SEQUIM — Chelsea and Amith Dutta want to start their young family with an international adoption.
In order to make this dream a reality, the Duttas must raise $28,000 to bring a 9-year-old boy who they plan to name “Ian” home from India.
“Amith and I decided even before we got married that adoption would be the way we start our family,” Chelsea said.
“And if we were able to pursue that we would, and we are.”
Chelsea is a Sequim native who works for a nonprofit in Bellingham called A Family for Every Orphan that helps orphans find families. Her husband, Amith, who grew up in India, works at the Sequim Safeway pharmacy and together they opened a fair trade boutique at 123 E. First St., in Port Angeles and online at https://www.ammasumma.org/ called Amma’s Umma or “a mother’s kiss” that donates 50 percent of the proceeds to families wishing to adopt.
The Duttas and the Sequim community have been sponsoring a child in India for the past three years providing $300 to cover medical costs, clothing or everyday expenses the child might have.
Chelsea and her husband travel to India once or twice a year where they visit with orphan children, and their encounters with orphans there have inspired them to adopt a child internationally. Adopting a child internationally, however, is not an easy task.
The Duttas have raised $10,000 so far but still need $18,000 to bring a child home from India. While Chelsea and her husband are going through an adoption agency in Alabama that is doing it at a more affordable price, Chelsea said the average price of international adoption ranges from $25,000 to $50,000.
The adoption world
Chelsea first traveled to India when she was 19 to volunteer in orphanages and learn more about how she could help orphans and get more involved in the adoption world.
She said she was drawn to India after a mission trip in Mexico that inspired her to continue helping impoverished families and decided to take her efforts to orphanages.
“As soon as I came home, I became a Christian and just felt like I was supposed to go to India and work with orphans,” she said.
Chelsea visited 13 orphanages in India during that time and later shifted her focus from wanting to start an orphanage to finding permanent families for orphans.
She started working with local non-governmental organizations in India doing graphic design for their companies as well as adoption work.
Chelsea said India is one of the largest orphan bearing countries in the world but the process to adopt a child in India is difficult.
“Adoption domestically in India is exceptionally feasible,” Chelsea said.
“If you can get everyone talking and the right network established, adoption for an Indian couple is going to cost $1,200,” she said, “where an international adoption is $40,000.”
Chelsea said because Amith was born and raised in India they could move back and adopt domestically, but the United States requires an adopting family to stay in that country for two years before you can apply for immigration for the child and it’s not guaranteed.
She said because of this, she and Amith decided they did not want to take that risk with their family and decided to adopt internationally.
“It’s really important we’re in the same place.”
Chelsea said parents wanting to adopt a child internationally from India can select children from a “special needs list” — mostly children who have a health condition — or a child 5 years or older not on a “special needs list.”
She added “special needs” children can range anywhere from a child with a hearing aid to health conditions such as cleft palate or cerebral palsy.
The Duttas are hoping they can can bring their “Ian” home by the spring although they still have a few hoops to jump through.
Chelsea said she and her husband are on track to adopt but they are still waiting for Amith to get clearance for adoption — because he is from another country — and once her social worker has that clearance a home-study file will be sent to their adoption agency in Alabama, then sent to India and put on a potential adoptive parents list and finally they can be matched with a child.
They are hoping to adopt a child from India who is older and “special needs” who otherwise wouldn’t be adopted locally.
“It’s really important we adopt first,” Chelsea said.
“A child who has been abandoned and who remembers being abandoned I think it’s really important for them to be chosen first,” she said. “And to have the experience of building a family.”
The Duttas started their Amma’s Umma business in March with hopes of helping others in the adoption process.
“We believe every kid deserves an intimate relationship with a caregiver,” Chelsea said.
“So we started this trade boutique because the products we buy are empowering and sustaining families who otherwise would be at risk,” she said.
“But the other 50 percent of profits go to other people’s adoption and adoption efforts.”
She said the proceeds from the shop fund a social worker’s salary in India who is helping move cases along faster and also has supported two domestic adoptions.
Chelsea said none of the proceeds the Duttas earn from the shop go toward their own adoption fund but to help others instead.
“Long term, we want to see this business as a way to raise scholarship and grant funding for other adoptions,” she said.
“We’ve maintained giving the money out into the community and the world.”
Chelsea said she and her husband also want to become a resource for other Indians living in the United States who don’t know it’s possible to adopt and share their experience with them.
To donate to the Dutta’s adoption fund, a check can be written to A Family for Every with Dutta Adoption in the subject line, P.O. Box 34628 #37939, Seattle, Wa, 98124-1628 or visit https://afamilyforeveryorphan.cornersafe.net/5113/a-family-for-every-orphan/give.
Erin Hawkins is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at [email protected].