What do I tell about Babu? A tight hug and a good night kiss that she gives me before going to bed, makes me feel as fresh as I feel when I get up.
She has been with me for only four and a half years, but I feel we have been together for years now. I have never felt that she was not born out of my womb.
All of seven, I feel, she is much mature to her age. She is loving, caring, understanding, but much more than all the attributes that I can shower on her, Babu is my darling and a blessing in my life.
When I first saw Babu at the adoption centre, she was quietly playing with her toys. She was 2 years and 9 months old and miserably under weight (that had nothing to do with her stay at adoption centre). I wasn't sure, if Babu was the daughter I wanted. I had seen another girl, aged around 5. However, I did not want a child of that age for I always thought that it is easier to mould a child younger in age.
After great confusion, I decided that Babu was the one I was looking for. She just would not come to me. I felt a little bad but kept trying, without success. In our second meeting also, she did not mingle much. That did not matter though for I had made up my mind.
On the day, I went to take her, accompanied by my younger sister, Rudrani and niece, Bhasha, Babu cried miserably. While going to the Airport, she kept weeping and slept on my lap. When she woke up when we reached the airport, she was a different person.
In the flight, she occupied the seat next to me. At the stop over, she ate shiro (sweet dish), given by the organisation, and idli. When we reached home late night, her nani (our late mother), welcomed her with a ritual. She had light dinner and slept with me.
In the morning when she woke up, she called me aai (mother in Marathi). Babu spoke Marathi. I was thrilled. My joy was short-lived as the organization told me that for her aai meant a caretaker. Then I told her to call me mamma and she did that in a few days.
Babu did not know Gujarati. Luckily, me and my sister knew Marathi. Initially, for a fortnight, we spoke to her in Marathi and then switched over to Gujarati. She just started speaking Gujarati and has in her dictionary, words that even I seldom use.
For her, from an adoption centre to a home, it was an easy transition. In fact, I took more time to adjust with the changes in my life. After all, there was someone who was dictating terms where I always decided what I wanted to do.
Time flies and Babu is now in grade II. She no longer goes to a day care, which she did initially for some time. With my erratic work schedules, it isn't easy to manage her school, tuitions and schedules of other activities. Luckily, I have a rock solid backup in form of my sister and a couple of other people to rely.
I took a couple of years to decide about adoption. It was my own idea and my mother, brother and sister immediately agreed. I always feel our late father would have been very happy with the decision and Babu would have learnt a lot from him.
Even though they accepted the decision, I wasn't ready. After all, I had to raise the child. The process began only after I felt that I was mentally and financially strong enough to raise a child. Adoption is act in which you can not back out. There is only way forward.
I did not tell anyone about adoption. Only my family and very close friends knew. Even my uncles and aunts, and cousins from maternal and paternal sides got to know only after Babu was brought home. There was no reason why they were not told. But one thing was clear that I was not to take anyone's opinion.
Though it would not have had impact on my decision for adoption, I always thought how would my neighbours react. They were happy and have always welcomed Babu.
To strangers and mere acquaintances, I do not go and advertise that Babu is my adopted daughter. I only clarify if the issue comes up about what does my husband do!! Also, it is then that I specify that I am unmarried.
People tell me that I have done a great thing by adopting Babu, I will get blessings....... As far as I am concerned, I needed someone whom I could call my own and she would call me mother. Babu also needed a mother.
At this age, Babu probably does not know the meaning of adoption but she is aware that she has been adopted. I would request mothers and adoptive parents not to hide this from their children. At least, the adoption centre from where I got Babu advised me to explain her and I have done that to “T”.
Doing so, only increases the love and not doing can land you up in a problem.
I have always treated Babu the way I treat my niece Bhasha, who is a great companion for her. You should ensure that you are not too loving or not too harsh with your adopted child. You should strike a balance and see how beautiful the life is.
(P.S: Child's name has been changed to protect identity)