Two-hundred and forty miles south of Chennai lies the small town of Pudukkottai. Pudukkottai is nestled away in the valley of the Vellar, a modest river, prone to escaping its banks and flooding this arid region of the world. As with many municipalities in Tamil Nadu it is sprinkled with temples and the occasional fort. This region of the world, having been inhabited continuously for millennia, contains remnants of ancient peoples and the clear indicators of a globalizing culture; smog, western medicine, multinationals, walls covered in plastered advertisements, etc.
On April 18, 1989 a woman, single and pregnant, gave birth to a baby boy in a dark room in the back of a small clinic in Pudukkottai. Normally a joyous occasion, the birth was complicated because this young mother was unwed. For the first 11 months of the boy’s life the mother cared for him in all the ways a mother must: nursing, swaddling, cooing, bathing, calming tantrums, massaging his gums as his tiny teeth began to reveal themselves. After 11 months the young woman was told that if she were to have a future, a family and any dignity she must leave this town and separate from her child. Since the father of this baby boy was unwilling to marry her and fulfill his parental obligation her uncle insisted it was best for her and the boy.
The young woman did not like the thought of parting with her young son. He had just started to show his personality and she felt they could communicate even though his noises consisted primarily of crying and the occasional shriek. She could tell he was beginning to make sense of the world around him. He noticed and felt her absence in a way that she had never felt from another person. He developed a fierce grip and would stare into her eyes for long periods making her feel a telekinetic bond. She worried that he was too little to be able to be cared for by another. She worried for herself, her future. What future was she to have in a culture and world that had not prepared her to support herself without a husband? Her uncle had made it clear she could not continue the life of shame she had been relegated to since the birth of her son.
On March 2, 1990, eleven months after her son was born, she walked into the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod (SOC SEAD) with her uncle. She was told to sign some papers. Someone read them to her hastily and assured her son would be taken care of and have a beautiful future there. They even showed her the rooms where the other children stayed. She noticed her son would be among the oldest in the group. Her uncle reassured her that these nuns would provide the best future for her son and for her.
In some ways her uncle was right. Her son would board a plane to join a new family less than a year after she left him at SOC SEAD. She was never quite sure if she had meant to go back for him. When signing those papers all those years ago she had told herself this would only be temporary but she had never returned. It was too hard at first and over time it felt like an impracticality. Eventually there were days then weeks and months and eventually years when this part of her, this part of her story, felt almost like a dream.
In 2012, her son began to think more about her, more about where he had come from and what it meant to be Indian. He began to look for others who had gone through something similar, an experience of being uprooted, transplanted into a foreign land, given a new home.
This small corner of the interwebs is dedicated to his experience of transracial intercountry adoption. Enjoy.