A Netherlands-based clinical psychologist who was adopted in Mumbai has lost her almost 10-year old battle to find her mother. The Bombay High Court ruled on Friday that a promise made to an unwed mother while she was handing over her child, allegedly born out of an illegitimate relationship, cannot be broken.It seems strange that the court first ordered that the records be tracked down, and then won't follow through. And despite the court order, the agency only turned over "just a four-five line order," described as unhelpful in searching for her birth mother, even though it seems that they had the name of the birth mother all along!
The HC was hearing a petition filed by Daksha Van Dijck, 35, and Anjali Pawar-Kate of the international NGO Against Child Trafficking.
Daksha was adopted by Dutch national Johan Van Dijck in 1975. When she came to India in 2001 and 2007 in search of her biological parents, she smelt an adoption racket. She was allegedly told by the Shraddhanand Mahilashram — the orphanage-cum-adoption centre which gave her away — that she was an abandoned child. However, Daksha could not find a police report which could substantiate this claim. She lodged a complaint with Matunga police against the centre on February 9 last year stating it should have maintained her confidential information files as mandated by the Supreme Court.
She filed the petition in May this year. In it she has alleged that the orphanage authorities are hiding facts about her birth because she could have been kidnapped for adoption. In June the HC had directed it’s registry to trace the records of the adoption related case. Though the records were traced, they were hardly of any help as they consisted of just a four-five line order.
On Friday, advocate Anjali Purav, appearing for Shraddhanand Mahilashram, submitted before the court that it had promised Daksha’s unwed mother that her (mother’s) identity will not be revealed to anyone. So if Daksha was to be provided with the information about her mother, the promise would automatically be broken.
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The bench also agreed with Shraddhanand Mahilashram on the point of concealing the identity of the unwed mother and hence dismissed the petition.
The promise of confidentiality to birth mothers is often the excuse for closed records in the U.S., too. Elizabeth Samuels, a law professor at the University of Baltimore, has done research on adoption law and relinquishment papers. She has concluded that lifelong anonymity was never promised to birth mothers. In fact, she says, "lifelong anonymity was not offered to birth mothers; it was imposed upon them."
Makes me wonder what promises were made in India . . . .