Saturday, July 21, 2012

CHOOSING TO HAVE A CHILD

This is the first guest post on my blog. The post has been written by my friend Anindita Baidya. Ani is actually my friend Nikhil's wife. ( Though these days, I think of Nikki more as Ani's husband.) Both are wonderful people, extremely compassionate and exactly what parents should be all about. Ani and Nikki are very unique in the sense that they " chose" to become parents. They are pround parents of a lovely little girl  who they adopted eight years ago. Ani shares here her experiences of ADOPTION.

Apne jazbaat mein nagmaat rachaane ke liye
Maine Dhadkan kee tarah dil mein basaayaa hai tujhe
Main tasavoor bhi judaai ka bhala kaise karoon
Maine kismat kee laqueeron se churaayaa hai tujhe...

She came into our life when she was about eight months old.  We had visited the Institution two three times and she was there, all the time.  Sometimes sleeping at one edge of the long bed, sometimes cuddled up in some caregiver’s arms. 

We, however, did not know then that we were destined to be parents to this little pink bundle.  It was only when the Adoption Agency authority informed me that the ‘waiting’ was over and we could now take forward the process of adoption, did we actually know this.  The agency informed that this little baby is the only one waiting for adoption and so in a minute, we decided to adopt her.

We filed the affidavit and  felt a mixture of happiness and surprise when everyone actually addressed as the Baby’s Mummy and Papa! I kept visiting her every Sunday after filing the affidavit until the day our hearing was complete and we brought her home.  I have dedicated a separate post on the special day. (http://aizindagi.blogspot.in/2010/03/homecoming.html).

Our journey of parenthood must have been similar to that experienced by all parents but it was unique and special for us as it was for the first time we were experiencing this.

We had convinced our parents about our decision to adopt. My father in law himself was present during the Home study, done before adoption.  My parents were aware of my decision since my college days; however they were a bit unsure when I actually informed them about our decision; nevertheless they were supporting.  I remember taking them once to a temple where my parents marvelled at a life-size statue of Yashoda with little Kanha in her lap.  My parents stood there, with tears of devotion in their eyes.  While coming out of the temple, I casually told them, “He is also adopted...!”  My parents nodded and smiled at me, and their moist eyes said it all.  We had their blessings, I was convinced.

While we were getting ready for the adoption, we began informing our neighbours and friends about it.  Some of their thoughts still remain punctuated in my tale, some of which I will never be able to forget.

Most of them advised me that we should have our ‘OWN’ children.  We told them the baby will be ‘OURS’, what if not BIOLOGICAL.  One of them also asked me if we are ‘Taking her home forever..!!” and then there was the sagely old lady who said, “If you adopt her, you have to make her your heir.  She will inherit your property!”.  I asked her, “Who else will?” and added, “In any case, what property do we have?  We will slowly build our finances for her and ourselves.”

I was a low-in-confidence mother at first.  On the days I visited her, before the final court hearing, I would volunteer to feed her the milk.  And how clumsy I was! I did not how to hold the little bowl!  At one instance, my smart baby helped herself with her little hands.

The agency had advised us to meet her paediatrician.  And we did. It was the first outing with her, although we were still to be her legal ‘guardians’.  I was totally ignorant about handling a small baby as little as her.  I tried to put her on the weighing scale and did not how to! The caregiver of the agency did it for me.  I was holding the baby and every time she cried, only the caregiver’s lap pacified her.  I felt eyes of mothers in the hall looking at me and felt very conscious! “What kind of a mother is she; the baby is peaceful only in the lap of the ‘ayah’ and not the mother!” I imagined the young mothers saying about me.

After a month of filing the affidavit, she came home.  I felt bad about the other children waiting for adoption at the home then.  Some of the older children had just arrived there and for some of them, the process was taking unusually long time.  They would ask me, “Are you her mother?”, “Is she yours?” “Will you take her away?” I really had no answers for these innocent questions of the children who still had not found a family.

All this time I was also negotiating for Adoption leave for myself.  There was no such leave in the Maternity Leave Act, however, some of the Private Companies, NGOs had already amended their leave rules.  But I was denied such a leave. 

My immediate reporting officer was very considerate to advice me that although he cannot do anything about amending the rules, he is okay with the fact that I don’t go to the field and spend more and more time with my baby.  I was singly in charge of the project then and had an office cum residence for the task.  My head office also graciously deferred the quarterly audit.  But then, the baby surely did need a Full Time parent.

The written down social norms were once again bent by us and it was my husband who took a break from his job to be the full time dad.  And how he enjoyed the new role!

However, I did pursue this for long in my organisation, putting forth that even though we did not get an adoption leave, others in coming years should.  Adoption SHOULD be acknowledged as a way of parenthood.  And today my organisation has its rules amended.

Babies who spend few months at an Institution tend to be very self-governing and remain detached initially.  The children do not weep much and are used to lying down silently.  They do not seek attention at all.  No, it is nothing to do with how they are cared for.  I can vouch for this institution in Bhopal for their unconditional care and devotion.  It is only that the kids are living with many other children.  Imagine a family with a single child vis-a-vis a family with many many children.  

