Suspended jail terms for buying baby on internet

The Irish Times – Friday, July 15, 2011


A DUTCH couple who bought a baby boy for €7,500 on the internet were each given eight-month suspended jail terms and sentenced to 240 hours of community service yesterday.

The couple, aged 28 and 29, replied to an advertisement placed by the baby’s parents and picked up the infant across the border in the Belgian city of Ghent shortly after he was born in June 2008, a court in Zwolle, in the east of the Netherlands, was told.

Dutch social workers discovered the transaction six months later, and the baby was handed back to the Belgian authorities just two days before Christmas 2008 – on the grounds that he would have a better future in his country of origin.

The court heard that the reason given by the baby’s parents for selling their son – initially known only as “Baby J” but later named as Jayden – was that they already had one child and could not afford a second.

However, their lawyer subsequently said they deeply regretted the decision and hoped ultimately to have Jayden, who has been living in care, returned to them.

The Dutch couple, who have not been named, denied buying the baby, and have since claimed on TV current affairs programme Netwerk that the €7,500 represented only the costs associated with the mother’s pregnancy.

The case was taken by the Child Protection Council of the Netherlands, which accused the Dutch couple of violating international adoption rules by “stealing the child’s identity”. Kees Dijkman, a spokesman for the council, said the effects could be long-term and damaging.

Yesterday the court found them guilty of taking part in an illegal adoption – and of forging documents in order to have the baby officially registered as their own.

However, they were not prosecuted for buying the baby because such an offence does not exist in the Netherlands.

The judge imposed eight-month prison sentences on each of the accused, but suspended them on the grounds that they had co-operated fully with the authorities once the transaction was discovered and confirmed, and since.

In a similar case in 2009, judges ruled that a Belgian baby known as Donna should stay with her Dutch adoptive parents even though they too had bought her over the internet. Donna was born three years ago to a surrogate mother who then told the biological father that she had miscarried and sold the baby to a Dutch couple.

The father demanded that the baby be returned to him, but the court ruled that the child and the Dutch couple now formed “an established family”.

However, it did grant the father visiting rights.