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[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]When sophomore Aashi Parekh, eight at the time, came home from school talking about someone she knew that was adopted, her parents sat her down. With hopeful and kind faces they said, “We need to tell you something.”

She started crying.

“I was so sad because I thought they didn’t want me, my real parents,” Parekh said. “I was like, ‘Why was I adopted?’ and then I felt bad. Then I took it negatively and then I understood that I was lucky.”[/vc_column_text][nectar_slider location=”Aashi feature 4″][vc_column_text]Parekh was adopted from an orphanage in Pune, India when she was 6 months old. Parekh admitted to feeling depressed after finding out about her adoption, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to meet her birth parents.

“I used to always get sad like, ‘Why didn’t my birth parents want me?’” Parekh said. “But there are a lot of reasons why parents wouldn’t be able to keep their kid, because of financial reasons or maybe [the birth] was an accident,” Parekh said.

Because of her interest in her birth parents, she has gotten so far as to contact her orphanage in India.

“I emailed my orphanage and they said that I should come back when I’m 18 to ask about them because it’s confidential,” Parekh said. “They didn’t want me to know about it.”[/vc_column_text][nectar_slider location=”Aashi feature 2″][vc_column_text]Parekh’s cousins Pooja Javia and Soniya Shah have never looked at Parekh differently since they realized that she was adopted.

“My reaction was normal,” Javia said. “I didn’t really care if she was adopted or not. It didn’t matter to me. I was just happy she got adopted knowing she’s my cousin either way.”

To Javia and Shah, adoption is an admirable thing to do. By adding someone to your family, bonds and relationships are strengthened.

“I believe adoption is beautiful,” Shah said. “Giving a child a home and loving someone else’s blood as your own is not something everyone would have the courage to do. Aashi’s parents are the most loving people I have ever met and I’m happy that Aashi was given the best family in the world.”

But Shah doesn’t tell people about Parekh’s adoption.

“There is no reason to,” Shah said. “She is my cousin regardless of where she came from. Aashi is my cousin and I will always address her as my cousin, not my ‘adopted cousin.’”

[/vc_column_text][nectar_slider location=”Aashi feature 3″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Aashi has always had constant thoughts about her life if she wasn’t adopted and still lived in India.

“If I was in that other orphanage situation, then it would be worse,” Parekh said. “I got picked out of a lot of kids who needed a family. What if [my parents] picked someone else? They would have a different life and I would be a different person probably.”

Growing up, Parekh had her cousins to fall back on for support and advice and said she is grateful for her adoption.

“I could be in the dumps and I could not have a good education or anything,” Parekh said. “I came all the way from India and it’s so different from here. So just thinking about how lucky I am – I have clothes, food, people that love me and a good family.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]