I was born and raised in India and attended a convent school. I am a very religious person.
When my son was 2 months old, my husband and I immigrated to the United States. I was 28 at the time. I wanted to study in the U.S. because I couldn’t further my studies in India. I decided to go into nursing when my son was in kindergarten. It was very tough to get money, but I finally got a loan. I went to school full-time and took an accelerated program with no idea of what to major in. I struggled, but I managed to maintain a 3.5 or 3.6 average every semester. When I started, there were 110 people in my class; when I graduated,there were 58.
But still God had different plans for me. When my daughter was in 9th and 10th grades we could see how unhappy she was. We changed her school, took her to counseling and put her on medication. We told her, “Whatever it is that is bothering you, please tell us. We love you and want you to be happy.”
My daughter was different from the children of my friends—we are a very tight-knit Indian-American community. Almost all my friends expect that their children to become doctors and lawyers, marry within the community and then have children. My daughter was totally different.
When my daughter finally confided in us, it was a shock. Not only that she wanted to go to art school, but also that her life choices were different. I prayed for a miracle even though I knew it wouldn’t happen.
At a religious retreat, I talked with a priest, seeking his guidance and help. I thought my daughter was committing a sin, but, this priest told me that I have to take the idea of my daughter’s lifestyle as a sin out of my head and that my daughter and everyone else is the creation of God.
This priest did not agree with the policies of the Catholic Church. I felt so comforted. This man of God opened my eyes and showed me and that I should accept my daughter exactly the way she is. My daughter is not abnormal—she is normal. He went on to tell me that there are other Christian churches that will allow my daughter to marry when she is ready. These other churches accept her as she is.
This is an excerpt from a comprehensive interview.