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An Unforgettable Morning with Bilquis Edhi: The Story of our Son's Adoption

I first met Mrs. Edhi on May 4th 2010, when we decided to adopt a baby. We had just landed in Karachi the day before and were visiting her in the hopes that through her, Allah might bless us with our first adopted child. Outside of the Edhi center we were fortunate enough to recognize and meet Abdul Sattar Edhi. We said Salaams and explained why we were visiting. He walked us into the building and directed us to some stairs indicating that his wife was in the offices upstairs.

As we reached the top of these stairs we saw a very simply dressed lady with a Dupatta (a scarf) gracefully resting her head and shoulders. A number of people were already present. I was about to ask this lady if she could point me to Mrs. Edhi but I realized that she was Mrs. Edhi. So simple and humble was her appearance that initially I mistook her for one of the staff employees. Among the people present was a couple who had traveled from their village, a lady also from the US, and a number of staff members. The couple were pleading with Mrs. Edhi for a child. She asked when they had visited previously, and they answered a couple of months earlier. She told a staff member to record their visit today and asked them to come again. 

I was told that Mrs. Edhi tests the commitment of the people looking to adopt a child and until she is satisfied does not place children with them. This began to worry me because I had only just arrived after a long flight and thought to myself that we might have a really long wait and I began to recite Darood and prayers in my heart. Then the lady from the US was trying to hand her a letter, she looked at this letter and immediately dismissed it saying that it was in English therefore she couldn’t read it and required it to be translated.

Finally she turned her attention to us, my husband and I. We introduced ourselves and shared with her copies of all the paperwork we had already submitted to her. Her daughter Almas brought that file and she studied this for a few minutes. Then she asked me a question, she asked me if I want a boy or a girl? I replied that I am ok with either. She went back to studying the file. The office was open with people coming and going constantly. The phone would also be ringing frequently and there were a few benches and filing cupboards. The paint was peeling off and the decor was bare bones. 

She once again ushered me towards her and asked again, do you want a boy or girl, again I gave her the same response that I am open to either and have no preference. She became busy and seemed to be in a hurry, she told us to wait and left the area to go upstairs. The couple who came before had left, the lady with the letter was also gone, most of the staff members were busy with their work. My husband Salman and I were alone at this point, praying quietly and in awe of how this unassuming couple had accomplished so much. After some time Mrs Edhi came back downstairs and we automatically stood and approached her, she looked me in the eyes and for the third time asked me if I wanted a boy or girl, this time I said dear Mrs. Edhi, no matter how many times you ask me this question I will always give you the same response, I have no preference. In fact, I said, please if you can give me both. To which she gave me a look that suggested “don’t get ahead of yourself” and so I fell silent. Then she beckoned with her hand for me to get closer to her and very quietly she said, I have a child, come back at 1pm. I was stunned. I was still processing this news and tried to ask another question but she said again louder this time that “bas.. ek bajay aajana.” (Stop…come at 1 o’clock). Salman and I hurriedly left, simultaneously excited and unsure. 

It was only 10am, so we had a few hours to wait. We went back to the hotel to give my mum this news and on the way back we picked up some formula, a bottle, diapers, and clothes. When we reached at 1pm, we were guided to the floor above and told to wait. Then, under the watchful eyes of Mrs. Edhi a nurse brought a baby wrapped in a pink blanket out towards me, I began to shake and cry so my mum stepped forward to receive the baby in her hands. Salman had started recording this whole event. My mum then asked if it is a son or daughter to which Mrs. Edhi said, “A son.”

She asked me what will you name him?'' I answered Rahman, it was the only name I had clearly in my mind. And although I was expecting a girl I couldn’t quite settle on a girl name at that time. Mrs Edhi explained that she had to place the baby that day because she and her husband were traveling tomorrow for their charity work to New York. She also told us that she had been trying to call another couple for the last two days but was unable to reach them.  This was also very significant news for us because about three weeks prior I had started to become very anxious and kept telling my husband that we had to be in Pakistan by May 1st. He asked me why several times, to which I had no good answer, only that I had an overwhelming feeling that this date was important. As such and despite our best efforts we set off from Washington DC on May 1st which meant our arrival between travel time and time zone changes was May 3rd. This entire time I kept saying we were late, though I had absolutely no knowledge for what. Allah had graced us with this wait of two days such that we arrived in the last window of time before Mrs. Edhi was compelled to make a decision. 

I was still crying as I held my baby for the first time. He was so tiny, not more than a week old. Mrs Edhi gently shook her head and said “no, no, don’t cry”. As I rocked him in my arms, Salman recited the Adhaan in Rahman’s ears. We changed his clothes and prepared a bottle to feed him. I turned to Mrs. Edhi again asked if she can give me his original clothes/possessions or anything that was left with him so that I may give it to him when he is older. She said he was dressed in rags that she threw away. So, unfortunately there was nothing. At this point we were ready to leave. With tremendous gratitude and joy we expressed our salaams to her and the entire staff as we left with our gift from Allah. 

Today Rahman is almost 12 years old, he has an insatiable curiosity and a terrific memory that he’s applied to memorizing the Quran. His favorite pastime however playing with his cousins and friends

Mrs. Edhi achieved what was considered impossible by many. She rescued hundreds of children in her lifetime, including my son, and I will never forget her kindness. May Allah accept her extraordinary humanitarian work and grant her a high station in heaven, Ameen.

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