October 09, 2004

The Nose and the Toes

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.


Anonymous said...

Dilip, absolutely wonderful. Congrats again !! For some odd reason I'd assumed that the 8 *month* figure was a typo, and that it was actually 8 *days*. It'd never struck me that you might have adopted. Wish Vibha and you luck, and Surabhi Noor good health.


ak said...

Beautiful post. There are many people,intelligent people who have such prejudices. It's a shame.
And I know what you mean by wanting to take the "entire lot" home.

Anonymous said...

You are an inspiration.Your are a hero.

Thomas Itty said...

You're a good guy. All the best.

Anonymous said...

Gosh! Have actually seen a baby in a dumpster and know that sinking feeling of whats-the-world-coming-to. But thats the thing. It isn't coming to that. It already is. You may not want to hear it. But your act is noble. The world could do with such noble acts.

Anonymous said...

I got here from the Blog mela at MadMan. Nice to read about the new addition to your family. Congratulations!

ak said...

Check out www.bookcrossing.com
It's an interesting concept.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dilip,

Congratulations on becoming a father.

If I were allowed to change one sentence in the whole post, this would be the changed sentence:

What would drive a man -- or a woman, who knows? -- to fling her newborn onto a pile of trash?

Mahesh Shantaram

Anonymous said...

Dilip, Congrats! Good luck in dealing with wrinkled noses. I'm sure you people are way above that. Kudos to you. What's her name?

Anonymous said...

Hi! hem here. Came here from anita's blog. wish I could do something as good as that. Congrats. I knowit sounds cliche but actually the world would be a better place if there were more people like you.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Thank you to all -- so many! -- for your wishes, and your kind words. They mean a lot to us, and I do mean that.

She's a tiny, toothlessly smiling delight. Her name is Surabhi Noor, and she joins our five year old son, Sahir Avik, who is utterly besotted. For that matter, so are Vibha and I.

QuaTros said...

Dilip sir, congratulations on your promotion in the family ladder to father! :-)
I have a colleague,Mike,in the US, who is father to two adopted kids. And i must say he is a synonym of largesse. The elder child he had adopted from one of those poor Latin American countries. And the younger one from China. Along with his wife, he had taken the pain and the legal hassles to adopt kids from these really under previleged backgrounds.
Hats off from QuaTros for these actions!

Twilight Fairy said...

Yeah that's quite an unimaginable thing to do.. throw a life into *trash*!! But am sure the baby's destiny had better things written.. imagine from a trash dump to a real home! Congratulations :)

Anonymous said...

This is truly amazing. My sis has been wanting to adopt a baby and orphanages have told her she needs to wait till 10 years of childlessness to be able to adopt. God will bless you abundantly.

Anonymous said...

I imagine that you wake up every morning now just waiting to see what your little girl will do that day - most importantly smile when she sees you.....congrats on your new addition.

Best wishes to you and your family of 3....its people like you that make the world a better place.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Twilight Fairy, the way I look at it, we are hugely lucky to get her here too! OK, right about now she's refusing to sleep and wailing, but apart from that ... no, she's a lovely kid.

Chinar and others, much as I appreciate what you are saying, I'm not sure "noble" is right. But thank you all.

Anonymous, I think your sister should get a second opinion. She should not have to wait 10 years. Please tell her to speak to an adoption agency, not an orphanage. In Bom, the Indian Assoc for the Promotion of Adoption are the people we approached. If you want contact details, please email me at ddd at rediff dot co dot in.

vivitsa said...

I have always wanted to do something like this.. maybe I will, when time comes!!! anywayz... congrats!!! really look up to you for the inspiration!!!

Anonymous said...

I thought there was a law that allowed only Hindus to adopt kids in India.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dilip, Congrats.

Best Wishes and Love

Dilip D'Souza said...

Thank you Nidhi! How did you stumble on this out of the blue?

The little girl is an utter delight. A noisy delight, but a delight all the same...

seaferns said...

hey D-cube
I know i am more than 3 years and several months late but I hope good wishes don't come with an expiry date
may dear Surabhi Noor be your window into an enchanted world of unbounded happiness. and may the moments with her and your family be as salve which soothes the nicks and cuts of an increasingly thorny world
take care

Dilip D'Souza said...

Hey Chetan, thanks so much (for your other comments today too). She is running around in the other room as I write this, a 4-year-old bundle of energy who leaves us exhausted but happy every day. Come meet her sometime!