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FOR every legal adoption, there are at least 20 other babies procured by couples via illegitimate channels, say statistics. While some make their own arrangements through relatives or friends, others use more iniquitous methods. They approach or are approached by baby brokers and syndicates. Just last week, police busted a syndicate in Johor Baru involving a doctor and his staff. Indeed, the baby-for-sale business is thriving, encouraged by despairing couples who want babies via the fastest and least complicated means possible. Even if it comes at a price. As long as there is this demand, there will be no end to this racket. According to police records, several syndicates have been busted since the first cases of baby-selling were reported in 1992.
Indeed, there have long been complaints of adoption being a tedious and frustrating process. Couples talk of being made to wade through red tape and having their private lives minutely probed. Besides being married, the couple must show medical evidence that they cannot conceive, are financially sound and be sincere in wanting a child. The couple's background and marriage stability will also be assessed. It is also extremely difficult to adopt a child of a few months old because of the time involved in the application procedure, which is usually around 18 months to two years. Once approved, the couple will be informed that they are on the waiting list, which stands at 11/2 years. Certainly, the queue is long and the wait unbearable for those desperate for a child. In such circumstances, it is not difficult to imagine what a hard-pressed couple with the means would do if approached with an infant and all the necessary documents. Thus, reviewing the law from various aspects to make the adoption procedure as simple as possible, is indeed appropriate and advantageous. But at the same time, care must also be taken to ensure the interests and welfare of the child are safeguarded.