San Dieguito Academy

Immigration & adoption

When her future parents first laid eyes her, Kiran Mapes, 20, was leaning on the side of her crib at Mother Teresa’s Orphanage in Delhi, India, observing everything.

Soon deciding to welcome the baby to their family, Mapes’ adopted parents brought her to the United States.

Mapes maintained little connection with her Indian background throughout her childhood, and she fully identifies as American, for she has lived here for as long as she can remember: “I have created a life in America and lived my whole life in America. If I had more memories of India, like visiting India a few times throughout my childhood, I maybe [would] have considered myself more of an Indian than an American.”

Though she sees herself as an American, Mapes often struggled as a child to assimilate into the culture that surrounded her, and she worked tirelessly to ensure others did not know she was adopted or originally from another culture.

“When I was younger, I didn’t want to tell my friends that I was adopted because I wanted to be like my white parents and have the same skin color as my parents. I also didn’t want to know a lot about India because I wanted to fit in with my American family and learn more about American culture,” she said.

But, everything changed a couple of months ago when she scrolled through Facebook and encountered a photo of a girl who was also adopted from Delhi. She instantly grew curious to hear her story and interact with others who were adopted from India. Eventually, Mapes reached out to  the girl and her family, presenting an opportunity for her to open up to them about her own experiences and eventually share with others.

Mapes said this experience sparked her willingness to learn more about her biological background: “I became more interested in learning about India and wanted to connect with other adoptees and families. I also became interested in learning more about my birth parents,” she said.

This increased curiosity heightened her desire to travel to India and learn more about her culture. “Right now as I am getting more educated on Indian culture, I am starting to see it as a cool thing to learn about. I spreading my curiosity towards India,” she said excitedly.