The death of three-year-old Sherin Mathews has reignited the call for an end to international adoptions from India to families living abroad. Mathews was a child with special needs living in Texas who had been adopted from India a year earlier. Her body was found in a culvert under a road. Her adoptive father, Wesley Mathews was charged with 1st degree Injury to a Child following her death. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 99 years in jail.

Sherin’s were thoroughly checked out before her adoption. The agency did four follow-up visits at her home in 2016. The reports showed a child who was secure and comfortable, although the parents had an increasing difficult time feeding her.

Of the incident, Indian Activist Sujata Mody says, “It is a fallacy that these children are better off abroad; we should stop inter-country adoptions immediately.” Just last year the Indian Supreme Court ordered more strict guidelines for screening and tracking adoptions after allegations of rackets between Indian and foreign adoption agencies. In the 1970s there was no regulation in regard to adoptions in India. Since then, Supreme Court rulings and the Hague Convention have set new standards.

Sherin was reported missing for two and a half weeks before her body was found. Mathews initially claimed he made her stand outside as punishment for not drinking her milk, and when he stepped away she disappeared. He later admitted he physically assisted the girl with drinking the milk and she choked. At that point he removed her body from the home. Mathews was released on $1 million bond. The cause of death has not yet been determined.