Monday, 25 February 2013

And into 2013...

It is hard to believe we are heading into our seventh year since we learned the ugly truth behind Akil and Sabi's adoption, and then searched for and found Sunama. However, when we look at the seven children and how much they've all grown, the passing years are easy to see. Especially in little Zeenath, who is now six but was just a bump in her mother's belly when we found Sunama.

Late last year, a lovely woman phoned me after reading "Love Our Way", as she was heading over to India in the near future. It turned out that she lives in the same suburb as me and generously agreed to carry a parcel for our Indian family while she and her husband travelled. They ended up in Chennai and spent some time visiting our family, and we were delighted to receive updated photos.

All of the children continue to do well in school and take their studies seriously. Anwar is now wearing glasses and looks great in them!  Fareeda also does Bharatanatyam classical Indian dancing and Karate classes.

And on the home front: Akil has graduated from Year 12 and now works as the bar manager at one of the Hogs Breath restaurants in Canberra.  Sabi has started her final year of high school and is working at K-Mart. Both own their own cars (our driveway looks like a car yard!) and are busy enjoying life as young adults. Our older sons and daughters are all busy with their various interests, with the big news being that Briony is having her wedding in the USA in early June and Alix became engaged at her New Year's Eve party.  Life is busy but great fun.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Home from our Jan 2012 trip to India

Last week we arrived home from our latest visit with Sunama and the children. We stayed in Chennai for 10 days, spending each day with the family.

It was wonderful to see how the five children have grown. Fareeda is now 14 and Zeenath has just turned 5 years old. Zeenath is as cheeky a character as Jaan Basha was on our first visit!

All of the children are now speaking well in English as well as their native Tamil, as their school teaches the students in English. This put communication on a whole new level, as we could chat without having to work our way through charades and guesses.

The children are all well, happy and we were told that they are good students. Fareeda is now in high school and hopes one day to be able to further her education in Australia. We told her to continue as a conscientious student and we would be happy to support her future goals.

We had a one-day trip to Pondicherry as the children were on a school break for the Pongal festival. Everyone (except me and the driver ... and at times I wasn't so sure about the driver's state of alterness!) fell asleep in cute clumps of people on the way there.

We then enjoyed celebrating Pongal (the harvest festival) with the other children at The Ashram. The day after Pongal, it was great to see all the local cows decorated to join in the celebration, with painted horns and bells tied to their horn tips.

We then bid a sad farewell to everyone, but with promises of letters and photos to follow.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Little Zeenath starts school

Vidya has sent an update on Sunama's gorgeous younger children. Sunama had recently decided that four-year-old Zeenath should join her older brothers and sisters at The Ashram, taking advantage of the education facilities that are a significant improvement on those available in her village. Zeenath has settled in quickly and is now attending the Montessori pre-primary school. She is very happy to be with her siblings.
All the older children are happy and confident students. We are eagerly waiting to receive our first letter written in English by Fareeda, while the younger children have sent us drawings. It will be a wonderful development to be able to exchange letters with the children, which will hopefully encourage them further in their English language classes.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Photo from India

Vidya has let us know that Fareeda, Anwar, Zarina and Jaan Basha are doing very well in their studies. They attend an English-medium school and are now able to understand very basic conversations in English. Fareeda has asked when Akil and Sabi will be coming to visit? We've decided we will definitely be visiting in 2011.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Mothers Day

A card is on its way to Sunama from Akil and Sabi, with loving messages for Mothers Day and the latest school photo of each. I don't think Sabi's photo will cause a stir but Akil's may well, with his very un-traditional but certainly original hair.

Vidya tells us that Sunama decided to return to her village with Zeenath, now 3 years old, while the older four children remain at The Ashram. They are good students and are achieving decent marks at their English-medium school, and have all recently moved up to the next grade. That is is great news considering Fareeda and Anwar, in particular, had missed a lot of early education.

Sunama visits the children on weekends. As it is now the summer school break in Chennai, the children have all returned home for a month. Sunama keeps herself busy looking after Zeenath, who is now enrolled in the local preschool, and cooks idli for a stall she runs in the village. Having tasted Sunama's cooking, no doubt the food is delicious - we'll all have to try it on our next visit.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Rollings family update

