Kerala adoption row: No DNA test and baby yet to be handed over, says mother

Anupama S Chandran, who has been sitting on an indefinite strike, demanding sacking of KSCCW general secretary Shiju Khan JS and CWC chairperson N Sunanda for putting up her infant for adoption without her consent, has said that the government has made no headway into the probe and her baby is still with the foster parents

Anupama alleged that her father Jayachandran, a local CPI(M) leader, allegedly handed over the infant to the state adoption agency against her will, three days after the birth

It’s been a week since Anupama S Chandran, who alleges her newborn was snatched away from her and put up for adoption, has been staging an indefinite strike outside the state government adoption agency Kerala State Council for Child Welfare (KSCCW), demanding the return of her child. But 22-year-old Anupama says her demands and pleas to the Kerala government have fallen on deaf ears.

Anupama and her partner Ajith have also demanded the government to sack KSCCW general secretary Shiju Khan JS and District Child Welfare Committee (CWC) chairperson N Sunanda, accusing them of putting up their child for adoption without their consent.

The baby has been declared legally free for adoption by the CWC and entrusted to the prospective adoptive parents based in Hyderabad.

Also read: Anupama’s battle for her child continues as court allows DNA test

Fearing stigma after his unwed daughter gave birth, Anupama’s father Jayachandran, a local CPI(M) leader allegedly handed over the infant to the state adoption agency against her will, three days after the birth. Anupama alleges that the CWC and local police ignored her pleas that the child was given away without her consent, and refused to act on the same.

Anupama told The Federal that she was on house arrest for four months since the delivery on October 19, 2021 and got a chance to come out only in March 2021. She and Ajith, the father of the child, filed a police complaint in April 2021, alleging that the baby was forcefully taken from Anupama and they needed it back. Anupama says police took no action on her complaint and dilly dallied for six months before finally filing an FIR in October 2021.

Anupama raised a complaint with the CWC too. Despite having a missing complaint on record, the CWC did not revoke the clearance given for adoption and allowed it to happen.

The media uproar on the matter resulted in intervention by the government and the adoption procedure came to a halt before its completion. The family court in Thiruvananthapuram put a stay onn the proceedings and ordered a DNA test. In response to the public wrath, Veena George, the state Minister for Women and Child Welfare announced a department inquiry into the matter.

However, Anupama still awaits her child to return. The inquiry headed by TV Anupama, the director of the Women and Child department is yet to be completed.

“There is no point in conducting an inquiry, keeping all the officers involved in this illegal adoption in their respective positions. The chances of tampering with evidence is high as long as they hold office,” says Anupama Chandran who started her ‘Sathyagraha’ on November 11.

She also told The Federal that no procedure for DNA test has commenced yet. “They have not taken a single step. I was not summoned for giving blood sample yet. The baby is still with the (prospective) adoptive parents and no action has been taken to bring it back to Kerala” Anupama rued.

She is also worried about the safety of her child. She says the baby should be kept with the government until the dispute gets resolved.

“The parents who came to adopt the baby have not yet achieved the status of adoptive parents. The baby is only under foster care. In the context of a dispute, the just and fair thing to do is to take the baby back to the custody of the government until the finality of this issue. It is quite unfair that the government has not moved a single step to bring the baby back” says PE Usha, a gender right activist and the former director of Kerala Mahila Samakhya.

Jayachandran, Anupama’s father, however, has claimed that he handed over the baby to KSCCW with her consent. He also produced before the media a letter of agreement signed by Anupama saying she was willing to hand over the baby to KSCCW. Anupama dismissed the claim and alleged that she was threatened and was forced to sign the document when she was nine months pregnant.

However, no such letter is legally tenable. If a mother wants to relinquish the baby, she can surrender it to an authorised adoption agency, but has to appear in person. The family court at Thiruvananthapuram in the order dated November 1 has sought clarity whether the child was received, abandoned or surrendered. The court has also asked to produce records of all the procedures followed since the day the child was received.

The evidence on record makes it apparently clear that the KSCCW has followed the procedures of an abandoned baby and not of a surrendered one. This includes the advertisement in the newspaper, the police report, filing of report in the Missing Person’s Bureau etc. However, Jayachandran’s claim would remain a mystery until a criminal investigation is carried out in the matter.

Lawyers and activists supporting Anupama have accused the state of deliberately trying to avoid a serious criminal investigation into the matter as all the parties involved are local CPI(M) leaders or members. Many have said that the FIR lodged on Anupama’s complaint is a shabby one.

Also read: Labour ward to court, a Kerala woman’s ordeal to get her baby back

“The FIR has not included Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act. The case would not be any stronger without the inclusion of the provisions of such special laws,” says Advocate J Sandhya, a former member of the Child Rights Commission of the state.

Even such an FIR with the sections in IPC pertaining to conspiracy, forging document and abduction was registered only six months after her complaint.

The family court would hear the matter again on November 20. “The court ordered for a DNA test on November 1, but they have not acted on it yet. They are planning to delay the procedure as long as possible only with an intention to harass me,” says Anupama adding that she would continue the strike until she gets her baby back.