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Abandoned as baby, Swedish woman hunts for biological parents

Left on the streets of Mumbai as a toddler and adopted by a Swedish couple, a 36-year-old woman of Indian descent searching for her biological parents has found a small connection with the past on her third trip to India.

Jessica Lindher’s latest trip united her with the policeman who found her near Sion Hospital on October 13, 1981, when she was just 17-months-old.

Diwakar Gaonkar, who was then a police constable, was overjoyed, when she met him in Mumbai on Monday. “When we found her, I remember taking her around in Sion-Matunga area and asking residents if anyone had reported a missing child,” Gaonkar, now a Police Sub-Inspector, said.

Gaonkar said he looked for Jessica’s parents in the nearby area and informed all police stations. However, when no missing complaint was found, he handed her to an orphanage. After no one came forward to identify her, she was handed over to an orphanage, which then found foster parents for her in Sweden.

Social activist Anjali Pawar, representative of the NGO Against Child Trafficking, told that Jessica, also known by her Indian name, Kamalini, is still hopeful of finding her biological parents.

“She bears no grudge. She understands that they may have had their reasons for dumping her. She just wants to meet them,” Pawar, who facilitated Jessica’s interaction with police and local officials on Monday, said.

Jessica, who was on her third India visit, since her adoption, left for Sweden last night, Pawar said. Her story is similar to the story of Saroo, whose reel life adaptation “Lion”, starring Dev Patel and Sunny Pawar earned accolades at the Oscars last month.

“Lion” was based on the real life story of a boy who traced his biological family from thousands of miles away after getting adopted by Australian parents.

“She hasn’t given hope and will be in India again to find her biological parents,” Pawar said. Now married with two kids, Jessica was adopted by a Swedish couple from the Shree Manav Seva Sangh orphanage in Sion in 1982.

Jessica first visited India in 1999 to trace her parents and returned in 2016. On her third visit, which began last month in Kerala and ended yesterday, she was accompanied by her Australian husband and two children, Pawar said.

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