exposing the dark side of adoption
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Dohle case puts the spotlight on adoption issue


Siddhartha D. Kashyap

PUNE: Adoption agencies here are closely following the case of a German national who has moved the Bombay high court, seeking information about his biological Indian mother.  

The case of Arun Dohle (30), who was adopted by a German couple in 1973 from Pune, has brought to the fore the sensitive issue of reunion of adoptees with their biological parents.  

"This is a very sensitive, but conflicting issue," said Bharati Ghate, executive director of ‘Shishudhar for the child’, an adoption-facilitating agency.  

"On the one hand, every child has the right to information about its biological history. On the other, the biological mother’s right to confidentiality should be maintained," Ghate said.  

She said that the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, and the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890, do not explicitly say whether the information should be made available.  

Nishita Saha, chairperson of Voluntary Co-ordinating Agency (VCA), an adoption facilitating agency, which networks with nine adoption placement agencies in Pune and Aurangabad, said that there have been "rare cases" where the adoptees have sought information from the agencies about biological parents.  

Saha said that in a few cases, "background information" such as the circumstances in which they were brought to the adoption centre is revealed.  

However, Indian agencies do not encourage the sharing of information because of the social circumstances in India, she said.  

Roxana Kalyanvala, deputy director of the Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra, said, in most cases, it’s the Indian children adopted by foreign parents who seek information about their biological mother.  

"Most children in an adoption agency are born out of a wedlock or to a divorcee," Ghate said, adding that a surrender affidavit is signed at the time of handing over the child,where the mother often requests the agency not to disclose her identity under any circumstances.  

Ghate said that the affidavit is required to be preserved by an adoption agency for at least 18 years, and can be made available only in the court.  

Saha said that her agency had once established contacts with a biological mother to acquire some medical records of the child, but in vain.  

"We had to back-track after the woman, who was married and expecting another child, refused to get involved," she said.

2004 Feb 3