This is an interview with Shalini and Inderjit Sen. They have graciously volunteered to talk to us about the journey they took to find their daughter Ishika….May God Bless them.
Why did natural birth elude you?
I was diagnosed with PCOD at the age of eighteen. Along with irregular periods, I also put on a lot of weight. This was the side effect of an overdose of cortico steroids for the treatment of uveitis of the eyes. At that time it was the only drug available for that disease but it was a misguided dose. To add to my worries the steroids induced hyper thyroid. It was the reason I decided not to have a biological child. Medical complications were bound to happen or let say it would put both me and the baby’s life at risk. After marriage I longed to have a child. The longing was turning into an ache.
How did you and your spouse react to the news?
My husband was very supportive. My health and wellbeing were at the top of his list. We both wanted a child but not at the cost of anyone’s life. After five years of marriage we thought it was the right time to become parents. We thought about adoption, discussed my health issues along with the pros and cons of adoption and whole heartedly and with open minds thought about ways to go about it.
How did you decide to adopt?
My aunt (mother’s sister) has an adopted daughter and seeing their happiness, there was no doubt in our minds that we could be as happy as them. Biological or adopted it did not make any difference to our family and that sealed the deal. It was all the assurance we needed. We knew that our child would be accepted with open arms.
What about your extended family?
My father in law advised us to rethink our decision. He was clear that if we went ahead and took the plunge then whatever good or bad happened in future we had better not regret our decision. This was in the interest of the child as the child should not be blamed if it doesn’t turn out as per our expectations. My mother in law was very happy and she had no doubt that we would make great parents. Unfortunately my father was not here to share our joy. My mother and sister were elated and eagerly waiting for the good news.
Where was our bundle of joy? Was she also waiting for us? My cousin readily agreed to be our guarantor as required for legal adoption.
How did you find the agency?
We asked every near and dear one for a reference. We searched the local agencies in Lucknow and we were asked to register if we were genuinely interested and then wait. The wait could be as long as one year or even three years. We searched online, called up government adoption agencies but still got nothing positive. In the meantime whenever I read any news of an abandoned child my heart would break and I would start to long for that child to be mine. But I knew that there were people much ahead of me in the queue. We were giving up hope when a friend who is a teacher in Nainital called up and asked us to contact her ex student from Kolkata who has an adopted daughter from an agency in Jalna, Maharatra. We called her immediately and everything fell into place.
We became the proud parents to a five month old baby girl in a fortnight.
What were the provisions that you needed to fulfil?
The agency requires the couple to be married for over five years. They have to be of sound physical and mental health. They should not be HIV +ve. We were checked for blood sugar, needed an Infertility Certificate from a gynaecologist, had to produce our IT returns for the past three years, savings and asset ownership certificates, educational and professional certification, along with our birth and marriage certificates.
How did you decide on the baby?
We reached Jalna and discussed our expectations with a social worker. We wanted a daughter and we were hoping for her to be less than six months. The next day we went to the agency and after we signed the papers and deposited the attested copies of all the required certificates we were told to wait for a while. Those few minutes were the longest of our lives. All the anxieties of our exams were nothing compared to this moment. They brought out a child who was fair and well-built and around nine months of age. Nothing happened to either of us.
There was a bit of hesitation and then they asked us if we minded a dark child. We didn’t have any colour preference. We didn’t come here to shop. They then brought out this malnourished dark child. She had long hair and a twinkle in her eyes. It seemed as if they were pleading to us. Pleading for acceptance. My husband took her in his arms called out to her. It was the name we had in mind for her and she smiled back beautifully at the sound of it. That was the moment my husband looked at me and said she is the one. I couldn’t agree more.
How were the initial days with her?
The day we selected the baby she was sent for a medical check-up and the next day we were informed that she passed the medical tests successfully. We then came to pick her up and performed a small havan, renamed her and took her home. In the meantime we had contacted a local lawyer who submitted the papers to initiate proceedings for the legal adoption of the child. The entire process generally takes a year and luckily we were not required to personally attend court sessions. We brought the child to Lucknow in three days with a provisional legal paper.
Once home I managed pretty well and my mother joined us within a week. We consulted a local child specialist and immediately inoculated her as required. The baby was underweight but she gradually she picked up in health. A couple of kgs every month, learnt to sit, got potty trained, learnt to crawl, subsequently walked and started to utter a couple of words. Every new activity generated a lot of happiness in us and the bond that started with our first meeting grew stronger each day. It could not and would never be broken.
I must also appreciate the fact that my husband, being a hand’s on dad made things easier and the support of my colleagues made it easy for me to work and support the small one at the same time. My mother and my in laws stayed with me for months and pitched in and enjoyed watching the baby grow.
Ishika came to us on the 12th of June 2010. My in laws expired last month. Both of them within days of each other. I thank God every day for his provision. I thank him for giving them the chance to know the love of a grand child and her the love of her grandparents.
What is the situation now and what are your future plans?
Our Ishika is three now, she’s healthy by the grace of God, fun loving, shy but full of life. Her dad is her best friend and he pampers her a lot. She waits for him to come home every night and then gives him all the news of her day and acts out all her dramas for him. She has joined a play group and takes part in all activities with a lot of enthusiasm. She is very sensitive and compassionate. She loves music, dancing, colouring and watering plants. We are hoping she gets admission in a good convent school by January next year.