Moment of Truth

-Vishakha Srinath

I was a preschooler when I was introduced to Sudatta and now the bond has become so strong it is family to me. I have always wondered how I would look like if I was a biological child of my parents. I would always tell my grandmom that I wanted her eyes and fair skin. I would tell my mum that I wanted her smile and my dad, his height. Resemblance perhaps just builds into you. Many people who didn’t know that I was adopted would say that I look a lot like my dad or that my voice sounds like my mum’s. I don’t need any outsider to tell me that I resemble my parents in some way. I just needed that inner revelation that I’m just like them.

An adult adoptee shares her experiences of searching for her birth parents.

The search issue came up when I was about 16 or 17 years old. It came as a blizzard when my cousins used to talk about the resemblance they had to each other. I felt a little left out in the beginning. After this I would always watch out for strangers who looked like me. But that got me nowhere. I then decided to let my parents know about it. They told me that the legal age to get hold of documents was 18 years. I had to wait till my 18th birthday. I heard a great many search stories from my friends. One particularly struck me when one of them told me that her legal documents went up in flames when the orphanage caught fire. For the next two years I prayed that nothing should happens to the orphanage that I came from.

When I was 17 years old I decided that on the very day I turned 18, I would go to the orphanage and get my legal documents. The date was set. Now the time, one year, had to pass. This was the longest year ever in my life. I clung to the thought of having two sets of families. Would that happen I wondered.

I announced in the Sudatta workshop of Nov 2009 that I would get my legal documents on my 18th birthday. One of my friends introduced me to the adoption symbol - a heart going through a triangle. The triangle signifies the bond between the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the child. I decided that on my next birthday, on the all important date in my life, I would get a tattoo of this symbol on the left corner of my back close to my heart.

There were still a few months left. I could not stop thinking about it. I was getting scared. I could do nothing but wait. Tension and excitement were building within me. One month before my birthday, I called the director of the orphanage and told her that I would be visiting her to see my documents. More waiting. Finally the day arrived.

I visited the temple first. Please God, be with me. Then, with my parents and my best friend, I went to the orphanage. Anxiety and excitement were steadily building inside. I met the director. I couldn’t wait to find out where I came from but when it came to the actually seeing my documents, I was scared. She showed it to me. The address of my birth mother was blocked out ! I read through the whole document.

There was nothing in it that would lead me to her. I had thought I would find my birth mother and make her a part of my present life. I had thought that I would have two sets of parents. Who was my birth mother? I was no wiser than the day before.

As a birthday gift, the director gave me the very first photo of me which my birth mother had taken. That is all I have. This is one thing that I will always treasure.

At the orphanage we celebrated my birthday with all the kids who were there. They had got a cake for me. It was a beautiful cake, a lovely party but I had within, a riot of emotions that I could barely control. When my parents and my best friend told me they were with me all the time. I broke down.

My parents read the document and became emotional too. I didn’t know what they were thinking. I just wanted to be alone and calm myself. I sat through dinner held in my honour and went home.

The next day I told my parents that I wanted to find my birth mother. I didn’t know whether it would be sane to even try to locate her. Would she remember me, the child she had given away? Would she have put her past behind her, me with it, and moved on in her life?

From the few hints I got from my legal documents, I tried to locate her. I made a few telephone calls. My parents and my best friend’s family supported me at every step but it was in vain. I felt I needed to put an end to my search. It was likely that my birth mother would not even remember who I was. Perhaps even if she did, she would care two hoots for someone she had removed from her life. Was I going to take such a chance? Was I going to spend time trying to look for someone who did give birth to me but who didn’t take care of me. She didn’t teach me how to walk. She wasn’t there to wipe my tears when I cried. It was and is my adoptive parents who have done all this for me. The woman who gave birth to me only gave me the process to breathe. It was my adoptive parents who taught me how to breathe. They are my real parents.

I am thankful that someone somewhere gave birth to me but I am grateful to my family who showed me how to live and love. They did this by giving me immense love and happiness every moment of my life. They are the parents who are important to me. They are the parents I should embrace in my life.

I am twenty now and have somewhat come to terms with the fact of my adoption. What remains is the little lurking curiosity about the identity of my birth mother. I will let it subside on its own. It will, sooner or later.