Adopting a girl-child is a big decision and Sayali Joshi (name changed) took it 8 years ago, when Ovee was brought home as a 6 month old baby. Today 13 years into her marriage, she has also decided not to have another child. It was a joint decision with her husband and she is happy about it. Her adopted daughter Ovee has been named after the couplets in Sant Gyaneshwar’s Gyaneshwari (a Marathi translation of the Bhagavad Geeta), which are also called Ovee.
Decision to Adopt: Sayali had decided earlier on as a teenager that she would adopt a child after marriage. She explains, “There were a few things I was very clear about. As a teenager, you feel strongly about many things. You want to correct so many things around you. I am fortunate that my partner supported the decision. Our respective parents also supported the idea. You and your husband may have decided. But, when it comes to an important decision like adoption, the immediate family’s support matters a lot. Not a big deal I suppose. I just followed my heart.”
Experience: It is imperative that a couple, who wants to adopt a child, go to a recognized agency. She speaks about her experience, “There are quite a few in Maharashtra and 15-20 odd in Mumbai, itself. We went to an agency called Bal Vikas in Malad because we were staying in Borivali at that point of time and this one was closer to us. And the paper-work was simple, though it was quite a bit, it was streamlined. The process was not an issue at all. They check your credentials in terms of your standing in society, financial standing and your capacity to invest in the child’s name. They check your salary proof. A proportionate portion of your salary should be invested in the child’s name in a PPF account. They visit you at home. They see where you live, what kind of accommodation you have. If it is a rented flat, they look at the papers. That was not a problem for us because ours was a self-owned flat. They also met our respective parents. They took an undertaking from my in-laws that since both of us being a working couple, in our absence they would be looking after the child.”
Other than all these there is also a police verification that happens. She continues, “The local police station verifies your credentials and background. The documents go to the police headquarters and they issue a no-objection certificate that these are clean people and they should be allowed to adopt the child, etc. Post this there is a court case. They call it a case for want of a better word. When the child is with the agency, the state is the parent. The state has to transfer the parenthood to the foster parents. By the way, the first 3 months the child is with you, you are not the child’s legal parents. You are the child’s foster parents. After the city civil court hears the case, the court issues a decree that you are the legal parents of the child. Also the child becomes the legal heir to your property.”
A Different High: Sayali finds being a mother is a different high. She adds, “It is like any mother. We have all told Ovee that there are 2 ways of bringing home a child-one is from a hospital and the other is from a birth home. My feelings are no different from any other mother. She is my child. My feeling for her is like any other mother would feel about her child.”
Problem: Problem starts when the child gets to know that she has been adopted. In case of Ovee, all her friends in Hyderabad live with their biological parents. Sayali says, “When we told her that she has been adopted, she started questioning ‘Why me?’ That has already started.”
But Sayali has a lot of friends in Mumbai, who have adopted their children. She says, “We have kept in touch with these friends and want to keep alive those references in her social life. She knows that she is not the only one. So, the ‘Why me?’ will be hopefully taken care of.”
Ovee has been brought up listening to stories of Krishna, on being suggested by Bal Vikas agency. Sayali says, “Krishna was a classic example of adoption, being born to one mother and being raised by another. She is very close to that story. She keeps asking about her biological parents. She calls them earlier parents. This was when she was 5-6 years of age.”
Future of the Child: Ovee is too small, but Sayali and her family are more focused on the child growing up as a Good Samaritan. She says, “That’s a tough one to articulate, but I would like my child to grow up to become a compassionate human being first of all. To be a good human being is the goal that we are really working towards. We really don’t know what life has in store for her. It is too early. She is only 8. She is a good dancer. She is learning Odissi formally for the last 1 year and she has picked up quite well. I hope we can take her to Jhelum Paranjpe’s Smitalay sometime in the future. We are currently living in Hyderabad. I would like to shift soon to Mumbai or Pune. It would of course be her choice. We will always support her in whatever she wants to do in future.”
This article was first published in Eve’s times magazine and has been reproduced here with the permission of the editor, Swati Amar.