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`Stamp out evil baby trade'.

Byline: DARREN DEVINE

AN angry High Court judge yesterday demanded action to stamp out the ``evil trade'' of buying and selling babies for adoption.

Mr Justice Munby was giving his ruling in a case where a black American woman was paid just $1,000 (pounds 624) to hand over her newborn daughter to an adoption agency.

The case had echoes of the internet adoption row involving Alan and Judith Kilshaw, at that time living in Buckley, near Mold, who attempted to adopt US twins two years ago.

A white British couple had remortgaged their home to raise pounds 18,500 to pay for the baby which a United States judge allowed to be brought to the UK.

The Texan judge had heard glowing reports on the couple from a woman calling herself an independent social worker who said she had no hesitation in recommending that an adoption order should be granted.

But far from being fit and healthy the adopting mother was suffering from cancer, had been married four times before and suffered from depression, and two of her own six children had caused concern to the local social services.

She has since committed suicide and her fifth husband has abandoned all responsibility for the girl born in January 2000.

Mr Justice Munby took the unusual step of partially lifting an order banning identification of any of the people in the case so that the bogus social worker, Jay Carter, could be named ``in the public interest''.

Mrs Carter and her husband, who live in the north-east of England, have been criticised in the past by a succession of High Court judges for their inadequate home study reports used to win adoption orders for potential adoptive parents, including the Kilshaws.

Mr Justice Munby said the circumstances in which the birth mother was induced to consent to adoption ``are such as to arouse even the judicial heart to indignation''.

She had also pleaded for the child to be returned to her, saying the adoption was the worst mistake of her life.

But the judge said that after reading a report which spoke of lack of warmth by the birth mother towards her other children, and marital violence in a family which lived in an area where drugs and alcohol abuse were prevalent, he had decided that the child, referred to as M, should remain in Britain.

Mrs Kilshaw, who now lives in Chester, yesterday reacted angrily to the judge's comments, saying the American adoption process was perfectly legal and much more ``user friendly'' than the British system.

She also defended Mrs Carter, saying she deserved credit for the many British families she had helped to adopt children from abroad.

``As a person with free will, I adopted from America,'' she said.

``I wasn't forced to go to America at gunpoint.

``People do pay money to the intermediaries, but that is for the service.

``There have been many people who have been to America and completed adoptions and just paid the price stated at the outset. It's a legal adoption process.

``In America the law is more user friendly than in Britain and it's done through a judge, through lawyers in a court, and it's acceptable. I don't see that as exploitation on any side. ``When I knew Jay Carter she never came to my house and said `You have got to pay me this'.

``Jay Carter is a nice person and a friendly person who lives in the real world, not a world of judges. I don't know what world they live in. I don't understand them at all.

``No one is exploited. The children are not exploited; they are wanted.

``The parents should know exactly what they are paying and doing, so I can't see that they're exploited.

``What can the birth mothers do in America? There's no social security or benefits for them. They don't come along and give them a flat and a load of furniture and money.

``Most birth mothers have open adoptions where they are allowed to keep in touch with the children.

``So I can't see how a judge could arrive at this conclusion, but then again it's typical of the British judicial system.''

Mr Justice Munby also ordered copies of his judgment to be sent to various authorities, including the Director of Public Prosecutions, with a view to taking action against Mrs Carter over what he described as criminal activities.

Calls have also been made by other judges for action to be taken against the Carters under the Adoption Act but no charges have ever been brought.

Mr Justice Munby prefaced his hard-hitting judgment with a heartfelt condemnation of people ``who run businesses to make money out of trading in human beings and human misery''.

He said the adoption trade was causing ``untold harm to children, untold misery to their birth mothers and untold heartache to adopters''.

The present case had arisen because the adoption had been a disaster, he said.

In making an order that the girl, who is now thriving with foster parents, should again be freed to be adopted the judge said the High Court had taken steps to contact the birth mother and a British local authority had investigated the mother and her partner. Its report concluded that the girl would be at risk of significant emotional and possible physical harm if returned.

CAPTION(S):

NAMED: Jay Carter, who called herself an independent social worker
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 8, 2003
Words:905
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