The death of three-year-old Sherin Mathews at Texas in the US has united a vast section of people in their grief. Sherin, who had a developmental disability, "choked on milk" being administered by her adoptive father.
The child's body was discovered in a culvert not far from her home in a Dallas suburb, at about 11am on October 22. The news of her murder has evoked sharp and angry reactions from people over how parents treat children. Sherin's heart-wrenching story has led some to raise questions on how people treat their adopted children with some saying that the "adopters abandoned her". Sherin went missing from her Richardson home on October 7.
Her father, 37-year-old Wesley Mathews, was arrested in connection with the disappearance after he allegedly told the police that he made the little girl stand next to a tree across an alley around 3am because she refused to drink her milk.
Texas authorities discover body of a child while searching for a girl, 3, who has been missing more than two weeks https://t.co/IzJoW16vpL— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) October 23, 2017
Texas police confirms, body found is that of missing Indian girl Sherin Mathews; father confesses of crime | https://t.co/y7kQDgEZws— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) October 24, 2017
Wesley went on to claim that when he went to check on the child 15 minutes later, she was not there. What made Wesley's account suspicious was that he reported the incident to police only five hours later. He is reported to have told the police that he went back to the house to do laundry. He confessed to the crime, however, after Sherin's body was found. In his revised statement, Wesley told police that he watched Sherin choke on milk.
The affidavit says that Matthews was "trying to get the three-year-old girl to drink her milk in the garage… Wesley Mathews said she wouldn't listen to him." He then "physically assisted" her in drinking her milk.
"She was coughing and her breathing slowed. Eventually, Wesley Mathews no longer felt a pulse on the child and believed she had died," the police affidavit says. "Wesley Mathews then admitted to removing the body from the home."
Sherin was adopted by Wesley and his wife, Sini, from an NGO named Mother Teresa Anath Seva Sansthan in Nalanda on June 23 in 2016 after being abandoned by her biological parents. Babita Kumari, secretary of the now defunct Bihar NGO, said that the girl was known as Saraswati before being adopted by the American couple.
Some on social media have said that the incident reflects how the adoption system has failed adoptees, but still expects them to remain grateful for being adopted. Julian Kelly, who claims to be an adoptee, has said Sherin's death shows people's ignorance about the perils of being an adoptee is gradually "killing us".
In a Facebook post of October 19, Kelly questioned the "billion-dollar (adoption) industry.
There is widespread outrage over why did the couple adopt a child if they were not capable enough to take care of her.
Some asked why people should adopt children if all they have to do is abuse them.
No..no! Assisted her in drinking milk? He flat out poured that down her throat until she suffocated. Why adopt a child only to abuse her?— Ruby Mckoy (@mckoy877) October 24, 2017
Another monster allowed to care for a child...So very sad— cecekat6517 (@cecekat60) October 24, 2017
Whether Sherin actually choked on milk is a matter of investigation, but it the incident has surely triggered an important debate about the need for a better mechanism to ensure people who adopt children are mentally healthy enough to take care of them. We need to ensure that abusers and people suffering from behavioural problems do not get custody of our children.
The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), under the Women and Child Development Ministry, is the nodal body for adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions. The CARA must answer if it found the Wesley couple able enough to take care of the child.
It must also answer what, if any, steps were taken to ensure Sherin was being properly taken care of in Texas.