Being given up for adoption leaves a deep mark on a child. Adopted kids wonder who their birth parents are, where they're from, and what it was that made their biological parents give up their right to be their mom and dad. And even the happiest adopted child wonders about these questions from time to time.
Saroo was born in India but adopted by an Australian familly when he was five. But his adoption story is quite different from most.
Saroo had a brother named Guddu who was a few years older than him.
Guddu earned money cleaning trains, and on one particular day, he brought five-year-old Saroo with him.
Guddu asked Saroo to wait on the train while he worked. He told him he'd be back soon, and Saroo was exhausted so he closed his eyes for a moment. But when he woke up, the little boy realized the train was empty and he didn't know where he was.
Saroo could neither read nor write and didn't know his family's last name or the name of the city he lived in.
He got off the train and roamed the streets of Calcutta completely alone.
Soon a teenager saw Saroo and realized he was lost. He brought the little boy to a shelter for abandoned children. And because Saroo didn't know where he came from, and no one in his family came to pick him up, he was put on a list for adoption.
Saroo was adopted by an Australian family and got a whole new life, far from the poverty and danger he was used to. But he also missed his birth family a lot.
Saroo's new mom put up a map of India in his room so he wouldn't forget where he came from. The map remind him of India, and Saroo often had flashes of his earlier days in his hometown with his family. But he never remembered enough to help him in his quest.
Meanwhile, Saroo's mom was looking for him in India, unaware that her son wasn't even in the country.
When Saroo was older, he discovered Google Maps and Google Earth, and realized that he could use the applications to search for his birthplace.
Saroo knew he must have lived near Calcutta and started zooming in on places in the surrounding area.
Many people thought Saroo was looking for a needle in a haystack, but he never lost hope, even though it had been 25 years since he last saw his family.
Day after day, Saroo searched the map – until one day, he finally saw something he recognized.
Saroo saw a bridge that looked like the bridge at the train station where he woke up that day and couldn't find his brother.
Slowly but surely, Saroo found more clues and he finally had the name of his birth city: Ganesh Talai. It didn't take long before Saroo was on an airplane to India to look for his biological family. It was like traveling back in time, and he was flooded with more and more memories.
Finally, Saroo found himself at the house where he spent his early years. His heart began to beat faster. Did his family still live there? Would they recognize him?
A few meters away stood three women. Immediately one of them went up to Saroo and took him in her arms. She was his mother and she immediately recognized him.
Saroo's mom called two of his siblings and told them that their brother had appeared out of nowhere. However, in the midst of his reunion, Saroo also got some tragic news. His brother Guddu, who had been with him at the train station that day, was found a month after the two boys disappeared. He had been hit by a train and died.
Finding his family was like finding a needle in a haystack, but the needle was there. And thanks to his persistence, Saroo managed to succeed.
Since the reunion, Saroo has continued to send money to his biological family so his mother doesn't have to work anymore.
In most countries, five-year-olds play with toys, go to school, and have fun. But in India, many children that age have already started working to help support their family.
Saroo's story has a happy ending, but not all children have the same journey. They grow up in extreme poverty and have neither food nor a roof over their heads.
In 2015, Saroo wrote a book about his birth called "A Long Way Home." The book has also been made into a film called "Lion."
Watch a video about Saroo's story here:
Please share Saroo's story with your friends on Facebook. It's proof that you should never give up!