Oct 29 2014 : Mirror (Pune)
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Given up for adoption to a German couple, a psychiatrist finally managed to locate her biological mother after a tedious search spanning two continents and 10 years
It’s been a 10-year-long search for Swati, a psychiatrist from Germany, to find her biological mother. After overcoming several hurdles and cold-shoulders given by authorities at the orphanage where she was sent almost immediately after her birth, Swati finally located her mother at an old-age home in Pune.
Adopted by a German couple when she was a year old, Swati, now 36, had a happy childhood. Brought up in a family of doctors (her adoptive father is a retired doctor, her adoptive mother, a medical assistant), she too decided to work in the field of medicine. However, there were always pangs and unanswered questions lingered at the back of her mind.
“Growing up in Germany, I always thought of my Indian roots.
When I was grown up, my German parents admitted they knew nothing of my biological parents. They always tried to keep me in touch with India — they would dress me up as an Indian girl when there was a carnival. But I wanted more. I wanted to know whose features I had inherited, whose nose I had,” Swati said, adding, “As an adopted child in a foreign country, people ask your name and then immediately ask questions about your parents. I always said I didn’t know, that I am from an orphanage. And this response always made me feel as though I had not done my homework, as though something was incomplete.” Swati also met people who were adopted, but had traced their biological parents. “They were transformed after finding their parents -quieter, calmer, more content. Not that I was unhappy with my life, but there were always questions. My life changed over the last year as I got closer to the answers. When I finally met my mother, she told me she had always known I would come looking for her,” she added.
When she was 26, Swati decided to start looking for her mother. She found the orphanage where she had been taken on the Internet, and called them. The authorities refused to give her any information about her moth er’s whereabouts. “They told me I had no right to find her as she had willingly given me away,” she said.
What disturbed Swati was the stigma surrounding unwed mothers in India. The social workers she contacted had met people who knew of her mother and knew that her biological father had refused to marry her mother.
Concerned over whether her mother had been cast out by society, she contacted social workers Arun Dohle from Against Child Trafficking (ACT) in Germany and Anjali Pawar of Sakhee in Pune and with their help, was finally able to meet her mother on Monday afternoon.
“When I saw her, we just stared at each other for several minutes, each waiting for the other’s reaction. Also, I did not want to confuse her or make her afraid of me,” Swati said.
Having met her mother, Swati feels a sense of completion. “I feel like the gaps have been filled in, like I am no longer without roots,” she said.
Speaking to Mirror, Pawar said, “We came to know that Swati was born at Sassoon hospital, the ward office had issued her a birth certificate where the address was Ahmednagar. We searched there and met a person who knew Swati’s mother and he told us she had shifted to Pune and was living in an old-age home. We verified the details with the orphanage and then had to convince them that precautions would be taken and that the meeting would be arranged discreetly.”