My daughter is blind.
She is also funny, cuddly, silly, a lover of music, and has the cutest laugh.
Her blindness isn’t the first thing I think about when I am asked about her. It is a part of her, but not something that defines her.
We live in India and tend to stand out wherever we go; the white woman dressed in Indian clothing with the brown 4-year old holding a cane. It frustrates me when people wait until I look to the side, and then rush to snap a selfie with my daughter. I turn to shield her when strangers approach us and snap in her face. I still don’t know what they are trying to accomplish by doing that – but, strangely, it happens often.
I often wonder what life would be like for her in Canada, and soon I will find out.
Deepa has been in my care here in India for three years. Our adoption is recently finalized and we are leaving to go to Canada for a month-long visit. Will we get the same stares and remarks there that we do here? Will people approach us there and ask “is she abnormal?” flippantly, as if that kind of language is okay?
Sometimes, life in India as a foreign single mama of a child who is blind can be HARD! But… it can also be beautiful.
Like on her birthday, when a sea of Indian women helped to put jasmine in her hair in just the right way. Or when our local mango vendor sneaks an extra mango for free into our bag, as an evening snack for Deepa. She is endearingly referred to by words that mean “gold” or “sweetheart” in Telugu and Tamil, and more than one person has said they think she is beautiful enough to be a heroine in a Tollywood film!
Just as my daughter has taught me so much about how to see the world, India has shaped how I parent. And best of all, India gave me the gift of my daughter and for that, I am forever grateful!
Nikki is a Canadian who has been living in Hyderabad, India for four years. Her daughter, Deepa, was adopted from India and has bilateral anophthalmia.
For more insight into Nikki and Deepa’s experience, watch “One Tiny Starfish: An Adoption Story” below. You can also follow their story on Facebook at facebook.com/onetinystarfish.