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October 7, 1997


Farzana Versey

Nobody's Child

A slum child There are many children in the world who are just like flowers growing wild. I can never forget a walk that I once took down a street. A foreign couple, white, pampering their son, dark-skinned and Asian, with goodies, with a little, black, snotty urchin girl following them. She was looking for a few coins, but it was the way she stared at the child that broke my heart. It was a gaze that said, "What has he got that I don't?"

While couples go through all possible medical devices to get a child, there are many children looking for a home. Yet, there are so many 'ifs' and 'buts' involved.

How do you choose a child for adoption? Are you ready for it? What about the child's past? And future? What happens when the child decides to seek out its roots? Can single people adopt? Can 'special needs' children be adopted? And is there something like 'just the child for you'?

These are some of the many questions sought to be answered.

In India, even today, most people believe adoption is some fancy idea perpetrated by idle Swiss couples.

If all that is in the realm of possibility can be put down in cogent terms, then what makes its realisation a distant dream? Why are there so many barriers in the way of adoption?

Let us talk about the paradox in Indian society regarding motherhood. Fertility within a marriage is not only greatly valued but considered imperative, whereas a child born outside wedlock is shunned.

Street children Our whole attitude towards building ties and forming relationships is too family oriented. Yet, neither procreation nor biological birth alone are the prerequisites for parenthood; parenting ought to be seen as a couple's contribution to the nurturing and growth of another human being.

Adoption is an extremely emotional issue. There are people out there waiting to be converted. All they need is someone who will tug at their heartstrings. One must applaud one adoptive mother, though, for being candid enough to say, "The general response was that he (the adoptee) was a 'lucky little boy'. No one even once said that we were the two most selfish and lucky people in the world. Selfish because we wanted a child so badly and lucky to have gotten such a beautiful and loving baby boy."

We need to steer clear of stereotypes. The adopted child needs to be the responsibility of both the parents. Nowhere should motherhood be glorified. And the ultimate triumph of such a choice lies in its ability to look at the issue of adoption clearly and unambiguously.

Photographs: Jewella C Miranda

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Farzana Versey