Stanley Pinto, TNN | Mar 23, 2013, 06.48 AM IST
MANGALORE: Chaya Maria Schupp was six when she was adopted by a German couple. At 36, she still yearns to know who she really is, and find the woman who gave birth to her but gave her up, and why. Chaya suspects something amiss.
A resident of Dieburg, 30km from Frankfurt in southern Germany, Chaya has been trying to track her biological mother for years. Now, she is a little more hopeful of meeting her, thanks to the Karnataka high court’s directive to the government to provide all assistance in her long and arduous quest. All she knows is that Ullalholds the key.
Chaya told TOI from Germany: “It’s wonderful; I’m very excited by this verdict . I thank the judge for passing this order so quickly, understanding my turmoil and state of mind. It has rekindled my hope of finding my biological mother . I know police have a lot of power and they will help me.”
Chaya’s search for her biological roots met a dead-end in 2009 when authorities at the Nirmala Social Welfare Centre refused to show her the relevant records. The centre had a licence for inter-country adoptions but did not renew this licence. Chaya has asserted she was at this centre when she was adopted. The papers at Pro Infante – a German adoption agency – clearly show she was under the centre’s care at the time of adoption . Asked if the staff at the Nirmala Social Welfare Centre in Ullal will block her quest, Chaya said: “I don’t know which way this will go. They may block my attempts but only time will tell.”
Chaya is doing her doctorate on sex workers in Mumbai as part of an exchange programme between the University of Kassel, Germany, and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
In search of MAA
A German couple adopts Chaya Maria Schupp from an Ullal centre, near Mangalore, when she was about six years old allegedly under suspicious circumstances Now 36, she resides in Dieburg, 30km from Frankfurt in southern Germany Karnataka high court tells government to provide Chaya her assistance in her long quest to find her biological mother
No baptism record in church
She has been working on her thesis for three years. Chaya said: “I chose the subject as it reminded me of my roots and struggle for survival . I wanted to understand how these women managed their dual lives – at home and the brothel. The data collection is over. I’ll submit my thesis by this year-end .”
Though Chaya says she was born a Hindu in Ullal, there’s a certificate of baptism issued by St Sebastian’s Church, Permannur (Ullal), which states she was baptized on January 15, 1980. When Chaya went there, the parish priest said there were no records about her baptism. Chaya said the baptism may have been done because the German couple who adopted her wanted a Christian child.
Her adoption was done through Maxim Lobo, a retired district and sessions judge of a Madras court, on March 18, 1981. The letter written by Lobo to her adopted parents , Ingrid and Wolfgang Schupp, states there was a problem in getting the adoption done in Madras and therefore it was done in Madurai.
Her adoptive mother Ingrid , a retired primary school teacher, told TOI: “I don’t feel sad she’s searching for her biological mother. In fact, I feel happy. We’ve assisted Chaya’s search for her mother since 1999. We stayed in Mangalore for two weeks, but hit a roadblock because of the lackadaisical attitude of the welfare centre authorities.”
“We thought she was an orphan and adopted her,” said Ingrid. The couple had three children of their own and took another child into foster care.
The then Ullal inspector Ganapathy had told TOI: “Though Chaya has complained of kidnapping, there was no evidence of this. The incident happened almost two decades ago and there was no complaint from her mother that her daughter was missing or kidnapped. In these circumstances , we cannot register a case of kidnapping,” he had said. Also, he said that Chaya herself mentions she’d been left at the centre.
Arun Dohle, India-born German national, is helping Chaya in her mission. “This whole adoption procedure looked like a business transaction . The refusal clearly indicated there was something fishy,” he said.
Chaya tried to put pressure on the centre by filing a complaint at Ullal police station . The then inspector said at first the authorities allowed her to see the records, but later the records were not available . Chaya had asserted that the records shown were about infants, but she was older and she didn’t see records of any adoption of older children.
Sr Veera, superior, Nirmala Convent, said: “Let police inquire. We have nothing to hide. Earlier when they (Chaya and police) came, we showed all documents. They were not satisfied. We have maintained documents from 1984. She was adopted at Madurai and the proof she was here is the baptismal certificate at St Sebastian’s Church, Permannur, Ullal.”
Arun Dohle’s quest for his biological parents seemed an impossible task. But after 17 years of litigation, Arun was reunited with his mother in Pune in 2010. He was adopted by a German couple in 1971.
“I was happy at being reunited with my mother. I don’t know a single word of Marathi. I meet her whenever I’m in Pune and the last time was in November 2012. I don’t know when we (Chaya and he) will come to India,” he told TOI. Arun, with the Supreme Court’s permission, got access to records at Kusumbai Motichand Mahila Seva Gram and located his biological mother.
Eva Dohle, a Mangalorean , was adopted by a German couple Miachel and Gertrude Dohle. Eva was reunited with her biological mother in Mangalore in 2006 after a painful search with her half-brother Arun Dohle, through wellwishers here. Eva said barriers , cultural and social, have to be broken before relationships come into the open.