Adoption, it’s about love…

We adopted Rashmi when she was just six months old. And she radically changed our lives. Zindagi ulat pulat ho gaee: the entire world, and our living, turned topsy turvy. And I would not exchange that for anything in life!!

Ours was a love marriage with a difficult and long courtship. All the traditional nautanki we are familiar with, through Hindi cinema. So after battling it out for 9 long years, when we got married we both felt getting each other was THE biggest thing: and we should enjoy that as long as possible. That meant consciously deciding not to have a child. Why children? we felt, after all, we have one another! After the proverbial 7 year itch started, we first questioned whether the decision was right. Then began countless efforts. When nature still did not “run its course” then the Dr.s and Clinics started. Both side parents were apprehensive but supportive. We frankly told them : Allopathy, Homeopathy, Ayurveda all treatments are ok, but we will not go to Babas and Mandirs. After 2 more years of frustration and pain, one fine day Vinita (who is a professionally trained social worker) broached with me the possibility of adoption. Full credit to her maturity! And Barkis was willing!! Then came convincing our respective parents, as we wanted the baby to have acceptance in the family, and for that grandparents’ blessings were sine qua non. Armed with their support we registered for adoption.

Both of us were very clear from day 1 that we wanted a daughter. Simple logic was that daughters are more loving and giving than sons. Their relations are long term. And parents have a preeminent place in a daughter’s life, throughout her life. Unlike a son whose loyalties are divided. I was a son and so this was personal gyan. Plus we had enough anecdotal evidence all around us. So we applied only for a female child.

Lo and Behold we get a call from Vatsalya ( an adoption agency near Kanjur) that 3 baby girls are available and can we please come and make our choice.

??!!Select?!?! We were aghast.

Both of us felt we have no right to play God. On what basis do we make a choice? Skin color? features? hair? We went at the appointed time and told the authorities that we do not want to select. They were adamant. We have made 3 babies ready wearing new clothes and spruced up etc. so see all 3. All our objections and hesitations were overruled. Reluctantly we sat. Mulling in our minds that the first child shown to us is ours.

Sukhada- one who is joyful- was the first child brought out and put in Vinita’s lap. In a moment of divine intervention the baby looked at Vinita and smiled. Proving her name: being pleasing, agreeable, gratifying. So overwhelmed were we that that small, minuscule bundle outweighed the entire universe for us. We were complete. Fulfilled. Joyous and gratified beyond compare.

Again we requested the authorities that we did not want to see any other child, as our decision was made by Sukhada’s smile!! But we all know how authority behaves. We had to see 2 other children and felt so sad that we could adopt only one. But Sukhada was ours from the first moment she saw us and we saw her. On 18th May 1993 (our 13th wedding anniversary) we brought Rashmi home from the orphanage. Much earlier  we had decided on the name “Rashmi” -meaning ray of sunshine. The baby was indeed bringing hope and light into our lives.

Another call we had made was that we would not hide from society and friends that we were adopting Rashmi. Our families were supportive a priori. We were staying in Atul township then – a colony of around 1200 households, near Valsad, in Gujarat. The day we brought Rashmi home we saw a different facet of Atul & Gujarat, and of people in the township. For the first 10 days or more, every day about 70+ people would come to see and welcome Rashmi. Like the Biblical Wise Men, all came bearing gifts. Looking at the amount of gold & silver trinkets, toys and clothes that came into the house, Vinita and I were shell shocked. Our typical Bombaiyya thought was “how are we going to return all these gifts/favours?” But Atul and all Atul-ites showered so much love on tiny Rashmi that it felt as though not us but the entire township had adopted Rashmi!! We were overwhelmed with the outpouring of love. Rashmi’s family was no longer the Shirodkars and Pandits but the entire Atul.

She had a magical childhood in Atul. Vasudeva Kutumbakkam ( the world is my family) was true for her. Every evening we had to search for her from house to house by telephoning far and wide to bring her home to sleep. This was best exemplified when we shifted to Mumbai after 6 years, and Rashmi still smitten by the company township culture, went out to play in our Andheri colony. And when she came back at night her first question to her mother was: “Aai sagle asa ka mhantat ata jewaila ghari javuya? Amhi ekatra ka nahi jevu shakat?” ( Mother, why do people say now let us all go to our respective homes for dinner? Why can’t we all eat together?”) In Atul she always was fed wherever she was. Remember vasudeva kutumbakkam. But then Rashmi had to grow up and understand mine and yours in Mumbai.

