It was a beautiful feeling to be able to rescue a child who had no future at all. A child who, after the orphanage, would spend the rest of his life as a beggar. Of course he should come home to us! We had a wheelchair-accessible home for him, love for him, a life to give him. He could stay home all his life if he needed to. I was young enough to feel certain I could offer that. In this country, no matter what, his future could never be as grim as it would be in India.
There was an endless stream of paperwork and things to do at the immigration office. My fingerprints were taken, my background checked, my financial state examined, my family studied. To make a very long story short, it took two years for me to struggle to be allowed to adopt him. It was a time of great celebration when our immigration gave permission for my little boy to come home. Then the adoption could occur in India, and did. Benjamin was my child. If I had gone to India to live, he would have been my own at that moment.
Obviously though, I could not go to India. I was a single mother with seven adopted disabled children who were supported by the United States through S.S.I. The plans were made to bring him home to America. A wonderful lady named Kathy Sreedhar, who had worked tirelessly as a liaison between my adoption agency and the Indian court system to bring this little boy home to a family of his own, arranged for his plane ticket. She found a volunteer to escort him on the trip. She even found funding to pay for the ticket! She is a magnificent woman. She had found funding also to pay for his adoption. She was very excited that this little one would have a family of his very own.
I had written two sets of questions for the sisters in New Delhi, to find out about Krishna, whom I planned to name Benjamin Joel. I learned a lot about him. The nuns worked very hard in this orphanage that was so poor, it was even without running water. Yet they sat down and took time to answer my questions in the kindest way. He was seven years old by now, and they sent two more pictures of him, sitting on a bench, holding himself up with his right arm. His beautiful face was full of comprehension. He knew exactly what was happening.
They told me how they were explaining to him about his new family. He did not know that there even was such a thing as a “family”. They had a lot of explaining to do. I had sent a picture album with a photo of each of his new siblings, and one of me. He knew he was getting a family. He could not speak, so was unable to ask questions of his own. But his eyes told the story.
We were so excited. His room was ready, his bed with a quilt with a theme from the movie ‘Bambi’, his toys, his clothes, a wheelchair, everything he could need. He was going to share a room with Antonio, my gentle son with cerebral palsy and good intelligence. Tony is Mexican-Indian. He is such a good-natured son. They were a few months apart in age. I felt sure they would get along well, and be good brothers to each other. Tony was looking forward to his new brother with great eagerness.
Then, a week and a half before his plane was due to bring him home, an immigration official whom I shall not name took it upon himself to rise up and say my Benjamin could not come. This was the same immigration office which had given permission already. The same office which had had my paperwork, home study, and all my other information for nearly two years! My little boy was not welcome in our country, he said, because he was eligible to receive S.S.I., even though I was not going to put him on it. He said that Benjamin was likely to become a burden to our country, because I had no taxable income. Therefore he put a stop to the adoption in this country, just like that.
Now this man had known for the whole two years that my children were on S.S.I., as well as the fact that I was not going to put Krishna on it. Our stack of paperwork had been on his desk the whole time. If he objected to my plans and my situation, why did he let us proceed for two years, and let a little seven year old boy with no hope and no future get all prepared to have a family of his own? Why did he wait until the plane ticket was purchased, the volunteer escort arranged, our family all thrilled? Why break a little boy’s heart?
But though I spent much time protesting, and giving them more documents proving how I would support my little son, it was no use. That man made me ashamed of my own country, for the first time. They let streams of people in, who have no one to help them, and who go directly on to welfare; but one little boy who had a family, was turned away at the door. Why?
Little Benjamin Joel, my own son, was stuck in India, and I was stuck in the United States. The Statue of Liberty did not raise her torch for my child, after all. He could never be among her welcomed tired and poor. He had to spend the rest of his life on a dusty New Delhi street, begging.
I felt guilty for his heartbreak. I didn’t know whether it was better for him to have had his hopes raised, then dashed to the ground; or whether it would have been better to never have known. Then again, he has that book of our pictures. He knows that someone loved him once. I hope and pray that this has been a comfort for his poor little heart along the way.
This has been a sorrow in my heart ever since. I keep my precious son in my heart, in my prayers, in my soul. He is twenty-seven now, if he is still alive.
I pray that he will somehow be taught about our Lord Jesus Christ, and will get to Heaven. Only then will I get to hug and kiss, talk to, and know my child, my son, my own.