ICAV USA Representative
Cherish Asha Bolton is an intercountry, transracial adoptee from India raised in America. She is a historian who researches the legal and social status of vulnerable children in India. She has an MA in history and is completing her doctorate. She serves as the Co-President of People for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR) and works with adoptee-centered efforts to focus on adoption education, creating adoptee resources, and adoptee advocacy.
Born in Kolkata in 1983, she was adopted through International Mission of Hope to a white Baptist pastor and his family in the USA. Being significantly younger than three brothers biologically-born-to-her-adoptive-parents, she grew up isolated in several ways: genetic, racial, age, gender, and adoption status. This isolation grew further when her adoptive mother passed away after a short battle with cancer when Cherish was 13. She struggled for years living with an adoptive father and stepmother who made it clear she was unwanted, combined with being purposefully kept from extended family members and not receiving the support she needed as a kid with trauma.
She quickly distanced herself from her adoptive father upon reaching adulthood, but she learned how long and far adoptive parents can reach into adult adoptees’ lives. She was limited in college opportunities due to the required parental information for financial aid, and she didn’t have her original adoption paperwork from her adoptive father, so she didn’t know her citizenship status. Over the next decade she’d move from Ohio to Los Angeles, work in the real estate sector, and waited to finish her degree until parentage was no longer required. In that time, she also learned how to track down copies of adoption papers outside of adoptive parents. At 28 years of age, she finally received proof of her citizenship through the Child Citizenship Act of 2001.
Cherish has returned to India twice in graduate school, first to learn Hindi and second to do doctoral research. Those experiences were life-altering for her in both good and devastating ways. But most importantly, she resolved to spend her time working for family preservation and helping vulnerable adoptees.
Cherish is passionate about discussing adoptee mental health; the laws surrounding adoption (particularly in Indian intercountry adoption); the language and rhetoric used surrounding adoption; race, gender, class, and religion; and critical adoption studies. She currently lives in Illinois with her partner and very large dog.