In most places in India, a girl is considered a burden even before she can decide her role in society. She’s seen as a heavy ‘responsibility’, restricted by society’s dogmatic thinking. But for 42-year-old Amita Marathe, her adopted daughter, Advaita, is the light of her life.
Amita did not want to be bound by marriage but always wanted a child of her own, which is why she decided to adopt a baby girl.
“My parents and sister stood like a rock throughout the process,” Amita told us.
Coming from a society where child adoption and being a single woman after a certain age was frowned upon, she was surprised when her parents supported and even respected her decision. They were initially worried about how Amita could balance a child along with her career, and to some extent, she echoed these concerns as well.
However, she took the plunge, and in 2012, registered with the Child Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) at Sofosh. It stands for Society of Friends of Sassoon Hospitals, a child care centre in Pune.
In August 2013, after a long wait, Amita received a phone call that would change her life. She was invited to a child care centre in Pune. In her application, she had asked for a girl child and was ready to take home a daughter, but it couldn’t happen that day.
“It was destiny,” she says.
Amita, an MBA in finance, was at the peak of her career. She initially wanted a child who was at least a year old so that she could balance her work while raising her. But her reservations stopped when she laid eyes on a five-month-old with majestic eyes and a heart disorder.
In Amita’s words, “It was love at first sight.”
This baby, christened Advaita, became her priority. Amita provided her with the best medication in Pune.
“The doctors said that a surgery could be done only after she weighed 16 kilos, which would take some time,” she said.
But the abundance of love and care Advaita received gave rise to a miracle, and before her first birthday, her heart was fixed.
When she was a little more than a year old, Amita told her about the adoption and her birth mother through stories and pictures. She wanted Advaita to be proud of the fact that she was raised by a single parent, and not feel like she lacked something in her family.
“I didn’t want our relationship to be labelled a certain way or ever make her feel unwanted. Secondly, I wanted her to respect her birth mother.” Amita said. She adds, “The process was emotionally exhausting. I was worried if she would react negatively. But my child is more mature than I imagined.”
Advaita processed the information and happily accepted both her mothers in no time. Amita raised her to be an understanding child who focuses on whatever activity she takes up. She refers to her as “a perfect blend of daughter and friend”.
Amita got back to work at a private firm as a Business Analyst after Advaita turned three. She is also a trustee at Poornank, an organisation that educates parents and children about adoption. The positive change Advaita brought to her life is something Amita wants to experience again, which is why she is awaiting a second child in October.
However, this sort of progressive thinking sadly lacks in India. Let’s not forget that nearly 117 million girls selective abortions take place in the country each year. Female infanticide is a grim reflection of what society thinks of women, and it’s rampant till date. Few seem to think about what she feels, let alone getting to know her dreams and ambitions. Is this the future we are forcing on girls?
This story is part of The Stereotypeface Project, an initiative by The Better India that challenges 26 stereotypes, which continue to exist even today. We are showcasing these stereotypes through all the letters of the English language alphabet.
Stereotypes exist everywhere — they are passed down over generations. Instead of embracing and celebrating what makes us unique, we stand divided because of them!
We’ve unconsciously learned to stereotype, now let’s consciously #EndTheStereotype.
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(Edited by Shruti Singhal)