Dream turns sour for Indian orphan
December 13, 2010 12:27:51 AM
Abraham Thomas | New Delhi
Twenty-one years after she was adopted by an American family, physically abused and deported back to India, Haynes knocks at Supreme Court for justice
The frills and fancies attached to an inter-country adoption by an American family was the dream with which Jennifer Edgell Haynes arrived at Michigan, United States, as an eight-year old. But little did she know about the fate awaiting her on the foreign shores. She was physically abused by her foster father and passed on to other families in the alien land. She got married to an American national. However, her ordeal continued. And it continues till date.
Twenty-one years after she landed in the US, Jennifer has now returned, rather has been deported back to India. A US court found her guilty in two drug offences and declared her an alien even as it disclosed in the process for the first time that the Indian and foreign adoption agencies involved in her case carried out an incomplete procedure, as a result of which she could not be called an American citizen.
Standing at the crossroads of time, her condition in India (she is in Mumbai now) is worse than that it was in the US. She has been weaned away from her husband and two children settled in the US as the deportation does not permit her an entry for another 20 years.
Adding insult to injury, the Indian authorities have even seized her travel documents. With nowhere to go and nothing to eat, a destitute Haynes has knocked the doors of the Supreme Court claiming compensation against the Indian Government and its agencies for causing her this fate.
As the matter stands, the Bench of Justices JM Panchal and HL Gokhale is expected to hear the petition in January next year. On the previous date of hearing on November 19, the apex court took note of her plight and allowed her prayer to include financial assistance from the Government for stay and legal expenses in India, and monetary compensation upto Rs five lakh from the Indian and foreign adoption agencies to ensure that such agencies are warned against repeating similar mistakes in future.
There is also a ray of hope which her lawyer is pursuing before the apex court. According to her lawyer Senthil Jagadeeshan, Haynes has a chance to enter the US despite a ban operating against her entry. She can apply for “Humanitarian Parole” for a brief period during which she can apply for a reopening of her deportation case, he said. But for this, the Indian authorities must issue her necessary documents to apply for the same.
This request was turned down by the Bombay High Court earlier in April 2010. Haynes told the court that humanitarian grounds permitted the court to consider her case as a one-time exception. One reason that she has contested the case in court is to fasten culpability on the two adoption agencies involved in her case — Americans for International Aid and Adoption (AIAA) and one Clarice D’Souza, trustee of Kaun-Yin Charity Trust, who furnished an Abandonment Certificate based on her personal knowledge. This paved the way for the Bombay HC in 1989 to hand her over to the family of George Edward Hancox, who turned out to be her abuser.
The physical abuse continued for several years as Haynes was shifted from one family to another. A report prepared by the Department of Social Service, State of Michigan recorded her ordeal in its report prepared in October 1993. It was in 2002, she married an American national and she has two issues out of the wedlock.
Though the Department of Justice convicted her twice for possession of drugs, Haynes has a grievance with the Indian Consulate in the US which acted in haste to issue her an Emergency Certificate for deportation without acknowledging her desire to stay in the US and pursue legal remedies. With the case now being heard by the Supreme Court, this is the only hope she has to cling on to.
Dream turns sour for Indian orphan