Sunday, October 24, 2010

Indian Court Won't Open Records

From the Mumbai Mirror, a follow-up to this story:
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.

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.

* * *

The bench also agreed with Shraddhanand Mahilashram on the point of concealing the identity of the unwed mother and hence dismissed the petition.
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 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 . . . .


Anonymous said...

Adoptions are either "open" or "closed" at the time they are completed.

Which ever they are, in my opinion they should remain in force as they were at the time of adoption.

I simply do not agree with this constant petitioning and lobbying for closed adoptions to be opened.

As for the adoptee in this case, she petitioned and the petition was dismissed. Case closed. If she had prevailed, she may very well not be happy with what she were to find out about her mother.

Wendy said...

It is a good thing Anon is not in control of all adoptions. Not all "open" adoptions remain that way due to lack of enforcement and some "closed" adoptions open when people come to realize the value in them (and in some circumstances bold face lies that have them closed).

It seems to me attitudes like those of anon are the reason it is HELL to get states to open records and recogize the RIGHTS of adoptees.

Louise said...

Yes, Anon...did you ever consider the rights of the adoptees? Or, are the birth parents the only VIP's in your book?
Just because the birth mother was "born first," she has the final say? Or, as the author brings up and more important - what if the birth mother DOES want contact but these people who are keeping the "promise" are keeping this from occurring? What then?

Not picking on you, just totally not understanding where you are coming from and agreeing with Wendy that the "closed minded/sorry we can't do anything for you" attitude has plagued adoptees for decades.

Jenna said...

I'm sure Anon had had PLENTY of experience in the adoption world meeting and listening to a great number of adoptees and birth parents, right? Certainly only such long and diverse experience could give rise to such an informed and compassionate opinion.

Yeah, right!

As usual, someone who hasn't met and engaged with a wide variety of birth parents and adoptees about their experiences and needs is coming up with an uninformed decision about how things should be done for all birth parents and adoptees.

Seems like it's about time for these uninformed and uncompassionate people to stop making decsions for us.

Sandy said...

What Anon does not also recognise is that adoptions that were never sealed were retroactively sealed decades later to protect the likes of Georgia Tann...

And that 'open adoptions' still in most states have the adoptees OBC sealed...

The laws and the so called 'promises' are not the same. Use a dictionary if you do not understand the difference.

The agencies that have to use the so-called 'promises' to hide behind and lobby against laws to open records do so for one reason and one reason only - to stop the world from finding out they were doing horrible, inhumane acts against the mother and the child...

Jenna said...

Agencies can you use the "it was a closed adoption"to cover up black market adoptions and other illegal activities.

Seems like this may have happened in this case.

One more reason to open up all the records.