Mumbai: For Kavita and Himanshu, different is beautiful. It is love.
The couple first came across the condition Down Syndrome while living in the US three years ago.
The more they explored, the more encouraged they were to break stereotype and adopt a child with DS. They moved back to India just to do that.
Talking about their journey, Kavita said, “Adoption was always on my mind. I find it ironic that people are busy raising their own family, but very few are concerned about kids who do not have a family to look after them. I wanted to adopt a girl child and had discussed this with my husband before marriage. Luckily, he took it positively and we decided to adopt a girl. Also, having biological kids was something we never wanted.”
In 2017, they decided to move back to India and registered themselves under the adoption agency, Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA). Soon, the couple began their search for a baby instead of waiting for referrals. In no time they found a baby in the disability section, a 15-month-old girl in Bhopal.
“A first look at her and we considered her our baby, as she was that adorable. Next day, after going through her profile, we reserved her and within a week we were all set to travel to Bhopal from Delhi to meet her. She came home in 45 days of registration,” the mother said.
Explaining about her views on adoption, Kavita said, “For me, adoption is the most beautiful word. Adoption is another word for love. It’s just another way to have a family without doing ‘charity’ or a ‘good deed’ towards kids. I encourage people to talk about it and use positive adoption language. Adoption is not about finding children for families, it’s about finding families for children.”
When asked how the couple felt becoming the first of their kind, the mother replied, “Actually, there is nothing to be proud of. Out of 800 babies, one child has DS. As a citizen of the second most populous country, no couple came forward or even thought of adopting a child with DS. We are happy to have chosen this path.”
The couple named the baby girl Veda. “Veda means knowledge. We chose the name as she enlightened us with the fact that the most important thing in life is to stick to the basics: be happy and healthy. Slow down a bit and enjoy those small achievements.”
Several questions loom over parents when it comes to raising a special child. However, for the Delhi couple it is a usual affair.
"There are days when it gets hard but then which parenting is easy. Veda has filled our lives with immense and unconditional love,” expressed Kavita.
Veda is giving new definition and perspective to their lives. Kavita said she learned that it’s okay to be different, it’s okay not to fit into any box. Different is beautiful.
“With her we have climbed each step together, right from just lying on the bed at 15 months to sitting, babbling, crawling, standing and finally walking independently after a year-long tireless effort from both ends,” Kavita said.
Veda is often greeted with weird stares at public places. The couple have faced disheartening situations when people commented even about her glasses. But that did not deter them.
Neither did the intial hesitance of their families. Kavita and Himanshu had to struggle to persuade their families. “Our parents and in-laws were hesitant regarding our decision, so one with special needs was absolutely out of the consideration. We were told that we were taking a risk, it’s complicated or that kids like these won’t be able to give back anything or support us once we get old. Despite all that, we went ahead,” Kavita said.
However, standing firm on the decision of adopting Veda wasn’t easy. The couple received a bunch of sweet and sour advice from society.
“Once we were told to rather give her to an orphanage and pay her growing-up expenses. They gave us that advice without knowing she was already in an orphanage for a year,” Kavita says.
“We received good counselling too. One DS community enlightened us with minute facts related to her health and how we needed to undertake them while parenting,” she exclaimed.
To tell people that Down Syndrome is not scary, Kavita with the help of social media is leaving no stones unturned to spread awareness. Recently, she posted Veda’s early learning videos on Youtube. Along with that, Kavita is also documenting real moments of their life on Instagram. “I talk about adoption topics and DS awareness every now and then. As a homeschooling mom to a toddler, I believe social media is my best option right now to create awareness which I am already doing,” she stated.
Kavita and Himanshu urge people to be kind towards each other. “If you do not have disability, if you are not different, that doesn’t make you superior, lucky or blessed in any manner. That gives you a chance to be more sensitive, empathetic towards those who are different,” says Kavita. “We should start accepting people as they are. We should teach ourselves and our kids to be sensitive towards everyone, especially if someone has special needs (physical or emotional) or disability,” she added.
“I never dreamt of adopting a child with special needs, I believe it was destined,” Kavita concluded.