There's something just slightly bizarre about it. The other day, we walked into a building at one end of the suburb of Chembur, signed four different cheques, and walked out half an hour later with a tiny human being. Just like that.
OK, it wasn't "just like that". The process has been grinding away for nearly a year. The tiny thing first made our acquaintance about two months ago, and subsequent visits got her used to our faces. And then we walked in, last Tuesday, chequebook at the ready. But still... to think the actual exchange amounted to cheques handed over, tiny one handed over, is something to get used to.
Adoption, of course. We're now three days into the experience, and we already have tales to tell, the oddity of the cheques being just one.
There's the neighbour from the building. We've just driven home from the orphanage, brought home the little girl for the first time and finally, and we're walking into the lobby downstairs. The neighbour, a still-young mother of two college-age boys, stops and asks about the baby. "She's ours", we say (hey, those cheques...) "we adopted her." "You're joking, right?" says the woman. "Not at all, we really have adopted her!"
Whereupon she wrinkles her nose -- really -- and asks "Why?". Almost as if we've brought home a tarantula.
There's the orphanage itself. On one of our visits, we meet a few of the over 50 kids in here. One 8-year-old is all long legs and awkwardness, walking around in panties and a T-shirt. Another bright boy has just returned from some kind of party, so he's in fancy clothes and bubbling over with smiling stories of the evening. Smiles and cheeks everywhere.
We want to take the whole lot home. All 50 plus. Wouldn't you?
When we first signed up at the adoption agency, the woman there told us about a little girl they were trying to place. The man who brought her in had found her as a newborn, abandoned. In a garbage dump. She didn't have two of her toes. They had been chewed off by rats.
I've met this girl -- she has since been adopted by a couple who also adopted their first daughter -- and as pretty and bright-eyed as she is, those missing toes are never far from my mind.
And you know, I write this here, and at some level I know there's a world out there I will never experience, and it is filled both with rats munching on little abandoned garbage dump girls' toes and with stylish women who wrinkle pert noses at the idea of adopting a child ... and nevertheless I wonder. What would drive a woman -- or a man, who knows? -- to fling her newborn onto a pile of trash?
Whatever the answer, I know this much: it has a lot to do with the thoughts we think when people ask why we adopted. Pert wrinkled noses be damned.