17 April 2007

Selling Babies in Bishkek

The Kyrgyz Ministry of Education has finished their investigation into allegations of baby selling in Bishkek maternity hospitals. I don't think I wrote about it, but a few months ago several employees of a hospital were arrested for attempting to sell a newborn baby. The baby's mother had been told the baby had died.

I am glad to see the investigation was carried out quickly. They didn't find any evidence of organized baby selling, but plenty of evidence that it does happen. Babies that were supposed to go to the baby house but never made it, death certificates with no cause of death, and babies who were picked up at hospitals by people claiming to be relatives. Can you imagine?

The ministry has reprimanded various hospitals, but more interestingly, has also set up adoption units at all maternity hospitals so babies can be adopted before being sent to the baby house. I think this is a good idea if it's handled well. Till now babies have been sent to the baby house if they were abandoned in the maternity hospitals or if the mothers wanted them sent there. But the longer they are at the baby house, the less likely they will be adopted domestically. A specific program set up in the hospitals to try to get these babies adopted quickly and domestically to good families is a very good idea.

The article also quotes an employee, Jamila, at the baby house I knew well (if you ever go there, you'll likely meet her because she's one of the few who speaks any English). She says that many of the children in the baby house have health problems and that makes it very unlikely they will be adopted. But as more international adoptions take place, hopefully more these children can be adopted soon.

I am very glad to see Kyrgyzstan becoming more open to and accommodating towards adoptions, especially domestic and also international. Adoption isn't perfect, but it's almost always much, much better than growing up in the orphanages and boarding schools of Kyrgyzstan before being turned out onto the streets with a bit of money at 18.

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