Despite autism and mental delays, Rekha was able to start speaking at age 15. Once she started speaking, she began picking up more and more words, and now has a basic vocabulary.
But the transition was not easy. For years after she was taken away from India, Rehka had frequent, violent fits.
“During these fits, she would bite herself, rip off her clothes, throw herself on the floor…and she also physically hurt me,” Pollak said, recalling times that her daughter would bite her or tear out her hair.
Pollak believes that these fits were caused by Rekha’s inability to communicate her needs, combined with insecurity at being transported to a new and unknown life, as well as hormonal changes as she went through puberty.
Thanks to medication and a great deal of devotion and time, Pollak said that “Rekha is today a much calmer individual - the fits still occur but they are much less intense and much less frequent.”
“Rekha has helped me to become a more patient person!” she added.
Many of Pollak’s friends and family were not initially supportive, with some of them believing that she was making a serious mistake. A dear friend told her that she was ruining her life.
Her younger sister was married to an adoptee and was sympathetic and supportive, she recalled. But her older sister made it clear that she wanted nothing to do with the adoption, including assuming any responsibility if anything were to happen Pollak.
But over time, Pollak said she seen how her daughter has brought out the best in humanity.
“Over the...years that she's been with me, I have witnessed the graciousness, kindness and love of other human beings, from people whom we've met maybe only on a bus ride to people who have become a part of our life,” she said, pointing specifically to the caregivers they had worked with over the years.
“People frequently stare at us in public because we are sort of an ‘odd couple’ and because Rekha is often very boisterous, but those stares are so often accompanied by smiles.”
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
On Sept. 4, 2016, Pollak and Rehka were both able to attend Mother Teresa’s canonization, an opportunity that Pollak considers incredibly special.
“Today, I believe that my mission to meet Mother Teresa indirectly led me to Rekha,” she said, reflecting on her own journey to adoption. While there were many factors in her decision, which unfolded over several years, she said that watching the saint’s work more than 20 years ago was part of the inspiration that led to her become more deeply involved in the life of the girl she would go on to adopt.
“Seeing Mother Teresa's work in Calcutta and in other places in the word has a strong impact, and can turn a casual observer into a protagonist,” she said.
An earlier version of this story was originally published on CNA Sept. 5, 2017.