“Kaur to me means strength. Being a warrior. Standing for what you believe in and equality. Well in our history, Sikhism, came across as a strong religion. Women were supposed to be treated equally. To me, being a Sikh is being strong. Being true to yourself and equality.
I was married at 20 years old. I was from England and my then spouse was in Toronto. It was very abusive and I was young. To me it was a shock, to hit anyone. This is going back three decades now and there was extreme pressure to ensure I held up the family name, obligation to be an example for my younger sisters so they would be able to find suitable spouses.
During that difficult time, I was religious. I would pray every day and ask Guru Nanak for the strength to survive and later to leave. With the support of my co-workers, who bought my plane ticket for me, I returned to England. I gave my parents the choice to pick me up from the airport. I had gone from 130lbs to 90lbs and there was so much shame without any real support. My in-laws tried to persuade my parents to send me back. I refused. I decided to live with my massi, who was in Vancouver. I never looked back. I actually didn’t even think about men or marriage for 10 years.
I met my second husband when I was 34 years old. We wanted a child, but I couldn’t conceive. I was willing to adopt, but my husband and his family were not interested in the idea. I completed six rounds of fertility treatments, but nothing worked. It was taboo to even talk about any of this. There is a stigma in our culture around infertility and adoption. I was seen as being cursed and adoption was viewed as a bad omen. It was suggested to just adopt within the family.
When you have a goal you have to do whatever it takes to achieve it. More than a career, I always wanted to be a mother. When you have a goal this important you do anything, there is a desperation. It’s not pretty, I can tell you that. For me though, it was hard to see other pregnancies, even though I was happy for those mothers. I felt like my body had failed me. I felt like a failure. I was very depressed, I prayed a lot. I also got angry with God. I asked God to stop, that this was enough and that if he didn’t want me to be a mother, then he should at least give me the strength to live without a child.
After the treatments didn’t work, my husband warmed up to the idea of adoption. We decided to adopt from India. My mom really helped with providing me insight that the Guru’s had adopted and that its okay to do whatever is possible to become a mother.
For the adoption process, I received the most support from my non-Indian friends. They were so open to adoption as its commonplace to adopt children from all cultures and backgrounds and love those children without prejudice. It was challenging because I had close family members ask me if the baby was going to be Sikh or Hindu. No one provided emotional support, or asked if the baby was healthy. People are so insensitive. They can’t relate. Some even suggested that we get a dog and focus on double incomes rather than having a baby.
I would pray. I would cry. Then I started the adoption process. I saw the light at the end of tunnel. It’s a hard process. The Ministry of Children complete a field study, dig into your past, home, finances, a criminal check. It’s exhausting and takes an emotional toll. Then you get forty hours of counselling. Everything is stacked against you. You find yourself saying, Am I ready for this? I doubted myself. How would I love someone?
I carried on. I got the call. I remember them saying, “we found a baby for you.” They match the baby to the family, they look at photos. She, my baby, was 30 days ago. I was praying she was healthy without illness at the airport and during the whole flight to India.
We met her. For me, it was love at first sight. There was a connection. They offered us an opportunity to look at other babies. We declined because I knew she was ours. I trusted myself because of my faith. Next was the long battle with the Indian courts.
I stayed in India, while the court proceedings happened, I wanted to bond with my baby. My mom stayed in our nearby village. I remember the second day, she cried and cried. I wanted to give up, I didn’t think I had it in me. And then my mom gave me words of advice, that this child needed me. I couldn’t give up on her, she had already experienced that. That gave me strength and I was determined to develop a bond.
My baby girl fit into the family and she is now nine and we speak about her adoption. We speak about it as a blessing and something special, not a taboo or stigma. I believe she needs to know. Things that are hidden are shameful, there is nothing to hide about her. She is special, she is beautiful, she is my child.
Being a single mother is hard, it was harder when she was younger. There was the tough balance with work and being a parent. The reward I get is when you she calls me mom. I am her mom. I love it. It is hard work, probably the hardest job in the world. It was truly a journey to get where we are today, but it’s doable. It was all worth it. Adoption should not be taboo. It is an option, there is nothing wrong with it, there is no shame.
As for connections, I believe there has to be a bigger pull that connects everyone. If that is not God, then what is it?”