Silent And Stuck: The Crisis Of The Shelter Children In Limbo

Pune, 27th January 2024: The sun was setting as young Kumari (name changed) settled down on her mat among other children to sleep at the Child Care Institution (aka child shelter) she had come to know as home over the years. Her story, though unique in its details, echoes the haunting refrain of many children within India’s shelters (https://www.punekarnews.in/indias-adoption-paradox-why-thousands-of-eager-familiescant-find-waiting-children/).

Orphaned early on, losing both of her parents to sickness, Kumari biological relatives were unable to look after her so her aunt Nalini (name changed) placed her in a child shelter. Kumar was shuffled from one shelter to another as she grew older. Emotionally, she became detached as she watched other children at the shelter come and go, some of them reunited with biological families and others celebrating their adoption by adoptive families. Eight years went by and nobody ever visited nor came for Kumari, leaving her to wonder if she was truly forgotten by everyone.

 “Almost every day, she’d ask if anyone was going to come for her. Her hopeful eyes searching for a family, a connection,” recalls a caretaker from the institution. Kumari was not placed in the legal adoption pool because she had relatives on paper, even if they never cared for her in real life.

 All over India, stories like Kumari’s reveal a silent, overlooked crisis. In a small village on the outskirts of Maharashtra, two sisters, aged 9 and 11 respectively, found themselves grappling with a heart-wrenching reality. Their laughter, once echoing through their family home, now resonates within the walls of a children’s shelter. Their mother, after the tragic demise of their father, found solace in another relationship and remarried. Hopes of a blended family were quickly shattered when their new stepfather showed no interest in integrating the girls into their new family. While their mother’s visits became sporadic at first, they soon ceased entirely. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and the shelter to a loving home, lack of clear laws around their gradual abandonment has kept them trapped in a system, unable to join the legal adoption pool, and thereby, kept away from the embrace of a family that might cherish and love them 

“People think shelters house only orphans, but the reality is many kids have families, who, though not strictly orphaned, are effectively abandoned. We see cases where families have left the children for care, and do not visit them but either do not want to surrender the child for adoption or are not aware of the fact that there is an option for these children to be adopted by waiting families. It leaves them in a heart-wrenching limbo,” says Protima Sharma, Co-founder and Director of Where Are India’s Children. 

It could have been my boys

Stopping foreign adoptions deprives children of their right to a family.

A childhood in an institution. Without parents. Without family. Without the unconditional love and the close, secure care that only parents can provide. This will be the reality for many children if Norway stops adoption abroad.

That could also have been the situation for my two boys. They are both adopted from South Africa.

Adoption regulations in South Africa require social workers to first provide advice and guidance with the hope that biological parents or someone else in the family can care for the children.

If this does not lead to success, they try to find adoptive parents in their home country. But in South Africa it is difficult to find parents for children over one year old, children born prematurely and children who have been exposed to drugs during pregnancy.

The stranger across from me was my sister: how one adoptee uncovered a tragic past

A Dutch group that reunites children with their birth parents in Bangladesh is fighting to change the international adoption system

It was not long into a research trip to Bangladesh, on behalf of an organisation seeking to reunite children adopted abroad with their birth relatives, when Kana Verheul found herself huddled in a cafe toilet, comparing birthmarks with a stranger.

That trip seven years ago was one of many that Verheul, 47, had taken to the country of her birth since she was 16 years old, travelling back to Bangladesh for the first time as part of a “roots trip” organised by the Dutch government for children such as her, an orphan adopted to the Netherlands as a baby.


But this trip was different. After decades of trying in vain to find her siblings, Verheul joined forces with other people in her situation to set up an organisation called the Shapla Community, creating a network of hundreds of Bangladeshi adoptees raised in the Netherlands. If she could not find her own family, she could at least help others find theirs.

Is the end coming for intercountry adoption in Europe?

They were adopted as biological sisters but discovered that they share 0.0 per cent of their DNA. The discovery of the sisters Doriet and Mirjam Begemann was the start of their search for the truth. Shocking is that they are not alone. Some countries stop with intercountry adoption altogether. Read here why.

Their adoptive parents had no idea that they were being tricked into the adoption, the sisters tell the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad. In 1979, there had been an official adoption procedure in court and by the notary.

In addition, a Dutch lawyer looked at the case as well. "Who would have thought that something was wrong?" the sisters point out. "The Indonesians were so sneaky: our parents did not get the translation of our papers until the day they went back to the Netherlands. Just imagine you're in a hot country with two little children; then you want to go home as soon as possible. And how could they have compared the translation with the original documents?"

