Separated by Visa Laws, Siblings Languish on Distant Shores
Published: 23rd February 2014 07:27 AM |
It’s a story of pathos that involves two siblings separated by oceans, fractious parents and complicated visa laws. Ten-year-old Vedant and his five-year-old sibling Medhavi, born to an Indian-origin American citizen, have never met. They only speak to each other on Skype and have never done the ordinary things brothers and sisters do — play, quarrel, hug or have adventures together. Every March, Medhavi ties a rakhi on Vedant and showers kisses on him — all through Skype. Vedant lives in Houston, Texas, while Medhavi, thousands of miles away in Vadodara, Gujarat. Their only fault is to be born as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) babies, which has placed them in legal limbo, and at risk of becoming stateless.
Vedant, who was born in June 2004 in an IVF clinic in Hyderabad through his father’s biological sperm with the help of an anonymous egg donor and a surrogate womb, now stands to lose his Indian passport on March 5.
His father Maulik Modi, a software engineer was an NRI when Vedant was born. He says his wife and in-laws forged little Vedant’s birth certificate the same year, showing him to be the biological son in order to avoid social stigma.
Subsequently, an IVF baby Medhavi, was born to the Modis in September 2009. In July 2009, Mrs Modi filed for divorce in a US court without mentioning Medhavi’s IVF status in India. The wife (name withheld) dragged Maulik to court, seeking Vedant’s custody. In November 2009, the court restrained Vedant from travelling out of the US. The Modis’ divorce came through in May 2010.
Continue Reading: A Dilemma, a Decision, Two Children