Quest for roots drives Carol Peters D'Souza on mission (im)possible?


By Florine Roche

Jan 4: In the last few years many countries have voiced their concerns over inter-country adoption prevalent in most South Asian countries including India. Many countries including China, Russia, Cambodia, Ethiopia, South Korea etc., have banned adoption after instances of abuse of the adopted children were reported. In recent years many adoptee adults have started talking openly about the emotional trauma they undergo due to the sudden change of physical, linguistic and social environment at a young age due to adoption. There is a surge in the number of adoptees who go the birth of their countries in search of their biological parents. A few have succeeded in reuniting with their original parents whereas for a majority the search has proved to be a futile exercise.

One such adoptee who has been frantically trying to find her roots in India is Carol Peters ‘Carol D'Souza’ (Original name Carol Fonseca), a citizen of Belgium. Carol, who is now 53, has made four trips to India in her quest to locate her biological parents and to connect with the country of her birth. Her first trip was in 1998 and the fourth one was in 2018 and it has been like ‘so near yet too far’ in her pursuit of finding her biological parents. In 2009, she had visited India with her husband and two daughters to locate her biological parents and also to acquaint her family with the country of birth.

Despite her success in getting some vital clues in the last 20 years Carol is still far away from her mission. However, she isn’t giving up yet, this is my strength. Carol who is polio affected and suffers from many other ailments wants to come to India again despite her failing health to with the fond hope that she will succeed in her mission. “It was a painful experience for me in my new home in a new environment where I felt totally alienated. I wanted to know who my biological mother is and wanted to connect to connect with my roots and my culture. I wanted to find out why I was given away to the orphanage,” says Carol during the long telephonic conversation I had with her. After listening to her tale, I could realise that she went through a harrowing experience as an adoptee.

Uprooted and Alienated

Carol’s adoption story and her subsequent efforts to find her parents and get back to her roots make an interesting reading. She was born in Mumbai on December 2, 1967. Within four days of her birth she was admitted into St Joseph’s Home & Nursery, an orphanage located in Byculla (Agripada), Mumbai. She had poliomyelitis when she was 2.5-years-old. On October 7, 1974 when she was 7 years, she was adopted by Marcel Peters of Belgium. However, it wasn’t a happy ending to her story. She was unable to cope with the sudden change of the physical, linguistic and social milieu at such a young age. She says she felt out of place in her foster family. This traumatic experience was the trigger that resolved her to know more about her past and the circumstances that orphaned her.

From a young age of 14, Carol wanted to find out about her biological parents. Unfortunately for her there was very little information in her adoption file in Belgium and she had to wait for a few more years to begin her investigation. From 1974 to 2000, she had to undergo repeated hospitalization for the 18 surgeries for polio and others problems of health which was also quite stressful and traumatic. For a living she worked in a hospital as nursery nurse and caregiver but too as secretary and in 2000, she married to Luc Noirhomme, a lawyer in Social Law and a delegated judge in Liege. After the birth of her two daughters Laure-Victoria and Agnes-Indira, she stopped working to take care of her family. Her numerous surgeries left her very weak and now she is forced to walk with the help of sticks sometimes, use wheelchair or electric scooter for handicapped person. All these difficulties did not prevent her quest to find her roots back in India.

Search began two decades ago

During her first trip to Mumbai she visited this orphanage where she had spent her childhood and some nuns there recognised her after seeing her childhood photo. One of the nuns recognised Carol but refused to divulge any information or help her because it is a very sensitive issue, (secret and confidential). Again in 2011, when she visited India, she was helped by a few Indian friends in Mumbai. At St Joseph’s, Carol could lay her hands on the ‘confidential’ adoption file which was under the surname ‘D'Souza’. From this file, Carol learned that she was baptized by Fr J M Carsi SJ in the chapel of St Joseph’s Home on December 21, 1967 and her godmother of baptism was Maureen Vaz. From this file, she also came to know that her mother’s name was Irene and her grandmother was Lily. The nuns at the orphanage hinted that her family could be from Goa but refused to provide any additional information that could help her trace her roots possibly because it was all ‘confidential’.

There was also another hitch that further complicated the search for Carol. In the Belgian adoption file, her name in the Indian passport was mentioned as Carol Fonseca, not at all Carol D'Souza. She was surprised to find that she had two surnames – Fonseca and D'Souza, which further pushed her to continue with her search. In November 2018, Carol came back to Mumbai and met Fr V D'Souza of Wadala. It may be recalled here that it was based on the letter from the parish priest of Wadala West that Carol was taken in by the nuns of St Joseph’s Home & Nursery where she was looked after till her adoption in October 7, 1974. Fr V D'Souza assured her of all help but Carol is yet to hear from him. Now, there is another priest in this parish. Though a friend of Carol met one Irene through these contacts, the lady completely denied she got anything to do with Carol. All her efforts came to a nought and it was like back to square one for Carol. But she isn’t deterred by the setbacks. Rather her resolve to know the circumstances that led to her abandonment is strong as ever. She is constantly in touch with her friends in Mumbai and is intensifying her efforts in search of truth.

