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'Abused' by American Foster Mom, Woman Searches for Birth Family in Lucknow

After her American foster mother died, Mahogany found out she was adopted and now wants to know more.

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India
5 min read
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Hindi Female

Over 23 years later, Mahogany has returned to Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh where she's running from pillar to post, trying to find her identity, roots, and any connection to her biological family in the city.

"I was given the name Rakhi at birth, said 26-year-old Mahogany who found out about her real name only a few years ago," she said.

Back in 2002, railway officials found her abandoned at the Charbagh Railway Station and sent her to an orphanage called Lilavati Munsi Bal Greh.

Speaking to The Quint, Mahogany said, "I was adopted by a US woman in America. I was taken there in 2002. I was taught to reject my culture and I didn't know anything about my history. She didn't tell me where I was adopted from or anything about it."

After her American foster mother died, Mahogany found out she was adopted and now wants to know more.

Mahogany with her foster mother, Carol Minitonka.

(Photo Courtesy: Mahogany)

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'I Was Abandoned at Charbagh Railway Station'

Mahogany said that her foster mother, Carolin, died when she was 19 years old. It was only after Carolin's death did she got to know about the orphanage that she was adopted from via records and paperwork at her apartment.

After researching for the past five to six years in America, she decided to come to Lucknow to dig up more information.

First, Mahogany went to the orphanage but was told that there were no records and that she could find them at the Uttar Pradesh Council for Child Welfare. At the Council's office, Mahogany was able to see her case files but could not record them.

She also went to the Charbagh railway station but found that they don't have any records from the past five years. The local police is not helping me unless I get the US government's permission, she said.

"I tried to call the US embassy here, they didn't want to help either. I contacted some lawyers, but that didn't go anywhere, so I'm reaching out to the media to spread my message [...] so that maybe, a family relative, or a friend of the family or even a neighbour that knew me could try to track down where I come from."
Mahogany told The Quint

Since the past 18 days, Mahogany has been staying at an Airbnb accommodation with her best friend who has accompanied her. With the help of a local driver, Mahogany has been going around the city.

She also said that she has come to India for 30 days and is yet to find any success. If it does not work out, I will make another trip, she added.

"The only thing I know is that my name was Rakhi. I was told that they found the name on me, it was pinned to my clothing or something," Mahogany said.
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An Abusive Mother and a Void Unfulfilled

Mahogany alleged that her foster mother was suffering from several mental health issues and also allegedly used drugs, and that she had to bear the brunt of it.

"She thought adopting a child would fix her mental health problems and once that didn't happen, she took it out on me....She also verbally and physically abused me," recalled Mahogany.
After her American foster mother died, Mahogany found out she was adopted and now wants to know more.

Mahogany (Rakhi) after being adopted by Carol, before leaving Delhi.

(Photo Courtesy: Mahogany)

"The thirteen years of my life with her were horrible and terrifying. So I finally got away from her when I was 18 and went to college," Mahogany continued, revealing that she started saving money by working as a cafe manager in Minnesota.

A year later, Carolin died and that's when she discovered the records.

"Most people that get adopted get a loving family. I got adopted by an abusive woman who didn't love me or care about me and I've never felt like I've had a mom, dad, or any kind of family so it has created a deep dark hole inside of me, an emptiness. I don't know who I am or where I am from," she said, her voice choking.

When compared to the US, Mahogany told The Quint that she feels more at home in Lucknow. "In America, I felt rejected, it was a very white state. I got bullied and harassed because my skin was darker, my hair was darker. Even Carol's family did not actually talk to me because I wasn't really a part of their family, I was adopted," she said.

She further said that she has "been depressed" in the US, because of the void she feels can only be filled by finding her birth family.

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"I haven't found anything else, it's like I didn't exist before turning three and a half years old. Maybe I am not from Lucknow and somewhere else, but this is my starting place, that's the only record I have," said Mahogany.

"I've always been drawn to try and find them [her birth parents] and come back to India," Mahogany added as she feels that many of her personality traits are similar to the people in India as opposed to those in the US.

On being asked what her next step would be if someone recognises or reaches out to her, Mahogany said that she will ask them to take a DNA test to confirm their biological ties with her.

"I'll make another trip down here and meet them and hopefully learn more about my history. If they want to be a part of my life in America, I'd be happy for them join me and if they don't, that's okay. I'll make yearly trips down here so that I can be a part of their family down here too," she said.

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Having known her for over six years, her best friend Christopher has also accompanied her on this trip.

"Ever since I've know her, she's always said, 'I need to go back to India.' It's not only important from a genealogical point of view but also the person to care of her isolated her from her culture and roots," Christopher told The Quint.

He said that he resonated with her life's trajectory and felt a paternal obligation to help Mahogany on this journey to find her long-lost roots.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Uttar Pradesh   America   Family 

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