Cancelling My Adoption

by Netra Sommer born in India, adopted to Denmark; officially no longer “adopted”.
Netra’s story aired in Denmark on TV and in print media, Nov 2020.

From as early as I could remember, as a child I was not happy. This was not my place. These were not my parents. I couldn’t look like them. I was always different.

They never talked about India, were never interested in my origins whereas I was always very curious about my identity. I had so many questions. Why was I here? I am not Danish. I could never be what they wanted me to be.

As I grew older, I realised there was one thing wrong with my life – it was my adoption. All I could think about was this adoption and how unhappy I was. I grew up with a lot of violence. I was always told I wasn’t white enough; I had to be this or that to be Danish. The message I always got was I had to be something else that wasn’t me. My personality was so different from theirs – I loved colours, I loved music. They did not want any of this for me. So many things reminded me that I was always so different and not my parents’ child.

I moved out of home at a very young age. When I was a young adult at age 18, I found out I could cancel my adoption – except in Denmark, the problem was I needed the signature of my adoptive parents and they didn’t want to give it. I told them it was the one thing I wanted and then I’d never ask for anything else. They said, “No, we have done so much to get you, we want to be a family. We think you are sick in the head, so no.” Each year I asked. I pushed and pushed. They always said no. “Mum and I are tired of you. We can’t live like this anymore. We can’t deal with this. You are a psychopath who has no thought for us and how it impacts us to have you cancel this adoption”. All this was communicated via texts and emails as I refused to ever see them.

Two years ago I met a journalist. She was very interested in my life. She knew I’d been talking in my community about adoption. I told her I wanted to cancel the adoption to be my mother’s child again. These Danish people were not my parents – there is no love or understanding, nothing for me to hold onto. When she learnt more about my experience she realised it was a difficult problem without my parents consent and wondered how this could be resolved.

I tried and texted my parents again. This time they told me what they wanted in return. I was to pack all my childhood things from the home – which meant I had to go there. They also had a list of questions they wanted me to answer. I replied that no, I’m not coming back. I offered for a friend of mine to pick up my boxes of childhood belongings. They tried to involve her but she refused. They sent a letter full of questions they wanted me to answer. They wanted an explanation for things like how do I think this impacts my sister, why I wasn’t considering them, whether the things in my childhood had been that bad, etc. I didn’t feel I had to justify what I wanted. I didn’t hear from them for a long time – they were angry I wouldn’t answer their questions so they were refusing to cooperate with my request.

The journalist wanted to help with my story. With the help of her production company, the story of my life was filmed and how I wanted to cancel my adoption. We could not predict what would happen next. My adoptive parents created a lot of drama and at many points we wondered if things would ever happen.

Suddenly they sent a message. “We have seen you don’t want to answer our questions but we want to cancel. Send us the papers with your signature and date”. So I went and got the papers, signed and filmed them and sent them. I was next contacted by a lawyer via the mail who told me I hadn’t signed the papers. Everyone else knew I’d signed them. I was so exhausted fighting this. Each time there was something new they do to play their game. I was so tired of them. I found out they would only communicate to me via the lawyer so I found out what she wanted, did exactly as she said, signed and sent the papers again. They were playing a power game to show me who was in control.

Suddenly one hot summer day, my uncle called. He said, “There is a letter for you”. I had instructed them to send the signed papers to him. Now I had to wait because he was away on holiday but returning soon.

The day of his return, I sat and waited in the sweltering sun. The TV film crew were with me to film what would happen. We all sat waiting. My uncle opened the letter. I was so quiet and the film crew asked me how I was feeling, could I explain? But I could not. I had no words. Then my uncle pulled out the 2 papers and said, “Now you are free!” Finally, after more than 10 years of asking! All I could think of was to return to my home, my boat. I don’t know the words to describe how I felt.

The next day I sent the papers off to the government who told me to wait another month until the cancelation is official. I planned a big party to celebrate. The day before my big party, a lady called me. She was the lawyer from the government. She said, “I just want to be sure that you want to cancel your adoption”. After I answered she pressed the button on her computer and said, “It is now cancelled”.

The official cancelation came to me as an email. I showed the tv crew. I was just so overjoyed! I told them, “I’m not adopted anymore! I have my Indian name back!” Then we got to party. I think that was when I realised for the first time I was finally free. But I did realise too that now I have no one who is my relative. If I die, no-one will be notified. According to my Indian papers, I have no relatives, no parents, no sisters. It was the first time I felt a little scared if something were to happen to me; what if I wanted someone to take over my boat? I would need to organise a Will and ensure my things are looked after.

