March 21, 2010 / timesnowtv
In yet another adoption story gone wrong, 34-year-old Vanessa Pearce, who has seen far more of the cruel world than her peers, is in fervent search of her roots - 30 years after she was taken away from her family.
Speaking to TIMES NOW, Vanessa narrates her journey, which has practically destroyed what was left of her childhood. She says, “Around the age of four I was sleeping and during the night I remember a woman picking me up and running with me through the night. I don’t know who this woman was.”
Vanessa was kidnapped in 1974 at a tender age of four by an unidentified woman, who traveled with her to different villages and places across the country. Vanessa, however, found this woman lying dead near her one fine morning, a day after she had a heated argument with a bunch of people in a private office located in a huge building, the location of which is still unknown to her.
Having found her lying helpless on the streets, the police showed up only to hand her over to Miriam Isadora, who Vanessa recollects having met before along with the unidentified women. Miriam Isadora took Vanessa to a convent in Nyatinkara, Kerala, from where she shunted between different homes for over a year and a half, before Miriam took her back and handed over to an orphanage called Holy Angels Convent in Thiruvananthapuram.
A young Vanessa lived in the convent and attended school before she was adopted by a Canadian couple in 1978.
However, Vanessa’s trauma did not end there. After having being sold to foreign parents, she was sexually abused by her foster father. She was also ill-treated in every manner by both her parents.
Recollecting the trauma Vanessa had been through she says, “I was put in a room where there was just a single bed and no light at all. I could barely stand in that room, where it would be freezing during winters and terribly hot during summers. When I asked if I could get out of bed or come out of the room, I was abused and punished further.”
“My adoptive father sexually assaulted me. I was beaten up by my adoptive mother and she also would strangle me,” adds a teary Vanessa.
Vanessa has spent 32 years trying to find her biological parents, but all she remembers is that she was four years old when she was taken from her parents and that she has an elder brother.
Trapped and abused, got enough of Vanessa for her to begin her search for answers. In her first attempt to search her biological parents and come back home, Vanessa wrote several letters to the Holy Angels Convent reporting the abuse she suffered on the hands of her foster parents and seeking assistance from the orphanage.
In response to her several pleas of help, she allegedly received a letter from the convent, which said that she had no right to complain about her condition.
However, when TIMES NOW contacted the convent, Sister Frieda, Mother Superior, said the procedure of following up on a child’s condition after her adoption, especially outside India, has been stopped.
She adds that there are no records as to who handed over the child to the convent at that time because only records related to adopting, which are present to the court, are maintained. A copy of the adoption details is also reportedly provided to the foster parents.
Sister Frieda and her colleagues do remember that one Miriam Isadora brought Vanessa to the orphanage, however, added that both Miriam and the sister, who handed over Vanessa to the Canadian couple, are no more.
The convent also denied having received any letters from Vanessa, while she was trapped and tortured in Canada. She adds, “I have no idea about getting any letters from Vanessa.”
With no help coming from those who gave her away, Vanessa set out to tell the world her story. In a video posted on the World Wide Web, Vanessa showcases some of her childhood photos and appeals to contact her if anyone identifies her or could provide her with some help and support to search her biological parents.”
In some hope to Vanessa, Mary Vimala, her childhood friend recognized her in the photographs posted in her video. She also instantly recognizes the nuns in the photographs. Vimala recollects an old man, possibly Vanessa’s grand father, who would visit her in the orphanage. However, her attempt to trace the old man was not successful.
Vanessa Pearce, is yet another victim of the adoption system. TIMES NOW earlier brought the story of Jennifer Hayes, who was deported from the US because the adoption agency - 'Americans for International Aid & Adoption' - never bothered to get her paperwork right and now refuse to take the blame.
Entrusted to a children's home at a tender age to get an education, Jennifer was instead given up for adoption to an American couple when she turned 8. Jennifer has been languishing in Mumbai away from her family in the USA for the past two years now, appealing the authorities to help her get back home.
Both Vanessa & Jennifer were wronged by the same woman – Clarice D’souza, who ran the charitable trust -- 'Americans for International Aid & Adoption'.
However, the damage has been done.
An angry Vanessa continues to blame the adoption agency and the convent for her plight. She says, “Neither the agency nor the convent are responding to my pleas. I feel angry with the Indian government that the rules of adoption have so many loopholes and no one is held accountable towards us adoptees.”
Her fervent search for her identity continues. Nearly 30 yrs after she was taken away, Vanessa Pearce only wants to return to that one place -- she can call home. She says, “If I am shown on national television and if my parents see this and recognize me, I hope that they will come to find me. I just want to come home."
Vanessa is only one victim of hundreds who suffer due to the lack of adequate laws on inter-country adoption in this country. India also needs better implementation of existing laws. Meanwhile, the number of reported cases of adoption of Indian children by foreign nationals has been steadily increasing. In 2001 there were 573 cases while shot up to 984 in 2007.