Soumittra S Bose,TNN | Sep 8, 2015, 03.05 AM IST
NAGPUR: It was raining happiness when Varsha Lanjewar, 29, finally met her biological mother in a nondescript village in Bhandara district. It signalled end of a 27-year wait and more than a decade old search. Till then, Varsha claimed to have missed her mother while growing up in a Dutch family as their adopted daughter since she was just 18-month old.
The emotional reunion happened over the weekend. The doting mother (name withheld) gave Varsha a currency note to buy something of her choice to eat as her now Dutch daughter could not risk eating Indian food made at home. Varsha instead settled for tea made by her. “My mother touched my face as I tried to communicate with her in broken Hindi. She introduced me to my step-siblings and her husband. Later, I also went to see my biological father and his family who were also warm and welcoming, inviting me to come over again,” said an overwhelmed Varsha as tears welled up. She described it as a ‘super happy moment’ for her.
Varsha had been visiting India since she was 16 to trace her biological parents, particularly her mother, saving money from her daily life to fund her trips. She claimed to still have memories of her mother’s green saree and home with a thatched hut from her time as a toddler. She kept returning to India repeatedly visiting adoption agencies and other places to search for her roots. She said she had been missing her mother right from beginning, but Varsha could actually start a vigorous efforts only when she was a teen having enough money saved from pocket expenses to fund her trips to India. Her trips would only end in disappointments as various agencies tried to discourage her despite clear guideline of Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) to help adoptees in search of their roots.
Intervention of two social workers, Arun Dohle and Anjali Pawar, made Varsha’s dream of meeting her mother come true. Varsha began with only two bits of information mentioned in the original documents of her adoption. One that her name was Varsha and the other that her native district was Bhandara. Pawar helped her fit the other pieces using her network. Upon Pawar’s suggestion, Varsha wrote to State Adoption Resource Authority (SARA) about her grievances. That set in motion an inquiry finally leading to her mother.
She expressed her disappointment with adopting agencies’ stance. “They should help adoptees find their roots and not create hurdles. My search and success should encourage other adoptees to search for their roots too,” she said. “My right was violated but it is not desirable,” said Varsha. A post-graduate in public administration, she claimed to have received no help from Mumbai-based adoption centre Bal Anand that had handed her over to her adoptive parents. She was brought there from Anath Seva Ashram in Nagpur in 1986.
Growing up in a much more affluent society and comfort than her biological parents could have provided did not diminish her craving to meet her mother. Over the last weekend she learnt she was a love child of an unwed mother. “I must extol the courage my mother showed in deciding to give birth to me and also bring me up after becoming pregnant out of a love affair in a rural place. She did not give up on me but the situation robbed her of opportunity to raise me,” said Varsha.
Varsha’s mother could not marry her lover due to strong family opposition but she still decided to have the daughter whom she never wanted to abort or abandon. She not only told her new suitor about her daughter but also convinced him to accept the toddler too. They decided to get the girl back home after settling down as a couple. Meanwhile, they left her with Anath Seva Ashram in Nagpur in what was supposed to be a temporary arrangement.
Varsha’s mother was stunned when she returned to meet her daughter at the Ashram. The authorities there denied having any information regarding her. “I was probably abducted to Mumbai where I became sick and was admitted to a hospital. Later, I came to Netherlands where not only my identity was lost but also my original family, culture, language, and food habits. Since childhood, I tried to cling on to a few vague Hindi and Marathi words but after 10 years those were lost too,” said Varsha who tried to learn Hindi at different institutions without much success.
“I want to now develop a new relationship with my mother,” she said on her way back to her adoptive country. She is intent upon returning to India once she has again saved enough for the trip.
HAPPY END TO YEARS OF SEARCH
* Varsha Lanjewar tried convince adoption agency ‘Bal Anand’ in Mumbai to hand over details of her biological parents. She also tried to find out details and approach Nagpur-based Anath Seva Ashram. Her repeated efforts yielded no result
* Varsha later approached Brussels-based Arun Dohle who is an Indian-born German adoptee. Dohle too, after being refused help by the adoption agencies, had turned into an activist helping other adoptees
* Dohle contacted Pune-based activist Anjali Pawar and handed over Varsha’s matter to her
* Pawar asked Varsha to take up the matter with State Adoption Resource Authority (SARA) that sent officers to inquire with Bal Anand regarding Varsha’s origins
* Pawar later visited Bhandara to verify the details. She confirmed with Varsha’s mother and worked out a strategy for the reunion
* Varsha was informed in the Netherlands by Pawar regarding success of efforts. She flew down to meet her parents