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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hurting for the second time (Adoption TV)

This following story is published by an adoptive mother on Ichild first and reprinted here with the permission from the author. Read the entire story before you watch the video to make sense.

My youngest children were stolen. Their Indian father took them from their sleeping mother during one night in 1996 and disappeared. He returned to their town a few days later, saying he'd sold their children. We adopted the children in 1998 from a CARA-approved orphanage, where they had lived since 1996. We were told (verbally, and later in writing) that the children had been relinquished for adoption by both parents, who were too sick to care for them. Both of our children settled into our family and firmly attached to us as their parents. When our orphanage director was arrested in early 2006 we decided to verify our children's history was truthful. We searched and located their former neighbourhood, where locals first told the story of the children's disappearance and sale. Neighbours had been involved in a two-day search for the children. We located their mother several weeks later, living in another city. She told the exact same story as her former neighbours.

My children were told the truth last year. They joined our family at ages 3 and 5 years, and were 11 and 13 when we discovered their story in mid 2006. We started writing to their first mother and her family through an Indian friend, as the family is illiterate. Their mother had remarried and had five more children.

Our children's mother never asked for her oldest children to be returned. In her first correspondence to us she said "They are your children now, and you have our best wishes." She understood that our children were by then in their early teens, fully integrated into our local Australian community and our family. At the time we made contact only her youngest two children were living at home. The family didn't have the means to feed their five children, so the oldest three were living at a nearby mosque.

Our children's family was in desperate condition when we found them, and sadly their circumstances deteriorated even further following the husband's stroke. We now have sole responsibility for maintaining a family of seven. We now consider their family part of our family. We have promised regular visits back to India, where we will stay with the family as we did during our trip in March. In between visits we write regularly through my Indian friend, who passes on all our messages. We send photos, drawings from my daughter and gifts for the family.

Our children certainly did not want to lose our family. Although they both wanted to go on another trip to India and to meet their first mother, they made it very clear they did not want to stay in India. My daughter took to sleeping in our room before the trip. She wanted absolute confirmation that nobody could make her stay before she felt comfortable traveling for the reunion. She also made me promise I would not leave her side at all. My son didn't even consider he might be asked to stay in India, so was a lot less anxious. Trying to be objective (which I acknowledge is impossible) I cannot visualise integrating two westernised early teens, who are happy and settled in their urban secular community, back into an impoverished, illiterate and traditional Muslim family in India.

For my part - I could not have handed over our children. I have been the mother of these two children for nearly ten years, and they are every bit as much "mine" as the children I gave birth to. I checked and re-checked the children's legal status before we searched, as I was terrified that I might face the prospect of losing them. I was torn between heartbreak for their first mother and the horror of facing the loss of my children.

This kind of distress is the legacy of those who traffic in children, and it is why I am so angry at the inaction taken against people trading in lives when crimes are exposed in India. We have notified several Indian authorities, but have yet to even receive an acknowledgement of our letters.

There is NO perfect solution to this dilemma! Do you cause further distress to children by tearing them from the family they now consider their own? Do you tell Indian parents that their child has been located but will not be handed back to them? Do you tell adoptive parents "Sorry, you shouldn't have had the child in the first place" and take their children away, when they've committed no crime?

I believe Sunama and I have come up with the best arrangement we could in our circumstances. The most important part of it is that our children are comfortable. What I would still like to see, however, is an investigation and prosecution of anyone involved in the original crime, and financial compensation paid to their Indian mother.

Julia

Aussie mum of 8, including 4 children adopted from India

Do you have a similar story to share? Write in the comments section.

Here is the video link:

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