“Whose footprints are these?” “What is this piece of paper that has baby footprints marked in ink with the name “Roopmathi” on the top?” My dad’s face froze, and my mom’s jaw dropped as they saw me holding the paper. I asked,“Who is Roopmathi and why do you have her footprints?” Waiting for their response, I could tell by their shocking facial expressions that this was no ordinary piece of paper with ordinary footprints. My dad finally revealed, “Roopmathi is you, Pravina.” My mom clarified by saying, “Those footprints are yours from the day we met you (February 14, 2000). We met you and two other babies and realized that you, the third baby, was our perfect match.” I asked my mom to explain what she means by “the day we met you.” She then dropped the bombshell, “Pravina, you were adopted.”
Finding out I was adopted has caused me to question my identity when I travel to India annually. As I watched little naked orphans running around the streets of India begging for money, I question what my life would have been like if I did not have parents who loved and cared for me. Would I be alone like one of these children on the streets? Not being alone, I was taken into care by my parents from a country of poverty to this land of opportunity in order to provide me a safer and better life. Also, throughout my academic career, my parents provided me with the best education. Would I have received the education I am receiving now if I wasn’t brought to America? I probably would not have been able to come face to face with a chalkboard or a pencil. Knowing that India’s educational system is not as advanced as the educational system in America, I realized when travelling there how important it is to take advantage of all the educational opportunities and activities approaching me. Lastly, every time I am in India, I always see people sleeping on the sidewalks with dust covering their bodies and faces, and I can see their bones protruding out of their skin from starvation. As I see them open their eyes, I try to picture what they are seeing as if I was the one living on the sidewalk stuck in rags with no food, water, or shelter. Putting myself into poor people’s shoes I see sitting, sleeping, or wandering India’s streets begging for food or shelter makes me question my survival without any daily necessities or without my parents. I realized how blessed for my parents and all the opportunities they have given me because that could have been me on the streets alone and vulnerable if they have not chosen me to be their daughter.
Finding out how I came in contact with that familial love, I went from looking in the mirror everyday seeing a girl who was apathetic towards life and transforming into someone who exemplifies diversity as a way to accept who I am and to achieve my aspirations in life.
My story of my upbringing has given me the ambition to challenge myself to discover my true potential in leadership through academics, tennis, and extracurriculars such as art and national honor societies. Therefore, out of my gratitude comes my determination to pursue all of the opportunities in my life that I would have not received if it were not for my parents’ connection with the third baby on February 14th, 2000.