Norway to investigate illegal adoptions from Sri Lanka, up to 11,000 children may be involved
by Arundathie Abeysinghe

The latest official Sri Lankan data come from 2017. Norway plans to set up an independent inquiry. In the 1970s, baby farms were popular, selling Sri Lankan babies with false papers to European couples. Some Sri Lankans remember younger siblings going missing this way.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Norwegian government plans to investigate adoptions from Sri Lanka going as far back as the 1980s after discovering that possibly 11,000 Sri Lankan babies were illegally adopted.

Norway’s Children and Family Minister Kjersti Toppe told the Verdens Gang (VG) newspaper that the government is setting up an independent commission of inquiry to look into the matter.

In the 1970s, Sri Lanka had several "baby farms" that sold minors to European couples providing them with false papers. In 2017, Sri Lankan authorities admitted that 11,000 children may have been adopted illegally.

Sources in Sri Lanka's Ministry of Women, Child Affairs and Social Empowerment told AsiaNews that in 2021, Romanticized Immigration, an organisation led by Priyangika Samanthie, a Norwegian adopted as a child from Sri Lanka, had called for an investigation into international adoptions.

The matter “regarding adoptions came to light when a Dutch female adopted from Sri Lanka searched for her biological parents. It was revealed during investigations that all the official papers were falsified in Sri Lanka,” said Sanuth Nakalanda, a prominent NGO activist who participated in a field survey as an undergraduate for a university project.

“This adoption racket was a part of the baby farm mafia,” Nakalanda explained. “The Dutch female filed a case in court to trace her biological parents. Due to this Sri Lankan pathetic corrupt business, adoption from outside Europe was forbidden for a while in the Netherlands.”

Chathura Semage, a resident of Ampara, Eastern Province, still remembers the day a white car drove away with her mother, Karunawathie Semage, and her two-year-old sister, Damayanthi, while he and his younger brother Dilan stayed at home. When she returned home in the evening, her mother was alone.

When the children asked him about their sister, she replied that she had been given up for adoption. "This incident took place either in 1986 or 1987. I was about 10, I remember. It was a period when my mother was struggling to survive. I remember a person visiting us several times and handing over cash in instalments,” Chathura added.

“When we said goodbye to each other, I never thought that my sister Damyanthi was about to go abroad and it was the last time we’d see each other. I was sad that my sister was given for adoption, although, Mother had no option when Father left us.”

Karunawathie was paid 1,800 Sri Lankan rupees (about at the time) for her daughter. “I don't blame my mother, although I never saw my sister, to date. My mother was unable to feed three of us."

Chathura later heard that the person who visited them was the "baby farm broker" in Kochchikade, a suburb of Colombo, run by a court official and her husband, who acted as intermediaries arranging adoptions for foreign couples, mostly Norwegians and Dutch.

Photo: Flickr / Les