Later, they discover irregularities in their official documents. Signatures do not match, and birth dates seem to be falsified. Then, a DNA test confirms their fears: the alleged sisters are not biologically related at all.


HIDDEN IN THE DARK I was separated from my twin at birth after my dad sold me to an adoption ring – I had no idea until I saw a TikTok vid

A WOMAN has shared how she discovered she was separated from her twin sister at birth and sold through an illegal adoption ring.

Ano Sartania, 21, was left stunned when she was reunited with her sister Amy thanks to a TikTok video but the real shock came when the pair found out they shared three more siblings.

Ano was reunited with Amy after 19 years after they were separated at birth

The twins born in June 2002, had been sold to an illegal adoption ring in Georgia

They reconnected thanks to a TikTok video after a friend noticed the resemblance

‘I was told I could visit. Then she went missing’: the Bangladeshi mothers who say their children were adopted without consent

Women living in camps for refugees of Bangladesh’s war of independence were told a local care home would look after their children. Decades on, many are still searching for them

More than four decades have passed, but Sayrun Nisa still cries for her son as if she lost him yesterday. In 1977, she had been taking care of her child and sick husband at home when there was a knock at the door. She opened it to find two people who claimed they were from Terres Des Hommes Netherlands (TDHn), an organisation that operated in the Dattapara camp for people displaced in the Bangladesh war of independence, where she lived.

“They started telling me about a children’s home they were running,” says Sayrun, now 80. “They said they could take care of my son for me and give him a good education. I had no reason to doubt them as they were from what I thought was a respectable organisation.”


Sayrun recalls feeling unsure as she watched her six-year-old playing in the corner. But when she discussed it with her husband, they felt it might not be a bad idea. “My husband had been sick for a while and was unemployed. If we put our son in the home, it would mean that I could find work,” she says.

Minister on adoption report: It is incredibly serious reading

A swathe of parties on both sides of the government are calling for a crackdown on the adoption field after a new report reveals identity fraud on South Korean adoptees.

The identity changes meant that South Korean children were on paper orphaned when they were sent from South Korea to their new families in Denmark.

The conclusions in the report, made by the Danish Appeals Board, arouse resentment.

- I think it is quite obvious that the Danish authorities have failed fatally, says Victoria Velasquez, social advisor for Enhedslisten.


Woman arrested for ‘adoption fraud’ in Vizag

The city police arrested a 31-year-old D. Vani, of NGGO’s colony, for allegedly cheating a woman by promising her to arrange the legal adoption of a newborn baby here on Thursday.


According to the police, on December 20 last year, a 35-year-old woman from Kakinada was heading to Vizag along with her aunt on a bus. The purpose of her visit was to get treatment, since she was not blessed with babies despite 10 years of marriage. During her journey, the accused had boarded the bus at Annavaram and sat beside them.


After coming to know about the complainant’s problem, Ms. Vani promised to give a baby after completing legal procedures from the parents concerned. Ms. Vani had asked the complainant to come to King George Hospital (KGH) on December 24. At the hospital, the woman collected ₹80,000 from the victims and asked them to wait at a place, informing them that she would visit the Children’s Ward and come back. However, she did not return. After realising that she was cheated, the woman lodged a police complaint.

Bangladesh launches investigation into children ‘wrongly’ adopted overseas

Police start to interview witnesses following Guardian reports on adoptions to the Netherlands nearly 50 years ago

Police in Bangladesh have launched an investigation into historical allegations that children were adopted abroad without their parents’ consent, after a Guardian investigation into adoptions to the Netherlands in the 1970s.

Bangladesh special branch in Dhaka confirmed it had opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the adoption of a number of children between 1976 and 1979.

It is the first time police have investigated allegations that children were lured from mothers using a tactic known as the “boarding school scam”, where vulnerable families were offered temporary shelter for their children only to find they were adopted abroad without their consent.

Special Supt Tahsin Mashroof Hossain Mashfi told the Guardian: “Shedding light on the matter has ignited a deep sense of responsibility. We commit to conducting a fair and impartial investigation, striving to contribute meaningfully to the nation’s healing process.”

46-year-old David has spent ten years getting to the bottom of his adoption case. True crime TV has come out of that

Is another documentary about the problems in the adoption field really needed? The short answer is yes, writes Frauke Giebner in this column.

" This should never have happened", says 46-year-old David, when, after ten years of detective work, he understands the extent of the lies in his adoption case.

And we already know that. This means that serious mistakes have been made in adoption cases from a large number of countries. Babies have been traded and lied to as orphans, and parents have been robbed of their children by so-called child harvesters. Can that story stand to be told one more time?