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Welcome to India President Obama. NOW, can we finally talk adoptee deportations?

Meet Jennifer Haynes, born in India, she was  adopted at age 7 by an American, Edward Hancox.

She was brought to the United States by two unknown adults who accompanied her on the overseas flight.

At the time of the adoption, the agency that handled her case Americans for International Aid and Adoption (AIAA) failed to complete the necessary paperwork formalities. Despite the incomplete paperwork and adoption process, she was still able to be taken from India and  enter the U.S..

Haynes was adopted out of the now defunct Kuanyin Charitable Trust.

Pound Pup Legacy maintains a profile on her case and  has an archive of articles relating to it, and lists Wide Horizons for Children (WHFC), the (same agency Angelina Jolie utilized) as Jennifer’s placement agency.

Once in America, Hancox abused her.

Two years after being brought to the U.S. her new “parent” disrupted the “adoption” and “gave” her away to another couple from Michigan.

After being abused again in her second American “home”, she passed into the American Foster Care system and through a series of 50 foster homes, before eventually being left to the streets.

Having survived her “childhood” such as it was, she eventually found love, married, and began a family of her own.

But after being convicted twice for possession of cocaine, and finishing her jail sentence,  the US board of immigration appeals “abruptly deported” her from Chicago once the Indian government accepted her repatriation in 2008.

She, like so many other undocumented immigrants found herself on the wrong end of the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act,” anti-immigrant legislation that then president Bill Clinton had signed in the aftermath of the world trade center bombing. It has the effect of triggering deportation of  those without the documentation U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement demands in the aftermath of a drug conviction among other crimes.

But even her repatriation to India raises questions as her lawyer argued later before the court in India,

Advocate Pradeep Havnur, Jennifer’s lawyer, said she was sent back on a travel document which was a “mere slip of paper” and she does not have either her passport of the United States nor of India. He questioned how the Indian government permitted her to enter the country.

She described what the process looked like from her perspective:

“Till then I thought I was very much an American but when the immigration officials saw my papers, it came to light that the documentation process for my US citizenship was not complete. I was put in a plane and next thing I knew, I was being sent to India. That was July 2, ironically, also my wedding anniversary…”

Early in 2009, she sought action from the Bombay High Court against Americans for International Aid and Adoption for both the failure to complete her adoption process and their failure to ensure her well being in the 50 foster homes she passed through, (an experience she described in court as “traumatic.”)

The petition, while alleging abuse at the hands of her adoptive father and subsequent foster homes, has also questioned the role of the American agency which facilitated the inter-country adoption and had given the Indian court a solemn undertaking that Jennifer would be taken care of in her adopted home.

She wants the HC to get CARA to deregister or ban the Americans for International Aid and Adoptions and similar other agencies which are involved in inter-country adoptions.

By July 2009, an inquiry had been requested:

The Central Adoption Resources Authority (CARA) has said that it has asked the Maharashtra government to conduct an inquiry and send a report on certain points in the case of an `alleged’ fraudulent adoption process carried out by an American agency 20 years ago.

The U.S. was involved in the process by then:

CARA deputy director Jagannath Patil in his report has said that CARA has communicated with the central agency in the US. He has also asked the Maharashtra government to conduct an inquiry and is awaiting the report.

The court had asked CARA to submit its report after Haynes’ advocate Pradeep Havnur had argued that the entire adoption process was questionable. Patil said that CARA has asked the central authority of USA on adoption matters. It has asked the authority to provide details on how Jennifer could not be given citizenship and possible efforts on her rehabilitation. “CARA will be able to form an opinion only after receiving reports from these quarters,” Patil said.

Haynes, who said she does not have proper documents, is also seeking action against the Americans for International Aid and Adoption (AIAA) which processed her adoption papers. Havnur said that her stay in the US was jeopardised because of an incorrect adoption process in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 and the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Inter-Country Adoption.

Patil revealed that according to the communication received from AIAA, it had monitored Haynes’ placement for a period of three years. According to the agency, it reported all alternative placements to the court in India and Indian Council of Social Welfare in the case of Jennifer. The agency took legal custody of her, brought her to Michigan and placed her in a foster home when there was disruption in her adoption.

Other articles, here for example, detail some of the abuses she endured.

