By Geeta Pandey
BBC News, Delhi
14 March 2016
Elisabet Purve-Jorendal was born in India and given away for adoption in 1973 when she was less than six months old.
A Swedish couple adopted her when she was two-and-a-half years old and gave her a new life.
Forty-two years later, she tracked down her biological mother and had an emotional reunion with the woman she had wondered about all her life.
Speaking over the phone from her home in Helsingborg on the Sweden-Denmark border, she told the BBC that meeting her mother was “nothing less than a miracle”.
“My mother was 21 years old. She had been married to my father, a farmer, for three years when one day he came home after a fight with someone. He was very angry. He killed himself. He had consumed pesticides,” Ms Purve-Jorendal said.
Her mother went to stay with her parents who wanted her to remarry and restart her life.
“But she was pregnant, and she didn’t even know,” says Ms Purve-Jorendal.
When the family discovered her pregnancy, they took her to a charity in Pune where she delivered a baby girl in September 1973. “I’m told that for a few months, she stayed at the centre, nursed me and looked after me.”
When Ms Purve-Jorendal turned two-and-a-half, she was adopted by a couple in Sweden who provided her a new home and a new life.
“But I always wondered about my mother in India. Who was she? How was she? Why did she leave me? I knew I needed to find her since I was a part of her. I wanted to get answers to all my questions.”
Her adoptive parents were supportive of her quest, but others couldn’t fathom why she would want to rake up the past. “You have a good life here. Leave her alone,” they advised her.
Ms Purve-Jorendal began actively looking for her mother in 1998 and nearly two decades later, her search ended in a small village in Maharashtra.
Ms Purve-Jorendal’s search ended in a small village in Maharashtra
At the outset, she didn’t have much to go by – just the names of her mother and her grandfather that were in the adoption papers.
“I realised how hard it was to get anywhere with that. How do you find someone in a country of 1.2 billion people? It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. You must have the right connections, know how to press the right buttons.”
In 2014, she contacted Against Child Trafficking (ACT), a voluntary organisation based in Belgium.
On 8 August last year, she received an email from ACT which said they had succeeded in tracing her mother and attached were some photos.
“I can’t describe my feelings. Here was a person I had longed for my whole life and then I see her photograph. It was beyond imagination. It was a miracle.”
Elisabet Purve-Jorendal celebrated her 42nd birthday at the Pune home where she was born
A few days before her birthday in September, she flew halfway across the world to meet the woman who had given birth to her.
“And suddenly I was there. Outside her house, outside her door. A social worker had been in touch with her so she was expecting me. She was sitting down and stood up when she saw me. I had a blackout, I did not react. She was also shocked.”
Ms Purve-Jorendal’s mother has two children – a son and a daughter – from her second husband who died a few years ago. Today, she lives with her son, his wife and their children.
She has kept her first-born a secret so, with the daughter-in-law and grandchildren watch