Nov 14, 2008

India - Pune's Adoption Story;Favouring the girl child

Chithra Nair

PUNE: Cases of female foeticide are still being reported from various parts of the country, but the adoption scene in Pune has a different story. Biju Kuriakose and his wife Susan play with their adopted daughter, Aashka, at the Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra in Koregaon Park on Thursday. TOI Photo by Sadanand Godse
More and more parents are keen to adopt baby girls, as statistics of various adoption centres reveal. As if this is not enough, there are waiting lists at the centres here.

Roxana Kalyanvala, director of Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK), says, “We have always taken a larger number of girls since the time we started working, but that was because we had a bigger number of girls coming into the centre.” However, there has been a notable increase in families wanting to adopt a girl child in the past couple of years, the number being almost on a par, if not more, with boys, she adds.

“This change can be attributed to the young and educated working class who are making decisions more independently without any family pressure. Also, the fact that girls are said to be warmer, more caring and sensitive as compared to boys only influences their decision,” says Maina Shetty, assistant director of BSSK.

Shetty also speaks about how the number of girls coming into the centre has decreased significantly over the past year. “Today, we have more boys than girls in our centre,” she says.

It has been four months since teacher Sonali Rode registered with BSSK. And she is firm on adopting a girl child as the first one. “Girls are more loving and caring and, of course, I like girls,” she smiles.

Rode has the support of her husband and father-in-law who, she says, took some time to accept the idea. “We have been asked to wait for a year as there is a long waiting list but I’m fine with it. During the year, we will learn how to take care of a child and will attend a number of workshops on the subject,” she says.

Madhuri Abhyankar, director of the Society of Friends of Sassoon Hospital (SOFOSH), too, speaks of a similar situation at the Shreevatsa adoption centre. “The number of kids, especially girls, available for adoption is decreasing as opposed to the number of families who want to adopt, which is increasing.”

This is because of an increase in awareness with regard to family planning, prevention of unwanted pregnancies and the changing face of society that does not look at the female sex as weak, Abhyankar says. “Girls are perceived to be more caring, affectionate and warm. They are in no way less than a boy. They work and shoulder the responsibility of their families.”

Both ‘Shreevatsa’ at SOFOSH and ‘BSSK’ are among the biggest adoption centres in the city. One of the smaller centres, Priya-Darshini Shishu Gruha, too has seen a notable increase in families in the past two years who want to adopt a girl child.

“Every couple or family coming here asks for a girl child. Of the approximately 30 kids that we have placed in the last couple of years, about 18-19 were girls,” says Prajwala Nendane, a social worker with the adoption centre. She, too, credits this increase to the growing awareness among people and the recognition of a girl as an individual who will take care of her parents in their old age.

“Awareness is a good thing, but what we are also doing right now is promotion of adoption for both the genders. We request parents to adopt a kid irrespective of its gender, if it is their first child,” says Abhyankar.

Eighteen-year-old Ragini (name changed) was adopted from SOFSOH when she was only seven months old. Today she is a national-level sportsperson and credits all her success to her adoptive parents. “I was told about my adoption when I was in the seventh grade and did get upset. But I got over it quickly because I do not see how that has changed my equation with my parents,” she says. Ragini is the only child of the family.

But one thing that Abhyankar rues is the lack of awareness when it comes to adoption. “Maybe cities like Pune and Mumbai have a high level of awareness but rural areas are lacking. To counter this, we organise adoption awareness weeks, one of which is from November 14 to 21 this year.” she says.

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