Kavita and Himanshu believe that they are the first couple in India to adopt a child diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
In this exclusive interview with The Better India, Kavita tells us about how she has been creating awareness about Down Syndrome with the help of her three-year-old daughter, Veda.
Even before they were married, during their courtship, the couple had decided on adopting a baby girl, regardless of whether they would have any biological children.
During the time the couple spent in the US, they met many children with Down syndrome.
But when they returned, they were surprised that they hardly saw families step out with such children.
“After months of research and discussions, my husband and I agreed to adopt a baby girl with Down syndrome. We were in the US when we took this decision and were told that we either had to be US citizens or live in India. That was enough to get us to return to India,” she says.
This was in March 2017. The couple wasted no time in making the application, and by April, most of the formalities were completed. Kavita shares, “Once we decided and moved on it, everything worked out rather quickly. In May 2017, we brought Veda home with us.”
Generally, adoption takes nearly two years, sometimes even three, but Kavita and Himanshu were able to bring Veda home in 45 days of making their application.
Experience with the OLA driver
Recounting her recent experience with an OLA cab driver, Kavita says, “While Veda is three-years-old, physically, she is small and looks no more than nine-months. After a physical therapy session, Veda and I boarded a cab to reach home. The driver, Sandeep Kumar, looked at Veda and was surprised to see her wearing thick glasses. That was what started the conversation.”
Sandeep asked Kavita why a child so young needed to wear such thick glasses. He mentioned that he felt sad about it.
“I spent all my time in the cab explaining to him that we should be thankful that she wears the glasses, at least that way she could see the world and experience it visually,” says Kavita.
The conversation did not end there.
The driver had assumed that Veda was Kavita’s biological child. She says, “I explained to him that she was adopted and that further surprised him. He asked me why we adopted her. It was something that he was not able to understand.”
She goes on to say, “He also told me that we could have just given the NGO some money to care for her. I explained that money would not solve the problem. I asked him if he would do the same with his kids, and that got his attention.”
Kavita adds that her comment brought tears to his eyes and by the end of the conversation, he was crying.
“He told me as he cried, that Veda would make me proud some day. He even offered me some money to buy her chocolates. I did not expect that change of heart soon after he asked me why we had adopted her, I welcomed it nevertheless. In fact, he also told me that in all his years of driving the cab, he had never come across a child like her or parents like us.”
Kavita adds that it’s rare that people come up to them and ask them about their daughter because most often, they just stare at the young girl. But the driver apologised for asking so many questions. She shares, “But I am happy that he did. People are usually just scared or stay away from my daughter.”
Kavita has made it her life’s mission to spread awareness on Down Syndrome. She ends our conversation by saying that it really is just an extra chromosome, after all.
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If you wish to follow Veda’s journey, click here to stay connected.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)