While it was easy to tell society and friends about Rashmi’s adoption, one looming question which daunted us was when and how do we tell Rashmi? All literature on adoption said the parents should be the ones who share this information with the child. But how do we raise the topic? how would she react? What if she rejects us and says she wants to search out her biological parents? Vinita and I agonized no end. Finally when Rashmi was 8 years old we planned a holiday to Darjeeling.  To tell her on that trip was the plan. We stayed in a typical British old school type of hotel. Rooms actually had fireplaces and wooden fire was lit in evening.

One evening we all 3 sat down and Vinita told her she was not born from her womb but from our hearts. How we always wanted a girl child and since it did not happen naturally we went to Vatsalya. We told her about the orphanage and about adoption. And how, by legal process, she was now our daughter. She had 2 questions.  “When we go back to Mumbai can we visit Vatsalya? I want to see the place and play with the babies there” Second one just blew us away. “Aai can I tell Ashuti and Urvi (her 2 best school friends) about this?” We told her of course you can. It is yours to share. But please understand everyone will not see it in the same way, blah blah blah. But just think about the attitude of the 8 year old. She was completely cool about it. All our agonizing and concern was of no avail. Hallelujah!!

She grew up as a free and happy child with a mind of her own. I still remember she was all of 10 years in one of the father-daughter moments  I was telling her to do something. She refused and told me “Baba it is my life”. A 10 year old. I felt I was slapped on my face. Feeling hurt, I retired to my bedroom. But then sense prevailed and I realized the truth of her sentence. Yes indeed, it was her life and she had to make her own choices herself;  and learn & live as she wanted.  Another example: her academic performance was never brilliant.  In 8th standard, she sat down Vinita and told her : ” Aai I want to be a designer and an artist. So all this History and Geography and Science has no relevance for me. I will not fail . But I will study just enough to get 60% + . Don’t expect me to study hard and score like others”. She went on to Srishti School of Design in Bangalore and specialized in Textile Design and is now working in Raymond’s Design Department!

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In Srishti as a part of her Induction programme, all students were told to prepare a manifesto. A personal statement. What they stood for. Rashmi spoke on Adoption!!! Imagine a 17 year old teenager, staying in a hostel first time in life, standing in front of 80 new classmates, publicly telling she is adopted!!! I have always wondered where she got this courage. She read out her manifesto entitled : Adoption, it’s about love

In that (and we too got to read it later on mail) she spoke about how her parents will always be Vinita and me, who brought her up and gave her love. But at the same time she wrote : “I can never fully understand the circumstances of why my biological mother made her choice, but I have to give her the benefit of the doubt, simply for the fact that I “do not know” the circumstances”. Further she says  ” my biological mother has every day of her life to wonder if she did the right thing. There cannot be a day that goes by that any mother doesn’t think about the child she let go. It’s common sense people. But they didn’t hate you, and they darn sure miss you.” And with that Rashmi finds it in her heart to  forgive her.  Imagine the maturity of a person who is able to say that. Never before had she ever raised the question or spoken about her feelings about her biological parents. And when she does speak, she says she forgives !!!! And still thanks her. And tells us all: “As for the biological mother, be thankful that she gave you the chance at any life, instead of making you an abortion statistic.” When did our little girl grow up and become so mature to think all this? And aver this publicly?

Daily we thank her for being our child.

She is truly our Sukhada: Agreeable, pleasing , gratifying. Our joy giver. Our joy. Sometimes Vinita and I regret having changed her name. She was rightly called Sukhada.

Thank you Sukhada. Thank you Rashmi.                                                                                       Heaven must be missing an angel, for you are here with me: vikibaba

PS: anyone who wanted to read Rashmi’s manifesto, pl send a mail to me on vikas@basilhr.com

28 Replies to “Adoption, it’s about love…”

  1. Vikas Vinita you have definitely take an amazing step by adoption of a lovely child. All the best my friend time fly’s , we seem to have walked a very long way in our lives.

