Dear Adoption, This is Where it All Began / Munnia’s Story, Part 1
DA,: Do you remember how old you were when you were taken from your biological family? What happened?
Munnia: I think I was about 3 or 4 and I believe I was kidnapped as a part of child trafficking.
DA,: Can you tell us where your memory begins on that first day you were taken?
Munnia: I remember a woman walking me through the slum and to a street corner. She told me, “Wait right here. Do not move.” When I turned around she was gone. She just left me there.
DA,: How long do you think you were on that corner?
Munnia: I just remember waiting and waiting. I’m not sure how long I was there but I believe I was there for about 1 week.
DA,: Do you remember what you were thinking? How you were feeling? Do you recall being hungry or crying or leaving that corner?
Munnia: The only thing I remember is wondering where my family was. I have a memory of thinking, “Where are they? When can I go home?”. I was three years old and I was overwhelmed with sadness and all of the mysteries. I don’t have any memories of anyone trying to hurt me or help me. I remember feeling grief and anguish in a 3 year olds way. After several days I remember a woman in a white sari came up to me and took me to Liluah, a government home. (linked article is from an investigation done in 2004)
DA,: Did the woman in the white sari stay with you at Liluah?
Munnia: There were mostly men with the children at Liluah. I don’t remember seeing very many women during my time there. No, I don’t think I ever saw the woman in the white sari again.
DA,: Tell us about Liluah…
Munnia: I remember mostly men. There was a lot of physical abuse, sexual abuse, rape, very little food, and I never felt safe there. I was afraid all the time. I still have physical scars on my body that never healed properly from the abuse, but I don’t remember exactly how I got them all.
DA,: How long did you stay at Liluah?
Munnia: I stayed there for a couple years. When I was about 5 1/2 a woman from IMH (International Mission of Hope) came and took me to IMH.
DA,: How did you feel about that? What was your time like at IMH?
Munnia: There was no abuse at IMH so that was good but I was traumatized and I never trusted anyone in India again; I was still afraid all the time. I was afraid of being alone with men for years after leaving Liluah. I remember I didn’t go hungry at IMH but they were very regimented with our food and every thing was just regimented. IMH supposedly published my photo in the Telegraph Newspaper and checked with the police stations to make sure there was no one wanting me. No one claimed me so my adoption was approved. I was adopted to the US one month before my 7th birthday. I don’t really know my birthday so the woman from IMH gave me her birthday. I believe my name was given to me by my biological family and it is one of the only things I was able to remember.
DA,: How did you settle into life in the US? What was your family like?
Munnia: I had a good family. I had a warm family and they wanted to do what was best for me. I had nightmares for years about being chased and abused and held against my will. School life was a different matter. I never felt safe when I was in school because of racism. School was a daily emotional war zone so much so that I refused to go back to the twenty year reunion.
DA,: Did you feel safe in your home?
Munnia: I felt safe in my home but I didn’t really feel connected because I had been so traumatized. I started to feel more comfortable as a teenager but I still had nightmares.
DA,: Have you been back to India?
Munnia: I went back for the first time when I was 21. I was gripped by fear and afraid of being kidnapped while I was there. I felt like God told me to go and He told me nothing bad was going to happen. I did find peace when I was on the trip.
DA,: What efforts have you made to find your biological family in India?
Munnia: I have done a DNA test which has led me to prospective distant family members. Several of these distant cousins have been writing me and they have been helping me narrow down my search in finding my family. It’s a lot of work since India does not keep genealogy records updated.
DA,: Do you feel you’ve found any healing surrounding your abandonment and abuse?
Munnia: I believe that time doesn’t heal anything but rather God does the healing. I remember very vividly my first encounter with Christ when I was brand new to America and to church. He made himself known to me through a gentle whisper that He would never treat me in the same manner as those in Liluah. He would love me and He would take care of me which He has done since that encounter. So yes, I have found healing but it has been a life long process.
DA,: Why do you want to share your story here?
Munnia: I believe that people need to know that adoption is not a bad thing. I have always firmly believed that Plan A which is biological parents raising their own kids is the best plan for the parent and the child. But due to variety of reasons, that’s not always the case. So Plan B needs to be implemented. It’s important that adopted children are able to find the wholeness they are looking for, and more often than not, you deal with the losses the best you can but also look at it as a chance of starting all over. Adoption can be a positive life changing experience and outcome for a child who desperately needs a family to love them and they can love back.