A baby is undoubtedly a source of immeasurable happiness to a family. The Shines couldn't agree more. Their daughter gave new meaning to Kanchan and Shine's life the day they held her in their arms for the first time, five years ago. There was just one tiny difference-instead of greeting her in the maternity ward of a hospital, she was put in their arms in the office of an adoption agency.
"I had gone through a very emotionally trying phase as I tried to conceive for a year or so. We were given the clean chit, medically, but with each passing month I started feeling more and more anxious and stressed. My life had become a blur of calendar and dates. And then, one day, I decided that instead of losing sleep over bringing a new life into this world, we would bring up a life already there, just waiting to be loved. Thankfully, Shine, my husband, agreed immediately."
How I found my little angel
"Once we had made up our minds, we checked out the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) website and contacted an adoption agency in our locality. This was primarily to gather information to put Shine's parents' queries and concerns to rest."
"Since we were a very young couple and had been trying for a baby for only a year, the social worker at the agency wanted to be sure about how serious we really were. Her first question was if we had informed our families. My family was fine with our decision, but we were a little sceptical about Shine's family. We were advised to come to the agency only after informing both sides. It was immaterial to the agency whether we had complete family support or not, but they were insistent that the families at least know of our decision."
"The level of involvement and meticulousness of the adoption agency was a big relief. It was obvious that the welfare of the child is their top priority. We were told that one of the key deciding factors in which child goes to which couple is the couple's age-depending on how old you are, you're eligible to adopt a proportionately old child. Since we were very young ourselves, the agency was willing to give us a three-month-old infant. That's the youngest baby one can possibly get, considering the lengthy legal process, medical checks, and immunisations. That was our only requirement. We did not have any preference with regard to gender. It did not matter to us as we would not have had a say in the gender of a biologically conceived child anyway."
Step by step
"Adopting a baby involves a great deal of paperwork and there are a number of checks in place before you qualify. We had to submit detailed documents proving our financial stability, which is of utmost importance to the agency. We also had to submit letters from both sides of the family, as well as two close friends on how we were as individuals and also as a couple. A social worker from the agency came down for a surprise visit on a Sunday to see our lifestyle and understand us better. We had to go through a detailed interview that included everything from our hobbies, likes, dislikes as well as our views of family, home and more. Usually, agencies try their best to give you a child that physically resembles the couple to an extent, so as to avoid awkward situations and questions for the child or the family later."
"The adoption agency had prepared us for a few ground realities beforehand. We were told that we would probably not get to see a chubby, cherubic baby, because no matter how dedicated their caregivers, these kids don't enjoy the one-to-one attention that babies at home do. We were also told that most of them tended to be a little weak, since a number of babies lived together in a room and if one child fell sick, the others usually followed suit. But what really surprised us was when we were told that the waiting period could stretch upto a year. Somehow, we hadn't anticipated that we might have to wait so long."
Spark from heaven
"After that, I started preparing myself for a long wait. I thought I'd use the time to do some research on parenting and prepare myself for my new role. But all my plans went for a toss when, a mere month later, the agency called up and asked us to visit them the next morning. One minute we were getting ready to go to work and the next we were being told that we might actually have a baby the next day! Predictably, I didn't sleep a wink that night. Besides being nervous about suddenly becoming parents, there was another worry: what happens if one of us liked the baby and the other did not? The 'what ifs' were driving us crazy. By morning we decided that we'd go ahead only if both of us were happy."
"When we reached the agency the next morning, we were officially told that they'd found us a baby. The waiting period had been cut short as the owner of the agency happened to live in our building and could personally vouch that the baby would be coming into a good family."
"After a short wait, the social worker came in and placed a tiny girl in my arms. The warm little bundle gave me a big toothless smile and put out her hand and touched my cheek. Teary-eyed, I looked at Shine and saw that even he was brushing back tears...and we knew it. This one was as much ours as any natural-born could ever be. The social worker told us that we could take our time to think things through, and get back to them (in a day or two? In a few hours?), but we didn't need time to think about it. We knew. We just knew. This was our baby. Our Aanya."