After hours hunched behind the wheel
of a rented Kia, flying past cornfields and small-town churches, I'm
parked on a Midwestern street, trying not to look conspicuous. Across
the way, a preteen boy dressed in silver athletic shorts and a football
T-shirt plays with a stick in his front yard. My heart thumps
painfully. I wonder if I'm ready to change his life forever.
I've been preparing for this moment for months in the South Indian
metropolis of Chennai, talking to khaki-clad officers in dusty police
stations and combing through endless stacks of court documents. The
amassed evidence tells a heartrending tale of children kidnapped from Indian slums
sold to orphanages, and funneled into the global adoption stream. I've
zeroed in on one case in particular, in which police insist they've
tracked a specific stolen child in India to a specific address in the United States. Two days ago, the boy's
parents asked me to deliver a message to the American family via their
lawyer, seeking friendship and communication. But after traveling
across 10 time zones to get here, I'm at a loss for how to proceed.