Minister Dekker (Legal Protection) decided in February to immediately suspend the adoption of children from abroad. The reason was a damning report by the Joustra Committee on the system of so-called intercountry adoption in the Netherlands. For activist Arun Dohle (47 years old), the report is a confirmation of his experiences in India. He is convinced that the international adoption system is so susceptible to fraud that only a ban can end abuses. According to him, so much has gone wrong with adoptions from India that many are struggling with a complicated aftermath.
“Adoption is child trafficking,” Dohle says on the phone from Poona, India. “In my opinion, that’s what it comes down to, because intercountry adoption is driven by money and the demand for children. And there is hardly ever true voluntary consent from the biological parent. As was the case with my mother. ”
In 1973, Dohle was adopted as a baby to a German couple. It took him over seven years and several lawsuits, all the way to the Indian Supreme Court, to access his papers. He finally met her in 2010. “A real Traceless moment ,” says Dohle. “But it was bizarre. All these years authorities refused to provide information because of the right to privacy. As it turned out, my mother did not object at all to the disclosure of the data! She had been waiting for my arrival for years. ”
Dohle has been able to put most of the puzzle pieces together. “I don’t blame her. She had become pregnant unmarried. She was told to give up her child. No other choice was offered. She didn’t know I was going abroad. ”
During his search, Dohle became increasingly convinced of the systematic fraud and injustice in the system. In 2007 he became involved in a child robbery case in the Indian city of Chennai. Welfare organization Malaysian Social Service (MSS) appeared to be cooperating with the gang. The organization had placed more than 500 children for adoption abroad. Fifty of them ended up in the Netherlands, including the stolen son of the couple Nagarani and Kathiravel. With the help of Dohle they managed to trace their son. Since then they have been trying to meet him.
In 2010 a Dutch judge rejected their demand for a DNA test and an access arrangement. In the television program Netwerk , René Hoksbergen, then professor of Adoption, expressed his support for the biological parents: “Imagine that a Dutch child was robbed and taken to Ecuador or India for adoption. Then we would use the army to get the child back. ”
Often the data is there, but it is kept hidden by authorities. Then they simply say that the papers have been lost
The son is now an adult and does not want any contact with his biological parents. Dohle accuses the Dutch state of ‘allowing it to come to this point.’ Moreover, he suspects that there are several stolen children among the fifty children who were brought to the Netherlands via MSS. Because several biological parents have come forward, their origins could be investigated. But so far no research has been done on this.
Dohle, together with lawyer and social worker Anjali Pawar (45 years old), reunited 52 Dutch adoptees with their biological parents. “Since Joustra, many Indian adoptees think they were stolen or came to the Netherlands via a ‘baby farm’,” says Dohle. ,,But that’s not true. Most adopted children are the result of an extramarital relationship. Often mothers have become pregnant by someone in her own family or through a love affair.
It takes persistence, lawsuits and especially the right contacts to view papers. “Because often the data is there,” said Dohle. “But they are being kept hidden by authorities. Then they simply say that the papers have been lost. Many adoptees do not understand the complexity of such a search and are frustrated that the costs can add up. Also, some adoptees believe that once they have their mother’s name and place of residence, they can reach out through a social media call. But often the mother is married and lives with her in-laws. If such a secret from the past suddenly comes out, it could endanger the mother. My partner Anjali researches very carefully. For example, she will approach a mother without noticing family members. ”
I have no problem with my origin, but I would like to know more about the circumstances in which I was relinquished
Sulekha Uiterwijk Winkel (30 years old) recently found her biological mother with the help of Dohle after a three-year search. She doesn’t blame her mother either, but she thinks that adoptions should be better organized. “Perhaps it would be good to look more closely at whether the child can first be cared for in their own culture.” Moreover, she would have liked to find her mother sooner, because it is not clear whether she can still communicate due to a brain disease. “And if I had been able to go earlier, I could have met my grandfather and grandmother.”
The Joustra Committee has also revealed that Dutch governments often knew that something was wrong. Minister Dekker therefore stated that the Dutch state must do everything it can to assist adoptees in their search. But financial support is still limited and not for everyone. For example, the FIOM, the institute where people with questions about their ancestry can go, refers Indian adoptees to the organization of Dohle. But he does not receive government support.
Geeta Bruin (46 years old) was adopted when she was three. She knows little about her Indian past. But she is not necessarily against intercountry adoption either. “If fraud vulnerabilities can be removed from the system, I am not against it,” she says. “I ended up well myself. I have no problem with my origin, but I would like to know more about the circumstances in which I was relinquished. ”
Organization against international adoption
Arun Dohle founded Against Child Trafficking (ACT) in 2008 together with Dutch EU employee Roelie Post. The organization fights against international adoption.
With his organization Adoptee Rights Council , Dohle helps adoptees find their biological parents.
The origin of adopted children is not registered in the Netherlands, but Dohle estimates that some four to six thousand Indian children have been adopted by the Dutch.