Jennifer’s journey, spanning over fifty foster homes, practically destroyed what was left of her childhood. “I remember bits and pieces. Like him (first foster father) giving me too much affection. But the abuse really started with the second home. The abuse was directed towards not only me but other children as well,” she recounts.

Something of her frustration was conveyed when she spoke on Newshour on Wednesday (March 17). “I got sent from home to home, no family and no love I was abused by all the families. Then I finally got the love, I got married, and had two children. And now I am taken away from them. Everyday I am without my children, everyday I struggle, and I sit at home with no documents, no nothing to get away. And it hurts. I blame everybody, I blame the whole system of India, for accepting me back.,” she said.

Jennifer is only one victim of hundreds who suffer due to the lack of adequate laws on inter-country adoption in this country. India also needs better implementation of existing laws. Meanwhile the number of reported cases of adoption of Indian children by foreign nationals has been steadily increasing. In 2001 there were 573 cases while shot up to 984 in 2007. Children are voiceless, vulnerable, and they are not votebanks. Perhaps that is why it seems so easy to rob these innocents of their childhood.

The same article from March 2010 also makes note of the U.S. government’s “assurance” it would look into the case.

Action assured TIMES NOW brought Jennifer’s plight to light with the US government who has now assured to look into the case. After hearing of TIMES NOW’s investigation, MoS for Child Welfare, Krishna Tirath, has promised strong action against adoption rackets such as the ones TIMES NOW has exposed. The minister has promised strong action against adoption rackets responsible for the fate of children like Jennifer Haynes. Krishna Tirath said the minsitry will take action if something illegal is taking place in adoption agencies.

To date she’s still waiting for any sign of movement on that front.

Her husband and two children Kadafi ( 7), and Kanassa (6) now living with a realtive, remain in Michigan. She is unable to even visit them. Her contact with them now is by telephone.

She has been left without papers or passports from either country.

Earlier this year she had again turned to the Indian courts to help her find her Indian family.

An exasperated Haynes said: “More than anything else, I want to go back to my children. But now that I am here in India I want to know something about myself, my family, my mother. I don’t want to go back to the US empty-handed.”

That process offered her little,  but just as a small number of adoptes eventually manage, a work around was found, only to run headlong into still more tragic news.

See The Secret is Out – Jennifer was Trafficked as a Child which I will quote at length:

The approximately 700 pages of documents that I received in response to the Freedom of Information Request filed with USCIS on Jennifer Haynes’ behalf have turned out to be a gold mine of information. The biggest nugget of them all was the Indian baptismal certificate that we found buried among all the other paperwork. The certificate contained the names of Jennifer’s biological mother and father and as a result thereof she has been able to find her family!! Unfortunately for Jennifer, her mother died in 2006 before Jennifer was deported to India and before they could be reunited. Before she had the chance to meet just one more time with the daughter that we now know was sold out from under her.

As the result of the information on the baptismal certificate, Jennifer met up with her long-lost brother, and learned from him that her biological mother originally placed her at an orphanage so that she could receive the education, food and shelter that she was too poor to afford. She also learned that her mother never intended to give her up, but that when she came back for Jennifer a short while later Jennifer had already been “sent” to the US to be adopted. As traumatic as that must have been for her, thankfully her mother died without ever learning that Jennifer had in fact been given to a couple that abused her and then gave her up only 9 months later to another family who also abused her. She was also spared the knowledge that Jennifer was thereafter shunted around to dozens of foster care families before finally being deported back to India because her immigration formalities were not completed. From Jennifer’s brother we also learned that her father never recovered from the shock of having lost his daughter and unfortunately became an alcoholic as the result of this emotional trauma.

Although we do not yet have any proof, it is our firm belief that Jennifer was, indeed, trafficked to the United States. In other words, that she was sold like chattel. Nothing else can explain away so many of the facts that we have uncovered in these documents. For example, the owner of the orphanage to whom Jennifer had been entrusted by her mother, appeared in court and testified that Jennifer had been abandoned and had no family – clearly a lie. And then she also appeared before the court as the “attorney” for the prospective adoptive father. In other words, Clarice D’Souza took it upon herself to decide that Jennifer should be sent to the US, lied to the court in order to obtain the requisite order for Jennifer to leave India, and then “appeared” as the adoptive father and told the court that “he” would abide by all the applicable obligations to Jennifer if he was allowed to take her to the US. Indeed, there is absolutely no evidence that the adoptive father ever traveled to India or ever even met Jennifer, let alone Clarice D’Souza who vouched for his suitability as an adoptive father. And to top it all off, Jennifer was actually flown into the United States by two unknown adults, hired by the orphanage for the sole purpose of accompanying her to the United States and turning her over to her adoptive father.

