed as rumours.In response to the ZEMBLA findings, Sri Lanka will launch an investigation into the adoption fraud involving thousands of children who were brought from Sri Lanka to the Netherlands during the 1980s. Minister Senaratne also takes the initiative to establish a DNA databank, which children as well as parents can use to search for relatives. (ZEMBLA: ‘Adoptiebedrog – Deel 2’, to be broadcasted on Wednesday 20 September, 9.15 pm, on BNNVARA, NPO2)
Last May, in the broadcast of ‘Adoptiebedrog’ (Adoption Fraud), ZEMBLA revealed that adoption records of children adopted from Sri Lanka to the Netherlands during the 1980s had been falsified on a large scale. Mothers who gave their child up for adoption turn out not to be their biological mothers. Siblings of adoptive children were never mentioned, travel documents were given new dates of birth filled in manually.
Subsequently, these babies were given up for adoption by so-called ‘acting mothers’. Acting mothers were women who were paid to pretend to be the mothers of children put up for adoption. ZEMBLA spoke with one of the ‘acting mothers’. She talks about giving a child up for adoption that wasn’t hers. When being asked who put her up to pretending to be an ‘acting mother’ she says: “Someone connected to the hospital. (…) They asked me to act as a mother. Then they gave me 2,000 rupees.”
Sri Lanka investigates adoption fraud
ZEMBLA also discovered that a small group of lawyers, medical staff and employees then working for the Sri Lankan child protection bureau were responsible for the adoption fraud. In fact, doctors and nurses acted as intermediaries for Western adoption agencies.
Minister Senaratne stated he will look into the fraud: “It happened in an illegal manner, it’s very wrong. It violates the human rights of these families. This needs to be looked into.”
Dijkhoff also writes: “I will also talk to a few organisations involved (UAI, FIOM) and I will approach the Sri Lankan authorities. Based on that, I will consider if the Dutch government should be involved in this matter.”
'Stichting Flash' switched babies
The letter includes: “The baby died. The lawyer (…) asks the adoptive parents not to cry and suggests to use the papers of the deceased child to give another orphan the opportunity to have a better life. The adoptive parents discussed this with the chairman of Flash.”