Halt adoption by foreigners: Activists
ByAmbika Pandit, TNN | Feb 20, 2013, 04.43 AM IST
NEW DELHI: Jennifer Edgell Haynes was placed in an orphanage by her poverty-stricken mother when she was five years old. It gave her away in adoption to an American couple through court orders, without obtaining her mother's consent. However, what appeared to be a successful adoption was followed by constant dislocation of Haynes, who was tossed from one foster parent to another, ultimately finding herself dumped on Indian shores as a "deportee".
Haynes, now 31, is torn between her fight for survival and the urge to be reunited with her husband and two children, aged nine and 10, back in the US. On Tuesday, Jennifer's plight helped crystallize the demand for a "moratorium on inter-country adoptions" till a comprehensive law on adoption is put in place. Poor parents who lost their children to trafficking in the name of inter-country adoption as well as activists came together in the capital.
Child rights activists were brought together by Pune-based voluntary organization Sakhi, Against Child Trafficking (ACT-Brussels), and Delhi-based HAQ-Centre for Child Rights. The capital will witness a two-day international conference, from February 19 to 20, on adoption, organized by Central Adoption Resource Agency and the women and child development ministry.
TOI had reported Haynes' case on November 7, 2010, when US President Barack Obama visited India. Haynes had written an open letter to him in Mumbai. Haynes now earns a living by working at a Mumbai call centre. Though she fears being turned out again, the hope of reuniting with her children in Michigan keeps her going.
Haynes was adopted by an American couple from a Mumbai orphanage in 1989. Unfortunately for the five-year-old, her foster family didn't want to keep after two years. The adoption agency reportedly handed Haynes over to another American couple in Michigan. But that was not the end of her trials. Haynes claims her new foster parents exploited her and she was forced to seek refuge in other foster homes, eventually ending up on America's mean streets.
Things settled down a bit when she married but this newfound stability was short-lived. Haynes was deported to India when she was caught in a drug case in 2008.
She was told she wasn't an American citizen and had no right to stay in the US.
She says, "Till then I thought I was very much an American but when the immigration officials saw my papers, it came to light that the documentation process for my US citizenship was not complete. My adoptive parents had never bothered to complete the process. I was put in a plane, and sent back to India. It happened on July 2, which was also my wedding anniversary."
Haynes' letter to Obama asked for a chance to be united with her children Kadafi, and Kassana. Her only link with them is through phone. Haynes says the problem of being deported to her "home" country is faced by most adopted children. Activist Arun Dohle from network ACT says that Haynes case brings to the fore the dangers of inter-country adoption. Anjali Pawar, director of the NGO Sakhi, is supporting Haynes in her fight for justice. She says, "Her case reveals that adoptive families did not do the needful for completing formalities for getting her an American citizenship. This entire process needs to be examined."