In July 2020, Carol did a 23andMe DNA test and to her surprise once again the test pointed her ancestry to Mangaluru and Goa. 23andMe founded in 2006, uses technology to genotype DNA and is focused on collecting and analysing genetic data to help people to know their ancestry. Through this buttressed earlier revelations that her paternal side and maternal side cousins are in Goa, in Mangaluru and also in Mumbai, in Gujarat and in USA. Based on the DNA test, Carol contacted her second cousin Rachel’s daughter Marguerite Chatelier Pinto, who now lives in the US. Rachel’s parents were Alex Pinto and Mary D'Souza originally from Mangaluru who had moved to Mumbai after marriage. She also discovered other cousins (3rd to 5th cousins).

Last Attempt

Carol once again wants to visit India in 2021 and she feels that it might be her last visit considering her failing health. She is in touch with her friend who have assured her of all help.

Since 2018, when Carol got some hint about her ancestry, she felt very happy. She says, “It feels a bit strange and unbelievable, but now I feel I am not alone and I am proud of my Indian origins. I can finally create my own family tree and learn my story.”

People who aren’t aware of the emotional side of adoption may wonder why Carol is so persistent with her quest. Adoption makes way for an assortment of very complex and deep rooted feelings involving all those who are involved in the adoption triangle. Being adopted leads to an emotional turmoil and can be a lonely experience especially when the foster home fails to instil that feeling of being loved. It is this emotional tumult that prompts Carol not to give up despite facing many dead ends in her journey of finding her roots. Despite many volunteering to help it has been a lonely journey all along for Carol to demystify her ancestry. Let us hope in the year 2021 she might be successful in coming out of complex knot surrounding her ancestry.

 

 

 

 

 

  

Comment on this article

  • Alan Kabangu, Liège/ Belgium

    Sun, Jan 17 2021

    Hello Carol, It's takes a lot of courage to dig in your background like you did because, I've got a friend adopted from South Korea who doesn't even want to know about his country of origin. I hope she will change her mind one day after reading this kind of testimony. My best wishes for 2021!

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Carol D'Souza, Belgium Liège

    Mon, Jan 18 2021

    Thank you Alan Kabangu for your support, it's very touching your message ;-)
    Yes 20 years of research !
    By the test DNA 23&Me , that I discovered my original surname (on the paternal and maternal side).
    C. D'S

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Amilcar da Costa, Goa, India

    Thu, Jan 14 2021

    Dear Carol,
    I liked to read your correspondence to find the history of your family.
    I live in Sterrebeek near Zaventem, Belgium.
    I am originally from Goa, India, and migrated to Belgium in 1975.
    I would be happy to meet you'll sometime when it is possible.
    You can reach me on 0475314188.
    Best regards
    Amilcar da Costa

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Carol D'Souza, Belgium

    Wed, Jan 20 2021

    Thanks Sir da Costa
    carole.peters@gmx.fr

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Antony DSouza, Karnataka

    Fri, Jan 8 2021

    Wishing you the best of luck in finding your parents. God bless.

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Carol D'Souza, Belgium

    Fri, Jan 8 2021

    Namaste Sir Antony D'Souza
    Thanks your support ;-)

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Muralidhar, India

    Thu, Jan 7 2021

    I have been witnessing Carol's untired attempts for the past 12 years closely. It's not that Carol wants to trouble her biological parents by digging into her origins but I think only she can feel the emotional need of knowing her biological roots. I hope she will know her roots one day.

    DisAgree Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Carol D'Souza, Belgium Liège

    Thu, Jan 7 2021

    Thanks Sir Murali for your compassion and empathy that you have had towards me .

    I am not trying to break up a family but just to understand the why and how to move forward and be at peace.

    I have had too many lies in 20 years. I guess to hide a shameful story and protect people who know things.

    DisAgree Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Greeshma, Antwerpen/ Belgium

    Wed, Jan 6 2021

    I am sincerely moved by Carol's persistence... I pray to God that she finds her biological parents in 2021..
    Travelling all the way from Belgium is really tiresome..

    DisAgree Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Carol D'Souza, Belgium Liège

    Wed, Jan 6 2021

    Thank you for your kind support
    Indeed as a handicapped person, the trips were exhausting.
    I will fight as long as my health will allow me to do so again
    One day , I will know the inner peace.
    @ : carole.peters@gmx.fr

    DisAgree Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Greeshma, Antwerpen/ Belgium

    Thu, Jan 7 2021

    I would really like to help you out but not sure how can we help in ur quest??

    DisAgree Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Carol D'Souza, Belgium

    Thu, Jan 7 2021

    Hello Mme
    Thanks for your support
    You can share this article with yours best friends or contact me by email : : carole.peters@gmx.fr
    Do you know an indian community to Antwerpen where you can share together ;-)
    I search some solutions too !
    Thanks

    DisAgree Agree [1] Report Abuse

  • Carol D'Souza, Belgium

    Wed, Jan 20 2021

    Hello Greeshma
    We can discuss if you have any ideas and do not hesitate to contact me. by email or whatapp
    Thanks

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  • Alwyn, Mangalore

    Tue, Jan 5 2021

    Carol Peters D'Souza will get her parents. The truth is she is believing and practicing the Fourth Commandment of God Almighty, “Honor thy father and mother.” May God bless her & her family. May God guide and give success in her mission, Amen.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Carol D'Souza, Belgium

    Fri, Jan 8 2021

    Hi Sir Thanks and respect for your point view
    You do not know what I lived during the 7 years in the orphanage (physically and psychically)
    I will keep forever memories and childhood traumas, so wounds that will never close forever until the truth is made to finally be at peace with myself and my past.

