Can Facebook reunite Norway beautician with her mother in India?

S. N. M. Abdi

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A woman in Norway has harnessed the power of social media to track down her mother in India. Pinky was born in the Indian city of Calcutta in 1978 and adopted by a Norwegian couple who rechristened her Marie Kristiansen Eftestad and brought her up with great love and affection in the land of the midnight sun.

Forty years later, Marie – a professional beautician living in Sogne in Vest-Agder county – is leaving no stone unturned to somehow find the woman who gave birth to her. She won’t rest until she cracks the mystery which haunts her.

Age and Gerd Kristiansen, Marie’s Norwegian parents, seem to have carefully preserved all the documents relating to her adoption. There is even a tiny black & white photograph of the baby they brought home. Last month, based on her adoption dossier, Marie posted a letter addressed to her biological mother on Facebook.

Nursing home

“Dear mum”, she wrote, “Where are you? On January 14, 1978, you gave birth to me at the Park View Nursing Home in Calcutta. But after fourteen days, you gave me up for adoption. Saroj Sood helped me get adopted in Norway.”

“But every day, I think about you. I wonder if you too have me on your mind after all these years. I don't know where you are or what you are doing. But my only desire is to meet you and thank you for my life. I am forever grateful for you have giving birth to me. There must have been serious compulsions for you to give me up for adoption. I don't hold that against you. I understand that you didn’t want to be identified then.”

“But I am hoping after all these years, you had a change of heart. I really hope you too want to meet me as much as I want to meet you. If you can't meet me, I will understand. I don't want to jeopardize your life for me. But if a meeting is impossible, I wish I can get a photo of yours to see how you look.”

Confidentiality clause

Sood is the founder Secretary of the Indian Society for Sponsorship and Adoption (ISSA). After Marie’s Facebook post was translated into Bengali and received coverage in a Calcutta newspaper, ISSA said it would do its best to reunite Marie with her mother if the confidentiality clause permits.

Marie is pinning her hopes on the incredible reach of social media as well as ISSA records for a reunion with her mother. Her friends are optimistic but they have cautioned her to keep her fingers crossed as luck now holds the key.

Child adoption, especially by foreigners, is still a grey area in India. Many rackets have been unearthed even as adoptees in distant lands crave to reconnect with their hidden roots. In some cases, it has come to light that although the adoptive parents thought that everything was above board as they were given “proper” papers, the adopted child was actually trafficked or kidnapped.

Biological mother

But there have been many happy endings too. Earlier this year, a 27-yearold Dutch woman, Asha, was reunited with her biological mother in Bhandara district of Madhya Pradesh after a search that lasted 10 long years. Asha was 18 months old when she was adopted. Her search for her mother began when she was 17 and the breakthrough came thanks to two social workers who helped her join the dots.

The 2016 film, Lion, which was nominated for Oscars in six categories, told the real life story of Sheru Munshi Khan from a nondescript village in central India who got lost at the age of five and landed in a Calcutta orphanage from where he was adopted by a wealthy businessman in Australia and grew up as Saroo Brierley.

Ultimately the strapping Aussie used Google Earth and fading childhood memories to return home to meet his mother, Fatima, after a quarter of a century.