Adoption article Mumbai India ... ART4232006
Kamiya Mohan Jani, Ghatla Village

An adopted on adoption

With a mission to create streamlined interventions for parents who are in the process of adoption, Sarah who was adopted 28 years ago is making a documentary on adoption. CG Plus traced her visit at Bal Anand Orphanage at Chembur.

A month-old baby was found at Dadar station and was taken to Manav Seva Sangh, an Orphanage at Sion in Mach 1978... Six months later she was adopted by a wonderful family who took her to Denmark. With a Danish mother and an Indian father, Sarah Talreja has known since childhood that she has been adopted. Her curiosity to know her birth place and her biological mother brings her back to India after 28 years… to make a documentary on adoption.

A student of Media Design at the Arts Centre College Of Design, California, Sarah has come to India with her crew, to do her thesis on adoption. “Since I am adopted, I feel very strongly about adoption. I always wanted to know about my birth-country, its people, its heritage and the process of adoption over here. My family has been very supportive,” says Sarah.

She has taken the viewpoints of high court judges in India, some of whom are against, while others, for adoption. Sarah has been visiting Orphanages in Mumbai like Bal Vikas at Malad, Shraddhanand and Manav Seva Sangh at Sion and recently she visited Bal Anand at Chembur. “It feels very nice to talk to the social workers and know about their perspective towards adoption. Even the kids are very nice to talk to. Their drawings will feature in my process-book.”

Inspite of having an Indian father, she knew very little about her birthplace, until she came here. Her mother always wanted her to be in touch with Jaisita Panigrahi, head of Bal Vikas Orphanage, who escorted her to Denmark when she was six months old. “She is like an Indian mother to me. I have grown up talking to her on the phone and she had also visited me in Denmark. She has been a big support in this entire project.”

Initially, her family was a little apprehensive about her project, given that she is adopted and might get emotionally involved, however she has been very professional about it.

Her main mission is to create streamlined interventions for parents who are in the process of adoption. “AdOpt” is an ad campaign which she would use to bring awareness to local and international adoption in India, Denmark and the US (AdOpt = ADOPT as an OPTion). “I also plan to write a book on this and then come up with a trans-media system, if things work out.”

Ever since Sarah’s childhood, she has been quite inquisitive about her birthplace and her biological mother. “I know it is in no way possible to meet her. When I was about 13, I desperately wanted to know about her.

As I grew older, I used to get angry thinking about why she left me, but now I think she might have had her own reasons. However, I must say I am very lucky to have been adopted by a family like mine. I love them very much and they have stood by me in all my decisions,” cheers Sarah.

On being asked about how she feels about adoption, she enthusiastically says, “Adoption is a beautiful gift, even considering that there have been bad cases, I believe that each case has to be looked at individually. But I am all for adoption.” She further says that she too would like to adopt. She is quite upset with the local families who reject children based on their colour or looks. She brings to notice that internationally you need a more valid reason to reject a child, otherwise the agency might not let you adopt.

Having spent three months in India, talking about her experiences, she avers, “I love India and Indian people. I also love pani-puri. I don’t want this trip to get over.”

After returning home, Sarah will be involved with the post-production of the film. “Once I am done with all that, I plan to enter the documentary into all possible film festivals around the world. It is going to be very informative.”

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Møde med Indisk adoptiv par 

Today I met with the nice couple that also hosted the Lonavla BV yearly get together at their resort. Beautiful place as you all saw....out in the country, away from everything, just peace and quietness. I had such a great time speaking to all the parents and meeting their children especially the host. He was kind to invite my crew and myself for dinner to his house in Juhu, which is in the Mumbai area.

He and his wife had both agreed to sit down for an interview, as I was extremely curious once I heard that they actually could have biological children of their own but had chosen to adopt. Wow, I thought, this is out of the norm especially for an Indian family.

They informed me that they considered giving a child born into this world unwanted a chance in life was the greatest gift they could give themselves and the child. Normally I don’t like to think of adoption as a gift however this case is placed with the right heart and mind. Their son was absolutely adorable, and I must say that I enjoyed his company. He was full of life and energy as most children, happy and healthy.

The question of when to tell your child that he/she is adopted came up. I thought, that’s not something I should get involved with, but decided to voice my personal opinion. I strongly feel that it is of out most importance to inform your child about their heritage, past, etc at a young age so that they get the chance to grow up and ask all the questions that he/she may want to know more about. There is nothing like a huge secret especially if it comes from your parents, the ones you love and trust.

The question is, how to go about it. I know for a fact that there are many books out in the world, which deals with adoption and not being a product of your adoptive parents. It makes it all the more special for a child to know why their parents may be of a different ethnic race then them but there is no need to push the issue either. Kids are smart. Once they know, they will ask while growing up whatever it is they want to know. I know that while growing up I would ask about my biological parents especially my bio mom. My mom would tell me that she loved me very much therefore she gave me up so that I could be apart of their family etc. As I grew older more information was shared though it’s not a lot. My parents never believed in keeping anything from me, but at the same time always felt that there is a time and age for everything. I have always known that I was adopted, how could I not. My mom has blonde hair and green eyes and though my father is Indian, it still did not make sense that I only looked like one of them.

I will talk more about this topic in my book, but to end on a good note. To all adoptive parents, I personally feel that it is of most importance to inform your children that they are adopted at an early age. If they want to know more, they’ll ask you. It does not make them love you any less and though some are worried that their kids may say “well you are not my real mom” when they get angry with you or do not get your way, don’t take it to heart one bit. Instead talk to them about how it hurts you if and when they say that.

