India suspends U.S. adoption agency

In Adoption, Agency Complaints by Adoptionland News

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi took the decision to suspend Holt International, the authorized foreign adoption agency.

The Centre has suspended an American adoption agency for “negligence” in its assessment of adoptive parents of three-year-old India-born Sherin Mathews who died in the U.S., government sources said.

Sherin Mathews, who was adopted by an Indian-American couple in 2016, died in October 2017 allegedly from choking after her adoptive father “physically assisted” her with drinking milk.

Both the adoptive parents are in jail. An autopsy report recently ruled that Sherin Mathews died because of “homicidal violence”.

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi took the decision to suspend the authorized foreign adoption agency (AFAA), Holt International, government sources said.

They added, that the government has written to the Indian Embassy in the U.S., the Central Authority, which is the nodal body for adoptions in the U.S., and Holt International, informing them about the decision.

“We have suspended the operations of Holt International because we found it negligent in the assessment of the adoptive parents and also in the post-placement assessment of the family,” CEO, CARA (Child Adoption Resource Authority), Lt. Col. Deepak Kumar, said. He added that a decision on canceling the AFAA’s authorization will be taken after detailed reports from the Indian Embassy as well as the CA. CARA is India’s nodal body for adoption.

While the death of Sherin Mathews came to light in October, the government delayed acting against the AFAA due to Ivanka Trump’s visit to India in November, it is reliably learned from different government officials. A top government official said that India was treading cautiously because it did not want the ties between the two countries to be impacted. Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had also sought a probe into the “adoption process” of Sherin Mathews in October.

A grand jury this month is expected to review charges filed against the girl’s adoptive parents. The adoptive father, Wesley Mathews, is under arrest on the charge of injury to a child, punishable up to life in prison. The adoptive mother, Sini Mathews, has been charged with child endangerment or abandonment relating to the death punishable by up to two years in jail.

Following the incident, CARA has made mental well-being of overseas applicants seeking to adopt a child an important criterion for determining their eligibility.

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