von Kris Rao, adopted from India to the USA, recently discovered their adoption as a Late Discovery adoptee.
I came across an Indian based podcast called The Filter Koffee Podcast hosted by Karthik Nagarajan. He sits with a guest and as he describes it, has a conversation. “The kind that leaves you richer. The kind that only coffee can bring out.”
Most recently in January of 2022, he sat down with Poulomi Pavini Shukla, a supreme court lawyer, and spoke about orphans in India. This particular episode was titled Why India’s orphans are twice abandoned?
Without getting into too many details of the podcast, here are a few key topics they went over:
- The different schemes that have been put in place for children in need of care.
(Government Schemes in India are launched by the government to address the social and economic welfare of its citizens)
- The money/budget put towards orphans. Which equates to less than 1 rupee per day per child.
- The estimated number of orphans in India as reported by UNICEF.
- How orphanages are run and how many should be set up in each district.
- What happens to abandoned children and their lives as orphans.
- The differences between female and male orphans.
One of the things that struck me was the estimated number of orphans in India. According to UNICEF, there are 29.6 million orphans in India, approximately 30 million.
And as an adoptee, as one of these so-called social orphans, all I could think of while listening to this podcast was:
Why does India have 30 million orphans in the first place?
What is my country doing that is creating this problem?
What is my country doing to prevent this?
To me, it seems the biggest problem isn’t just that we have 30 million orphans in need of care, it’s that we have 60 million parents that gave up and abandoned their children. And it’s still happening. These numbers are still growing.
Where’s that conversation?
Is it because of religion, caste? What other factors are in play here?
What about reproductive justice?
I am one of the millions of social orphans to have come out of India. And it leads me to ask, is it because my existence brings “shame” upon my family the reason I am an orphan? Does my existence sully the family name?
Was my conception so problematic in the eyes of India’s society and culture that my mother felt compelled to abandon me?
I once wrote the only reason I was adopted is because society somehow failed my mother and forced her to make a decision she shouldn’t have had to in the first place.
What are we doing to change that?
From listening to the podcast, I understand helping orphans in India is vital and needs attention. Having lived in India for 11 years myself, and visited orphanages, yes, I get it.
I think it’s important that every child is taken care of. But why does that include separating them from their families? Why should a child lose all legal ties to their first and biological parents and families (including extended kin) in order to simply be taken care of?
And most importantly, what are we doing for the “social orphans” who are now adults that wish to know their true roots? Access to our ancestry, history, etc.
How can we remove this stigma and taboo I keep hearing about adoption in India?
As indicated by the title, Poulomi says that orphans from India are orphaned twice. “Once by being orphans of their parents and once by being orphans of the state or orphans of the law.”
For international adoptees like myself, it feels as though India abandoned me a third time when it sent me off to be another country’s problem.
The unfortunate and unwarranted circumstances that made me one of India’s “social orphans” put me on a path of being adopted.
And by being adopted not only did it take away my choices but it also took away my chances of finding my roots.
For more from Kris, check out their latest blog: Kris Shares about Adoptee Anger
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