Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you help me find my Indian family?
A: Yes. You can become part of our movement and we’ll find help you find your Indian family.
Q: Why is searching so difficult in India?
A: That´s a long story. In short, those responsible for keeping our files (our identities) are uncooperative with adoptees. This starts with the orphanages which, in India, are responsible for safeguarding our files. But they don’t want us to find the truth of our adoption as often there are so-called “irregularities” (in other words illegal activities). Sometimes the orphanage is closed, has moved or the records are missing.
The problem is global, not only in India. The authorities in our home countries, as well as our adoption agencies, tend to be most uncooperative too.
An important factor is that the authorities, agencies and our adoptive parents tend to have incomplete information – important parts of our files are often missing – and this can make it extremely difficult to trace adoptee parents.
Q: Does it cost money?
A: Yes. Searching in India can be very difficult and time consuming, much more difficult than in other countries. It involves a lot of work, effort, travel, delays and bureaucracy – and we need to be compensated for our time.
Q: How much does it cost?
To see the full cost of our service, see this page
To see a breakdown of the costs involved, see this page
Q: Do you get grant funding?
A: No, we don’t get any grant or donor funding. We depend 100% on the flat rate paid by the adoptees who have joined our movement.
Q: I want to access my adoption papers in India. Can you recommend a lawyer?
A: No. However, we work with lawyers in India and Anjali Pawar, the coordinator of ARC, is herself a lawyer. We offer a comprehensive search service for adoptees from India and part of this service is access to lawyers in all regions of India. Unlike other lawyers in India, we are specialized in searching for adoptees and offer a rare and unique service. We do not offer an introductory service to third party lawyers.
Q: Can I just get the name and address of my mother without doing a search?
A: Not yet. We believe that it is your right to have this information – for free – and that is what we are fighting for. However, at the moment the Indian authorities are protective of adoptee files and getting any information can take years of persistent legal challenges.
Q: Do all Indian mothers of adoptees want to see their estranged children?
A: Usually yes. However it can involve navigating a very sensitive situation and great care and experience is required. The problem is that some adoptees were born to unmarried mothers and, in India, there is much social stigma associated with the unmarried status. Often our mothers went on to marry and didn’t tell their new husbands about their “illegitimate” children who were relinquished into the adoption system. In each and every case we approached the mother and gained her approval for providing you with her details – a step that comes after the search process.
Q: Is it easy for mothers to meet up with their estranged children?
A: No. Often the reunion can result in old wounds being reopened. In most cases the whole incident would have been covered up and not addressed, but the hurt and pain would remain. However, in all the cases we have dealt with the mothers do want to meet their long lost “baby”.
Q: Will you give me my mother’s name as soon as you find it?
A: No. Reuniting a mother with her adopted child, after 20 years, can be traumatic for both parties and, if not handled correctly, can create social problems. Handling these situations is where our experience and social work qualifications come in. We only hand over identification information after the first meeting and assuming that both parties are comfortable with each other.
Q: I was told that I was “abandoned” in India as a child. Do I have a chance of finding my mother?
A: This is very difficult to answer and each case is different. In genuine “abandonment” cases there is no chance of finding the mother but many of us have had this label applied wrongly as it speeds up the adoption process. ARC will review your file (at no charge) and check the details against orphanage records. We don’t take on cases if we think there is no chance of a positive result.
Q: I was relinquished by my mother/father/relative, what are my chances of finding my mother?
A: Generally good. But first we would need to assess your paperwork. This will help us identify an orphanage and work out a suitable approach.
Q: If I don’t have any paperwork what can I do?
A: Contact us with what information you do have and we will find a way of getting your file. We have many years experience in carrying out searches and overcoming the seemingly impossible is part of our job description.
Q: Do you do anything illegal? Or pay bribes?
A: We have very strong ethics and would never have survived in this murky arena if we did anything illegal. Many parties would love to prosecute us. We have never received or paid bribes and we never will. We work completely within the government regulations. This may slow down our work but we are satisfied that it is totally ethical.
Q: I don’t have a name or any identifying information for my mother. Do I have a chance?
A: Yes. Most of the adult adoptees we have helped so far were in the same position.
Q: Can you explain how you do searches? It is my right and I can’t afford to pay.
A: No. Carrying out searches is a time consuming, complex and frustrating exercise. It is very hard work and can take years (for Arun, the founder of ARC, it took 17 years and involved 40 flights to India). For many years, we offered this service for free but we had to introduce a minimal charge in order to keep functioning. We have a unique network of ethical social workers and lawyers in India, an excellent reputation and a strong ethic. Each case requires a process that can be best described as reverse engineering. Maintaining this network, and our methodology, requires a certain amount of confidentiality and trust. It is only available for those who join us. However, our aim is to work ourselves out of a job and as soon as the Indian government make this information publicly available we will happily become redundant.
Q: Can I do the search on my own?
A: Yes. You may be able to carry out a search on your own but we can assure you that it will cost a lot more than doing it through ARC. If you would like a breakdown of the estimated costs just get in touch.
Q: I’m in India now (or I’m travelling there next week). Can you help me?
A: No. Even if we took you to your orphanage they would not share the necessary information. It can take up to two years of legal challenges to get access to the files.