I was at Chetna Sharma’s home for our monthly beer sessions. Their two little girls, Saanya and Raina, came running to ask if I could take them to watch a game of quidditch. Chetna holds me responsible for their newfound obsession with the world of Harry Potter while Raina is the one who made me fall in love with dogs after the first time she and Tobler assumed their throne on my lap (Tobler uninvited!)
At the tender age of 1.5 years, Raina was found by the local police abandoned on the streets of Uttar Pradesh with a few bruises. Around the same time, the couple, who already had Saanya, had filed their application with the Central Adoption Resource Authority to adopt their second child. As destiny would have it, within 8 months, Raina found herself a loving family in the Sharmas.
As I poured another round, I told Chetna about how they have performed a noble deed by giving a new lease of life to an orphan, instead of producing ‘their own’. To my surprise, she emotively disagreed and said, “No Samyak, it is the other way around. With Raina coming into our lives, we have become so much more compassionate, open and emotionally intelligent. In fact, though she is still young, our decision has had a huge positive impact on Saanya as well. She understands now that love is unconditional.” This is one of the many stories of adoptive families that I have known.
By choosing to adopt, adoptive parents/families embark upon a journey of spiritual growth, contentment, and joy. Yet, in India, the general perception of adoption is quite the opposite. The narrative on adoption as an alternative to family planning either does not exist or is frowned upon in most households. Humans are inherently controlled by their need to reproduce and carry on their bloodlines. The story in India is no different. Yet, what makes the case of India different is the concept of caste. The fear of not being able to carry on their bloodline exists and adopting someone from a different caste may be an absolute no-go for many prospective families. Even if modern couples wish to adopt, the elders in the family may not accept a child out of adoption with concerns about them being from a lower caste or social strata. It is also true that one may be willing to adopt but may not possess the emotional bandwidth to do so. This, however, may be overcome by counselling and training. Moreover, the fear of legal and administrative delays also looms large upon those who wish to adopt and many a time stops them altogether from pursuing this option. While this fear may be somewhat justified due to India’s unyielding bureaucracy, it is important to reiterate that despite the potential hurdles in the process of adoption, it is worth it!
A person’s childhood holds significance in more ways than one can think. The compassion, care, and exposure with which a child is raised can determine the entire course of their lifetime. A child raised in the comforts of a loving home, will not only be able to create a good life for themselves but also contribute to the better good of society. A lack of emotional guidance, resources, and poor quality of education, on the other hand, may potentially create societal threats in the form of petty thieves, drug addicts, and criminals with little other recourse. For adoptive parents/families, adoption can help them evolve as individuals and perhaps even improve their mental health.
In a country with a massive population, depleting resources, and lakhs of abandoned children, conversations on adoption are still rare. India’s children form a significant proportion of its demography and to turn this into a ‘demographic dividend’, one cannot ignore abandoned children in need of nurturing.
We are building Adopt India to create a movement to transform attitudes towards adoption, eventually enabling millions of people to break away from age-old societal conditioning and open up their homes and hearts to those who need them.
Editor Note: The names in this story were changed for privacy.
This article was written in collaboration with Kasvi Singh (Chief Executive, Adopt India)
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