Some stories overwhelm you not just because they surface challenging realities of the world we live in but the mysterious ways in which life works and, for some, mends the broken pieces. For Tia Bhatia, it was beyond that. Bhatia was given up by her birth parents in the early 90s in Punjab’s Ambala and ended up in the town’s orphanage in a highly malnourished condition. It was when she was shifted to an orphanage in Delhi that her life changed and destined with a couple in Toronto, Arvinder Bhatia and Navdeep Bhatia.
Arvinder and Navdeep Bhatia, who moved to Canada after marrying in 1984, always wanted to adopt a baby girl and that’s how they came in touch with the orphanage. The family calls it the best decision they ever made, and their life radiates every bit of that sentiment. Today, Tia Bhatia, who started her stint as a performer when she was 17, is living it up as an artist and working towards her goals, one step at a time.
In an interview with SheThePeople, Tia Bhatia opens up about her adoption story, the inspiration she draws from her parents, her growth as an artist, and why love and acceptance are the only phenomena required to form a family.
Tia Bhatia Interview
From being an abandoned undernourished child whose bones were sticking out to ending up being a part of a loving family, Bhatia’s journey is one of a kind. It was evident that she was not taken care of prior to her landing in the Ambala but her life turned around when she was shifted to the Delhi orphanage. Recalling her adoption journey, she tells us, “My mom was on a plane to Delhi when my aunts in Delhi visited the place. I was the first kid who was brought out and, seeing the yearning in my eyes, they were sure to take me in. My mom had decided to adopt me without even taking look at me, knowing in her heart I was the one. From being no one and belonging to nowhere, I became a daughter and found a home in a big loud Punjabi family.”
The little girl who had just found a home met with another hurdle when the doctors discovered a hole in her heart. “My family decided to stay in India for some time to get me checked up as Canadian law required a healthy baby to pass the visa requirements back then. The doctors discovered a hole in my heart and when my parents informed the orphanage as part of the paperwork, they said ‘You can exchange the child.’ My dad was taken aback by listening to their insensitivity. He replied, ‘She is a child, not a product, I will get her treated.’
The family moved to Toronto after her surgery. Bhatia’s health improved and the acceptance of not just her parents but the extended family is what helped her understand love better. She was was 6 six when her mom sat her down and told her about the adoption journey and the process that unfolded. Bhatia reflects, “That made me aware and more grateful, mom was open to answering all my questions.”
Bhatia, who often got bullied as a child and teen after people learned about her adoption, had her parents’ back all the way. “My parents helped me navigate everything and helped me face it all in stride. Their telling me that they chose me out of choice and not out of helplessness made me even more grateful,” she says, sharing how her parents’ faces light up when they are told she looks like them.
Dynamics of Families
“We all believe in the upper being, and my dad is my god for me,” says Bhatia who is inseparable from her dad. Her family radiates that unconditional acceptance is what leads to the establishment of a family and, in today’s world, when the dynamics of families are changing, it’s love all the way that holds solid ground. Love transcends blood and Bhatia advocates that in everything she does.
“My family is a living example that love and acceptance are thicker than blood and that’s the only phenomenon required to form a family.”
- Tia Bhatia with her parents, Arvinder Bhatia and Navdeep Bhatia.
Levelling her ground as an artist
Bhatia, who has taken formal training in acting from a known Films and Theatre Insitute in the United States, is also a content creator and often shows impeccable dance moves across her social media. Having been a part of films like Anatomy of Violence by Deepa Mehta and Dr Cabbie., she says she is moving forward as an artist taking inspiration from her parents. “My father’s resilience and my mom’s spirituality teach me new things daily. They brought me up with all the right values and helped me carve my path too. I am an artist today and everything I do stems from the authenticity that I learned from my parents.”
There was something that always drew her toward the arts and she acknowledged how rejection, too, is a huge part of the entertainment industry. young age. To our question that what impacted her growth as an artist? She responds, “People don’t realise how many doors are shut in your face within this industry. Rejection is something I had to learn about and go through countless times, to the point where it taught me many life lessons. No matter how long it takes, don’t give up. So yes, the word rejection impacted my growth as an artist in a positive way.”
Representation of people of colour
As someone who has closely seen the entertainment world in the west, Bhatia strongly supports the idea of more representation of people of colour and a level playing ground for all. “Film and Television industry is about storytelling. There are so many people around the world with different backgrounds, cultures, skin tones, values, and beliefs. So more stories need to be shared on such massive platforms. The west is bringing people under one platform and offering opportunities for the same. I’m getting to see people who represent someone I look like and can relate to, and now the new generation can see they too can enter this industry. Growing up I only saw maybe one or two people from my background in a television show or a movie in Hollywood, but doors are opening and it’s a good thing.”
The good bad and in-between of social media
As a content creator, Bhatia understands the dynamics of the ever-changing trends in the business. The kind of changes she has seen in the way social media has laid an impact on her creative journey, she says, “I always say never put your eggs all in one basket. Social media is a great way to share content and connect with people around the world. I have become friends with people I haven’t met, only because we continuously support each other on social media. The downside is that social media is always changing. There are so many new platforms, sometimes it’s hard to keep up. That’s why you should never just rely on social media. It should only be used as an avenue to get your story or content out there. Then you have to shift to something that will add more stability.”
“Adoption is a beautiful thing. Why it’s still considered taboo in certain sections of society is still hard to comprehend. I hope people go beyond the ‘blood is blood’ dynamics and shift focus on the varied dynamics that entail family formation.”
In a world where adoption is still stigmatised Bhatia’s story gives courage to those parents who chose the path of adoption and those kids who yearn for a family. She adds, “What I would like to tell people through this platform is that so many kids around the world yearning for a parent or parents. I’ve been to orphanages with over a hundred girls given up for the sake of being a girl, and those stories are heartbreaking. I don’t know why I was given up but I do know that I found a family that turned out to be the best for me.”
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