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Bal Vikas 



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Møde med dommer 

Mit moede med dommeren i onsdags gik utroligt godt. Jeg foeler virkelig at han besvarede mine spoergsmaal baade som menneske og som professionel. Da jeg havde en del spoergsmaal omkring adoption som bl.a. hvorfor han er imod udenlandsk adoption, saa var svaret at han desvaerre skal tage i betraktning at der er mange jorden rundt som adopterer fra Oesten med henblik paa at deres boern skal vaere slaver. Det sker aabenbart meget ofte og det er ham som desvaerre faar en del af de sager. Som han sagde til mig. Hvis han skal sidde som et foelsomt menneske ville han sige ja til alt. Men hans stilling kraever at han taenker alt meget noeje igennem og behandler hver sag individuelt.

Jeg satte stort spoergsmaalstegn ved at indiske foraeldre faar lov til at vaelge boern fra p.g.a. farve, osv. Jeg spurgte bl.a. hvorfor det overhoved maa finde sted. Han fortalte mig at der ikke er nogen lov der forbyder dette. Det som alle gaar og taler om er at man skal proeve at adoptere et barn vaek op til 3-4 gange foer barnet maa gaa til international adoption er en AND. Det er op til enhver institution hvad de vil og ikke vil. Hmmmm der laerte jeg noget selv. Jeg har set papirer hvor der staar, at det er en lovgivning fra de forskellige boernehjem jeg har besoegt. Men nu ved jeg at det er deres regler og ikke en indisk lov. (Det var en ting som jeg ikke havde faaet bekraeftet foer nu. Alt andet jeg skriver er blevet bekraeftet)

Efter at have talt med dommeren baade om mit projekt og adoption "lokal og international", sagde han til mig at han haabede at alle adoptivboern ville blive som mig. Det blev jeg selvfoelgelig meget roert over. Jeg syntes at han virkede som et meget sympatisk menneske og var lige modsat det jeg havde regnet med. En ting er sikkert, han var meget taknemmelig for det jeg kunne fortaelle ham om DK og adoptivboern samt foraeldre. Som han sagde, saa foeler han at han kender mere til landet nu hvor han
har talt med mig. Det virker ikke saa fremmed for ham mere. Det kan ogsaa vaere en positiv ting senere hen for jer alle.

Som I nok alle ved saa er dette en person der arbejder doegnet rundt, og det at han gik med til at moedes med mig i 30 min. som saa blev til naesten 2 timer viser lidt om ham som menneske. Jeg er frygtelig ked af at negative adoptioner skal gaa ud over alle jer som kun vil jeres boern det bedste. Jeg tror , at vi alle kan vaere enige om at denne dommer sidder i en svaer position og desvaerre oplever meget som vi ikke har hoert om
og aldrig vil hoere om. Jeg kan nu hvor jeg selv har haft mulighed for at tale med ham ikke selv sige at jeg bare ville sige ja uden at vaere helt sikker. JEG ER FOR ADOPTION og det goer jeg helt klart, men man skal ogsaa taenke paa at ikke alle adoptioner er saa lyseroede ligesom min egen.

Jeg kan desvaerre ikke udtale mig om mere end dette da jeg skal bruge en del til mit projekt. Jeg haaber at det kan hjaelpe jer lidt. Alle har ret til at have sine egne meninger og dette er skrevet paa baggrund af mit
interview med denne dommer.

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Heres an interesting topic about skin complexion. When I first arrived here in Mumbai people used to tell me what a great complexion I have. That isn’t so anymore. Due to being outside a lot I tan easily and yes I have gotten darker than my natural skin tone. Everyone is obsessed with skin color. They have categories in which people are placed into including myself. A lot of it has to do with social stigma and everyone here wants to be white.

1) Light
2) Fair
3) Tan on the light side
4) Tan
5) Medium Light
6) Medium
7) Dark on the light side
8) Dark
9) Black

I am so used to passing by all the tanning creams and lotions back in the states. Not for me, I have my color already as most of you know. Here you have a selection twice as large to make you white. There is white cream for every complexion. It’s out of control. I had never thought in my life that I would see all this white cream. Why are we so obsessed with color? I have talked to several Indian people about this color issue and most of them respond by saying “if you are white than you are pure, clean and rich” I have raised the same question when I’ve sat in on an Indian families meeting their child for the first time. They get to spend about 20 min with the child and 8 out of 10 will reject the child because of skin color. What is happening; doesn’t anyone realize that most white people are the first to lie out in the sun to get tan as soon as they get the chance? Apparently not.

I’ve visited Manav Sava Sangh a total of three times now. The first time was in the beginning of my trip and then last week when I stayed over. The first thing the president of the institution said to me when she saw me was “ Sarah you are black,” I proudly said of course and I love it. Looks much better on me. ? She questioned why I was so excited about it and I told her that I thought dark skin is a beautiful. Now, I am not saying this just because I am Indian. If I were white I would want to be darker, it’s in me, I love dark colors. I will tie this color issue into my research studies because it does play a HUGE role with adoption, especially local adoption. Color is among the top 5 reasons children are given into adoption and rejected in local adoption here. There is something to think about.

The man at the store this morning mentioned my color and told me to stay in the shade so that I wouldn't get dark and that lead to this post.

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