Sherin Mathews murder: Sushma Swaraj seeks probe into child's adoption process; Women and Child Development ministry says it is 'transparent'
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today sought a probe into the procedure for the adoption of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews, who was found dead in the US this week.
NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today sought a probe into the procedure for the adoption of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews, who was found dead in the US this week, even as the women and child development ministry said its policy was "transparent" and the incident was an "aberration".
Sherin Mathews, known as Saraswati before she was adopted by OCI (overseas citizens of India) parents from the US, went missing on October 7. Her body was discovered after over two weeks of searches by police officials in Texas on Sunday.
"I have requested Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Development, for a thorough investigation into the adoption process of Baby Saraswati @ Sherin Mathews who has been killed by her foster father Wesley Mathews in United States," Sushma Swaraj tweeted today.
Wesley Mathews, the girl's father, has been charged with injury to a child and not murder. The crime is punishable with up to 99 years in prison.
The charge was pressed against the father after he was re-arrested on Monday. He was was earlier arrested for suspected child endangerment but was released on bond.
A spokesperson for the ministry of women and child development said that the adoption methodology was "transparent and scientific", adding that the incident was an "aberration".
The nodal body for adoption in India, Child Adoption Resource Authority, has also written to its American counterpart US Central Authority for details into the death of Sherin Mathews.
Swaraj also said that following the Sherin Mathews case the government has decided, "passports to adopted children will be issued only with prior clearance by Ministry of Women and Child Development." Sources in women and child development ministry said that this is already being followed by the ministry. They add that inter-country adoptions happen as per the Hague Convention, which has strict requirements.
An official from CARA said that it received timely reports from the adoption agency in the US which was overseeing the Sherin Mathews case.
Four reports were sent to CARA by Holt International since her adoption on July 8, 2016.
These reports described how the girl was "adjusting well" in her new home and appeared to be "secure and comfortable" in the new surroundings.
However, according to these assessments, Sherin seemed to have eating problems.
One of the follow-ups recorded that "eating has become more and more challenging for the family". "She likes to eat food outside but not at home".
The fourth, and the last report before Sherin's death, notes, "We discussed several different strategies that may be helpful" and that "additional mealtime strategies are needed to break this cycle and avoid more serious longterm eating concerns".
The CARA source said that the child was undernourished right from the time she was adopted and weighed less for a girl at her age.
The girl was born on July 14, 2014 and was surrendered by parents in Gaya, Bihar. She was sent to an orphanage, Nalanda Mother Teresa Anaath Seva Ashram, which is now shut.