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jd, Mlr

    Mon, Jan 4 2021

    Carols passion to find her parents, namely mother is unquestionable. But, one must realize, the mother gave away her child out of extreme circumstances at that time, hoping a safer life for the infant. Those who run the orphanage also do it to humanity. After years, investigating the past positively is ok, but even under hostility, may not be very positive. Carol's mother will be old now, but if she wanted anonymity then or now, isn't she entitled to it?

    DisAgree Agree [19] Reply Report Abuse

  • Carol D'Souza, Belgium

    Tue, Jan 5 2021

    Hi , thank you for your point of view but do.
    I also have the right to know one day the truth .
    Why her and not me?
    Thanks

    DisAgree Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jd, Mlr

    Tue, Jan 5 2021

    Carrol, don't know if you have tried. All catholic parishes have smaller communities so all can be reached out. If your desire to meet your parents is reached to the people, your mother may get to hear you and she may volunteer to reveal herself to you. I hope you encounter such opportunity. Whatsup groups may be able to help spread the appeal, so it reaches your mother.

    DisAgree Agree [3] Reply Report Abuse

  • Carol D'Souza, Belgium

    Wed, Jan 20 2021

    Thanks
    During my 20 years of searching, I visites some parishes, met the priests , and asked Indian friends for her help.
    According to some friends, they advise me to have a search notice page and to share on social networks.

    DisAgree Agree Report Abuse

  • John, Mangalore

    Mon, Jan 4 2021

    Hope you find your parents soon. All the best. Also,

    Is Heavenly Mother (Mary) also looking for Her children or claiming all as Her Children ? in a message to Maureen dated January 1, 2021

    Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Holy Mother of God and the Octave of Christmas*

    The Blessed Virgin Mary says: “Praise be to Jesus.”

    “Each and every person that walks the face of the earth is My child and I am their Mother. Like any mother, I long to tend to the needs of My children. I desire that they turn to Me with trust, through prayer in their every need. I take all of their needs to the Heart of My Beloved Son, Who listens intently to My prayers. He follows closely the Will of the Father."

    "Therefore, you are never alone in your needs, not in any given present moment. Pray for your trust in this throughout the New Year."

    Read Galatians 6:7-10+

    Ref:
    https://www.holylove.org/messages/

    DisAgree [3] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Carol D'Souza, Belgium

    Tue, Jan 5 2021

    Thanks

    DisAgree Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Clerx Josiane, Esneux Belgique

    Mon, Jan 4 2021

    Carol I know that this quest for your origins is very important to you and that you will never give up on it. I sincerely hope that the people of your country will finally help you.

    DisAgree Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • carol d'souza, Belgium

    Fri, Jan 8 2021

    Thanks

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Mohan Prabhu, Mangalore (Kankanady)/Ottawa, Canada

    Mon, Jan 4 2021

    Quest for roots is a biological urge for most adoptees who are whisked away from their home setting by foreigners and often ill-treated by the adopted parents and their natural born children. For that reason, some countries have banned foreign adoption of their children.
    Newborns are abandoned by single mothers and not by married couples, so it is almost impossible to know who the wretched father was. Consequently, the unwed mother does at least one kind act, leaving the newborn at a place where she knows the baby will be taken care of. It must be agonizing for her as it would have been for Carol’s birth mother.
    Institutions, like the foundling home of St. Joseph’s Convent at Byculla (Agripada) do a great service to humanity by taking care of the foundlings and when suitable adopting parents knock at their door, they would give the child in adoption not fully knowing whether the child will get a good home and good parents or not.
    I personally know and had visited the Byculla St. Joseph's home and nursery in March/ April 1965 and have met a few residents there, who were being taken care of well after they have become adults. The home does noble humanitarian work.

    I can very well empathize with orphaned children in their search for roots. God bless Carol in her search. Wish you luck, Carol.

    DisAgree Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • Carol D'Souza, Belgium

    Tue, Jan 5 2021

    Thanks

    DisAgree Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Anusha, Brussels

    Mon, Jan 4 2021

    God bless you!!

    DisAgree Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • carol d'souza, Belgium

    Fri, Jan 8 2021

    Thanks

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Hussein, Moodbidri

    Mon, Jan 4 2021

    May God grant her success in finding her biological parents. Wish her all the best.

    DisAgree Agree [17] Reply Report Abuse

  • Carol D'Souza, Belgium

    Tue, Jan 5 2021

    Thanks

    DisAgree Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse


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Title : Quest for roots drives Carol Peters D'Souza on mission (im)possible?


 
 
 
 

 
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