The Building of the Hatch Family
Emerson DOB 03-15-00 Gotcha Day 3-5-02, birth country: India
Logan DOB 02-07-01 Gotcha Day 9-7-01, birth country: Guatemala
Audrey DOB 10-27-02, biological child*I have included a glossary of some of the Indian terms at the end of our story. I want to apologize for the length and detail. I have tried for over a year to condense this story, and this is the best that I can do. There is so much to tell, the story is truly amazing and at times unbelievable. Please feel free to take notes and ask questions. We have video, photos and all of the newspaper articles that are discussed throughout.
Ours is not a "typical" family
and our story is far from typical. We experienced love, hope, frustration, loneliness, hopelessness, distress, fear, perseverance and victory in building our home through adoption. Logan's adoption was very easy and eleven weeks, and Emerson's was a twenty-month nightmare. We prayed for babies and were blessed with three!
Dan and I got married in November of 1999 and had been friends since our early teens. We were ready to start a family but I suffer from Crohn's Disease and was in remission for a few months when we decided adoption would be a better route at that time.
July 2000: We accepted the referral of our little angel, Zuleika, from India. We were so excited! She was everything we ever imagined and MORE!
November 2000: late in the month we finish Emmy's nursery thinking she will be home early 2001 only to have it sit empty for almost 18 months. There were several months I did not even set foot in that room for fear of breaking down. It was so hard to see her crib and toys and know that she was thousands of miles away.
January 2001: Things were progressing nicely with our case in India
when a terrible earthquake shock Gujarat, India. Our daughter was in a private, Christian Orphanage in Hyderabad, India, Andhra Pradesh which is very far from Gujarat but things would slow down all over the country.
February 2001: Our case was postponed in Family Court twice awaiting guardianship.
April 27, 2001: The Government of Andhra Pradesh (GOAP) raided several Christian Orphanages and seized hundreds of innocent children. The children were taken to the state run Shishu Vihar which was not capable of housing or caring for them. At the time of the raid, Emmy was 13 months old and 18 pounds. She was able to pull herself to stand and was starting to try and walk.
In the next few months there were daily newspaper articles written and the Director of our Orphanage in India (Anita Sen of Precious Moments) was taken to prison where she served 64 days. To date, she still has charges to be filed against her (she is currently in the US visiting her daughter and family). One day we would be told we were not getting the children and the next we would be getting them. It was heartbreaking and depressing. We had some friends that we caught in the adoption scandal that went to the state run home to visit our daughter while visiting their child (who was not seized) only to find out the kids names were changed and they brought out a different child for her to see.) A month later our friend from our church who happens to be from AP, India went over to do missionary work and he went to see Zuleika (Emmy) and they showed him the wrong child also. We just wanted our daughter and we were caught in the middle of a religious and political battle in India. The GOAP and NGO's (Non Government Organizations) screamed child trafficking. The newspapers sensationalized the facts to support the current government with upcoming elections in the near future.
June 1, 2002: Dan and I decide to further build our family through another adoption and continue trying to get Emerson (Zuleika) and keep fighting to get her home. We accept the referral of our son Logan William Mauricio in Guatemala. We hired a second agency
that had Logan's referral. He was an abandonment case and things were supposed to move quickly. We were terrified to fall in love with another child and so scared that he too would never come home. He was in a private foster home
and was thriving
August 2001: I go to Guatemala with another friend who is adopting an older child there to visit Logan and her daughter. The Director of Logan's agency suggested that I go to visit him since I was so sad that both of my children were so far away and I was having a very difficult time dealing with the uncertainty. She made a GREAT suggestion! The moment I laid eyes on him, all the months of waiting and loneliness were gone. It was one of the best moments of my life to hold my little guy! He wasn't scared of the crying blonde woman kissing and hugging him. His foster father had picked us up at the airport and told me that I would be returning to Guatemala in 3 weeks to bring Logan home. I was hesitant to believe this since I had a huge chip on my shoulder with Emmy's adoption but Feliciano, his foster father, was right.
September 2-7, 2001: Dan and I go to Guatemala to bring our son home. Dan was nervous up until he went back to the US Embassy to pick up Logan's visa to get into the USA. Things went smoothly and we arrived home to a huge greeting at the Minneapolis airport.
