By George Psyllides
A NEWBORN boy at the centre of an illegal adoption investigation has been placed in the care of the welfare office as his parents, arrested along with three others, including a doctor, were due to be released.
The baby, currently being looked after at Larnaca hospital under police guard, has been put in the care of the welfare office by court order.
Police said five suspects detained for two days on Saturday were due to be released as investigations continue.
Police arrested a Larnaca gynaecologist, 48, the child’s biological parents – both Bulgarian nationals – and the adoptive parents from Famagusta in connection with the case.
A court heard on Saturday that the Bulgarian mother had agreed to take €10,000 to give her child for adoption.
It started in April this year when the Bulgarian woman, 38, visited the doctor wanting to have an abortion.
The gynaecologist allegedly advised her to keep the baby and that he would assume the cost.
At the end of the remand hearing, the mother said she wanted her child back.
The welfare office confirmed that the Famagusta couple had submitted an application, which was still being processed however, and it would take around a month to complete.
When the adoptive mother informed a social worker that the child was born, she advised that under no circumstances must they take a child without a court order and warned them that no money must be paid.
The state official also said that the biological mother was not allowed to abandon the baby at the clinic before the court order was issued.
The Bulgarian mother said she has two more children in Bulgaria while her partner also had one.
The head of welfare services, Toula Kouloumou, said once the baby leaves hospital he will be placed in a registered foster family until “all matters are cleared”.
She said welfare services would be meeting with the boy’s biological mother as they collected all relevant information to decide how to proceed.
But the Bar Association’s Laris Vrahimis said authorities had failed to follow the law stating welfare services must process adoption applications within three months. In this case, welfare should have processed the application before the boy was born, Vrahimis said. He added that if a welfare report did not come through at the end of the three month-deadline, then the prospective adoptive parents and the biological parents could go to court to seek a court order.
The Child Commissioner, Leda Koursoumba, who is also the law commissioner said the illegal adoption case highlighted the current law’s weakness in allowing adoption via agreements of the related parties, without the need of a professional and scientific evaluation. She said the final draft of a bill includes abolishing this arrangement, and called the labour ministry to complete preparations to table it to parliament.