By Kavita Baluni

It has been more than a year since Veda came home. We call her our destined child as we never thought of going for special needs adoption but destiny made us tread into it. Our best decision ever. Every single day we thank God for bringing her into our life.

I have been fascinated with the thought of adoption ever since I was a teenager. I could never understand the significance of having biological children when there were so many children already waiting for a family.

When I met Himanshu (my husband) and shared this thought, he was quite open to it. We decided to bring home a girl child whenever we were ready to start our family. In 2016, while residing in USA, I came across a few kids with Down Syndrome and that got me curious about it. Never had I or my husband known or heard anything related to the condition. Somehow that triggered my interest and I started watching videos on the internet about Down Syndrome. We did a bit of research and that got us engrossed. So much so that we couldn’t find a single reason not to adopt a child with special needs.

We came to know that we could not possibly adopt while staying in the US, so we had to come back to India. As adoption was our priority, we kept aside everything else and came back in March 2017. Soon after we landed, we registered under CARA and had our home study done by the next couple of weeks. As there is no waiting time for kids with special needs, we started searching for the baby instead of waiting for referrals.

On 15th May 2017, we found our girl under the disability section, a 16-month-old baby in Bhopal. I called the agency and asked for her recent pictures. One glance at her photo, she was our daughter already and we couldn’t wait to hold her. We had a peek at her reports and reserved her without wasting a minute. We visited Bhopal in a couple of days. There we spent hours just admiring our child and signed the acceptance letter on the same day. She was legally ours. We got her home on 31st May 2017, that is within 45 days of our registration. We named her Veda. It has been an eventful journey since then.

The first few months were all about doctor visits and medical checkups. Our biggest concern was her physical health and milestones delay; at 16 months, she looked like a 4 months old baby. Due to lack of early intervention, there are delays and some health issues but she has shown tremendous improvement in the past one year. She also got glasses as she has vision problems like Myopia(nearsightedness), Strabismus and Nystagmus. Children with Down Syndrome have low muscle tone or hypotonia which makes them struggle while feeding, crawling, walking, and even speaking. It is the major reason behind developmental delays in kids with the condition. We started with physical therapy as soon as she came home as that is the best way to strengthen muscles and help in motor skills development.

Life with Veda is wonderful and beyond our expectations. With her around, there is not a single dull moment in our home.  She is expressive, cheerful, and fussy; one who enjoys music, greets everyone with a smile, loves unconditionally and can give you a hard time with her stubbornness. She has taught us how to love wholeheartedly. She is sheer bliss and the best blessing for us.

Post-adoption I looked around social media to find someone in our country who had shared their journey of adoption or what Down Syndrome looked like in real life but couldn’t find any. In the last one year and a half, I came across many people who had little or no clue about Down Syndrome, adoption, CARA, and even about legal adoption.

With not much fodder online, I decided to do my bit. I started randomly sharing pictures and videos of Veda on Instagram and Youtube to normalize the idea of raising a kid with special needs and give anyone out there the much needed hope that it’s not at all scary.

The response was great and I was flooded with love and blessings for my little love through messages from people all over India. I continued the updates on Veda in social media and now she has her own Facebook page, Instagram account and YouTube channel with the name “extrachromieveda”.

Why people don’t want to adopt children with special needs?

Adoption in India is mostly a final resort by couples; when they cannot have kids biologically. Everyone wants to have a perfectly healthy kid, which is another reason that keeps them off from adopting a child with special needs. I would like to suggest parents who are considering adoption to not be too fussy about the child and keep the expectations realistic.

Every child be it a girl or boy, typical/normal or one with special need each one deserve to be happy and among a family who can love and take care of him/her.

Raising a differently abled child is difficult but so is raising any child. If by adopting a child your goal is to provide a home and family to someone in need then a child with
special need should be equally preferred, as most of these kids miss their development milestones due to lack of or no medical and early intervention in early life which is must for them.

As per our personal experience, Veda has changed our perspective towards life. She has made us believe that small things matters the most. We have started acknowledging those aspects of life which we never even cared for in our whole life.

How well equipped  should parents be before adoption?
Every child has different needs and before adoption prospective parent should have the following:
1) Gather all information about the needs of child.
2) Check for medical and physical facilities nearby as per child needs.
3) Get connected with groups personally/social media related to that special need of the child.
These really help once child is home.

Do you think there are enough facilities avaialble for special need children whether school/therapies?
As per medical and physical therapies are concerned there are mutiple options available in metro and major cities
in India, though small cities and towns still lack around these.

As per schooling is concerned most schools are still hesitant and resist giving admission to kids with special needs, there are only few which promote inclusion and preach the same even in metro/major cities.

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