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Award of Excellence
Damon Winter The Dallas Morning News
"Broken System, Broken Lives: Indian adoptions"

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"In safe hands" Ramaloo Mudavat, a Lambada tribesman, holds his one month-old baby boy Soona on the floor of the Primary Health Center in Ballanagar Village as his wife Kumaly recovers from sterilization surgery. Kumaly and Ramaloo decided to have the surgery after having their second child, Soona, a girl. Kumaly already had a boy and her mother advised her to stop after two. Such a small family is very unusual in Lambada tribes but government agencies and other outreach groups are trying to educate Lambada women about having manageable sized families and avoiding some of the problems that have led to the selling of babies in these communities.

The collapse of the overseas adoption system in Andrah Pradesh, India has left scores of orphans stranded in institutions, still two years after mass closures of the private homes. Aggressive opposition to foreign adoptions has lead to fewer opportunities for abandoned, homeless, and street children to make it into the orphanage system, now entirely state-run. Private aid organizations have had to shoulder much of the burden. Opposition groups claim that foreign adoptions create such a high demand for babies that poor tribal families are selling their children and opportunistic middlemen are cashing in. Meanwhile, conditions are so harsh for tribes like the Lambada that they continue to find ways of reducing the burden of large families. Many women in these tribal areas have turned to mass sterilization camps offered by the government out of sheer desperation.



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