Case Work

Considering that those in the intercountry adoption industry go to considerable length to hide personal records, identities and transactions–it can take many years of complex field work to resolve one single case.



ACT Case Name: Anisha
Timeframe: 2005 -2010
Countries involved: India and Germany
Adoption agencies involved: ‘Tender Loving Care Home’

German TV news report


Case Summary:

Anisha was born in India 1992. Buth and was taken by the ‘Tender Loving Care Home’, because her mother Fatima could not pay the hospital bill.

Sister Theresa, head of the ‘Tender Loving Care Home’ then had her adopted by a German couple. Fatima did not see her child for the next 28 years.

“For my delivery they took me to St Theresa’s Tender Loving Care Home, an adoption agency in Hyderabad,” said Fatima to an Indian newspaper, “After delivery, the agency demanded Rupees 10,000 for the delivery. I could pay only Rupees1,500,” Fatima was allowed to take her baby on the condition that the rest of the amount would be paid soon.

“After a few months, the agency officials came over to my house and forcibly took my baby.” she continued. “I was threatened with police action. With the help of local activists I could trace my daughter who is now 18-year-old now and lives in Germany. I don’t understand her language although I have met her twice. She came here for vacations,”

ACT helped Anisha to retrace her mother. It was a very complex case because the Indian orphanage refused to cooperate

Background news articles


ACT Case Name: Anusja
Timeframe: 2016
Countries involved: India and Belgium
Adoption agencies involved: Holy Cross Home for Babies in Amravati, Maharashtra
TV news report:
Detailed news article:

Case Summary:

Anusja was 14 months old when a Belgian couple adopted her from India. Now she is 28, works for a HR firm in Antwerp and is engaged to be married. But she felt she couldn’t start a family until “I found to whom I truly belonged.”

Anusja began to search for her birth mother. “I had all the degrees I wanted, a job, I had started my own business, bought an apartment, got married, but there was a black hole. What was next? What now?” she told the Hindustan Times

She collected the guardianship order prepared during her adoption from her adoptive parents in Belgium. It had her name, details of the orphanage and her age when she was taken in by the orphanage (she was just two weeks old).

She explained her case to the Belgian government authorities who sent an email to the orphanage but advised her that it would be best if she approached the orphanage on her own. “They were able to facilitate my entry and stay in Belgium. But they were unable to help me in my journey back to my roots,” she told the Indian newspaper.

In December 2015, ACT director Arun Dohle accepted her case and started the search, with the help of Anjali Pawar, a consultant with ACT, based in Pune.

In June 2016, ACT informed Anusja that they had identified a woman who could be her mother. A visit was arranged and by the end of the year a reconciliation had been arranged (more details of this reconciliation can be seen in the video and news reports above).

“I am angry for the way children are expected to be happy about their adoption,” said Anusja. “As a child, dealing with the loss of your parents is not easy. Every adopted child’s heart aches. In adoption, there is no room for that ache.”


ACT Case Name: Madonna
Timeframe: March to May 2009
Countries involved: Malawi and UK
Adoption agencies involved: none
Australian background article:
News article:

Case Summary:

Malawi is not known as a “sending country” and so when news got out that Madonna wanted to adopt a second child from Malawi, ACT got interested. We thought it may set a bad precedent for Malawi (when Angela Jolie adopted from Ethiopia it resulted in a sudden increase in adoptions) and so we mobilised.

ACT supported a local NGO and the lawyer in opposing the adoption. We gave access to our knowledge of child rights and adoptions. One of the main problems in Malawi, and other African countries, is that there is a general lack of understanding about adoption. The concept is generally unknown and this makes it easy to cheat parents by making false promises, for example by saying to parents that adoption means an education abroad.

The adoption was rejected in the first court hearing but the appeal court, convened in record time, was more amenable to Madonna who was finally allowed to adopt the girl Mercy James–even though foreign adoptive parents have to have been resident in Malawi for 18 months . The girl’s grandmother, Lucy Chekechiwa, 61, still refuses to accept the adoption and continues to demand the return of Mercy James.


ACT Case Name: Operation Mercy Mercy
Timeframe: 2011 – 2016
Countries involved: Ethiopia and Denmark
Adoption agencies involved: _______
News report (VIDEO):
News article (background):

Case Summary:

This case involved two Ethiopian girls — Amy and Masho — who had been fraudulently adopted (the parents had no idea that the children wouldn’t come home) into Denmark. The story of Masho is told in the international documentary Mercy Mercy [] and Amy’s story will be told in a major documentary film coming out at the end of 2017.

ACT decided to help them re-connect with their mothers. ACT helped Amy travel to Ethiopia where she met her mother. The parents of these two children got together, went to court and got the adoption orders revoked.

