Opinion: Illegal adoption

POSTED: 08/25/11 12:57 PM

The Public Prosecutor’s Office brought a sensitive issue to the attention of local media. It concerns illegal adoption, and the possible consequences this has for both the parents who adopt and for the child involved in the process. This is what the prosecutor’s office has to say about the case.
“Last March the Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a conditional dismissal to a suspect from Sint Maarten for using a false foreign birth certificate to obtain a Dutch passport for her illegally adopted child. The condition under which the case was dismissed was the payment of 5,000 guilders within six months. Also the suspect agreed not to commit any further crimes during a probation time of two years.

The birth certificate stated that the suspect was the mother by birth of a child born in a neighboring Caribbean country. This information was false, because the child was born from a woman who was living in that neighboring country.

When the baby was born, the suspect asked the mother of the baby and a local physician to help her illegally adopt the child. By doing so, she not only altered the origin of the child, which in itself is a criminal offence, but she also deprived the foreign government and the government of the former Netherlands Antilles of the ability to properly investigate whether the adoption was in the best interest of the child.

Furthermore the suspect mislead the government of St. Maarten in order to obtain a Dutch passport for her child. It was this crime, an application on false grounds, together with the possession of the false foreign papers that was held against the suspect in this case. She confessed to both crimes.

Since the illegal adoption happened many years ago, the Prosecutor’s Office chose not to prosecute the suspect in court but offered her a conditional dismissal. A public court hearing would most certainly not be in the interest of the child involved.

This month the suspect paid the full amount of 5,000 guilders. The case is now closed.

In future similar cases whereby only a short time has passed since the illegal adoption, the Prosecutor’s Office will aim for a prosecution in a public court session. Suspects will have to reckon with prison sentences and equally high fines. Furthermore, a conviction could affect the civil status of the child involved.”

Sensitive as the issue may be, this issue deserves the full attention, not only of the Prosecutor’s Office, but of many others as well. What to think for instance, of the doctor who facilitated the illegal adoption? In the example given by the Prosecutor’s Office, there is not a breath about what action was taken against this unidentified physician.
The point is not to engage in a witch hunt – and this is clearly not what the Prosecutor’s Office is after – but to have a structure in place that makes these illegal adoptions if not impossible, then at least as complicated and cumbersome as possible.
The initiative by the Prosecutor’s Office to publish the case as an example was a good idea, because it warns future offenders for the possible consequences. But is should also function as a red alert towards professionals who see no harm in assisting people who commit these illegal acts.

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