Saturday, 28 July 2007

Our thoughts are in India

It is impossible to tell our story in a few lines. For that reason I have written a book, and will post details when it is published.

But for the sake of an introduction to our story, here goes...

My youngest son and daughter were taken from their first mother Sunama by their father Imam, and sold. When the director of our children’s orphanage was arrested we decided to search to confirm that our children had been legally and willingly relinquished for adoption. Instead, eight years after adopting them we found they had been trafficked.

After losing her older two children Sunama married a man called Babu and had five more children. In March I travelled with my 13 year old son and 12 year old daughter. We lived with the family for four days before returning to Australia. We adored the parents and their five gorgeous children, who welcomed us as part of their family.

Since that time we’ve remained in very close contact through my friend Vidya, who lives in Chennai. We have helped the family so that their lives would be easier. The three older children had been living at a mosque because the parents didn’t have sufficient means to feed them. They have been home with the family since our visit.

Also the four oldest have now started school. Babu was set up with a small business selling plastic goods and Sunama was grinding flour in her home for neighbours. This didn’t bring in sufficient income but it helped, and we made sure any shortfall was covered.

Things were looking promising and the family was happy with the improvements in their lives. I still felt much needed to be done. Their home is a small windowless room measuring 3 metres by 5 metres, hopelessly inadequate for a family of seven. They have no plumbing, so no toilet and water must be fetched from a well and carried to the house. But their housing situation was put down for consideration at a later date while we dealt with more immediate concerns.

Last week we received tragic news. Babu had a severe stroke. He was hospitalised and on oxygen and nasal gastric feeding. He is totally paralysed and cannot speak or swallow. All he is capable of doing is crying. Sunama was distraught but felt some comfort knowing my friend remained in close contact and we promised we would make sure the family did not become destitute.

I thought that was as bad as things could get but then the hospital forced Sunama to take Babu home, only five days after this stroke. She is in a single small room, the size of my daughter’s bedroom, caring for a completely dependent and seriously ill man and five small children.

The situation is so far from the hopeful future we thought we were securing for this family.

Our comfort in all this is that we made contact with the family when we did. Sunama has said this is her only source of strength.

I am also grateful my children and I had the opportunity to meet and get to know Babu. He was a gentle, generous man who impressed me from the start with his compassion. In the first contact we made, via email and a short video shot by my friend Vidya, we saw Babu cry alongside Sunama when she was given photos of our children. He has welcomed them as his own and filled the void left by their own brutal Indian father.

For the past week I find my thoughts are constantly with our family in India.

Our family photo is provided courtesy of Notebook magazine and photographer Sam McAdam.


Kathie said...

My thoughts and prayers are with Babu and his family. Our family keeps growing with the outward ripples that adoption Sabila and Akil's siblings it means I now have 5 new neices & nephews!!!
Love to all, Aunty Kathie

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for sharing this and starting this blog. I look forward to reading your book and visiting here again...As a mother waiting to become part of my adopted children's lives there is much to learn.
Kind Regards

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much to you, your children, and your family for sharing your story. As an adoptive parent in an open, international adoption I know the beauty and pain of maintaining contact crosss culturally. I cannot imagine the pain for you, your children, and your family at the discovery of child trafficking. I am happy to know that the orphanage director was arrested. I am making a donation to your family now. I will keep Babu and family in my thoughts. Much love and peace to you all.

Blondie said...

All I can think to say is "Wow." I agree with all the previous comments and say thanks for sharing. I look forward to hearing more about your family.

:) Blondie
AP in Brisbane

Don't forget to let us know when your book comes out.

Elaine said...

Julia, Barry & all your wonderful children. I have had the privilege to know you all.Your strenght & courage are admirable.Sabila & Akil,what amazing FAMILIES you have.. Love & Blessing to you all ..I feel gratefull, that I can help,In MY small way...My prayers are with you always... Elaine

Anonymous said...

Our hearts are with you all, Julia.


Spoiled for the ordinary said...

Inspiring story, inspiring love.

Greetings from The Netherlands.


Anonymous said...

Have just read your was amazing. Your courage is applaudable. Love overcomes so many barriers...

Anonymous said...

i could not place that book down it was like it was glued to my hand, for two days i read and re read it, thank u, it was very touching it has impacted my life in a positive and big way thank u

Anonymous said...


You are such an inspiration,Love our way is such an amazing story and great insight to the suffereing that takes place all over our universe. My thoughts are with you and all your family

Western Australia

Anonymous said...

