‘I was left for dead on the streets as a newborn baby. Here’s what happened next’

Abandoned in Delhi when she was only a few hours old, a young Leicester woman tells feature writer Sita Patel her striking story of a ‘new chance at life’ – and of her emotional return to the orphanage where she was adopted

Wrapped in a woollen pink blanket on a sunny yet chilly Sunday afternoon, Carina* sips on her steaming hot chai latte, still tired from the night before.

She has just celebrated her 22nd year on earth. The 22nd year of her life, but also her 22nd year of adoption.

“I always knew I was adopted. My parents never hid that from me. But I never knew the full story,” says Carina. “The full story is what changed me.”

And she heard it on her 20th birthday.

“I had just started my second year at university. I was planning for the summer ahead; I wanted to go and explore the world but make a change whilst doing that. So that is when my parents told me,” she says.

“They told me that I was adopted from an orphanage in India.”

“In India, the birth of a girl is deemed as bad luck,” says Carina “so more often than not the family will abandon their daughter at birth leaving her to die or in my case, being found and taken to an orphanage”.

Carina was only five hours old when a local woman found her in Delhi in 1998.

“Really, I owe that women a lot. She saved me. She gave me another chance by taking me to the orphanage,” she says.

Just a few hours old, as a fragile new-born baby Carina was taken to the Patel Nagar Slum School in Faridabad, New Delhi.

“Obviously, I have no recollection of my time there,” says Carina “I look at it as a pitstop on the journey to becoming who I am. If I were never taken to Patel Nagar, I would have never had the life I live now.”

Within two days Carina was adopted by her parents, Reena and Ricky.

“My parents were already in Delhi, speaking with Patel Nagar about a possible adoption when I arrived. So, it was as if it was meant to be,” says Carina.

Tugging on the pink blanket, with her thoughts elsewhere, Carina begins to imagine what her life may have been like.

“I just kept thinking, what would have happened to me if my parents didn’t adopt me that day. What would my life have become?” she says.

“That’s when I knew I needed answers. That is when I decided to go back to where I was once abandoned and betrayed, and give back to the people that helped me,” Carina says.

In June 2019, Carina set off on what she describes as a “trip of a lifetime”.

“I saved up myself, and started a Go Fund Me page, so I was able to buy things such as books, pencils and feminine products for the girls at the orphanage,” says Carina.

“I never prepared myself for what it would be like. I think you always going to these situations with a little bit of hope, but nothing prepared me for this trip,” she says.

After a days’ worth of travel, cancelled flights and sheer exhaustion, Carina arrived alone at the Patel Nagar Slum School.

“Walking through the gates and seeing it there in front of me felt so surreal. It was overwhelming to say the least, I would be lying if I said I didn’t breakdown,” says Carina.

“It was just hard to imagine that if I had not got adopted the fate of my life would have been the exact same as these girls,” Carina says.

“On my trip, I learnt that the likelihood of a girl getting adopted is unbelievably low. In India no one wants a girl, in their eyes they bring burden and bad luck. So, international adoptions are often common,” Carina explains.

“However, they all want a baby. It’s rare that someone will adopt a six-year-old little girl.”

The golden beam of the sun outside has dimmed, and as the rain patters against the windows, we head inside, where Carina continues with her story.

“Seeing the young and older girls is what really got me. They have so many aspirations and dreams bigger than you can imagine, but they just don’t have the opportunities or resources,” she says.

“Once those girls turn 18, that’s it. It’s them versus the world”.

Carina speaks fondly of a little girl, Aastha.

“I saw so much of myself in her, she too wanted to become a teacher and help girls like her,” Carina explains.

“One night, we were all outside doing an activity. It was chilly, and I had nothing to cover up with. She could tell I was cold, and came over with a pink blanket,” says Carina.

“Here, have this,” is what she said when she handed it to me, I was speechless,” Carina says.

“She had so little, yet all she wanted was to give back. The selflessness and act of kindness is something I’ll never forget,” says Carina, gripping tighter than ever on to the pink blanket.

“I never understood how lucky I was until I saw what my life could have really been like, through Aastha’s eyes,” she says.

“It changed me, for the better,” says Carina, with a glimmer of light returned to her eyes.

Outside, the autumn sun radiates through the windows. The rain has cleared up, and a rainbow has filled the sky.

“The best thing though,” says Carina, showing me the blanket, “the best thing is that it’s the same blanket I was bought there in, the exact same one.”

*The names in this story have been changed.

%d bloggers like this: