exposing the dark side of adoption
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Adopted Indian girl returns home after abuse from Swedish parents


Matilda Gustafsson, or Shobha, was adopted by Swedish couple at the age of seven. After years of abuse and negligence, Shobha has returned to India to find her biological parents.

Matilda Gustafsson, named Shobha at birth, was given up for adoption at the age of seven to a childless Swedish couple by a Delhi orphanage. But Matilda's joy of being part of a family was cut short once her parents turned abusive and negligent. She was once again forced to live in foster care.

Having gone through a traumatic experience, Matilda, now all of 23, has decided to trace back her adoption journey in India and find her biological parents. She, along with Arun Dohle and Anjali Pawar from Against Child Trafficking (ACT), has set out on a journey to find her roots and how she landed at the orphanage home.

During her stay in Delhi, she recalled playing with fountain at India Gate and eating bhelpuri and paan. She has vague memories of shining people's shoes on the streets. Anjali Pawar told MAIL TODAY that Matilda was brought to the orphanage home by Madangir Police Station in 1999.

"Matilda's adoption documents do not speak of her past or biological parents. There is no record of the circumstances in which she was found. Her records are not available with the police. We do not know if she was abandoned by her parents or went missing," she said.

Matilda's case highlights the lapses in the inter-country adoption system just in the case of three-year-old Sherin Matthew, who was adopted by a couple in Texas from India but was found dead two weeks after she was reported missing.

Her adoptive parents have been indicted by the court for her murder and for being negligent towards her. The experts feel that children who may have gone missing are also sometimes given up for adoption when the parents of the missing child may still be looking for him/her.

"I remember being excited when the orphanage caretaker told me I will have my own family. My adoptive parents sent me gifts frequently. But things changed three years after moving to Sweden," Matilda told MAIL TODAY. "My mother was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and tried to take her life twice. With her failing health, my father grew distant. He also had temperament issues. I started performing poorly in school. I was diagnosed with dyslexia and never received the right help. My father was extremely abusive towards my mother. Even at school, I was bullied and made fun of for my colour," she added.

2018 Mar 30