There's something about going to your child's country and seeing and experiencing it for yourself that will change you forever. It will linger in your thoughts, your dreams, your senses. You will catch yourself at times looking at your child, wondering what their life would have been like had they stayed. You wonder what her life was like before you. You wonder about her birth parents and the family she will never know. You look at her different expressions and wonder if her mother or father made that same expression. You look at her dimples and wonder which parent they came from. And then you think about all the children who are still waiting to find their family.
And it haunts you.
I loved it and hated it at the same time. A wise man I met on the plane coming back from my first trip told me a very accurate saying. He said, "If you have patience, Ind*a will take it from you. If you don't have patience, Ind*a will give it to you." I can't think of a truer or more succinct statement that so perfectly describes Ind*a.
I think what resonated in me the most was the vast disparity between wealth and poverty. When we drove out to the Taj, what I saw completely jarred me. I kept thinking that this would never fly back home. How could there be so much wealth and technological advances and so much extreme poverty at the same time? I've lived in 3rd world countries. I lived with the Maasai in Kenya in the Great Rift Valley, and traveled to villages in Uganda and Tanzania. I lived in mud dung huts with no electricity and no running water. I saw first hand how hard a woman has to work in order to provide for her family. I saw the slums of Nairobi with their tin roof huts. I saw children with boated bellies running around naked and crying. I saw babies with flies living in their eyes. I cried with women whose babies died. I met mothers with babies who had no names because they hadn't reached the one year mark. Why waste a name on a child that may not survive? I spent time in Mexico and saw the villages living in the D.F. dump. I saw children roaming the garbage looking for food. For miles, all I could see were giant waves of trash, garbage and debris. And life existed right there among it.
None of those, and I mean none, came close to what I saw in Ind*a. And what was most unimaginable is that extreme poverty exists right along side the most technological and modern advances. If a child is wandering the streets, it's Karma. I asked my in-country coordinator about this and questioned, wouldn't it bring good Karma to you if you helped the untouchable? She gave me a very wise answer. She said that when someone is looking for a defense of their action or non-action, they will make any theology or mantra fit their excuse. That stopped me in my tracks. I reflected on areas of my life where I was making excuses because it was just too hard, or too uncomfortable, or would require self-sacrifice or I was just too selfish.
Ind*a has changed me. A piece of me will always long for it. When I first got back, I was so angry and the thought of going back made me physically sick to my stomach. People would contact me on my blog, telling me they were just starting the adoption process from Ind*a. I would ache for them because they were still in the honeymoon phase, naive of what was to come.
And then God started his gentle nudging.
And slowly, my heart was healing and opening again.
I found myself thinking about it more. I imagined myself with Munni traveling back one day. I would think about the experiences I had and smile.
Information would come my way such as these facts:
Size/Area - 1,229,737 sq miles
Population - 1 billion
Time Zone - 10.5 hours ahead of EST
Language(s) - Hindi
Compulsory Education - 6 to 14 years
Literacy - 73% (male); 48% (female)
Religion - Hindu (80 %), Muslin (14%), Christian (2%) other (6%)
Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area, it supports over 15% of the world's population. Only China has a larger population.
There are an estimated 35 million orphans (all of sub-Sarahan Africa has 43 million).
9% of all children in India are orphans.
No country can rival Ind*a's children in need. Of Ind*a's nearly 400 million under 18, over 70 million are child laborers, 10 million are bonded laborers (a form of slavery to pay off family debts), 13 million are homeless, 2 million are street children without families.
There is a widespread child abuse, and there is a deficit of 40 million girls because of female feticide
-over 20,000 ultrasound clinics thrive on this illegal practice. There are 575,000 child prostitutes and there is a massive trade in Bangladeshi and Nepali girls sold into prostitution.
Malnutrition affects nearly half of all children under age five.
The adult literacy rate has a wide discrepancy between males - 73%, and females - 48%
Only 59% of boys and 47% of girls attend secondary school.
AIDS has spread rapidly in India and some estimates have said that by 2020 there could be 200 million carrying HIV.
This is not O.K.
I feel such a pull on my heart to do something. I know I am only one person but even a waterfall has to start with one drop of water. I don't want to find an excuse to not do anything. I know I have to give of my time, my money, and my talents. I'm not sure yet how this is going to look, but I'm excited where God will lead me.
Every morning I wake up, I look to my right and see what a blessing God has given me in Munni.
I am blessed. She is blessed. We are a family.
And there are 35 million more Munnis out there waiting for theirs.