Reimagining Adoption

Nov 08 - Arrival

Category: Submission by Protima Sharma, Pune

The doctor confirmed the date. Our daughter had chosen the wettest Friday in July to arrive. The rains gods seemed immensely pleased, lavishing us with regular downpours. Monsoons were extra welcome this year. The heat had been too much to bear and another year of parched fields would have shattered the city’s morale.

The equally steady flow of well meaning advice on child rearing was pouring from every quarter. I dutifully listened to all. The bookshelves were lined with parenting books. As if my mother and Amazon didn't have enough recommendations, even the maid chimed in with suggestions. The nursery slowly filled up with every delivery. The wallpaper and curtains had taken the longest to decide till we realized that the baby would not care much and Facebook forgets eventually.

He worried about the size of our small car; a baby seat would not have enough room. A sedan would suit the princess but not our budget. It will have to wait but not for long, I hoped.

At work, my colleagues had been helpfully adjusting their schedules to accommodate my work from home requests. The news of a baby’s imminent arrival tends to make people nicer.

My mother reached a day before and we went about making more space for the boxes of baby paraphernalia that came with her. My daughter owned an enviable wardrobe already. The night was spent discussing, planning and wondering about everything that could go wrong. All reports were scrutinized and debated.

The excited rain had not let up. Just a few hours to go. No one slept.

Friday morning came and we felt only half ready. My mother brought out the mandatory puja thali, the curious neighbours watched as vermilion was applied to our foreheads and we were fed curd and sugar for good luck.

First stop was the court where an unusually helpful officer carried out the registration process for the foster care agreement with our adoption agency. The clerk called out the Father and Mother. We could easily get used to the sound of that. I couldn't help but notice that we were the only ones who were dressed in bright festive colors. That turned a few eyes. The dusty corridors, lazy pace and the dull legal machinery couldn't dampen our spirits that day.

Armed with the agreement, we made our way to the adoption agency. She was all of 3 months, freshly bathed and all set to start her new adventure. The onesie that we had brought along was a snug fit. It was a rookie mistake. We had a lot to learn. I am pretty sure that the combined wattage of all the smiles around me that day would have lit up a small house. The social worker, attendants, nurses, and trustee open heartedly showered their blessings on our daughter. Someone opened a pack of sweets. I was practicing holding her. Everyone helped.

I had never seen him so happy. I knew he was dying to hold her but was too afraid, she was so precious and delicate. There would be time later; we had a whole lifetime ahead of hugs, cuddles, ribbons and bows.

There was another round of arti before we bundled up the little ray of happiness and settled in the car. The baby car seat could wait just this once. I wanted to hold her as long as I could. The steady movement of the car lulled her into sleep. I couldn't take my eyes off her. I had never seen anything so beautiful. She didn't have my eyes or my smile but we had matching hearts.

As we drove home, I mentally checked off my list. Doctor’s appointment for vaccination- check, court documents-check, one happy dad and mom-check.

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