Adoption racket opens a can of worms

Neeta KolhatkarSunday, August 24, 2008 4:13 IST

Adopted, abused, deported

MUMBAI: The story of Jennifer H, a Mumbai girl who was deported from the US on July 1, 2008 illustrates the hazards of adoption, especially if conducted by little-known organisations.

Jennifer, now 27 and mother of two children was put up for inter-country adoption by the Mumbai-based Kuan-Yin Charitable Trust when she was five. Its office at 91, Advent, 12A General Bhosale Marg, has shut down

“I was five years old when I was taken to Georgia in the US. From there I was moved to Michigan,” Jennifer, who now lives in Mumbai told DNA. She did not want to give her surname or be photographed.

In both places she was with abusive families. “Outside we held hands to go to church while indoors it was abusive,” she says.

She tried giving her mother hints that the abuse was perpetrated by her foster father and brothers, but to no avail. By then, Jennifer had begun going to Springsfield School and she informed the principal of the abuse.

Jennifer was pulled out of the foster care and the case worker and the counsellor came to her rescue. A medical examination proved she was right. The foster father was subsequently arrested. Then began shifts to a series of foster homes.

Child rights activists in Mumbai who know about Jennifer’s case say that although all laws in US are stringent, they lack in after care supervision and control. “The abuse of children is not being checked in America. The overall foster care supervision is lacking,” says Arun Dohle, an adult who was raised in foster care in Germany.

Jennifer landed on the streets when she met her husband Justin. They had two children, but they had no money. James dealt in drugs and eventually Jennifer landed in jail. When the police ran a check on Jennifer’s name they realised she was not American citizen-nobody had bothered to get the paperwork done.

Jennifer fought her case in the US courts and even in the Supreme Court, but she was ordered to be deported. Legal help was forthcoming but she lost the case and was deported on July 1. Mumbai-based activists say this deprives Jennifer which deprives her of the rights of an adopted child.

“The US allows adoption of children from all over the world it is outrageous that they have sent back Jennifer. Now the adopted laws are more developed. An adopted child automatically becomes a US citizen once they reach America. However the case of Jennifer is outrageous,’ says Dohle.

“I am aware that many children are being deported to India as now they are being termed as ‘illegal’ residents,” says Anjali Kate, Sakhee activist who filed a petition against a Pune-based adoption agency for the information of illegal adoption cases that she had received.

The activists also say that while world over the policies for adoption are becoming sterner, the agency Central Adoption Resources Agency, (CARA) is trying to make it easier. “Till now a foreign adoption case can be sanctioned only by the High court judge, however now the authorities want a Magistrate to give this sanction,” says Punekar.