Bringing Children Adopted By Foreigners And Indian Parents Together, One Reunion At A Time

Arun DohleAuthor
News, Posts

In 1973,  like many of you who may read this,  I was adopted from India to Germany.

My views on adoption were bottom-line quite positive, just as my view on organisations involved in this, like International Social Service (ISS). Little did I know…

In 1999 I got my first access to the Internet and started searching. The Internet provided the first chance to get some information. Today we are faced with the fact that the governments of the receiving countries are funding ISS for various services. One important aspect is that ISS receives funding to assist adoptees with roots searches. They are considered the expert on whom the governments in the receiving countries rely.

In the coming weeks we will share bits and pieces about the involvement of ISS in intercountry adoptions, including their direct or indirect complicity in the trafficking of children for adoption.

I fully understand that this may be hard to believe. I could not imagine it myself for many years. I thought that ISS was an expert organisation who ensures ethical and legal adoptions and understood adoptees’ and children´s needs, as well as their rights.

Little did I know that ISS is not on our side.

After two decades of researching and digging into the underbelly of intercountry adoptions, I know more today. Yet it is still just a little.

However whatever little I know, I will share.

I will start with explaining how exactly ISS was involved in my own adoption, and how they failed me. This may well be exemplary for many adoptions from India, and in particular for most adoptions from Maharashtra.

Due to various adoption scandals in India adoptions had been regulated. It was the Indian equivalent of ISS, the International Council of Social Welfare (ICSW) who advised, since 1972, the Indian Courts in each and every adoption case. They served as a ‘clearing house’.[1]

In my case that meant that ICSW, advised the Indian Court that my adoption was in my best interest. The letter below, which I got during my search, states clearly that they did not check if the obligatory relinquishment document, also called a surrender document, was on file.

When, after 7 years litigation, in 2010 I finally got access to my adoption file, a relinquishment document appeared not to be on file with the orphanage.

My mother never consented to an intercountry adoption, or to changing my name and identity.  I was adopted without the consent of my mother.

In my adoption no agency was involved. My adoptive parents were on a visit in India, and did not really know how to get things done. So, who did they ask for advice? The experts: ISS. The ISS was also somewhat involved in my adoption at the German side, because they gave my adoptive parents advice on how to do the legal part.

Being involved in an adoption where there is no consent of the mother is bad enough. It is something which as adoptees in the end we cannot change but just have to accept. But what did this missing “surrender deed” mean for my search? It meant that it was next to impossible to find the address and full details of my mother. This is the same for many adoptees from India.

In 2002, when I started searching, I didn’t understand very  much about anything.  I only knew that ISS was assisting adoptees with searches. So I registered and paid ISS to work on my search case. I never got feedback on what exactly was done. Or if something had been done at all. I only was told how difficult things were.

So first ISS allowed the erasure of my original identity, without a surrender deed of my mother, and then essentially blocked my own search.

In the next chapter I will explain how ISS was involved in outright trafficking of children from India.

Stay tuned!