The news came as a surprise to Jyoti Weststrate even though she had been waiting for it for as long as she could remember. “I wasn’t expecting the Dutch government to go that far,” says Jyoti, 37, speaking from her home in Deventer in the Netherlands.
On February 8, the Netherlands announced a total freeze on all international adoptions after an official inquiry exposed systemic abuses in the past, including baby theft, child trafficking, fraud and corruption. The Minister for Legal Protection, Sander Dekker, even apologised for the wrongdoings which, the investigation found, the government was aware of but had done nothing to stop.
Soon, Sweden also decided to investigate international adoptions in the country, and more countries in the E.U. are likely to follow suit.
Jyoti, who was adopted from India in 1985 as a two-year-old, is elated that intercountry adoption has been banned. “No child should have to end up rootless in an alien land, like me. Child trafficking must stop,” she says. She testified before the commission and offered evidence.
Her cheer, however, is marred by a familiar despondency. “There is still no clarity on how I will find the answer to this one basic question — who am I?” Jyoti was hoping for some concrete action — damages for personal loss or financial help to help her search for her roots in India. But none came.
Disappointed, she is now planning to take the legal route. “I am in talks with my lawyer to sue Dutch authorities and seek damages for the sufferings caused by my adoption, which actually amounted to child trafficking,” she says. She also plans to knock on the doors of Indian courts, to seek help to locate her biological parents. “I am stopping at nothing.”
A church, high windows, a door, a priest coming in and going out — hazy mental snapshots from India have haunted Jyoti all her life. “Some images from the past are still clearly etched in my memory, and they keep coming back,” she says. “I always grew up with this feeling that my biological parents would come any moment and pick me up. Life has been an eternal wait.”