These are all the classic hallmarks of child trafficking. Those of us familiar with a number of these cases have seen it all before:

  • a family too poor to care for their child, but never intending to give them up, being convinced to pass the child off to an “orphanage” ‘just for the time being’, or ‘to help them through economically’
  • promises that the child will gain an ‘education’ if left to the institution’s care (an all too common excuse utilized to pry children away from parents by such institutions)
  • when the family returns for their child she has already been shipped abroad without consent
  • the paperwork is incomplete, yet the export goes forward
  • immigration formalities were never completed yet she is still slipped out of India and into the U.S.
  • the lie that she had been abandoned
  • the personal involvement of Clarice D’Souza, appearing before the court as the “attorney” for the would-be-adoptive father, making promises on his behalf, and vouching for him
  • the middlemen delivering her to the U.S. paid for by the “orphanage”

None of this is new. In fact, such are simply far too common.

Even her reconnection with her Indian family has left her with little, other than a desire to see her family once again.

Despite her exile from her family and children, Jennifer hasn’t given up hope, or the fight. After a year long search in India, she managed to locate and contact her brother Christopher in January this year. Christopher, 24, lives in Ambernath. But in the reunion there was no drama, no emotion. “I felt nothing. Nothing hurts anymore. I only think of my kids”, Haynes said. Chris knows that, though he has just discovered Jennifer after so many years, he has to let her go again. “Any brother in my place who cares about his sister, would tell her, go back to your husband and kids,” he says.

Her family back in the United States endures this forced separation as well, see Jennifer’s kids want their mother back.

Now, TIMES NOW has tracked her children in Chicago and they have just one wish — to be reunited with their mother. For over two years, Jennifer Haynes has been living alone in Mumbai.

Jennifer’s only demand is to go back home and be with her children. She says, “Everyday I am without my children. Everyday I struggle, sit at home with nothing to do. All this definitely hurts me.”

Following her story, TIMES NOW went to meet her children back in Chicago. Six year old Kadafi and five year old Kassana live with their grandmother, while their father i.e. Jennifer’s husband is away studying.

The kids have not seen their mother in close to two years, ever since she was deported and thrown out because the Adoption Agency — Americans for International Aid and Adoption — never bothered to get her paperwork right

…the children, who do not understand these legalities, just want their mother back. Kassana says, “I want mummy back. We miss her and love her.”

Today, Jennifer is a woman trapped between two countries, left to pleading with President Obama via a letter submitted to the US consulate in Mumbai for help.

See Deported from Chicago, she waits for Barack Obama.

In the letter, she states in no uncertain terms,

“Until last year I believed that I was a US citizen. Now I realise that I was a victim of child-trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation.”

“Never did I think I was not an American citizen until I was arrested for a minor drug charge and sent immediately for deportation. Your country which had promised me so much hope, instead treated me like an object to be discarded like damaged goods,”

Speaking to president Obama directly, she asks,

“Can you please help me?”

“Now I am an American without a country; a lost child who was sent away from my home, my family and my children.”

All of which finally brings us up to today’s latest article, Sans home and identity: A story from the US:

Among the many looking forward to American President Barack Obama’s visit toIndia was an anxious Jennifer Edgell Haynes. She has no interest in Indo-US relations. All she wants is to be reunited with her family in Michigan.

In an open letter addressed to the US president, which has been delivered to the office of the US consulate general at Lincoln House on November 2, this 28-year-old mother of two, sketches the shocking tale of an inter-country adoption gone wrong.

Sadly, horrendous as  Jennifer’s situation is this is not some “personal problem.”

Her case merely exposes the pre-existing problems with the very system itself.

Haynes says her problems with being deported to her “home” country are similar to most adopted children. “I cannot relate to life in India. I have no family here. I cannot even get a job because I have no identity papers here. The last two years have been about moving from place to place and making ends meet with whatever little money I get doing some odd jobs. Where do I go?”.

