Abused in US by foster mother for 2 decades, Lucknow girl in city in search of her roots

  • | Tuesday | 26th September, 2023

LUCKNOW: Twenty-one years after she was adopted from a Lucknow shelter home by a US woman, Rakhi - now called Mahogany Emberkai -- is back to her city to trace her roots, shrugging off two decades of abuse by her foster mother.Rakhi was found abandoned at Lucknows Charbagh railway station in 2000 when she was just three. Transferred to a local shelter home, she was adopted by one Carol Brand from Minnesota two years later.However, her ordeal started right when she boarded the US-bound flight. It turned out that Carol had submitted her fake profile for adoption. She was allegedly a drug addict and alcoholic, who left Rakhi with a life-long trauma by her abusive excesses."Gradually I took care of my studies and subsistence. At the age of 12, I became a babysitter in order to pay rent to live with Carol. After I turned 18, Carol forced me out of the house and I started living on the University campus," said Rakhi, who changed her name to Mahogany Emberkai at the age of 20, which reflected her strong character as a tough wood. Mahogany is a straight-grained, reddish-brown hardwood and Emberkai is derived from Ember which means low burning wood."As a child I have suffered verbal, physical, mental and even sexual abuse from Carol. She was a fraud investigator in the health insurance sector in Minnesota, but she faked her profile to adopt me. Due to her cruel nature, none of my classmates dare come to console me. As a kid, I, too, was very afraid of her and never went against her to complain about her behaviour. Although I did try to inform her sister Nancy, I hardly got any support," said the 26-year-old who wanted to become doctor, but was never supported by her foster mother.In 2002, when Mahogany was Rakhi, at Lucknow shelter home. Her poster mother Carol Brand is also seen in the photo.Mahogany graduated from University of Minnesota in health science.She alleged that her foster mother was an emotionally drained person, and she was suggested by her family and friends to adopt a child. Therefore she came to India to adopt a baby girl. "Carol was never fit to be a parent, let alone being a foster parent," said Mahogany. The US agency who shared Carols profile to Indian agencies for adoption is now no more in existence, says Mahogany.Her tribulations came to an end after Carols death (committed suicide) in 2016 after which Mahogany found a piece of paper among her foster mothers belongings which showed that she was adopted from Lucknow in 2002.A full-time cafe manager in Minnesota and a part-time Model, Emberkai started saving money to start searching for her roots. She has now landed in Lucknow with the help of a photographer friend Christopher and is running from pillar to post looking for her biological parents, to fill the unbearable emotional hole in her heart of not having a family or even a date of birth."To attain peace after so many years of abuse, I need to know my roots or at least someone who knows me in India. I visited Lilawati Bal Griha from where I was adopted, and Government Railway Police Charbagh which rescued me from the railway station, but there was no record available. The UP Council for Child Welfare showed me papers that proved that I was adopted in 2002 by Carol, but I want to meet my biological parents," said Emberkai, who is currently putting up at rented accommodation in Indiranagar since September 9, and travels with Christopher and her cab driver Raj Kamal Pandey everyday in search of her parents."Documents revealed that there was a tag on the frock I was wearing on the day I was rescued from Charbagh and it mentioned Rakhi. Apart from this information, there is no record to show whether the investigation to search parents went any further. But Im hopeful that I will find my parents and embrace them the moment I meet them," said the US girl, who would return in the first week of October.Her friend Christopher told TOI: "I met Mahogany Emberkai some seven-years back and she was homeless. She is a very strong woman and is determined to find her roots. She paid $3000 just for tickets to meet her parents or anyone who knows her in India."District probation officer, Lucknow, Vikas Singh, told TOI: "We will provide every possible help to Mahogany. Its a fact that the adoption procedure several years back had a lot of loopholes and dubious people took advantage of it. But now the rules are stricter and transparent."

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