Until the DNA results come out, Thanvitha is in limbo.

How a custody battle between two mothers has left a child in Telangana heartbrokenYouTube/Screenshot
news Custody Saturday, October 28, 2017 - 16:27

A three-year-old girl from Telangana, Thanvitha, will be celebrating her birthday on November 3 next week. Sadly for her, the celebrations will not be with her ‘family’ at home, but with the staff and children at the Bala Sadhan (child care centre) in Khammam.

The three-year-old girl has been deprived of her loving home and the affection of her foster mother, Swaroopa, due to an ongoing custody battle with her biological mother, Uma.

Even more tragically, she has to spend nearly a month away from her parents and her house, and in all likelihood, may end up with Uma, who Thanvitha doesn’t consider as her mother.

The entire incident came to light on October 24, when Malothu Uma, a resident of Manikyavaram in Bhadradri Kothagudem district approached the Yellandu police station alleging that her daughter was under the custody of another woman.

She claimed that her biological daughter was sold to a couple in Yellandu without her knowledge. After receiving the complaint, the police summoned Vemula Swaroopa, who insisted that the girl belonged to her, acknowledging that she was adopted.

The police informed officials of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), who have since taken the girl under their wing, until the probe is completed.

According to reports, Vemula Swaroopa and her husband Vemula Rajendra Prasad had illegally adopted Thanvitha in 2015. The couple allegedly paid Rs. 1 lakh for adopting Thanvitha. The biological mother, Uma, initially claimed that she didn’t know that her daughter was alive, alleging that her husband Malothu Bao Singh had sold Thanvitha when she was sedated.

However, on Wednesday, after Thanvitha was sent to the Bala Sadhan, a local Rural Medical Practitioner (RMP) who allegedly brokered the deal for the illegal adoption told reporters that Uma knew about the adoption.

He also alleged that Uma had signed a document with complete consent to give her new-born baby up for adoption.

He said, “Both the couples were my patients. Uma and her husband came to me for getting an abortion. However, as Uma was already in her fifth month, I said that I can’t do that. Also, I am an RMP and not a gynaecologist to perform such surgeries. Instead, I suggested that they deliver the baby and give it up for adoption.”

“The couple returned to me after three days and told me that they were willing to donate the girl without the knowledge of their relatives. As the delivery date neared, the couple asked me if I had found anyone who was interested in adopting the girl. Later, I contacted Swaroopa and told her about the adoption.” he claimed.

This story was later backed by Swaroopa, who has been devastated ever since her daughter was taken away. She even alleged that Uma wants the girl now, so that she could sell it to some other couple in Mumbai.

Some local reports also claimed that the issue over the rights of the girl, was first settled in a Panchayat. However, as the decision was in favour of Swaroopa, Uma approached police.

Hunger strike

Swaroopa said that the girl rightfully belonged to her, as she treated the baby as her own, and nurtured Thanvitha with great responsibility.

Her house in Yellandu has turned into a place of mourning, with neighbours and women groups thronging the area to express solidarity with her. Locals have protested, demanding that the girl be handed over to Swaroopa.

Swaroopa told reporters that she hadn’t eaten for three days, and plans to take up a hunger strike to reclaim her daughter.

Legal Battle

The girl, who is now under the care of the CWC, will continue to remain there for the next 30 days until the result of the DNA tests are published.

Swaroopa said that the DNA tests were futile, as Thanvitha was not her biological daughter, and she may not get to see her after the result.

Speaking to TNM, District Welfare Officer of Khammam, Rayapuri Varalakshmi said, “The child will remain in our custody until the DNA report comes out. We have asked the local judge to expedite the case and provide relief to the child. However, they said that they can’t make any decision until the DNA report comes out and determines the parents.”

As far as the law is concerned, Varalakshmi said, “No matter how much Swaroopa cared for the child, she still belongs to the biological mother.”

Thanvitha’s condition

On the first day that Thanvitha was taken to the Bala Sadhan, she kept crying. However, she is fine now and eating well, said Varalakshmi.

“Initially for a day, she was weeping and asking for her mother, and also refused to eat. Now, she is playing and eating well. We have requested the media not to meet the girl, because they are asking the girl if she wants to go home to her mother. When reminded about her mother, she starts crying again. The poor child has to bear this ordeal for a few more weeks,” she lamented.

Illegal adoption

The controversial case has also exposed the larger nexus of illegal adoption in Khammam.

According to reports, many such instances have happened in the district. Khammam is also notorious for the problem of sex determination of the foetus, which is unlawful.

The RMP who brokered the adoption also alleged that Uma had previously aborted two girl children, after determining the sex of the foetus