State in the dock again over illegal adoption practices

Photo: Depositphotos

A group of eight people who were illegally adopted from Sri Lanka are suing the state for negligence and restitution of the money they spent finding their birth parents.

Despite reports of illegal practices surrounding adoptions from Sri Lanka dating back to 1979, adoptions went ahead for decades.

In 2021 the Netherlands temporarily halted all cross-border adoptions following a highly critical report condemning the role of government officials and highlighting a wide range of abuses, including corruption, forgery and child snatching.

In 1987 Sri Lanka admitted the existence of so-called baby farms and said that most of the adoptions had been illegal.

In total some 3,400 children were adopted from Sri Lanka between 1973 and 1997. Most of the children were brought to the Netherlands via adoption agency Flash, which, experts said, was the most active in the illegal adoption trade.

“The Dutch government has shown shortcomings by looking away from abuses in cross border adoptions and for not taking action,” justice minister Sander Dekker said at the time.

“We want the judge to acknowledge that the state is liable for the damage suffered by these eight people,” lawyer Mark de Hek told broadcaster NOS.

In an earlier case, the appeal court judge found that the Dutch state had failed to do enough to prevent fraudulent adoptions from Sri Lanka and ordered damages to be paid.

The woman who brought the case, Dilani Butink, was adopted in 1992, but a falsified birth certificate meant that she had been unable to track down her biological parents.

That is also the case for some of the people currently suing the state. One woman, who was adopted in 1986, said she was told a photo showing a woman with a baby in her arms was her mother, who had given her up voluntarily. The woman was a fake, she later found.

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