Twenty-eight-year-old Jennifer Edgell Haynes, who was deported from the United States in 2008 although she was formally adopted by an American family in 1992, may have to apply for American citizenship if she wants to go back.
Mumbai-born Haynes went to America in 1989 at the age of eight after the Hancox family adopted her. In 1992, she moved to the home of the Edgells because she could not adjust with the Hancoxs.
She was deported to Mumbai in July 2008 following orders from an American court because formalities for her citizenship had not been completed.
A Bombay High Court division bench of Justice F. I. Rebello and Justice Amjad Sayed asked Haynes to make an application to American authorities for citizenship on humanitarian grounds saying they cannot overrule the order of a competent American court. “It’s an unfortunate humanitarian case, but what can this court do? How much jurisdiction does this court have?” asked Justice Rebello.
The high court also asked Additional Solicitor General, Darius Khambatta, to ask the Centre and Central Adoption Resource Centre to support her application because Haynes is married to a US national and has two minor children.
Haynes’ advocate, Pradeep Havnur, argued that Haynes did not have the documents to apply for citizenship. “She is not an Indian citizen. As per provisions of the Indian Citizenship Act, an Indian residing abroad has to visit the Indian embassy there once in seven years,” said Havnur. “She has never done that because she thought her foster parents had completed the formalities for her American citizenship.”
The court, however, said that Haynes was an Indian citizen by birth.
The adoption agencies involved have distanced themselves from case saying their duties were limited to the formal adoption in 1992. Haynes has sought that these agencies be deregistered. Her statement submitted in court says that the agencies’ affidavits are “mischievious and misleading” and the “have trafficked a girl child of 8 years of age”.