Most foreigners adopt children
illegally: Official

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta

Days after he was taken to a city-run orphanage in Cipayung, East Jakarta, two-and-a-half year old Erwin or Tristan was unable to sleep tight like his friends in the center.

He moved from one end to the other on his small bed in a dormitory he shared with several other toddlers and often woke up looking straight ahead with vacant eyes at the people in front of him.

""He has not talked much since he arrived here. He seems to be so afraid of everything. It's getting worse as many television cameramen have come to take his picture. We don't know what has happened to him,"" Rani, one of ward attendants told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Erwin is one of at least 60 Indonesian children illegally adopted by foreigners through three local women, identified as Rosdiana, MRT, and ER, and a U.S citizen identified as JW.

City police arrested the three women in Ciputat, Tangerang last week for persuading poor mothers in several areas in the capital to sell their children to foreigners.

Police said they were still tracking down the U.S citizen and an Irish citizen identified as Joseph Dowse, who is accused of illegally adopting Erwin.

Dowse adopted Erwin from his mother Suryani through the South Jakarta Court in 2001 without a recommendation from the ministry of social affairs as required under existing adoption regulations. The Irish government granted Erwin Irish citizenship in the same year.

Dowse later left Erwin at an orphanage in Bogor, West Java after his wife got pregnant. The couple subsequently asked the Irish government to cancel Erwin's status as their child but his government rejected the request.

Knowing that Erwin was suffering, the ministry of social affairs launched an investigation into the case, and found out that many other children had been sold by Rosdiana.

City police and the ministry took eight children, including Erwin, from Rosdiana's house in Ciputat and placed them in several orphanages across the city.

Rosdiana and her accomplices allegedly paid each mother around Rp 1 million (US$105) for a baby and sold the children to foreigners for between Rp 40 million and Rp 50 million.

Head of the sub-directorate for children at the Ministry for Social Affairs Afrinaldi said that Erwin and the other 59 cases were only a tip of the iceberg as according to monitoring conducted by his office, thousands of Indonesian children had been adopted illegally.

He said that a recent survey conducted by his office found that out of five adoptions by foreigners, four did not follow the proper procedures or had one or two fake documents.

The survey included the examination of adoption documents submitted by foreigners to their respective embassies.

""Every embassy is supposed to send us adoption documents filed by their citizens for verification after the court grants the foreigners their adoption request. On average, four out of five requests have incomplete or fake documents,"" Afrinaldi said.

He said that more illegal adoptions might go unnoticed as not every embassy reported their citizens' adoption documents to his office.

Afrinaldi also wondered how the court could grant permission to a foreigner to adopt a child without complete documents and proper examination of them.

He said that Dowse's negligence of Erwin was an example of poor screening of foreign parents.

Observers have warned that the number of children being sold for adoption, especially in troubled areas such as Aceh and Nias, would be even higher as many suffering families had to let go their children to ease their financial burden.

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