The Guardian’s investigation into the adoption of children from Bangladesh to the Netherlands in the 1970s has prompted the Bangladesh police to launch a probe into the allegations of parental consent violations.
The special branch of the Dhaka police confirmed that they are looking into the cases of several children who were adopted between 1976 and 1979, amid claims that they were taken from their mothers under false pretenses.
According to the investigation, some families were tricked by a scheme known as the “boarding school scam”, where they were offered temporary care for their children, only to discover later that they had been adopted by foreign families without their knowledge or consent.
Bibi Hasenaar holding her Bangladesh passport. She is four years old in the picture.
Photograph by Judith Jockel
The mystery of Bangladesh’s missing children – part one
The special branch’s Special Supt Tahsin Mashroof Hossain Mashfi told the Guardian: “We are determined to uncover the truth and bring justice to the victims. We feel a deep sense of responsibility to address this issue and contribute to the nation’s healing process.”
The Bangladesh high commissioner to the UK, Saida Muna Tasneem, alerted the country’s foreign minister, AK Abdul Momen, about the Guardian’s upcoming podcasts and articles on this topic in August 2023, and requested him to take action. The foreign minister forwarded her letter to the home ministry, which initiated the police probe.
The practice of international adoption from Bangladesh started soon after the 1971 liberation war, when many babies were born to rape survivors. The government enacted emergency laws that allowed foreigners to adopt “war babies”, who had been left at orphanages across the country. However, the adoptions continued for years after the war had ended.