Book author Raj Arneja (second from left) with husband Gurpreet and children Kabir (left) and Kirti (right). (submitted photo)

Book author Raj Arneja (second from left) with husband Gurpreet and children Kabir (left) and Kirti (right). (submitted photo)

Story of ‘A Mother’s Journey to Adoption’ told in book by first-time Surrey author

In the 1990s, Raj Arneja and husband Gurpreet adopted two children in India

A Surrey mother’s story about adopting her two children in India is told in a new book.

First-time author Raj Arneja has self-published a memoir called “Love at First Sight: A Mother’s Journey to Adoption.”

She began writing it about two years ago, after years of telling the story to family members.

“My kids, they’d heard the story before, and they were the ones who kind of prompted me to tell the story to others, to get the book done,” Arneja said.

Now adults, Kabir and Kirti are the children of Arneja and her husband, Gurpreet, who live in the Ocean Park area.

The family operates Surrey-based Nanak Foods, and in 2016 Arneja helped open SEVA Thrift Store on Scott Road as a charitable enterprise.

The 230-page book, available on Amazon.com, chronicles the author’s 7,000-kilometre trip from Canada to India to adopt Kabir and Kirti in the 1990s.

It’s not a how-to book about adoption, it is a celebration of motherhood through adoption.

Arneja says she hopes to inspire other couples to adopt.

“The book goes into my history, because I’m born and raised here,” Arneja said. “So going to India, for me, was going to a foreign country, dealing with the bureaucracy there, looking for a child, going from hospital to hospital, all those things.

“While I was there I began to understand where my parents came from, their journey of coming from India to a new country here in Canada with no family,” she continued. “I had those same feelings in India, because the first time I went, I went without my husband because he couldn’t go at the time. This was in 1992, and there was no internet, no cellphones, it was just talking on the phone during calls that cost a lot of money. My husband didn’t even see his son until I came to Canada with him, so the book tells the story about all those experiences.”

Raised in New Westminster, Arneja opens the book with the story of her flight to Japan in 1980, at the age of 16. Scaling Mount Fuji was a life-changing moment for Arneja, who in life has been motivated by the phrase “Never give up.”

Years later, at age 24, her life looked complete.

“I loved my career, working in an office in downtown Vancouver overlooking the harbor,” Arneja writes. “I loved life with my husband, Gurpreet, to whom I had been married for two years already. We had bought a house; we had our loving families and a close group of friends nearby. We enjoyed our ability to freely travel and did so every chance we could. We took a remarkable trip to India together, where we traveled to destinations that were off the beaten path, from north to south and everywhere in between. I was ready for the next chapter of my life. I wanted to become a mom.”

While it seemed like every couple around them was able to conceive easily, for some reason Raj and Gurpreet could not.

As an alternative, they turned to adoption.

“I just wanted people to know about these experiences, to have others do what we did if they can’t conceive, because it is a good alternative,” the author says.

“It’s something new for me, and I feel like I’m exposing myself quite a bit out there, but I think it’s an important story to tell and for people to hear, especially for a young couple looking to adopt,” Arneja continued. “Sometimes people are told no, you shouldn’t, and that happens in South Asian community more often, that the family doesn’t want to adopt outside of bloodlines, but that’s one of the reasons I pushed to get this done, because it can be done. I hope I inspire other couples to do this.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Books

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey city councillors complain not enough public input in committees

City has gone ‘exactly the opposite direction,’ Councillor Brenda Locke charges

Music therapist Felicia Wall in the music room at Phoenix Society in Surrey. (submitted photo)
Eclectic album showcases songs recorded by Surrey residents in recovery

Project at Phoenix Society took about six months to complete, with help of music therapist

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A Transit Police officer and another driver were injured on Nov. 4 in a traffic crash while the officer was responding to another officers call for help catching a man who escaped custody. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Police watchdog investigating Surrey crash that injured transit cop, another driver

Crash happened 11 p.m. Nov. 4, at 128th Street and 93rd Avenue in Cedar Hills

An Amica White Rock resident receives the COVID-19 vaccine during a Jan. 15, 2021 clinic. (Tracy Holmes photo)
PHOTOS: South Surrey seniors grateful for ‘freedom’ of COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination clinics at Fraser Health long-term and assisted-living sites were to wrap up Jan. 15

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Most Read