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Meet the Parents: The Dark Side of Overseas Adoption

A Midwestern kid's family believes his birth parents put him up for adoption. An Indian couple claim he was kidnapped from them and sold. Who's right?

Prior to 2002, for instance, Peterson had sent upwards of $150,000 to an Indian orphanage called Preet Mandir. The conditions were terrible—three babies died there while awaiting clearance for adoption by Peterson's clients. And when orphanage director J. Bhasin began illegally demand­ing thousands of dollars above and beyond the usual donation, and would not relinquish the children with­out the payments, Peterson severed the rela­tion­ship. (She later filed a complaint about Preet Mandir and its director with the Indian government.)

Four years later, reporters from Indian TV news network cnn-ibn approached Preet Mandir posing as adoptive parents, and Bhasin told them they could buy two children for $24,000. The resulting story led to revocation of the orphanage's adoption license, but the Indian government has since reinstated it on a probationary basis. "The profit motive exists on both sides," Peterson says. "One American agency I worked with just wanted to know that I could get them a certain number of babies a year, and wasn't concerned with where they came from."

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