It took Simon Qvennerberg 40 long years to find his way back to Shreevatsa, a child care centre in Pune, from where he was adopted by a Swedish family when he was barely eight months old.
As he walked around the centre on Tuesday, Simon said, “My mother told me I was adopted when I was five years old, but I preferred not to think about it. I was not really interested. Today, I am finding some answers, but I am actually doing this for my teenage children,”
During the visit, Simon and his parents Monica, a social worker, and Tommy, a retired priest, interacted with the staff and children at Shreevatsa, a centre run by the Society of Friends of Sassoon General Hospital. Set up in 1973, the centre has a well-established adoption programme, and caters to the needs of abandoned and orphaned children. Currently, the centre is taking care of 50 children.
Monica and Tommy, who had two daughters, said they wanted to expand their family and adopt a boy. “How we approached the issue was important as each adopted child has two identities. Families need to offer unconditional love and support to them,” said Tommy.
Simon finally started asking questions about his adoption at the age of 11. “I am dark-skinned and my parents are white… It was obvious I was not their biological son. There are various ethnic groups in Sweden and for some adopted children, the transition from being an Indian to Swedish was easy. But for those who were adopted later, it is difficult and even traumatic at times,” said Simon, who works in the administration department of a Swedish court.
“Identity issues are a major concern for teenaged adopted child,” said Simon, who has tried to learn Hindi. “My daughter is 17 years old and son is 15. They are curious to know more about Indian heritage and want to visit the country,” said Simon.
Explaining the emotional process often faced by adopted children, Sharmila Sayed, administration in-charge at Shreevatsa, said, “Children may feel grief over the loss of a relationship with their birth parents and the loss of family connections that could have existed with them… There are concerns about feeling abandoned and ‘not being good enough’…”.
November is National Adoption Month, during which several awareness programmes and workshops will be held for prospective parents.
There are several groups, both at national and international ones, where adopted children get a chance to interact with each other and raise their concerns.
From January till November this year, 46 adoptions took place at Shreevatsa; 34 were in-country and 12 were inter-country ones.