After the death of 3-year-old Sherin Mathews, an Indian girl child adopted by Keralite couple living in the United States (US) in October last year, the Indian government had recently suspended Holt International, the US adoption agency that conducted post-adoption follow-ups on the child.
The Indian government suspended operations with Holt International, citing "gross negligence" from their part, for not having reported on the abuse Sherin was subjected to allegedly by her adoptive parents. The move came after Sherin's autopsy report revealed last week that she died of homicidal violence.
However, Holt International told TNM in an official statement that the agency followed all national and international adoption policies, procedures, laws and best practices.
Saying that Holt International was "profoundly saddened by the tragic death of Sherin," Susan Soonkeum Cox, Vice President Policy & External Affairs said that the agency's adoption programs in India spanning across years, have been "child-centered, focused on child safety and have upheld the highest ethical standards for children and families."
She added, "Despite our strong belief that we were in proper compliance with all national and international procedures, in response to Sherinâ€™s death we are reviewing each step of our adoption process and working with all relevant government authorities to determine how we can do even more to protect adopted children."
On Monday, CEO of Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) Deepak Kumar had confirmed to TNM that the Indian government had suspended operations with Holt International, after their follow-up reports on Sherin failed to report the abuse she was facing.
"In all the four follow-up reports Holt International submitted to our country on Sherin, it said that Sherin was adjusting well with her adoptive parents. But it has now came to light that a state (US) health department official had in fact written to Child Protective Services (CPS) that Sherin had multiple fractures seven months ago. This was never there in the follow-up reports by Holt International. It is sheer gross negligence on their part or they might have very well hidden this information," Deepak Kumar said.
Sherin's adoptive parents Wesley and Sini Mathews continue to be in jail. While Wesley has been charged for causing felony injury to the child, Sini has been charged for abandoning/endangering the child, after it was found that the couple had left Sherin alone at home the day before she was reported missing on October 7.
After weeks of search operations, Sherin's body was recovered from a culvert near the Mathews' residence.
Wesley then changed his earlier statement to the police that Sherin went missing shortly after he sent her out of the house at 3 am as punishment for not drinking her milk. In his changed statement, Wesley admitted that he physically assisted Sherin to drink her milk and that the child choked and her breathing stopped. Wesley then removed the body from the house.