Representative image. (Source: pxhere.com) Photograph:( Others )
Reports that a Spanish couple abandoned an Indian girl they had adopted in January after discovering she was allegedly aged 13, and not seven years old as claimed in her papers, has sparked a controversy in India, officials from both countries told EFE on Wednesday.
The couple who adopted the girl are residents of Zaragoza, in northern Spain.
"It is very unfortunate that the adopted girl has been abandoned in Spain. I have requested our Ambassador in Spain, Sh.D.B. Venkatesh Varma, to immediately send her back to India where we will ensure her rehabilitation and safe custody," India's Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi wrote on Twitter.
The girl, who arrived in Spain on Jan. 18, is staying at a protection centre for minors in Aragon while Indian authorities determine if she wishes to return to her native country or remain in Spain, said the director general of the Central Adoption Resource Authority, Deepak Kumar.
"The parents had alleged that they had been misled about the actual age of the child, which was under-reported," he said.
He explained that the girl has Spanish citizenship on account of being adopted, in accordance with the convention regulating international adoptions, which is why both countries are studying the best solution for her.
The couple got in touch with CARA through an email stating that they had discovered that the girl was 13 years old and not seven as mentioned in the papers given by the Udaan adoption agency, located in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
According to Kumar, "prima facie this (the age) has been established there in Spain and we are yet to actually check with our agencies so a committee is looking into it."
The director general said that the Indian embassy is in touch with Spanish authorities and added that the girl could be placed with a foster family or under institutional care until she was adopted by another family or sent back to India.
An official of the government of Aragon, who requested anonymity, confirmed to EFE that the girl was under the care of Aragon's Institute of Social Services.
"We are working in coordination with Indian authorities to ensure the rights of the minor and look for alternatives," he explained.
The director of CARA in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Ramachandra Reddy, told EFE that the organization will very soon examine the original adoption documents, which are with the Indian agency.
CARA has received a couple of complaints against Udaan from other families, who adopted children through them, Reddy added, without giving more details.
Indian authorities unsuccessfully tried to inspect the documents a few days ago, another member of CARA in Madhya Pradesh, Durgesh Keswani, told EFE.
Kewani, who was part of the team that went to the agency with local government officials, said that it refused to hand over the documents.
He added that three men were in charge of two girls, aged over six years, when the law stipulates that only women can care for girls over that age.