Anand Kaper was born in Bombay in October 1976, to an unwed mother in a small private hospital. His birth was never officially registered. When he was nine months old, a Dutch couple adopted him from an orphanage, making Kaper one of about 1,100 children adopted from abroad to the Netherlands that year.
Kaper, now an elementary school teacher, had a happy childhood in the small Dutch city of Apeldoorn, but as he grew older, he began to have more questions about his roots. Since 2002, he has returned nearly every year to the city of his birth—now called Mumbai—to search for details of his adoption. But the orphanage has given him nothing. Officials there told Kaper that mothers who chose anonymity at the time of relinquishing their children couldn’t be revealed, and have denied his requests.
When his daughter was born in 2010, Kaper’s desire to find his biological mother intensified. He went to Delhi in 2012 to ask the Central Adoption Resource Authority, the government body that oversees adoptions, to grant him access to his papers, including documents related to his mother’s identity. They too refused. “India is one of the toughest places to search,” he said. “It has cost me a lot of time, energy, and money.”
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