In part 1, Kanchan took us through the journey of how she became a mother. Here, in part 2, she talks about how the three of them finally became a family.
"Shine and I had not expected to find our daughter so soon. I couldn't wait to take her home and have her live with us. But before I could do that, I needed to shop for all the things she would need and ready our home to welcome her. My parents and in-laws visited her at the agency before we got her home. The second they saw her, my in-laws' apprehensions just melted away. From then on, they were as eager as us to get her home.
"Once we'd met Aanya and had told the agency that we wanted to adopt her, it took about 7 to 10 days to actually take her home. The agency's in-house paediatrician examined Aanya in front of us. He conducted a thorough physical check and told us that her development seemed to be fine. The agency had also given us the option of getting our own paediatrician to their office to get Aanya checked, but we didn't think it was necessary. They also gave us her latest blood reports and other paperwork."
The day we'd been waiting for
"On D-day, my mom, my best friend, and my brother-in-law accompanied us to the agency. They had dressed up Aanya for the occasion. The social worker told us what she was being fed, how many times, the measurements, and other details to keep up the sense of continuity. After getting her home, for some time, we just put her on the bed and stared at her. I was too overwhelmed to do anything else. It was still sinking in.
"The paediatrician at the agency had informed us that Aanya had severe chest congestion. So, after her first feed, within two hours of her coming home, we took her to our chosen paediatrician and told him her whole history. He prescribed medicines for her chest condition as well as guided me in caring for Aanya. When she'd come home, Aanya had been thin and tiny and weighed a measly 3 kg. The doctor asked me to feed her every two hours. Even at night, I was to wake her up and feed her. He prescribed a certain formula brand and we followed his instructions faithfully. The doctor told me that she should gain at least 150 gms in a month. I went all out. I looked up websites on the Internet, downloaded a detailed feeding timetable and followed it to the T. Soon, she gained weight and started looking healthier. The agency had given us her immunisation chart and vaccination appointments were made and kept with diligence. Our efforts paid off and within a year she was 12 kg."
A supportive family
"Initially, since Aanya was tiny and rather unwell, the centre had advised us that as far as possible, only the two of us should be around her. This would help her to adjust more easily to us and her new surroundings. Too many unknown faces hovering around would confuse her. Plus, there was the increased risk of infection. So, although we had complete family support, we had to ask them to postpone their visits. My mother-in-law had been apprehensive about how her relatives in Kerala would react, but they were unbelievably supportive. Once Aanya grew healthier and our families could finally visit, I was surprised by how many people remarked that she looked a lot like Shine. I couldn't see any similarity, but this connection seemed god-gifted to me."
Tying up loose ends
"As for the legalities, we had to go to the civil court in Churchgate (Mumbai). The agency took care of most of the paperwork. They even got a lawyer to file the affidavit. It was a one-of-a-kind experience. Initially, we felt very out of place, walking amongst lawyers and criminals with a swaddled infant; but once we stepped into the room we'd been asked to go to, we were greeted by the sight of at least 15 other couples waiting there like us. It was a rather long wait, which was spent exchanging information amongst the couples. The actual process, however, hardly took any time. The judge signed the adoption deed without much ado. We got Aanya's birth certificate in which we were registered as her parents from the BMC. I don't know if she'd had any previous birth certificate; the agency never mentioned it or even her biological parents. All we knew was that she'd been given up for adoption as soon as she was delivered. We never wanted to know anything or find out who they were. For us, we were little Aanya Shine's parents in every way there was.
"Till she turned two, we had to take Aanya to the adoption agency every six months. They would ask her about us and our home and take photos of her to keep on record. The agency eventually became more like an old acquaintance or even a good friend-one who has been a companion on one of your most unforgettable journeys."
Moment of truth
"Now, all of 5, we've told Aanya that she came from another mother's tummy, just like Lord Krishna, who was born to one mother and brought up by another. We've been reading her the story of an adopted girl (I Wished For You: An Adoption Story by Marianne Richmond) since she turned three to introduce the concept of adoption to her and letting her know that being adopted was perfectly fine-that it was just another way of being with your parents and we are proud of it and she should be too. After she turned 5, one day she suddenly asked me what her biological mother had named her. I told her I didn't know and asked if she liked the name I had given her. I've been telling her, once a month, that she came to us because we could take better care of her and that she chose us. Having the adoption conversation with my little 5-year-old daughter is one of the most difficult things I've ever done. Each time we have the conversation or she asks new questions, I get emotional, but I know that it needs to be done. But I have also realised how perceptive little kids can be. Everytime I get emotional, Aanya is able to perceive the change in my voice or in the way I look at her."