December 2001: We hear from our first adoption agency that we have been granted guardianship of Emmy in the Family Court in Hyderabad, India. We also get an update on her size, 13 pounds. She had lost 5 pounds in the care of the GOAP. We arranged for another parent who was traveling with her father to bring Emmy home. All the paperwork was set but we ran into, yet another problem. When the faxed copy of our guardianship papers arrived there was an error that needed to be corrected and the State would not accept a fax. We live in Wisconsin and the state requires the original papers to allow the US visa. By this time the other family had left and Emmy would not arrive home on Christmas as promised. We had the processing agency in India overnight the original guardianship papers after they were corrected in the court and we drove them to Madison and the State signed off on them.
January 2002: We now had arranged for our friend from church to escort Emmy home since he was back in India. We ran into another problem; the processing agency no longer wanted a man escorting a girl child. Our friend is a Non Resident Indian man who has four children of his own and is married to one of our good friends. He attends our church and does missionary work in India with his family. This was not really the truth. A newspaper article came out in one of the Indian papers that "exposed" confidential information from our dossiers. Several families were attacked in this article written by a woman who works for several NGO's (UNICEF being one of her large funding sources). She deemed me an unfit parent since I suffered from Crohn's Disease. I was horrified that this information was in the newspapers for public review. It finally came out that the Director of the processing agency was doubting my health and I was told if I wanted my child I would have to travel to India and get her myself. I was terrified to travel to India and leave Logan. Dan and I agreed that we could not both go and leave him and since I had to go my father volunteered to go with me. We were going to fly over and get her and return in 5 days. We arrived in India on a holiday and had a day to rest until ANOTHER PROBLEM arose. John (our friend from church) was still in India and met us at the processing agency where the Director had her staff doctor
examine me. The doctor expressed that I was in fine health and saw no problem. We were then sent to Shishu Vihar to meet with the Director to get Emmy. We waited for hours and finally got a meeting with Ms. Shalini Mishra. She told me flat out that I would not get my baby and that there were "new developments" in my case waving the newspaper article in my face. I immediately asked for foster care of my daughter since all the reports of her health were terrible and I thought I could nurse her back to health and start bonding if she was with me. That also was denied.
We were told to stay in India for 10 days while the National Human Rights Committee made its decision regarding my adoption. I broke down in tears. 10 days! 10 days in India, away from my baby and husband and no foster care for my daughter. I asked to go and visit her and was told visitation was one hour a day in the evening and to return. I was beside myself and we returned later that day and were denied visitation. Thank goodness John was with and had visited the prior summer and talked the Orphanage Director into us seeing Emmy. When I asked to see Zuleika they told me there was no Zuleika. My heart sank since I was staring at a black board that had all the numbers of the children seized from each agency and how many children were ill in the hospital and how many children had "EXPIRED". It was sick. I got out some photos of Emmy and they told me she was now named "Jasmine" and went to get her. It was horrific when they brought out my daughter, she was skin and bones. Her head had been shaven, she was covered in scabies, her eyes were sunken, and her skin was grey (we have photos from the parents in December). She was the size of an infant not a 22 month old child. She could not put any weight on her legs and could barely hold her head up. She was dehydrated, weak, and starving.
From then on things grew considerably worse. I hired an Indian attorney and sued the GOAP for immediate custody of Emmy. I was in the headlines the next day and for the next two months after that. The papers followed my father and me and we moved from one hotel to another. The NGO activists filed counter suits against me in the Indian courts and tried to stop my every move. Confidential information from our home study was published in the papers; the list goes on and on. I was made a political pawn in the midst of the local government elections. I appeared at the High Court of Andhra Pradesh for my case against the GOAP to be heard, and it was postponed time and time again. I was continually denied visitation to my child at the state run orphanage. I was not allowed to take photos or video of my own child. When I was allowed visitation, I was observed by several staff and limited to one hour visits. My father and I would take turns holding Emmy and singing to her and hugging her. We showed her photos of her home and family that was waiting for her and we fed her. We had to physically pour Pedilyte down her throat since she didn't know how to drink from a cup or bottle. She was so weak and sad; it was heartbreaking to leave her there.
We met with several GOAP officials and were always told they were looking into our case. No one would give us a straight answer. We tried several times to meet with the Chief Minister who had the authority to enforce our guardianship papers only to be denied appointments. We would sit in the GOAP offices at the Secretariat for hours on end and sometimes split up to try and catch an appointment with the Director of the WDCW, Shalini Mishra, only to waste our time. The activists were always one step ahead of us; meeting with all of the officials and telling them I was unfit to be a parent and demanding that Zuleika remain in India.
