Despite the warning that she might be stunned, when Kristen was first shown the photograph of her prospective daughter by her adoption case worker, her immediate reaction wasn’t disgust.
Instead, the brave woman was overwhelmed with love and compassion for the little girl, who had been refused many times by other potential adoptive parents, purely because of the way she looked. The then-3-year-old child Durga, an orphan from India, was abandoned at birth and left in a bush.
Before she was found and rescued by a policeman a day later, insects and a dog had eaten away at her nose, leaving her with a gaping hole in the middle of her face.
Many people were horrified by her appearance, but as soon as Kristen set eyes on her, she knew immediately she could give Durga a loving home. The little girl has now started a new life with Kristen and eight-year-old sister Munni, who was also adopted from India. Several years before the adoption, Kristen began looking at agencies who dealt with children from Nepal.
Having been single for several years, and keen to make her dream of motherhood come true, she wanted to give a child from a less affluent country a better life. But the following year the US suddenly suspended all adoptions with Nepal, so Kristen turned her focus to India. Soon afterwards, she came across Munni, who had been in an orphanage for 1 year, when she was two years old.
After feeling an immediate bond with the little girl, it took two years of paperwork and court processes to adopt her. Eventually, Kristen travelled to the orphanage in western India, where she met Munni, then aged five, for the first time.
A few months later, Kristen’s case worker told her about Durga. Three years previously, when baby Durga had been found by the policeman, she was barely clinging to life and was taken to a nearby clinic. Her chances of survival were slim due to severe dehydration and malnutrition, but she fought on. Eventually she made a full recovery and was moved to an orphanage – but there was no funding or money available for treatment for her nose.
Durga had spent all her short life disfigured and, as a result, had been refused by several couples because of it. Durga arrived at the care centre weighing just 1lb 3oz, and a day old. She was very weak and tiny and the staff were afraid she wouldn’t survive, feeding her milk squeezed from cotton-wool balls. They named her Durga and for three years they tried their best to find a home for her. Three couples who initially volunteered to be parents rejected her because of her nose.
Then staff contacted an agency licensed with foreign adoptions. Finally, Kristen’s agency got in touch, and they soon knew she was the right person for Durga. Despite her looks, when Kristen logged on to her computer and saw Durga’s face looking back at her, she was overcome with emotion. ‘I cried,’ she admits. ‘This gorgeous little girl with such beautiful eyes had suffered so much.
The adoption process meant Durga was then matched to Kristen and no other prospective parent could meet her. Kristen has now taken eight months off work to spend time helping Durga settle into her new home. Her parents, sister and brother-in-law have been a big support and have embraced both Munni and Durga as members of the family. A happy ever after story Kristen and her girls are now able to settle into normal life. Kristen has support from her parents and sister, who has four children. All have embraced Munni and Durga as members of the family.
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