Saturday, 17 September 2011

Finding them a home ....

                                                                                    pic courtesy : 

I had almost completed my walk in the morning that day when the phone rang in my pocket, jerking me out of my reverie. My hand mechanically entered the pocket of the sweat shirt I was wearing, but 'wait', I told myself, should I or should I not answer the call ? Being too sure  of the fact that a call in the wee hours of the morning or middle of the night can carry either a very good or a very bad news, hence, my reluctance to pick up the phone. The last time I received a call at 3 in the morning was not one to cheer me in any way..

The phone went on  ringing, a second time now, the pace of my strides got faster as if the ring had entered my limbs energizing my legs to take me home sooner than usual so that, I had someone near me to cheer or a supporting shoulder to weep if the need arose when I listened to the news.
Perking myself on the cane sofa of the balcony where I usually take my much needed morning cup of tea after the walk, I reached for the phone. I could still hear the pounding of my heart clearly. Now I could see that the calls were from Anita, the coordinator of our SAA (Specialised Adoption Agency), Shishu Greh. A message from the coordinator of Childline, Sanjeev too was waiting, which relieved me of all my worries instantly. I knew why Anita kept calling. "A new born (girl) found in the municipal garbage dump, serious, big ants found feasting on her head, neck and legs" was what the message said. I jumped out of my sofa, one more baby, how wonderful it feels to be a mom ! I Stood up, to get started, knew I had a long day ahead . I only prayed that God be kind and let the baby survive !

As I drove to the hospital that morning to see the baby which was by then rescued and shifted to the hospital by our Childline team after informing the CWC(Child Welfare Committee), I was wondering, what might have happened to the mother, what made her throw the child away to die on a cold winter night ! Was she unwed, was the child taken away from her  by force, had this sad incident occurred only because it was a baby girl ? The baby was in a critical condition  with some portion of the head injured severely and wounds of insect bites all over her tiny body. Passing by a garbage dump I shivered at the thought of the baby lying there the whole night. My heart cried out. I realized my vision was blurred with tears, so, slowing down the car I wiped my eyes and said a prayer "My good Lord,  just save this child, give her life and I promise you, she will never be without a home."

While wondering why had the mother left the baby to die in a garbage dump, the face of Dipali came to my mind which softened my heart. The faraway look in her eyes always disturbed me, as if her eyes searched for someone in particular in the distance. She rarely smiled. I saw a faint smile the other day when I once wore a saree on one occasion and probably mistaking me for her mother she pulled the pallu of my saree calling out "maa...maa..". Turning around I had picked her up that day in amusement, asking her to say it again. Smiling the same faint smile she repeated once again, but soon went back to her original quiet smile less self again.

Dipali was not thrown away by her biological parents like many heartless ones in the garbage dump or abandoned in the hospital. Her helpless, young mother who was under aged to bear a child was betrayed by her lover and left her to fend for herself once she got pregnant. She lived for sometime with her father and step mother, but was soon thrown out on the street with a year old Dipali in her arms as soon as her father died of an accident while at work. During this time she had befriended a man who wanted to marry her but wouldn't take Dipali in. After a lot of pleading he did finally let Dipali too be carried  along when she entered her husband's home. But soon he started torturing both Dipali and her mother. When it became unbearable she came to us with Dipali to surrender her, perhaps that was the only option left before her. There was absolutely no alternative. After a month long counselling and producing before CWC, the procedure was completed and Dipali was surrendered for ever. In just all of eighteen months, Dipali's world came crumbling down in such a harsh manner that she probably couldn't react to the situation. With the same faraway look in her eyes she kept staring towards the road as her mother left, never to return  to see how her daughter grew or how she looked in the last two years. Dipali never got an opportunity to smile. Although in Shishu Greh she gradually learnt to smile her faint smile, her lost faraway look remained in her eyes, no matter how hard we tried to cheer her up.

Parking the car out side, I ran up the four flights of stairs to the floor where I was told the baby was kept. Could barely make out anything as I looked through the glass door of the ICU. She was just a tiny bundle with a bandaged body and several pipes going in and out of her. Oh, what had the little thing done to suffer so ! The doctor assured me, he would do his best, yet probably unsure of himself, added, "...but you never know, outer injuries have been tackled well, although only the test reports will confirm of any infection or inner injury." Two days later I was informed she was suffering from jaundice too. There was nothing we could do but pray and wait, never losing heart even for once.

After almost a month, finally she was allowed to leave the hospital and come home. Come to the home where we bring them up with all the care and love these infants were denied by their biological parents for reasons best known to only them. Carrying her in my arms as I came out of the hospital to get into the car, she saw her first sunlight and shut her eyes hard finding it too bright. I choked in happiness, planting a kiss on her eyes I sat in the car securing her on my lap, holding her firm, and whispered in her ears, "you are safe now sweetheart .... "

Everyone in Shishu Greh was overjoyed to welcome the newcomer in their midst and were excited to find her a suitable name. Supervisor, helper, ayah all flocked around the baby with their usual chirpy and loving inquisitiveness. Mira said, "Mirinda", Latika said, "Lata", "Ah, so you want her name to match yours, no, Mala sounds much better", said Malati. Amused at their effort in finding a name for her as they playfully argued with each other, I sat smiling, listening to them. Finally they seemed to give up and decided I might as well come to their rescue finding her a nice name. The little one blinking in the sunlight was still fresh in my mind, so the first thing that came to my mind was the blinking of those two bright sparkling stars. Tora, yes, Tora she would be !