Activist Arun Dohle says Haynes’s harrowing tale brings to the fore the dangers of inter-country adoption. Anjali Pawar, director of the NGO Sakhi, is supporting Haynes in her fight for justice. She says, “Her case reveals that the adoptive families did not do the needful to complete the formalities for an American citizenship after she was taken there. This entire adoption process needs to be examined.” Pawar adds, “Ultimately, the government will have to focus on in-country adoptions.”

Haynes, meanwhile, prays the US president’s visit might end her run of ill-luck.

There has been a great deal written about the problems with the 1996 laws, and court cases and challenges have abounded.

But adoptees, particularly trafficked adoptees, many of whom never had the slightest indication they were anything other than American citizens find themselves in a very special legal nightmare reserved just for them under these draconian laws.

Against Child Trafficking (as you can probably tell via my links throughout this piece) has been working on Jennifer’s case:

Jennifer has two children aged 5 & 6 (apparently US Citizens) who are living with her mother in law in the US. This being one of the worst punishment that a Human Being is made to suffer, that Jennifer, a Mother of 2 minor children cannot enter the country US, when her own minor children as US Citizens.

Jennifer’s papers are in possession of ACT. The research done by ACT, their Attorneys, it is evident that the Indian Authorities as well as the US Authorities have been unjust to Jennifer as well as her 2 minor kids, by mechanically deporting her from US and having accepted her in India as any ordinary illegal expatriate.

ACT is supporting Jennifer in Petitioning the Courts, against the Adoption Agencies in India and in the US as well as the Authorities. ACT with their expert Attorneys in India and US, in working out modalities seeking legal intervention and assistance finding ways to send Jennifer back to the US, reunite with her children and claim compensation and damages.

ACT welcomes donations to support their important work on Jennifer’s case (Click here.)

I’ve written a little about the deportation cases before.

See I’ve got your *REAL* fake birth certificate right here, wingnut! for example, in which I marked the rise in numbers of deportations under the Bush administration.

Wingnuts push for adoption constantly, yet do nothing in the face of Bastard deportations.

Apparently their take on “family values” includes deporting Bastards.

Pound Pup Legacy has been tracking cases like Jennifers’ for some time now, see both the PPL overview on adoptee deportations and the case studies archive of both deportations and cases in process.

Also be sure to see the tragic archive of articles on the case of Joao Herbert.

After being deported back to Brazil,

In May of 2004, Herbert was shot and killed in the industrial city of Campinas, 60 miles northwest of Sao Paolo.

5 Responses to “Welcome to India President Obama. NOW, can we finally talk adoptee deportations?”

  1. Tweets that mention Baby Love Child » Welcome to India President Obama. NOW, can we finally talk adoptee deportations? -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marley Greiner, Baby _Love_Child. Baby _Love_Child said: New BLC- Welcome to #India Pres. #Obama NOW can we finally talk #adoptee #deportations? #NAdoptAM #nationaladoptionmonth […]

  2. Arun Says:

    This is again a brilliant piece and very much factually correct.
    However there is a small but important glitch.
    Jennifer´s US placement agency has not been WHFC.
    There is another repatriation case, involving WHFC.
    But Jennifer´s placement agency is AIAA-Americans for International Aid and Adoption.



  3. Baby Love Child Says:

    Again, thank you Arun, and more importantly, thank you for offering that clarification.

    I will be certain to mention it to the folks at PPL.

    (I still need to respond to you on the earlier post as well, it’s been on my mind, but I’ve not done a very good job of getting back to it yet.)



  4. Baby Love Child Says:

    Pound Pup Legacy has updated the profile with the corrected information.

    I’m going to leave the sentence crossed through, so in the future it’s clear to readers what these comments were about.

    Glad to see the blame land where it belongs in this case.

  5. Gaye Tannenbaum Says:

    While not a deportation case, this woman, born somewhere in India, was kidnapped and trafficked as a child. She remembers being taken from her home in the middle of the night and believes that her kidnapping was for revenge against her family. Her story also appeared on TIMES NOW and nothing has been done. She doesn’t even know how old she is – somewhere in her early 40s, not the 34 years old as stated in the article.

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