Three decades ago, what would it have been like to have to put your child up for adoption in Goa?
The adoption process, it’s terrible—then and now. In the village, everyone knows everyone else and it’s quite a big scandal. In a small village, you are seen as part of the community. It’s very segregated between the sexes. You’d have to be very bold or very brave to defy social norms like that. But these things do happen. Human nature is human nature. It’s quite tough, and mostly on the woman. Because the woman would be stuck with the child and the man could slink off.
Do you know anything about the Society for Child Development, the orphanage from which Nisha Grayson was adopted?
I believe it was the one started by Bonnie Chowgule, an American Mormon who married into a wealthy Goan family. She did it because she likely was trying to find some way to help these kids; I don’t think there is big money in adoptions. But Chowgule moved back to Utah and that orphanage was closed down. In past cases, when children who had been adopted from that orphanage have returned from abroad to track down their birth parents, Chowgule had been quite cagey about releasing information about the birth parents.
You’ve tried to assist some adopted children in their search for parents. What obstacles did you come across?
It is very difficult. Most of these children tend to be babies born to unmarried people. This could be a part of the past that they want to forget. In one instance, I considered putting an advertisement in the local paper (on behalf of an adopted child), asking for the birth mother to contact me. But I realized I couldn’t do it. It was a bit scary because you never know the repercussions. Goa being a small place, everyone knows everyone else. What would a middle-age male be doing advertising for females in a public space? It would be worse for the women than it would be for me.