The Australian government has lifted its eight-year ban on adopting children from India, citing improvements in the adoption process.
The ban was initially put in place over evidence that Indian children were being trafficked to orphanages and subsequently adopted by unknowing Australians.
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However, Indian NGO Against Child Trafficking, warns that corruption and trafficking are still rife in India’s orphanages. They are urging Australia to not re-open the adoption pipeline.
“I’m pretty sure that trafficked children, children who have not been properly [cleared] for adoption will end up with Australian parents,” said Arun Dohle from Against Child Trafficking.
Assistant Minister for Children and Families David Gillespie confirmed he wrote to his state counterparts on Monday morning, as a group of politicians launched a new pro-adoption advocacy group.
He said India had “improved its processes” to comply with the Hague convention on adoption and could rejoin the 13 countries still on Australia’s approved adoption list. Among the Asian nations on the list are Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and China.
“Officers from the department have been there and checked what they’ve got in place,” Mr Gillespie told SBS News.
“The recommendation is to start with small numbers and obviously observe and make sure that what is in place on paper is what happens in reality,” he said.
“We don’t want to see child trafficking, we don’t want to see children that aren’t getting what they deserve. That is a permanent, safe, caring home.”
Gillespie attributed the initial adoption ban in 2010 to a system in which orphanages effectively acted as “marketers” for children, playing the leading role in getting them adopted.
Now he says Indian states are in charge of the adoption process and are running the system more ethically.
Still, Dohle pointed out that there was “absolutely no way” for Australia to properly vet Indian orphanages because under the Hague convention background checks are responsibility of the ‘source’ country.
“They have to trust the Indian authorities,” he said.
“Australia would do much better assisting India to take care of the children instead of importing them from India. It cannot be done right. A market in children can never be right.”
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