I carried Tora around to introduce her to the other children: One year old Junak the naughty fellow who was everyone's pet, Lily who had  won us over by her pretty smile at barely seven months of age, Dibya who was showing off her two little teeth with pride when lifted up from her cot. Naina, at nine months had already found a home. While the papers and formalities were still pending, Naina's loving parents-to-be and grand parents-to-be, often came to play with her. Naina would soon be taken away to her new home, where she would be brought up with love and care, where she would never be abandoned .

All this while two and a half year old Rahul jumped around Tora cheerfully and would not leave Tora's side even for a moment. I could see that a bond had already been established, a bond that was beyond human understanding. He pulled me towards the cot, which was ready for Tora with fresh sheet, small side pillows and a pastel coloured blanket. Oh how I love this sweet fresh smell of the baby room!  With his tiny pink fingers, he gestured to me to put Tora in the cot. Following his directions like an obedient student, I laid Tora down on the cot gently. I lifted Rahul up in my arms and kissed his little hands.

Looking at Rahul's chubby pink cheeks and smiling inquisitive eyes, my mind raced back to that particular day. I can never forget that day when our Childline team had rescued a new born baby boy from the railway tracks. They had later brought him to Shishu Greh, and we fondly named him Rahul. It was a humid summer afternoon, and it had been raining heavily for the last two days. The city was experiencing major flash floods.  Submerged roads,  erratic power cuts and poor telephone net works played havoc with our lives. That was the day when following a phone call, our Childline team with the help of Police personnel had set out to rescue the baby, lying on the railway track  for God knows how long. Walking several kilometers in that heavy downpour wading through water, the team rescued Rahul. During his treatment in the hospital and the following months of care at Shishu Greh were like ages. But slowly yet certainly, Rahul recovered; recovered to be fit enough today to welcome to Shishu Greh, our home of love, care and life,yet another beautiful God's gift who was abandoned by the person who brought her to this world

While many Rahuls, Junaks, Nainas and Toras happily grow up in Shishu Greh, under the loving care of a trained team of doctors, nurses, supervisors, helpers and ayahs, another team takes upon itself the hectic job of planning their future in a new home with adoptive parents. Shishu Greh is a Specialized Adoption Agency(SAA), as per provisions of the JJ Act, licensed by CARA(Central Adoption Resource Authority), for in-country as well as inter-country adoption, under the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India.

Through a systematic procedure and guidelines notified by the Government of India, we move forward with our aim of turning these orphaned, abandoned, surrendered children into the legitimate children of their adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to a relationship.

We go through endless number of PAP(Prospective Adoptive Parents), give pre-adoption counselling to couples, followed by registration, submission of documents, our team's home visit and finally selection of PAP. Then the selected couple is invited to Shishu Greh and pick the child of their choice. The rest of the procedure then follows, medical test of the child again if the PAP so desire, pre-adoption foster care after signing of deed between PAP and SAA, filing of petition in the court of the Session's Judge within ten days of pre-adoption foster care and appearance before court on evidence date. The formalities are complete once the honorable Judge gives his order for legal adoption. Our job doesn't end here. Even after two years of follow-up, when we formally have nothing left to do, as the child gradually settles down in the new home, with his/her adoptive family , the bond that binds us together doesn't get snapped so easily.

Our Tora soon grew up to be a sweet little darling, winning everyone's heart with her twinkling eyes, the habit of shutting her eyes hard, pressing both the eye lids remained with her, making her smile irresistibly beautiful now. How time flew, soon Tora was a year old, and as per procedure left us for her new home with her adoptive parents. I couldn't witness the moment of her departure from Shishu Greh, couldn't put her on the lap of her adoptive mother with these very hands which so lovingly,  carefully brought her  from the hospital a year ago, these very eyes which were fixed tirelessly on the bandaged bundle that lay in the tiny cot of the ICU of the hospital from outside the heavy glass doors. Why, why did I feel the way I did ? Wasn't it what I wanted, wasn't it why our whole dedicated team worked so hard ? Didn't we want a home, parents and family for every Tora, every Rahul ? Then why did I cry every time when each of them left ? This was one of those days I would quietly sneak out, shut the door of my room and weep like a child in sorrow of losing, yet, blissfully happy and contented in finding a home for a child, till exhausted I fell asleep. "God, do keep the twinkling smile on her face always."

Dipali's look still says she waits for someone, yet forces a smile when someone appreciates her drawings, which she paints mostly with black or pale shades. Tora visits us with her parents on occasions like Bihu or Durga Puja bringing lots of gifts for new babies in the Shishu Greh.  She is looking prettier with each passing year, and God, couldn't believe my eyes, she looked so much like her adoptive mother ! Rahul cannot visit too often as his father is posted to another district now, although he mails me the pictures he draws in the computer. Last time Naina visited us, she insisted that we attend her birthday party and we did. Her happiness knew no bounds seeing us at her home. "Junak came first in his class this year, after all he is my son", declared his proud father. This is bliss, ultimate bliss, I told myself.
The journey continues .... bless those parents who give a home, a family and lots of love to these Toras,  Rahuls, Dibyas and Nainas........     

Seen here in the above picture: The officials from Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt of India, officials from the State Govt, Assam, members of ICCW (Indian Council for Child Welfare), Assam, parents and some of our Junaks, Neinas, Toras and Rahuls .... at an orientation program cum get together with the adoptive parents and their children.