Adoption in India is an elusive subject. Several couples who are planning to adopt a child are either clueless or overwhelmed with the information overload on the internet. This is where the book Child of My Heart: A Comprehensive Guide to Adoption in India by author and journalist Kalyani Sardesai comes into the picture. This book published in 2020 is now in its second edition.
She calls the book a unique 360-degree approach to each and every aspect of adoption especially the bottlenecks that have been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ask Kalyani to describe the book to new readers, she mentions it as an essential India-centric book that is a ‘journalistic piece of research’. “It is the culmination of my personal journey as a parent and my professional journey as a reporter who has written on child rights. The book’s USP is its 360-degree look at the current centralised system of adoption. the book applies to NRIS and People of Indian origin, indeed anyone else looking to adopt from India.”
Adoption in India is at the moment controlled by the Centralized Adoption Resource Authority. It is a statutory body of the Ministry of Women and Child Development under the Government of India. This body monitors and regulates adoptions in and outside India.
“From a simplification of the paper-work and technicalities, explaining the rationale behind the centralized adoption process, to the questions that are seemingly unique to adoptive homes, this book hopes to go the distance in bringing greater clarity to one's understanding of adoption,” Kalyani explains.
She wrote from the purpose of simplifying the how and whys of the working of adoption in India. “In many ways, the concept of both family and parenting are culture specific, and therefore, references from the West may not always work for us.”
After going into second edition, one thing has become clear to Kalyani – the book is the need of the hour. “This is why despite not being a commercial book, it grew on the back of word of mouth and positive feedback.”
The awe-inspiring responses from a range of people and institutions have pleased Kalyani. “Complex information is broken into simple, readable, bite-sized bits. The book’s academic take on how India approaches the topic of child rights-particularly its approach to vulnerable children plus the description of the Juvenile Justice Act that is the backbone of the centralized adoption system and a look at the social realities of India make this a well-researched book-and not just an emotional one from a parent’s point of view.”
She is happy that the parents loved the in-depth interviews with the family. “One of them told me that this was the most worthwhile thing I had done with my life. And even if I wrote nothing else, my legacy was in place. Of course, that’s way too much praise. But it’s touching!”
It is books like these that are quite relevant especially with regards social changes. Kalyani reveals, “The book draws its references from the current realities as well as the past events that shaped the adoption process. It includes the realities both pre- and post-Independence. All of it reflects the milestones in our understanding and approach towards children-a very important documentation to be sure.”
She is also quite in clearing misconceptions regarding the adoption process. The first is that adoption is anything but charity or social service. “Neither is adoption merely an emotional subject. Parents need to take a practical, informed and considered view of adoption., And then there is a comprehensive legal process to be followed and without shortcuts of any kind. Above all else, please note, that centralized adoption is the only legal way to adopt in this country. Anything else is not adoption, but bluntly put, trading and trafficking.”
Kalyani feels the upcoming second edition will highlight the frustrations and bottlenecks that happened thanks to the pandemic. It made the queues longer. “The pain and endless wait of the prospective parents is something that can’t be ignored. For every 2,000 kids that are legally free for adoption, there are some 25,000 parents waiting. The book highlights this imbalance.”
The fact that a book like Child of My Heart: A Comprehensive Guide to Adoption in India is going into second edition is a heartening news for parents and children. And it is all thanks to Kalyani Sardesai’s efforts into making it real.