Kota, India — Mili's adoptive mother shares her story.
It was a cool breezy morning on the 13th of April, 2012. I was travelling from Ratlam to Kota on a passenger train. In India, passenger trains are sometimes also referred to as ‘local train as they are slow, stop at every small station and most of the passengers belong to lower income groups or are travelling short distances. I began my journey at 5 am in the morning. It was the beginning of summer; the weather was pleasant and mildly cloudy. It began like any other day, and I had no idea at the time, what it had in store for me.
As we rustled along, I noticed the faint cry of a child. It was almost 7 am now and we had reached Mehatpur station. I brushed it away assuming the child belonged to one of the passengers in the same bogey. But the crying did not stop for another 1.5 to 2 hours. I tried asking around in my compartment where the baby was, but no one seemed to know.
An Abandoned Baby
After a while, I got up to use the facilities. Concerned and curious at the same time, I stopped in front of the nearby compartment to look around. I could not spot any child, but the crying seemed to originate in there. Then I looked under the seats. There, wrapped in a small piece of blue saree cloth, was a little baby girl, crying incessantly, throwing her hands and legs about.
I was shocked. The female infant was naked and had a cleft lip. Even the umbilical cord was wet at the time. Picking up the child in my arms, I asked the passengers around if they knew about the baby.To my horror, no one claimed the baby nor did they know where she came from. I coddled the child in my lap and tried to calm her.
The train came to a stop at Alot station. There I brought some milk and fed her with a spoon. The hungry infant became quiet and soon fell asleep in my lap. I gazed at the new born child with her cleft.
A Life-Changing Decision
Then it occurred to me that I could take the baby with me to Kota and raise her as my own as I have no daughter. I have two sons 20 year old Montu and 17 year old Sontu. My motherly feelings for this girl child were special. I felt tender and affectionate and the more I thought about it, the more determined I became. Although I was not sure how my family would react to it. I stay with my parents and brothers as my husband and I have filed for a divorce.
Back at home, everyone accepted the child except my elder brother. He was afraid that it could be illegal keeping a child found unattended in the train. I reassured him by suggesting that we could try an advertisement in the newspaper for the lost child. That way, the real parents, if they wanted to, could claim her back.
The advertisement was given a few days later. After waiting for several days, nobody came to claim the child. We finally decided to raise the little bundle of joy as our own and give her a good upbringing. She was named Mili – which in Hindi means ‘found.’
I was, however, worried about her cleft lip and palate. It was difficult to feed her and I was concerned about all the ridicule she might face in her life. The only way she could swallow food was by making her lie on her back and carefully feeding her with a spoon. The milk would leak through her cleft lip and palate if we tried to feed her in the sitting position.
I was returning from a court session one day when I met the secretary of my lawyer. 4 months had passed since I had adopted Mili. The secretary heard of my daughter’s condition and mentioned a possible treatment at Alok Hospital in Kota. She told me the treatment was free. Hearing that, I was overjoyed and anxious at the same time. I did not waste time in getting to Alok hospital. I met Dr. Alok Garg, and came to know that he had performed thousands of cleft lip and palate surgeries free of cost through Smile Train. After a brief examination of Mili, he assured me that she could be operated on and her lip would be fine. Mili was admitted in the hospital on the same day and the surgery was performed on the 7th of July.
Several months have passed since Mili was first operated on. She is now due for a second operation, the date for which shall be decided soon. When I look back at that fateful April day when Mili came to us, I still wonder how many poor children out there are abandoned due to their clefts. Mili is a lucky child and I am hopeful for her future. Thank you.