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Thursday, April 26, 2012

What it Means to be a Girl/Woman in India and Insights in to Our Adoption

This is a guest post from my good friend, Amanda, about what it means to be a girl/woman in India.  Thanks SO much Amanda for sharing!!

When Jamie and her family started their journey for adoption, I was amazed – I was in elementary school when I saw some video news magazine show on kids in Romanian orphanages and how desolate their situation was. I grew up poor, I didn’t necessarily know it at that time, but I had a family rich in love. Jamie and her family are doing something great for the girl they’re adopting. My husband is from India and I’ve been there three times and the abject poverty among the poor in this third-world country is overwhelming. I first saw real poverty in Mexico DF while a college student, and to this day, I try to remember what is “real” when it comes to needs. I try not to be overindulgent, but I know I fail miserably at keeping things minimal/necessary for my family.

Jamie’s bringing a new daughter into her family is more than just adding Ramya to her family – she’ll be lifting a girl up from an orphanage which may or may not be loving and giving stability. She’ll know joy and love. She’ll know the caring life for her. Even if Ramya was with her own family, there’s a good chance she’d face poverty, child marriage, abuse and illiteracy. While India has a growing middle class, 50% of girls are married by age 18. Child marriages are illegal but common. While India has multi-national corporations setting up shop (more than just call centers), they have the world’s largest number of illiterates and girls are most likely to be taken out of school and instead do menial jobs. India may be known for non-violence through Gandhi, 55 percent of women suffer violence and every 6 hours a woman is killed or commits suicide. While your doctor or someone in the office is likely Indian, education of the “girl child” is something India is working hard to push for (education of girls is free), but families still see education as a cost rather than something that will better their daughter’s life. While dowry is illegal in India, it is still extremely common.

Here in the US, we had a nanny for a short time who was well educated. Her family had spent their life savings to educate her well enough to go to a good university, so she could marry better. Her husband’s family asked for dowry and the had to give. Now she feels like a burden. She was sending the baby sitting money back to her dad so he could have his medicine that was sustaining his life. She had a daughter but didn’t want to get pregnant again in case it was another daughter. Her husband wanted another child and said he’d accept a boy or girl, but wanted to be able to get pregnant in the US so she could abort if she was pregnant with a girl. I am extremely pro-life and it was hard for me to hear this. Female infanticide is still common in India, even among middle-class city dwellers. Each life is not innocent and protected – instead the burden of poverty, high population and mentality of the worth of women prevents girls from really having a fair chance.

What we see here is a journey for a girl to have a real life. A real chance. A real hope. I admire this family for what they are doing and am in awe of all the support they have had.

Check out Amanda's blog!

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