ACT has tried to help Masho connect with her parents but this has been blocked by the Danish authorities, who have placed her in a “closed residential care” institution. Not even the Ethiopian Ambassador to Denmark was allowed to see her. Two government officials from Ethiopia came to
check on the two girls in Denmark, but the Danish authorities refused to cooperate (more details here:


ACT Case Name: Betty
Timeframe: 2009 – 2011
Countries involved: Ethiopia and the Netherlands
Adoption agencies involved: Sele Enat (Ethiopia) and Wereldkinderen (Netherlands)
News article:
TV news report (VIDEO):

Case Summary:

During a research project on adoptions from Ethiopia for a Dutch adoption agency (Wereldkinderen), Arun Dohle stumbled on the case of Betty. In the adoption papers it was stated that the parents were dead. This was not the case.

The adoption agency was not interested in finding out what happened so ACT took up the case. Arun found the parents and mediated the re-connection of Betty with her Ethiopian family.

ACT helped the Ethiopian family to go to the Court in Ethiopia, where her adoption was revoked. Betty took her father’s surname.

Betty is back in the Netherlands, where she continues her education.


ACT Case Name: Rollings
Timeframe: from____to 2008
Countries involved: India and Australia
Adoption agencies involved: MASOS (Madras Social service Guild Orphanage), and the Australian Central Authority for intercountry adoption.
News articles:

Case Summary:

In 1997, the Indian adoption agency MASOS told the Rollings family that a three-year-old boy, and his two-year-old sister, were available for adoption, as their “terminally ill parents” were unable to take care of them.

Eight years later the couple was stunned to read an article saying that a MASOS staff member had been arrested on charges of kidnapping. In the same article they learned that the MASOS orphanage director had been arrested in another child trafficking case.

The Rollins family decided to retrace the Indian parents of their adopted children, so they contacted Arun Dohle who activated his network in India.

The mother was retraced in _____[year] and reunited with the children, Akil and Sabi.

In 2008, Arun Dohle then assisted the Rollings in filing a Writ (petition) in the _____[name of location] Court, requesting requesting a full investigation. The request is still pending.

Julia Rollings wrote a book (“Love our Way”) about the adoption and the search for the mother: LINK


ACT Case Name: Nagarani
Timeframe: 2007 to present (2017)
Countries involved: India and The Netherlands
Adoption agencies involved: Malaysian Social Services (India) and Meiling (Netherlands)
News report:

Case Summary:

Nagarani and Kathrivel’s live in the Indian city of Chennai. In 2005 their son was kidnapped during the night. They searched for months but were unable to find him.

Five years later the kidnappers were arrested and they confessed that their son had been sold to an orphanage in Chennai called Malaysian Social Services. The boy was subsequently picked up by a Dutch adoption agency and placed with adoptive parents in the Netherlands.

Working on behalf of the parents, ACT traced the child in the Netherlands. The adoptive parents have so far refused to cooperate in DNA testing, which would prove that the child is indeed Nagarani’s.

In 2010, ACT helped this Indian family find a Dutch Attorney and file a Court case in the Netherlands, but the adoptive parents did not appear. The Indian couple alleged that Dutch courts and legal authorities were “shielding the Dutch kidnappers” and that “the Netherlands have been promoting kidnapping of children from other countries to their land”.

After two weeks, Nagarani and Kathirvel returned to India without having met the adoptive parents, or their child.

In 2011, the Family Court of Zwolle-Lelystad dismissed the Indian couple’s request for a DNA test. In 2012, the Dutch Appeal Court also dismished the Indian’s parent’s request.


ACT Case Name: Smolin
Timeframe: 2004 to 2005
Countries involved: USA and India
Adoption agencies involved: Action for Social Development (ASD), Hyderbad, India
News report (VIDEO) in German:
Related articles:

Case Summary:
David and Desiree Smolin are adoptive parents from the USA. They wanted to find the mother (Lakshmi) of the two girls they had adopted from India. The daughters names are Manjula and Bhagya.

“The girls were terribly depressed and one of them had suicidal tendencies,” said Desiree Smolin an interview with an Indian newspaper. [LINK:

“When the girls finally began to open up…they told us that they were not orphans, but were stolen and sold to us. They were even threatened and forced to lie to the embassy official, who interviewed them,”

The Smolins contacted ACT in 2004 and requested the help of Arun Dohle, who has valuable experience in tracing his own mother in India.

Arun activated his network of human rights activists in India and the search began. Arun functioned as bridge between the US adopters and the Indian search.

After a complex search, the girls’ mother was traced. The reunion took place on Christmas 2005. Only the eldest girl travelled to meet her mother.

Sanjeeva Rao, the former director of the adoption agency ASD has been jailed three times on child trafficking-related charges.

David Smolin is Professor of Law, Samford University and Director, Center for Children, Law, and Ethics, Samford University, USA. He has extensively written about the intercountry adoption system, which he describes as “child laundering”. Much of his early work is based on ACT’s field research and documentation.