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  2. Straight from the heart. Salute my friend. Your reflections on life, moments of decisions, choices and abundant joy and love. This is what purity in life is all about. And her maturity is just amazing. I think she deserves to be on Ted Talk.

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    1. Hey KK thanks. Yes this one was straight from the heart. I re-lived every moment of that day and what preceded it and what followed as I wrote this.Life has given me some great experiences. But even more than that some truly great friends during the hjourney. Thanks for being one of my closest friends over the past many many years

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  3. Thanks for sharing something so close to your heart. It really touches a chord and evokes many emotions. You made me nostalgic about my years at Atul. I still remember Rashmi and Harsh as “park buddies” playing every evening in Down Colony as they were of the same age. Unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to meet her after Atul and now glad to getting to know her through your articles.
    Keep it coming……

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    1. Thanks Deepa. Yes I remember the times in the Down Colony park. The equipment was rundown but the park was so close to the house. And spending time with R after office was my greatest time. 5 pm siren blows. 505 VS at home . 510 VS with R in garden. Those were the days. Atul was indeed magical.
      Sotto voce : I am sure you also remeber the time very fondly as hat was thetime when the kids looked u to us. and sometimes actually listened to us. Yaad na jaaye beete dino ki Ja ke aaye wo din….dil kyon bulaye unhe ???

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  4. Ameya I am still sniffling and crying when I read this and recollect all the events. The acceptance of Rashmi in the entire extended family has been a true vindication of our decision to adopt. And we are grateful to you all who have so lovingly accepted all of us into your hearts.
    In line with the Marathi tradition there were 5 names given to Rash her “barsa” : I remember Nikita and Manasi but there were 2 more. But yes Rashmi was the best.
    As Preeti had made famous: Rashmi don’t rush me
    But we are still trying to catch up.

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  5. Heart warming and a joy to read. All the emotions captured in their true form which just goes to show how close this is to your heart. Rashmi is a better name though… with Sukhada i can imagine her to be a typical kaku bai hehehe.

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    1. Haha Amu dada I like Rashmi as well but sometimes it feels nice to remember myself as Sukhada… that name reminds me of my carefree childhood in Atul 🙂

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    1. Thanks Vish. Yes when I started writing it just flew off the keyboard. I thought it was a trifle long. But when I went over to try and edit I thought it all adds up and hangs together. Atul made Rashmi confident. Her “tevar” were clear when she told me to “f.. off” All this was imp to understand the climax of her manifesto. I could not delete anything. Thanks for your words of praise.

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  6. Rashmi….You r superr
    VSS…… You & Vinita vahini r superr dooperrrr
    Proud of you trio….!!!🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈

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  7. Rashmi….You r superr
    VSS…… You & Vinita vahini r superr dooperrrr
    Proud of you trio….!!!🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈

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    1. Girish thanks for your comments. We are indeed blessed. We have had great parents who taught us to be be good. And we were dobly blessed by great friends like you who helped us stay on that path. Thanks for being in our lives.

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  8. Baba I’m touched… It’s so wonderful to see your journey, the one that we shared with each other although the perspectives were so different and beautiful. I would like to say just a few things, I am happy because you and Aai always taught me to see the good around us and how we are so blessed with what we have. I learnt how to love, to be a giving person from the two of you. I love you both and we truly are ‘the amazing trio’… Love you both and I’m blessed that I have parents like the two of you who always encouraged me to be the person I have always been, never tried to change even a little bit of me and for which I will always be grateful. It is your support and encouragement because of which I have been able to grow so much. I’m proud of the fact that I’m adopted otherwise I wouldn’t have such a wonderful life and such lovely parents, and that I’m certain about!

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  9. Yes balaji we can never forget that day. You insisted on taking leave to drive us to Mumbai and back with Rashmi and my mother. What we also cannot forget was your gesture of putting the first gold chain round her neck . We had just got her new clothes. Your care and love shone as brightly as the gold chain. We felt blessed

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  10. It is wonderful to read and I was also with you and part of the emotion on the day you brought Rashmi home.

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