Our case was postponed again in late January and my father and I returned home to the US. My son, Logan, was turning one and I was not about to miss his 1st birthday. We were home for two weeks and in that time found out that we won our case against the GOAP in the High Court but were advised by our attorneys to wait until they had a Government Order stating that Zuleika be handed over to me to come back to India. My father and I left in mid February 2002 to try and get custody of Zuleika.
Upon our return to India we were again denied appointments by all GOAP officials and visitation of Zuleika. The Director of WDCW ignored the GO from her higher ups and would not give me custody of my baby. Again, we were in the papers on a daily basis and followed. I had written orders from high ranking GOAP officials and could not get my child out of the care of the GOAP. The NGO activists were relentless and were angry that the case had been won in my favor. They were determined to stop Zuleika from leaving India.
We were stuck in India for another 2 weeks trying to get custody. We finally got a lead with a reporter who was willing to put my side of the story in the news; he was going out on a limb. He fought for me and got me front page news with all the court rulings and GO's in my favor in the paper and none of the GOAP officials would comment. We also got news coverage from the local Telegu newspaper who was horrified that the Director was deliberately disobeying the Indian court rulings and GO's. It still did not get Zuleika released into my custody. We ended up going to the Opposition Party to seek intervention. The party leader was amazing; he got us an appointment with the Chief Minister within minutes and was so helpful and interested in our case. He found it very curious why we didn't have custody since we had all the legal documents and court rulings in our favor.
We were still forced to wait for the legal department of the GOAP to review all the documents for a final ruling. The next day after meeting with the CM we were told we would get Zuleika and that they were drafting the orders. We never saw the orders as promised at noon, 3pm, 6pm. My lawyer was at the Secretariat waiting for the documents and my father and I were waiting at the orphanage. The orphanage was mysteriously closing early for the day. The Director got word that Zuleika was going to be released and closed up shop for the day! I continually called my lawyer and her direct boss and he finally came himself. He arranged for the Director's assistant to come and the release finally happened. It was Saturday March 2nd 2002. We waited hours while Dr. Chellapa, past Secretary of the WDCW Department, arrived at Shishu Vihar unannounced and toured the facility. He was horrified at the condition of the children and the lack of care. He released Zuleika into my care.
We were told to leave immediately and that the Director was on her way to try and stop us. We went to the processing agency to get Zuleika's passport. She was terrified. I was terrified. When we got back to our hotel around midnight the phone rang off the hook, the press was calling to confirm all the details of the night.
We left the next day to get her visa and were advised to take an alternate flight to Chennai since the press was expecting us on the morning flight. While waiting for our flight several people were reading the newspapers, Zuleika's photo was everywhere and every paper covered the story. It was horrible and everyone knew who we were. We arrived in Chennai in the evening and were recognized upon arrival, we had the hotel hold all calls. We were informed that we had several people trying to get through. My husband didn't know where I was since we were advised not to call anyone.
We got Zuleika's visa the next day and stayed at the US Embassy all day while they helped us change our flights. We heard that the NGO activists had filed a lawsuit against us in the Supreme Court in Delhi to stop us from leaving the country. We had to get out of India on the soonest possible flight. The nightmare was still not over. We finally got out of the country and arrived in London and were able to call home! We were SAFE!
We arrived in Minneapolis on March 5, 2002 to an amazing homecoming all caught on tape. It was surreal. 10 days later Emmy turned 2 and we found out that I was pregnant. Another twist! We had never tried to conceive since I had been on medication off and on for my Crohn's and now was expecting another child. I had a healthy pregnancy and Audrey Ann arrived 2 weeks early on October 27, 2002.
We built our family in 13 months, 3 children in 13 months. We prayed for babies and God gave us 3! We feel truly blessed by our children and our adoption experiences. As horrible as it was in India fighting for the release of our child, it was such a wonderful experience for all of us. I saw things that I was meant to see; I am still trying to help the other waiting parents and am still trying to expose the corruption with the NGO's.
CM Chief Minister
GOAP Government of Andhra Pradesh
GO Government Order
Gotcha Day The day we got our children home to the US
NGO Non Government Organization
Telegu One of the local languages of Andhra Pradesh
WDCW Women Development & Child Welfare