Wow!! I havent had time to read a book for 2 years but I bought this last week and couldnt put it down. Thankyou for allowing us into your lives,I am speechless, i cried so many times. Beautifully written story, so sad now to read this website and discover Babu has passed, but this has happened for a reason, without you in their lives, things would not be good. Sabi's dream came true, and although Babu is gone Sunama now knows her first children were placed in the hands of angels.They are safe and her other children will be cared for.
You are truelly wonderful people with wonderful children, all of them.

Anonymous said...

I was given your book by my son and his wife for my birthday. I have just finished it, and it has deeply touched me. My thoughts and prayers re with your family in India. What a wonderful inspiring story it is.

Anonymous said...

What an amazing story!
Thank you so much for sharing it with me. You and your family should all be so proud of yourselves, you are such caring, loving, embracing people!
You have a wonderful family!
Take care

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say I am reading 'Love Our Way' at the moment. My mum bought it for me to read on our camping trip and she is going to read it afterwards. I started it earlier today and I'm almost finished. I would like to make a donation but I'm only in year seven and don't get an allowance. All of my canteen money will be going to 'Project Compassion' though. It is to help underprivelaged children who need help. Sorry but that's all I can do to help. Hope it's enough.
Love to all your famliy.
Victoria, Australia.

Anonymous said...

Julia Rollings,
You are a true inspiration!
I have just read and reread parts of your book.
The book randomly caught my eye on a store bookshelf , and although this time last week you were not known to me, through reading your story, I am truly amazed and inspired.
What a beautiful, large and diverse family you have. Thank you for sharing some of the the enormous challenges you have all faced, but most of all thank you for sharing the love this has brought you.
In this day and age, your overwhelming sense of genuine respect and compassion so clearly SHINE as attributes, guiding both you and your family through your truly inspiring journey. Thank you. SP.

Anindita Banerjee said...


I have finished reading the book only yesterday and had to visit the website. It is truly sad about Babu and more so for Sunama. Yet I am confident that with you and the children around she will cope well. You have changed the modern individualistic concept of a family and have truly embraced the world as yours.
I am from India and now living in New Zealand and can therefore appreciate what it must have been to live in the surroundings you have described in your book. I sit back and wonder if I have the strength to do what you could inspite of knowing the circumstances.
Julia, here we talk of making monetary contributions and then giving us a sense of fulfilment that we are doing our bit! Reading your book I am left with no words for this immense dedication and love that truly shows that human barriers and discrimination can be penetrated.
You have gone to such enormous lengths to make the children proud of their heritage and at the same time respect what they have.
I do wish I can instil this little sense of love and care to our children of tomorrow, at least to the ones around me.
Your book should be a compulsory read for school children all over the world.
New Zealand

Anonymous said...

i have just finished reading your book, what an inspiring journey you and both your families have been through. thank-you so much for sharing this read. my love and best wishes to you all.what wonderful people julia and barry you are. these special children and extended family are so lucky to have been blessed by you. you are such an amazing family, god bless you all, janette

Anonymous said...

Stumbled accross your remarkable story on youtube today. I am born in Canada but of Indian Hertiage. I was brought up to believe that family is made up of the friendships you create. Your life is one of inspiration, as i look at my 2 toddlers playing with their crayons right now, I smile. Thank-you for reminding me how love has no colour, religion, country. It is just love!

Anonymous said...

Dear Julia,
Heartiest love to you.
My close friend who is visiting her son in Adelaide gave me the book'Love our way' to read and earlier her friend gave her this book to read which her friend's daughter gave her mum as a mother's day present. Julia, you have done such a great thing to help these poor kids by adopting them and further even greater and daring step to unite these kids with their biological parents. Infact I don't have enough words to praise your effort. Your loving husband, Barry has been a big support. Your mum has been very supportive too. I laughed few times but cried many times while reading this wonderful book. The surprising thing and a co-incidence was that one day I was talking to my friend that I want to go to India when my daughter gets married and help poor kids. I am from India and came to Australia in 1992 on skill basis as a teacher. I work as a relief teacher but I am trained as an ESL teacher also work as a Professional Punjabi interpreter and Hindi translator. I am from Punjab, Northern India. My health is not that good but my wish is to go to India and help poor and the needy. Your book has greatly inspired me. We will see what life brings for me. The sad thing for me is my husband does not have the same views but I still hape that God will fulfill my desire and show me the right path. Give my regards to your dear husband,your mum and love to all your beloved children. Warm regards--Harminder Kaur Sroa

Teana said...

i have just finished reading your book and found it to be such an amazing story and love that you have taken it upon yourself to help Sunama and Babu to make a better life for themselves!! If only there were more people like you in the world it would mean a lot more people would get to enjoy some of the happiness and fortune that most of us take for granted everyday! Look forward to the updates on your blog...merry christmas to you and your family xxoo