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Monday, September 08, 2008

Guest Column - Rolling's family (Birth family search)

Meet an Australian family that has eight kids (two bio and six adoptive) out of which four are from India. Rollings have adopted two brothers from Nagpur in 1995 and a brother & a sister from Chennai in 1998. Other two kids are adopted from Korea and Taiwan. Rollings had helped the siblings from Chennai to search for their birth family.

Rolling's family

Why did your family decide to search for the birth family? What is the background of the decision you've made?

We decided to actively search for our youngest children's birth family following news that the director of our children's former adoption agency in India had been arrested in early 2006. We had asked that agency for more information and possible contact with our children's first parents several months before this occurred, but the news of the arrest certainly spurred us along. We felt we needed to verify that our children's history was as we had been told, and that their Indian family had not been exploited in the adoption process.

Babu, Sunama and their seven children

What was your children's role in this decision to pursue birth family search?

Our children's attitudes were crucial to our decision. Both of our children were asking for reassurance that their birth parents were well and were happy. Our daughter also wanted to meet her birth parents, particularly her first mother, Sunama, while our son wanted to know about their welfare but was not as eager as his sister to have contact. As our children are biological siblings, we had to take into consideration whether they were both ready for us to search on their behalf. Our daughter was definitely the stronger in this desire but our son was also agreeable.

Sunama and Sabi

How did you all undertake the process to search?

We already had much of the information we needed: our children's birth names, the first names of their Indian parents (these were listed on their Indian passports), and the name of the town they were born in (also on their passports). Although they had been adopted from a Chennai agency, they had been born in a much smaller town a few hours out of Chennai and that made searching much easier. I had a trusted friend in India who we asked to do an investigation on our behalf. They took a fact-finding trip to our children's former neighborhood, where locals immediately recalled the family and gave contact details for the relatives.

Akil and Sabi

If there's one thing that made your search process easier, what would it be and why?

The crucial factor to our search was having a trusted person who was able to act as a mediator, both during the search process but, even more importantly, through our continuing relationship with our children's first family. We needed someone to act as a go-between for practical reasons, in particular our inability to speak a common language as our children's birth family, but also because we needed to protect our minor children until we knew the current situation of the family we were searching for. Other factors that made it easier were some happy coincidences that fell into place during the search. One of these was that on the trip to their town my friend happening to meet a former neighbor of the family who had the phone number for our children's maternal uncle, living in Bangalore. This uncle was then able to put us in touch with Sunama, who had moved to Chennai.

Could you explain in brief about the reunion? Your kids reactions and their biological family reactions.

We made contact with Sunama in mid 2006 and we started sending letters through my Indian friend. Sunama, her second husband and their five children would visit my friend's office in Chennai to collect our letters and photographs, and my friend would translate our letters. She would then send us emailed messages from our children's family. After a few months of this contact I returned to India with our son and daughter, then age 12 and 13 years old. Our meeting took place on the side of the road outside my friend's office in Chennai, as the family was awaiting our arrival an hour ahead of our appointment. Sunama embraced our daughter, and they both started crying. She then hugged our son, before turning to me and embracing me also. Their welcome was warm and loving, and their small children were soon climbing into the arms of the older brother and sister they had only just met. The family invited me to come to stay in their home with our son and daughter. This was a little confronting because we knew the family lived in an impoverished community in very poor housing, but more so because we were traveling without my friend. My son, daughter and I spent four days living with our children's family, without any common language. It was a wonderful opportunity to start building relationships between all of us, and we were treated as honoured guests in their home and community.

....to be continued and concluded tomorrow

1 comment:

Nirmala Ravi said...

Hey Ruby, This is so nice reading about them in your post. I remember reading an article about them in your blog quite sometime back.

We wonder how it will be when we begin to start our search for our daughters birth parents.

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