Aarti would like to meet her birth mother. It can be a secret meeting without the birth mother's family involved, if that is what the birth mother wishes. Aarti only wants to meet her birth mother — no obligation..." These three short sentences say it all. Urgent, hesitant, hopeful and understanding, the message is almost apologetic.
It is on an adoption website and is one of a dozen such appeals on the Net from Indians who were adopted by foreigners. All of them are on a root search. This means adoptees looking for their biological mother. A few have photographs tacked on, perhaps in the hope that some family resemblance will jog memory somewhere. Others provide little details such as "the only recognizable difference I had was ear tags, extra skin near my earlobes, at birth", or "I have a brown birthmark on my right forearm, above my wrist". Many admit they are unsure about how old they are, as in "American doctors say I am about 33 years old."
Searching for one's biological parents is a complicated affair in India.
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A new set of draft guidelines have been prepared by the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA). Even though provision for root search has been included in these guidelines, it's not certain whether things will ever improve. A contradiction within this draft will make it tough. While it accepts that the adopted child should be given "as much information as possible" by agencies, and that "in case of unwed mothers, the same shall be done after obtaining their willingness," the guidelines threaten to de-register any recognized agency that reveals "confidential information on the background of adoptees... to any outside agency or individual." Activists fear that heavy-duty confidentiality clauses in the root search programme will make it easier for suspect agencies to cover up information on trafficking.
3 months ago