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New passport rules for adopted children

Passports for adopted children will now be issued only after an approval from the ministry of child development, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has announced in an effort to curb ill-treatment of kids by foster parents settled abroad. The decision comes close to the tragic death of adopted Indian girl Sherin Mathews, 3, in the US.

Ms Swaraj has also urged the child development ministry to thoroughly probe the slain girl’s adoption.

Sherin, who was originally called Saraswati, was adopted by Wesley Mathews, 37, and his wife, who hail from Kerala. She was killed earlier this month allegedly by her father.

Looking to improve the safety of Indian children adopted by people settled abroad, Ms Swaraj has now requested women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi to order a “thorough investigation into the adoption process of Baby [email protected] who has been killed by her foster father Wesley Mathews in the United States”.

Ms Swaraj asked the Indian consul general in Houston to ensure that the case in the US is “taken to its logical conclusion”.

In a series of tweets, Ms Swaraj said, “I have requested @Manekagandhibjp minister for women and child development for a thorough investigation into the adoption process of Baby [email protected] who has been killed by her foster father Wesley Mathews in United States. I have also asked Shri Anupam Ray @cgihou to ensure that the murder of Baby [email protected] Mathews is taken to a logical conclusion. After Baby [email protected] Mathews’ case, we have taken a decision that passports for adopted children will be issued only with prior clearance by ministry of child development in all cases.”

Sherin, who was originally from Bihar, was adopted by Wesley Mathews with the help of an NGO in Bihar’s Nalanda district.

According to reports, the girl had disappeared on October 7 in Richardson in the US after being made to stand at 3 am some distance from her house as punishment by her Wesley Mathews for not finishing her glass of milk. Her body was later found in the vicinity of the house following which Wesley Mathews reportedly changed his version, claiming the girl had choked to death while drinking milk.

Sherin’s body was found on October 22 from a culvert in suburban Dallas, Texas. Her father was re-arrested on October 23  and charged with first-degree felony injury to a child due to conflicting statements given to the police. He was earlier arrested for suspected child endangerment for the treatment of his daughter but was released on bond.

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