Chaya’s six-year-old legal battle to search for her roots came to a fruitful end this week. The Karnataka High Court allowed her petition and directed the police to investigate the details of her biological mother and the conditions under which she was given up for adoption by the orphanage.
This order is by no means the end of Chaya’s search. She still has not located her birth mother and it is not clear if the police investigation more than 30 years after her adoption will lead to any result. But today, Chaya’s minor victory in getting a direction for police investigation is a huge victory for adoptees from all over the world now coming back to India in search of their biological identity. This judgment is the legal recognition of the adoptee’s Right to Know, which has been widely accepted in many jurisdictions but not clarified in the Indian context at all.
A person’s right to know her biological or genetic origins raises some of the hardest legal and ethical issues that we have had to face in the last several years. This question arises not only in the case of adopted children, but also in cases of abandoned or displaced children, children conceived by artificial insemination or of children born out of wedlock. It opens up, in the words of [leading international human rights lawyer] Geraldine van Beuren, “a whole Pandora’s Box — the principle of the best interests of the child and her right to know very often conflicts with other competing rights such as the mother’s right to privacy and autonomy and the rights of the adoptive parents.”
Read the full piece here.