So was our baby, although she was all off 7-8 months.  She did not want us to hug her when she slept, she did not cry much.  Gradually with familiarity and lot of physical contact, she grew to be an emotional person.  And today, we cannot say anything to her, or else we will have a Sangam of Ganga-Yamanua near her nose.

Adoption, historically, has been a way to ensure an heir.  Remember Rani Lakshmi Bai and many other kings and landlords who adopted ‘SONs’ to take forward their family name and monarchy?

So my neighbour, a young girl asked me, since we had the choice, how come we chose to parent a girl and not a Boy.  “I mean, this was a God-sent opportunity to have a boy” she said! 

An ex-colleague once joked, “Its good you adopted a baby who is nearly one year.  The first year is usually filled with anxiety, health concerns.  Tumko DISCOUNT mil gaya!” I had only said, “Hamne apne bachche ka ek saal kho diya hai sir/ We lost one year of our baby, sir!”  But I am sure his joke cut through my heart. 

Well, now it is about eight years that Pakhi came home.  She is planning for her Homecoming gifts, already.  When she is very happy, she affectionately tells me that Pari Mummy has done a good thing in giving her to us since we look after her well.

Pari Mummy is the name we have given to her biological mother.  She has asked us whether we have seen her, we said, no.  But, we said, Pari Mummy must be a very good person.  Considering that she could not raise her baby properly, she opted for placing her with Matri Chhaya and ensured that a Mummy-Papa adopts her.  We have been as casual and ‘matter-of-fact’ with our answers.

When she asked me, “Was I covered with blood when I came out of Pari Mummy’s tummy, like the baby in 3 Idiots?”.  I simply said, “You must have been covered with the fluid with which she protected you inside but I did not see you when you were born”.  My baby is as matter-of-fact as ever, “Okay...so you were in the office!”

She is as much a devil like any other child in the campus; when she is angry, she makes pictures of her bruised heart and asks me leave.  Now she says she wants to adopt a baby when she grows old since if she has it from her tummy, she will have a tummy ache.  Once again, thanks to Bollywood!  J

( you can read more by  Anindita in her blog http://aizindagi.blogspot.in)

14 comments:

Rahul Bhatia said...

A lovely post and wish more people read this to understand the joy a child brings in the family! A girl child is always more loving and caring!

Cloud Nine said...

Very touching and poignant post. Thanks to Ani and you, Meera. The social stigma attached to adopting babies must change, it is wonderful we have people like Pakhi's parents. I love the way they have brought up her well, with casual knowledge on her "pari mummy"...To me, they are one of the best parents...what if the baby is not biological? Happy parenting, dears. And thanks again for the great guest post, Meera.

Jack said...

Anindita,

Read this as well as linked post. You made my eyes moist. Hats off to you to do such a courageous and wonderful deed. I really appreciate your trust in her to let her know the truth also. May God bless all of you.

Take care

Meera,

Thanks for this and the link. I will visit her soon to read more posts.

Take care

simply mee said...

A heart rending story. Admire couples who adopt children because it is still a 'don't-touch' topic from where i come from.
For a 8years old, she is really a drama queen...ahaha. Will adopt because she does not want tummy ache?..ahahaha. Yeah! thanks to bollywood.
I remember watching an american movie where a couple adopted a new born baby. After 3 years, the biological mother wants her back, because her boyfriend who initially abandoned her with teh pregnancy, wanted to marry her and wants their baby back. It ended up in a legal battle. The court ruled in favour of the biological mother...so sad.

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

This is such a beautiful post that makes us reflect deeply about adopting and bringing up child with tremendous love and care. I salute the parents.

anindita said...

Thanks to all of you for your kind comments. I am too overwhelmed with your responses to say anything more..

Thanks and thanks million times..

Bikramjit said...

Every child deserves a home..and I am always in awe of parents who adopt a child , give a home to that child. I know a couple of people who have done that here in blog world too and I always salute them for doing it ..

loved the article thanks for sharing your views with us

Bikram's

Deepa said...

Beautiful. I wish there were more parents like you. I am glad you found a husband who's as supportive of your decision as firm you were and parents and in-laws who are supportive as well. I have no other words but to say 'God bless you'. Pakhi is one blessed girl.

Deepa said...

Finally i was able to open the link! Touching narrative and yes, wish there were more people like you. You're daughter is a lucky child to have you as her parents. (and I loved her comment about you being in office when she was born!)

anilkurup said...

M, sorry for myself that I came into this post late. An exemplary story.
Imagine what difference it would make to the world if couples without biological children decide to adopt!
My good wishes to your friends and the lucky little girl

SuKupedia ™ :) :) said...

a lovely post.. and i really wish lot and lot more people think the way you do .. God bless you :)..

@ Meera: a very good choice of guest :)

Meera Sundararajan said...

Hi Anil, welcome back after that long break. Just one correction in your assumption- Ani and Nikki did not adopt because they could not have biological children. Theirs was a conscious decision only to ADOPT!

@ Sukupedia, I am a really blessed person to have guests like Ani agreeing to write about such a personal experience and choosing my forum to do it

anilkurup said...

That makes the act more noble. Do they have their biological child?

Bhimashankar said...

No words to express what I am feeling after reading this...Just take a bow Ani Mam!!....Bhimashankar

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