In 2016, I began to take initial steps to begin searching for biological relatives. This process initially involved seeing a therapist with adoption expertise and trying to locate other Indian adoptees who had conducted their root searches. Over the next two years I uncovered stories that showed me which paths I could follow and who out there were leading the way. I quickly realized that, just as I needed a therapist to help me process the emotional complexity of searching, I needed a guide in India too.
For that reason, I started looking for organizations that were seasoned in conducting searches in India. I witnessed second-hand a few searches that other adoptees conducted on their own, oftentimes without even interpreters, and although I applaud their courage, knew I could not do the same myself. I was quite fearful that given the social stigma against having a child out of wedlock that if I were to initiate my search without guidance on how to do so sensitively, I could harm the very people was looking for.
To complicate matters, India, as a country and its central government, let alone each state, did not provide support for returning adoptees to search for their roots, in contrast to some countries with high historical occurrences of intercountry adoption. This means adoptees are on their own to search by themselves or to hire an organization to help them. In my case, I have been fortunate to have access to many records related to my adoption which meant my task was to validate those records, rather than try to gain access to them. This focus meant I was less in need of a lawyer to petition my case to my orphanage or adoption agency and more in need of navigators to help explore the details in the files I already had.
With these items in mind, I settled on negotiating a contract with two organizations that work together, the Adoptees Right Council (ARC) and Against Child Trafficking (ACT). They are, run by Anjali Pawar and Arun Dohle. According to ARC’s website they are focused on “the rights of adult Indian adoptees and searches.” ACT, in contrast, is focused on “the prevention of child trafficking for intercountry adoption. ACT advocates child rights based social policies that are in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is the universal standard and the best safeguard against child trafficking.”
I have come to believe in the missions of each organization. I belief that intercountry adoption is a version of child trafficking and should be eliminated entirely. I also belief that adoptees need support in searching for their roots if they so choose. In an ideal world this would be funded by the government of both countries involved in the initial adoption. That, however, is not the case, hence the need for organizations like ARC and ACT to step in and provide these services. I wish there were a dozen organizations who were as well equipped and seasoned as ARC and ACT, but there are very few options for Indian adoptees unfortunately.
I am not writing this as a testimonial recommendation for anyone else to hire ARC or ACT. For those looking for answers, I hope you find a process that works for you and a pathway that leads to healing. I am sharing this as an act of transparency and as an offer. I am offering to chat with any Indian adoptee that is exploring their own search and may be considering searching on their own, hiring a journalist, petitioning the courts, hiring a private investigator, etc. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in learning about my experience. I will not try to convince you of anything. I will share my experience and offer feedback on your approach, if you request it. Please visit the About Kumar page to contact me via a webform.
My relationship with ARC and ACT is complicated but overall has been positive. No organization or individual is perfect, but for me, ARC and ACT have been the right choice. We disagree frequently, but have found ways to work through that at each impasse. I do not trust them without scrutiny, I have come to learn how to work with them just as I would with any other professional relationship.