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LGA Contributor Prema Malhotra: My Journey

Although she is not a stranger to LGA (see here or here), we would like to welcome Prema Malhotra as our newest contributor. Thanks and welcome, Prema!

My Journey

Some ask me, “What is your adoption story?” I have to say I would prefer the question to be, “What is your adoption journey?” What happened to me is not a story, but rather it is reality: a natural mother losing her child to adoption, a loss both for her and for me as an adoptee. I was born in October 1987 in Mumbai, India. My natural mother relinquished me into the care of my adoption agency two days after my birth. After I was born, I was transferred to a children’s hospital in Mumbai. After my hospital stay, I entered the care of my foster mom who took care of me until the time of my adoption.

My adoption was complete in April 1988. I entered my adoptive family through the Indian government, and came to the United States in June. When I first started on my journey back to my adoption agency in December 2004, the only thing I found out was my natural mother’s age, grade level of completed education, and religious background. I did not know anything about my natural father other than that he had something to do with trucks. Prior to 2004, I did not know anything about my natural parents. I took a trip back to India in December 2011 to visit my adoption agency as this was my third visit back. I was able to find more information about my life prior to adoption. Some of the things I found out were my natural mother’s name and her address at the time of relinquishment. My natural father was in the truck business and he left without leaving a forwarding address.

Due to my natural mother having a child and being unable to locate my natural father, the possibility of relinquishment had been identified for me. My natural mother relinquished me to my adoption agency and was firm about her decision to abandon her rights. As an adoptee myself, I always wondered if my adoption was legal or not, but after coming back from my trip to India in December 2011, I felt that mine was legal and nothing gave me the hint to believe otherwise. Still I need to accept that I would never know for certain.

My adoption agency believes that a child has a right to search for roots and does everything possible to help the adoptee. During my root search (November 2010 to December 2011), The Director stated in an email correspondence dated August 11, 2011: “Being the person handling the programme at present I take the responsibility to help you [Prema] to my best of my ability.” The Director feels that the request for search is very personal and private, and therefore my adoption agency does not promote third party searches. My root search was an emotional journey filled with moments of joy, anger, sadness, and many other emotions. I had an undeniable desire to understand my circumstances prior to adoption. After going back to India in December 2011, I was able to understand how adoption was viewed through the Indian lens with respect to the culture, and why natural mothers cannot care for their child. Although I did not meet my natural mother, somehow being around many people who cared for me as a child and having a deep connection of support with the Director gave me a sense of understanding which led to a sense of closure.

Was my search really to locate my natural mother, or was I looking for something else? I am not really sure what I was looking for from my root search besides knowing that I was loved prior to adoption. Looking at my life within a bigger context, it really did not matter what I found out about my natural mother and her circumstances since I could not change what was already done. But this doesn’t mean I didn’t feel sad. I had to look ahead and come to an understanding of my situation, as I probably unconsciously wanted to know what the circumstances were of my natural mother. I realized how much I was loved as a baby prior to adoption, and I felt more grounded due to the continued support of knowing my adoption agency is always there for me. Perhaps my experience is very different from many adoptees in regards to having this sense of understanding, but each person’s journey is so unique that one could never be compared to another.

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