I've had queries from readers who have wondered what our kids are up to, so here's a bit of an update:
Alix moved to Melbourne a few months ago with her lovely man, Tim. We miss them but they've promised to come up and visit us often. Tim and Ali are engaged and the wedding is planned for March next year.
Briony was delighted to welcome home her girlfriend, Barbara, in September. Barbara (aka Bara) is American and she'll be living in Australia for the next year, We're very happy to welcome Bara to the family.
Madhu, 23, has finished his apprenticeship, so is now a qualified tradesman. He heads off with his mates for his third trip to Japan in December.
Haden turned 21 in September. He has recently moved out on his own, though his home is in the next suburb. This week he bought his first car.
Joel has left school. He has a busy schedule with a variety of interesting activities, including swimming and pottery lessons and music group each week.
Sadan and his partner, Jess, welcomed their son Ishaan into the world three weeks ago. Ishaan is absolutely gorgeous ... a very content, easy-going baby and his parents are doing a great job of raising him.
Akil, 16, arrived home from his soccer presentation today with two trophies. He intends trying out for the premier league (under 18s) next year. He still lives and breathes soccer. Akil is a really nice lad, as are all his his mates.
Sabila will be 15 in a couple of months. My baby is no longer a child! Sabi loves hitting the malls with her friends and shopping for clothes or accessories. She's looking forward to being Ali's bridesmaid in March.
Barry and I are loving being grandparents to little Ishaan. Barry has recently retired and has promised to get to work on the many neglected jobs around the house (starting with painting the walls). I now work in a supervisory position in a foster care program, supporting caseworkers and working with children in long-term foster care. The work can be stressful but I'm a member of a great team that offers a lot of support. Life is busy but good :-)

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Photos from The Ashram

Sunama, in her new role as cook, prepared a meal for the children and carers at The Ashram.

Sunama and the children outside their new home. The older four are wearing their new school uniforms.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Sunama and kids move into The Ashram

Last month, Sunama and the children moved from their village back into the city of Chennai. They are now living at The Ashram, a children's home we visited in 2005. Vidya and her sister-in-law, Malini, supervise the running of the home. Sunama has been employed as the head cook. We hope this will be a positive move for Sunama, who will gain new skills and self-esteem through her new responsibilities.
The five children are now enrolled at a nearby English medium school, so they will become fluent English speakers. That will be a tremendous advantage to them when they grow up and seek employment in their rapidly modernising country. It will also mean we will enjoy a different level of communication with Sunama, Fareeda, Anwar, Zarina, Jaan Basha and Zeenath. Vidya will take photos of the children soon when their new school uniforms arrive, so keep a look out on my blog for new pics.
In the meantime - I would like to send a big "thank you" to all you wonderful people around the world who have sent us, and Sunama, messages of love and support. It means a great deal to us all. We have also seen wonderful generosity from individuals, as well as groups. Earlier this year Melton West Primary School in Victoria held a "non-uniform day" at their school and donated the money their raised to Sunama's family. We have been heartened to receive this kind of support, and when I have told Sunama about the messages people have sent her, she cried.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Foreign Correspondent - ABC - to tell our story on Feb 24th

In November 2008 we spent the first week of our visit with Sunama accompanied by a film crew from the ABC program "Foreign Correspondent".

We have heard from them that our program will go to air on national television in Australia at 9.30 p.m. on Tuesday 24th February. I hope those who have followed our story and read "Love Our Way" will find the program insightful, and that it will help people understand the incredible pain caused by child traffickers.

IF YOU MISSED THE SHOW ... you can watch it online here

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Our visit to India

We have just returned from spending two weeks in Chennai with Sunama and the children. Barry and I rented an apartment in the city and our Indian family came from her village to spend the time with us. We all had a great time together. Everyone was more relaxed as we knew each other from our previous visit and had plenty of time to take things easy.
I gave Sunama a copy of "Love Our Way" and she was thrilled. Although she can't read, she was delighted to see the photos and to hear that thousands of people now know her story and send her messages of love and support.
Gopu Mohan from the newspaper Indian Express interviewed us and published a story here.

Saturday, 13 September 2008


Well, it's now a couple of weeks since "Love Our Way" was released and we have been really touched by the many emails and blog comments we've received. It is heartwarming to know that so many people are reading our story and are interested in the welfare of our family in India.

Unfortunately I am unable to reply directly to messages on this blog, so if you would like me to respond please email me at instead. I will answer a couple of questions left in recent comments...
* Yes - we are interested in publishing in the US. My agent will be looking for an overseas publisher but the publishing process takes a long time, so email me if you are interested in purchasing a copy of the book.
* Donations can be made directly via the Paypal button on the right side of this page. All money received goes in total to supporting Sunama and her children in India. We have looked into obtaining tax deductibility for donors but, unfortunately, we cannot meet the requirements for recognition as a charity as set by the ATO.