According to my Indian papers, I was found by a policeman on the streets of Bombay, so I have no true identifying information. It was estimated on two different pieces of paperwork that I was 1 year or 3 months old when I was found. My adoption was done via a Danish adoption agency that doesn’t exist anymore. There are so many things I want to find out. I haven’t been back to India but I want to as soon as possible. I need to know what happened, what the truth is about my origins. I want to make another documentary about my return back to India when COVID is over.

The only words of experience I can offer to fellow adoptees is that if you are wanting to cancel your adoption, be sure that this is what you truly want. There is no going back. There are a lot of hurdles to make it happen. Most parents won’t want to agree because it is a loss of a child for them. But I really believe it’s important adoptees have the choice. I wish that in Denmark or any other country, that adoptees could cancel adoptions without needing adoptive parent permission. They purchased us as a child – why should they always decide our fate?

Many people judge and think that I am not thankful for being in Denmark. It bothers me that so many continue to participate and buy a child. I think most mothers want their child if they had other options. The end result of canceling my adoption is to be left with no relatives, no inheritance, to be very alone, and of course, to have an adoptive family who are very sad and angry. They did mistreat me but the law in Denmark was difficult and didn’t support my wishes due to the statute of limitations which meant for historic cases of abuse, I was not able to press charges. I have done everything I could to be free. Thankfully it didn’t cost me financially to get my adoption cancelled – I didn’t need a lawyer and the media company were an amazing support, along with my friends and own “family” who are there for me.

6 Replies to “Cancelling My Adoption”

  1. Thank you for your great courage to express and risk telling your truth. Why courage? Because what you’ve spoken is not wanted to be heard by so many. May peace find a permanent pillow in your heart. Blessings.

  2. Why not take a DNA test. You may find relatives. Its worth a shot. Good luck with the rest of your journey.

  3. You are so brave. Congratulations on achieving the cancellation of your adoption. I dream about achieving the same. I live in Ireland and both adoptive parents are deceased but I still yearn to be free from the chains of the adoption

  4. Amazing, you truly are a trail blazer. Really hoping you are able to find your family in India or that they are able to find you. Every blessing to you on your journey.

  5. I annulled my adoption quite simply;

    1. I left my adopter’s domicile at age 18-before it was the age of majority and neve returned.
    2. I retrieved my OBC despite the state’s denial and insistence that I would never have it. Determination to have one’s truth, knowledge of all laws, and persistence win over injustice. And of not being born in the state of adoption.
    3. I retrieved my siblings’ OBCs as well, and those of our parents.
    4. I retrieved my final adoption decree
    5. I changed my name using neither the adopter’s name nor the one given me at birth.
    6. I am in five DNA data bases and have recently found my sister’s daughter (my niece, who is also an adoptee), and inconsequence am a stone’s throw near to reuniting with my sister (who is likewise an adoptee)

    I am the daughter and maternal granddaughter of immigrants- born into a non-English speaking Magyar family-with culture and norms of Hungary. At 18 mos. of age, I was kidnapped from my grandparents, thus having my entire identity stripped from me, language, religion, culture, identity and ancestral + familial relationships and history. By mtDNA haplogroup am Berber, by modern ancestral paper trail I am Magyar & Hun, and by DNA Neanderthal. 99% of my family-maternal and paternal are dark eyed, dark haired, and dark olive complexion-in short the dominant genes of the majority of humans on this earth. I got all of the recessive gens so have very light eyes and hair… with olive skin.

    BTW: The science of genetics has disproved the myth of race and ethnicity-both of which are social artificial constructs used to divide into ‘superior and inferior. Like geo-political boundaries, they do not exist. But DNA is forever and cannot be separated from us and our shared cMs. #DNA_R_Us. We are all 99.9999% the same.

  6. So sorry you had to experience all this pain and suffering throughout your childhood and into adulthood. I do hope that from now on your life will be yours alone to live and enjoy and that you will be able to reconnect to your roots.
    We have adopted (“bought”) our second child (girl) from India when she was 5 years old. We talk about India and talk about the orphanage she use to live in. We don’t want her to forget who she is; where she came from. We are fortunate to live in California Bay Area and that she can see herself represented in the population around us and even at her school.
    We are blessed to have her as she is a constant ray of sunshine in our lives. However if she did decide to cancel her adoption when she is older the choice would be hers.
    Thank you so much for your perspective on this aspect of adoption.
    I wish you all the best from now on.
    Take care of yourself.
    A loving mother of adopted Diya

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