exposing the dark side of adoption
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A lonely birthday and battle for 'foreigner' Jennifer Haynes


Mayura Janwalkar

Mumbai: On September 29, Jennifer Haynes celebrated her 28th birthday by herself at a shelter in Chembur. Ideally, she said, she would have been on a holiday in the US with her husband Justin and children Kadafi, 5, and Kanassa, 4.

Haynes had moved Bombay High Court earlier this year against Americans for International Aid and Adoption (AIAA), the agency that processed her adoption papers 20 years ago. She was abruptly deported to India last year as even after her adoption in 1989, there was no documentation pertaining to her American citizenship.

Haynes, an Indian, was adopted by American nationals Edward and Melissa Hancox in 1989. "I didn't talk to my kids on my birthday. They didn't even know it was my birthday. I've been away so long that they are not into me anymore," Haynes said.

With absolutely no proof of identity, Haynes is struggling to make ends meet in Mumbai, her place of birth. "I applied for a job in a call centre in Belapur. I am fit for the job since I don't need any language or accent training. I even cleared their tests but with no documents I cannot get any job," said a frustrated Haynes. She said that she is currently teaching English to five children aged between three and 11. "I earn some money by doing that but it's very little," she said.

Although the high court is hearing Haynes' case, the Centre as well as other agencies involved are taking their time to file their replies to Haynes' allegations. She had sought a stay on foreign adoptions and de-registration of the AIAA until she is sent back to her family. Haynes, however, fears that she may have to stay put in Mumbai for another three-four years. Her advocate Pradeep Havnur said that the court will hear her case after two weeks.

Meanwhile, in a letter written to the Central Adoption Resources Authority (CARA) by Vishvas Sapkal, the consul general of India in Chicago on September 17 said that AIAA, that Haynes has alleged is responsible for her deportation, is a 35-year-old organisation that has placed 5,089 children from Asia, Latin and South America and eastern Europe with adoptive families.

"Since 1980, AIAA placed 617 children from India. Last five years, the average placement from India is 10," stated Sapkal's letter addressed to CARA's deputy director Jagannath Pati. He said, after the year 2000, citizenship is automatically granted to the adopted child but for children adopted prior to that, the adoptive parents had to apply for citizenship. This was not done in Haynes' case. Moreover, the letter says she, as an adult, did not apply for citizenship and was deported as she was found guilty of felonies

2009 Oct 4