Vidya recently visited Sunama and the children. They are doing well, though all of them still greatly miss Babu. Sabila was delighted to hear that Fareeda won an award at school for dancing. Sabi intends teaching Fareeda and Zarina some simple classic dance steps during our upcoming visit.
We were happy to receive these photos of the children, all dressed smartly in their school uniforms. Jaan Basha and Zeenath, in particular, have grown up so quickly!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

"Love Our Way" hits the shelves on 1st September

Love Our Way: A Mother's Story
By Julia Rollings

Price: $32.99
On Sale: 1/09/2008
Formats: Trade Paperback

Managing a household of eight children takes a lot of love and patience – and amazing parents. When six of your children are adopted from overseas, learning to adapt to any situation becomes a survival skill. Having created a riotiously happy family, Julia and Barry Rollings thought they could handle anything life threw at them...

Read more

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Finding their feet again...

Vidya visited the family in their village following Babu's death. A lot of relatives had travelled to be there. Vidya let me know that Sunama is being quite brave. The family and relatives were visiting for the funeral and would come back to the village for a ceremony that is held forty days later. The children are happy and playing around, and seemed to be coping well with the loss of their father. In many ways the past year has been preparation for that loss, as Babu was severely disabled by his stroke and has been in and out of hospital many times over the past twelve months.
Sunama will have to shift to a new house, as the owner of her current one wants to have it back. Jagan will fix another house for the family, and they will remain in the village.
Vidya also told me she has found an apartment for us to rent when we visit India at the end of the year. Sunama and the children will come and stay with us in this apartment, so we will have a lot of time together. Akil and Sabila are very excited and already making plans about how to spend time playing with their little brothers and sisters.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Sad news

During the evening of 11th June we received the sad news from Vidya that Babu had passed away. We will all miss dear Babu.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Babu's health worsens

This morning I received an email from Vidya, telling us that Babu is unwell and his condition has worsened recently. He is frequently losing consciousness and is not eating well. Babu has been admitted and discharged several times from local hospitals, but they now say they cannot help him any further. Vidya is investigating the possibility of having him admitted to a private hospital.

I am so grateful that we have Vidya, and also Jagan and his family, there to support Sunama through this awful time.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Into 2008

Vidya recently wrote to tell me that little Zeenath had been sick with the measles, but we can now see from this recent photo that she is is doing well. Akil and Sabi were delighted to see Zeenath looking so grown up and cute. She celebrated her first birthday in early January and has grown so much since the tiny seven week old baby we met.

Barry and I are taking Akil and Sabi back to India again in November 2008. We told our family we would visit again in 2009 but we have brought plans forward as we were missing them so much.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Happy Diwali

During the month of November Indians everywhere celebrated Diwali. Here in Australia we went along with the local Tamil community to a Diwali concert, where Sabila performed with Abinaya Dance Academy in two dances. After the performances we all enjoyed some fabulous food.

In India our family also joined in celebrations with their neighbours. Jagan has let us know that Sunama, Babu and the children enjoyed celebrating Diwali with others in their village. Jagan took some sweets and firecrackers for the children, and Vidya sent them some new clothes she had sent from us. Vidya plans on visiting the family in December so we look forward to receiving some more news and updated photos.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Settling in to village life.

The four older children, Fareeda, Anwar, Zarina and Jaan Basha, have started attending classes at the local village school. Jagan's grandmother is giving the children extra tuition in the afternoons when school is over.

Babu's health continues to be a major concern for all of us. Since he moved to the village he has had to be hospitalised twice, once due to asthma concerns and the other time for several days in an effort to stabilise his high blood pressure. Unfortunately it appears these health issues will continue to cause him problems, so future hospitalisations are highly likely. Although the hospital treatment is free, unfortunately we need to pay for a full-time carer to remain with him as there are not enough nurses to care for the patients. If you do not supply a carer then the patient is not admitted.

Vidya intends driving out to visit the family soon, to see how everyone is.

In the meantime we are continuing to look at fundraising options. Barry's work mates were very generous and after some raffles they donated about $1500 to our Indian family. My colleagues at Marymead Child & Family Centre are now looking at helping us hold a trivia night early next year. Also a major Australian magazine is interested in covering the children's story, and we hope that will generate support for Sunama, Babu and the children.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

The family have moved

Sunama with Fareeda and baby Zeenath at their front door. Jagan is to the left.
With the assistance of family and friends we have been able to move Sunama, Babu and their five children out of the slum area they lived in and into a village near Chennai. They have settled in to this little house, which we are renting for the family. Although it only has one bedroom, it does have running water and is a vast improvement over their previous accommodation. The children have a large safe play area as well.

On Monday 20th August Fareeda, Anwar and Zarina are due to start attending the village school. Vidya's employee Jagan has been given the job of looking after the family. He has arranged for the children to receive extra tuition, to make up for their lost years of education.

Babu is now able to pull himself up into a standing position. He is determined not to be an invalid, and has requested a walking frame so he can try to move. Vidya also tells me his speech is becoming more coherent, so he can now often make himself understood.

Vidya passed on the message that Babu and Sunama are happy with the move, and are very grateful for all the support they have received.