Lawyer about Sri Lankan adoption fraud: ‘Not a child in need, but business’

May 18, 2020

The adoption of the now 28-year-old Dilani Butink from Sri Lanka was not a matter of a child in need. “It was just business,” said the woman’s lawyer in a civil case that was brought to blame the State and the Kind en Toekomst (Child and Future) adoption agency for the adoption fraud.

Butink’s Dutch adoptive parents traveled to Sri Lanka in 1992 to adopt a girl. This adoption unexpectedly fell through and after a week, Butink, then one or two days old, was suddenly offered to the couple.

Years later, the woman discovered that the paperwork was not in order. Experts have found that the signature on her birth certificate is from a different person than the signature on the relinquishment document.

The hospital where she was born according to the information provided to her did not have Butink in the birth register. “The image that arises is not that of a child in need. But that of looking for a baby for the adoptive parents. That is business,” argued the woman’s lawyer at the court in The Hague.

According to the lawyer, the adoptive parents are not to blame, because they should have assumed that the mediation was sufficiently controlled by the State. Despite several attempts, Butink has not yet been able to find her biological parents.

The woman lives with many questions. “Who do I have my nose from, who do I have my eyes from? That sounds very simple, but it is very important to me,” Butink sketches. She states that her good relationship with her adoptive parents does not detract from the case.

To reinforce the story, it was told about how some adoptions in the country went at that time. For example, there were Sri Lankan mediators who were barely checked and made a lot of money by linking babies to adoptive parents. A photo of babies lying on the floor in their own feces has been shown. “Kind en Toekomst has never complied with the obligation to do good research.”

State invokes limitation
The State’s lawyer invokes the limitation period, which is twenty years. Butink should have held the State responsible in 2012. If the judge does not accept this, the lawyer states that “the actions of the authorities in Sri Lanka do not lead to any liability of the Dutch State”. At that time, for example, there was “no duty of care of the State” for Butink.

Kind en Toekomst also states that many adoptions went well. The lawyer says on behalf of the organization that a “one-sided image” is put down. The role of Child and Future would have been limited in the adoption of the woman.

The director added in a personal note that hearing the story of Butink hurt her very much and that she had started mediating adoptions with the best of intentions.

Women were lured to ‘baby farms’
In a broadcast of Zembla in 2017, it was revealed that poor women were lured on a large scale against so-called ‘baby farms’ and became pregnant for a fee. After the delivery, the child was taken away or the mother was told that her baby had died, but in reality the child was sold.

There is currently an investigation into illegal adoptions of foreign children by Dutch people. The possible involvement of Dutch government officials is also being considered. The investigation focuses on adoptions from Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Kind en Toekomst announced in October last year to stop acting as a mediation organization this year because “this is less and less needed”.