India has suspended an American adoption agency for what the government says was "negligent" behavior in the assessment of adoptive parents.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and CEO of The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) Deepak Kumar made the formal decision to suspend Holt International, the adoption agency used by Sherin Mathews' adoptive parents Sini and Wesley Mathews.
CARA is India's managing agency for adoptions.
In a tweet, Kumar said CARA found negligence in the assessment of the adoptive parents and also in the post placement assessment of the family.
The family Kumar refers to in his tweet is not explicitly noted as Sherin Mathews' however Indian media has confirmed that this is the reasoning behind the move and is the family he references.
On CARA's website is the adoption procedure for interested non-resident Indian, overseas citizens of India and foreign prospective adoptive parents. There is no information available at this time on what exactly was negligent about their findings throughout this process.
"Further decision on the revocation of its authorisation shall be taken on getting the detailed report from the US Central Authority and the Indian Embassy in the USA," Kumar said.
In a statement to WFAA, Holt International said they are saddened by Sherin's death.
"During the Mathews' adoption process, Holt International, as well as our partner agency in Texas, followed all national and international adoption policies, procedures, laws and best practices," they wrote.
CARA has called for partner agencies to make sure that interested applicants who want to adopt a child from India have an evaluation of their psychological condition conducted by a licensed practitioner. The organization added this requirement in December.
"We have already made the Psychological assessment of the Prospective Adoptive Parents mandatory for which circular has already been issued to all Authorised Foreign Adoption Agencies," Kumar said.
Holt International has been serving children and families in India since 1979. Since the suspension, their homepage has been updated and states that they are not accepting new applications right now. Their website states they have found families for "more than 1,480 children through international adoption."
"Despite our strong belief that we were in proper compliance with all national and international procedures, in response to Sherin’s death we are reviewing each step of our adoption process and working with all relevant government authorities to determine how we can do even more to protect adopted children," Holt International told WFAA.
WFAA has reached out to CARA, Kumar and Gandhi but has yet to hear back.
Holt International says they will be able to work with families again once the temporary suspension is removed. In the meantime the families affected will work with other agencies with programs in India.
"We have been very grateful for the understanding of our families and the support from other agencies," said Holt spokeswoman Susan Cox.
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