“All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.”
― Tahereh Mafi,
Kristen Williams, 44, is a single high school teacher from Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A who always dreamed of being a mom. She started pursuing adoption in 2009, and after researching different international adoption agencies, she elected to adopt an infant girl from Nepal. In the midst of the process, however, the U.S. Department of State suspended all adoptions from Nepal on suspicion of fraud. Despite losing $28,000 on a child she would never meet, Kristen was determined to try again. While looking into adopting from India, Kristen came across a 5-year-old girl named Munni.Her past had been physically and emotionally traumatic. Before she was orphaned, she was subjected to extreme abuse that left her with prominent scars on her face and scalp. She had a scar on her forehead in the shape of a horseshoe but no one could tell her how it got there. Munni was quiet and withdrawn but Williams felt nothing but love for her. “I saw her face, and it was like an electric current just shot out and hit me in my heart,” Kristen says. “She was everything I wasn’t looking for, and she ended up being everything I needed,” Kristen says. On Valentine’s Day 2013, Kristen officially became Munni’s adoptive mother. “I call her my forever valentine,” Williams said. “It was such a special day. I was so blessed. She opened my eyes to so much. And I knew I wanted to adopt a little sister or brother for Munni.”
Kristen Williams with Durga
Six months later, Kristen decided to adopt another child from India. She and Munni came across a 3-year-old girl named Durga, who was abandoned at birth and repeatedly rejected by prospective adoptive parents due to her appearance. “I remember that Munni and I were driving home from the park one day and my case worker called saying, ‘We have a little girl for you and you’d be a perfect family for her,’ and I told her to send her information over immediately,” Williams said. As soon as Williams and Munni walked through the door they logged onto the computer and Durga’s little face smiled back at them. “I cried straight away,” Wiliams said. “This gorgeous little girl with such beautiful eyes had suffered so much. Munni looked at her photo and said, ‘Is that my little sister?’ I said yes immediately. The case worker asked if I needed 24 hours to think about it but I said no, not needed.” The adoption process meant Durga was then locked to Williams and no other prospective parent could meet her.
Ironically, Durga was found in a garbage pile, barely clinging to life. Her nose and part of her upper lip had been eaten away by rats and insects. “It’s very unfortunate that this is an everyday event in India,” Kristen says. A police official passing by happened to notice her. Drawn by compassion, he picked her up and took her to a hospital. Ilaben Anjaria, the superintendent of Kutch Mahila Kalyan Kendra center, in Gujarat, said Durga arrived at the care center in September 2011, weighing just 1-pound, 3 ounces and was just a day old. “Her nose was badly nibbled by insects and she was very weak and we were afraid she wouldn’t survive,” Anjaria said. “We tried our best to take good care of her and we used to feed her with cotton balls soaked in milk. “We named her Durga. For three years we tried our best to find a home for her. Three couples that initially volunteered eventually rejected her because of her nose. Then we contacted an agency licensed with foreign adoptions. Finally Kristen’s agency got in touch.”
In February 2015, she and Munni welcomed Durga into their family. Although the orphanage in India named Durga, Kristen and Munni wanted to give her a new name to commemorate her new life. They eventually decided on Roopa, which means “blessed with beauty.” Williams has now taken eight months off work, to spend time helping Durga settle into her new home. She said her parents, older sister who has four children, and brother-in-law, have been a big support and having embraced both Munni and Durga as members of the family. “We’re so happy for Durga that she now has a mother and a wonderful new life in the U.S.,” said Anjaria. “She’s very cute and lovely child. Kristen has assured us Durga will be happy and she said she will bring her back to meet us when she’s older. ”she added.
After hearing Kristen’s inspiring story, Dr Greg Gion, a certified clinical anaplastologist, who offered to provide Roopa with a custom nasal prosthesis until she is old enough to undergo reconstructive surgery. In addition, double board-certified facial plastic surgeon Dr. Jon E. Mendelsohn offered to perform cosmetic scar-removal treatments for Munni, free of charge. However, these surgeries can only be performed when Roopa is seven years old.
“I look at my girls and I’m so happy,” Williams said. “I had set out to adopt a child but this journey has brought me so much more. I feel so much love for my girls. They’re my world and I can’t wait to start our lives together. To call them my family just fills me with joy.” Williams would still like to marry one day, but said any man she meets needs to be completely happy becoming a father to her girls. “It will take a very special man to take all three of us on. I’ll never say never, of course I would love for them to have a father, but I’ll be very careful about who enters our lives.”