A Long Way Home
By Saroo Brierley
A book review and a few thoughts on adoption…
WOW! For anyone who has watched Lion, this is the autobiography of Saroo, the main character in the movie. While the movie was amazing, the book is even better! Of course there has to be drama in the movie to make it appealing to the masses… but for me… real human life is exciting enough, much less a story like Saroo has to tell!
For those of you who haven’t heard the story or watched the movie, the quick synopsis is that Saroo was born into a very very poor Indian family. His father left the family, just when baby #4 was due to be born. The mother had to work manual labor to even hope to provide for her family, and she still couldn’t. The children were starving and they tried to help provide for the family as much as small children can.
One night Saroo gets separated from his family and trapped on a train and ends up in an unknown city. As a 5 year old he fends for himself, and is miraculously rescued and ends up being adopted by an Australian family.
Saroo always remembers his family and rehearses in his mind his village, his family, how he got lost, what his train ride was like so that he would never forget the details. Once the internet became accessible he started to search for his family using google earth. He searched and searched, becoming almost a recluse and obsessed.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t give up the ending! It’s a must read and a must see!
This also brings up the subject of adoption and hearing Saroos perspective. He wanted to find his mother and siblings, but that didn’t lessen his love, respect and commitment to his adopted brother and adoptive parents. He was grateful to them for their care and love and support of him, and yet he also wanted to see his birth mother again. He missed his birth family.
I think this is something that is so important to remember for adoptive children. They do love their adoptive families, but they also want to know where they came from. They want to know what they might look like, how tall they might be, where did their personality come from, are they right handed or left handed, what are some of the odd preferences that they share? I would want to know those things too!
Our adoption of Aspen, is an open adoption. His birth mother and I are still in contact and we text and call back and forth and I send her email updates and photos of Aspen. She has visited once, and I hope she comes again. I want Aspen to know where he came from. I want him to know that his birth mother loved him enough to say that she couldn’t provide what she thought he needed, so she chose a family that could. We are honored to be that family, and we don’t take it lightly. He is a gift to us, not for us to keep, but to hold lightly and raise. His birth mother loved him very much. She gave him a great gift, which cause her much pain. I know she still misses him terribly.
I also think that kids are crazy smart. I’m not at all fearful that he will be confused with the arrangement between his birth mother and us. We both love him and want what is best for him. I often compare it to stepfamilies when people are skeptical of open adoptions. A child is NOT confused about which parent cares for him and provides his needs and which parent was a participant in his birth. Hopefully they receive love from both and care from both.
Adopted kids have a non-traditional story. It wasn’t designed to be this way. It’s this way because something broke or didn’t pan out right. And these kids didn’t choose it. This is something that happened to them, they didn’t get any part of the decision process.
I want this to be an open conversation with Aspen whenever he feels the need to talk about it. I want him to feel what he needs to feel and talk what he needs to talk about. It might not be pretty or it might hurt, but it’s his story. I’m part of it, but I don’t get to determine his story. I’m just helping him along the path that God has designed for him.
I hope I can direct his gaze to Jesus through these conversations. That his deepest need for love, affection and acceptance can only come through Christ. No matter where he searches, he won’t find it elsewhere… and Aspen’s story was all in God’s plan. God wasn’t surprised at the circumstances of his birth. Jesus himself had an adopted father and we can also see Jesus’ love for His GREAT Father, God. He had two fathers he loved and who loved him.
There is no perfect way to address all of this and no perfect answer. Each child is going to experience it differently and have different thoughts, feelings and perspectives. Allow it… help them walk through it and come out the otherside.
Would love to hear your thoughts on this subject! Please share!