In a country where people go to great lengths to have babies, tribal activist CK Janu has adopted a little girl from Chhattisgarh, with the firm belief that all the world’s children are our own and that people should give orphaned children love and care.
Janu says she always wanted to adopt a girl and applied for child adoption in Kerala around a year ago. However, she realised that the waitlist was long.
“I am not bothered about where the child is from. All children born in this world are our own,” Janu says, adding that she then decided to apply with adoption agencies elsewhere in India.
Seven months ago, Matruchaya, an adoption centre in Bilaspur, Chattisgarh run by Seva Bharti, told her about a child who was slightly over two years old. Once inspections and verifications were over, she was given legal custody of the little girl around two months ago.
On January 8, Janu’s wait for her daughter finally ended, with every procedural detail completed. The pair finally reached Kalpetta village, where Janu lives. Janu named the girl CK Janaki.
Prominent writer and activist Sarah Joseph says that it took a large heart to adopt children and praised Janu for it. “Giving birth to a child and taking care of our own children is common, but greatness is in looking after an orphaned child, adopting them and giving a new life to them,” she said.
For Janu, adopting a child is also practical. “We should be able to consider all the children in this world as our own. Why should we spend lakhs on infertility treatments when thousands of kids are orphaned?” she asks.
Often, Indian couples who are unable to have children go to great lengths to have biological children – scientific or religious or both.
According to some estimates, India’s In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) clinic market is worth more than $400 million.
A gynaecologist formerly with the Kerala government’s health department, Dr. Sarojini Kadumana says couples in Kerala spend around Rs 5 lakh for fertility treatment without any guarantee of success.
“Success rate is very low, around 15-30 percent. This is all money-making and there are side effects too,” Dr. Sarojini says.
She said that in the past, there were a few IVF clinics mostly in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram – the largest cities. But soon, hospitals began opening up fertility clinics and most districts today have at least one.
Either simultaneously, or as a last resort, people also approach their religious gods. There is no estimate of how much money goes into the collection boxes of deities, shrines and churches, which offer “fertility blessings”.
Sara was scathing of such attempts to have biological children. “What is the point of going through so much when there are thousands of children waiting for love and protection?”
Janu says that people seek fertility treatment and go on pilgrimages to temples all over India to have a baby of their own because of the notion of lineage. “People want children in their own bloodline, because they do not want to give away their assets to an individual born to some others,” she says, adding that this continues to make adoption a source of stigma.
Sarah too agrees with Janu’s views. “You don’t want to transfer your property to someone’s child. That is selfishness. I think all children have the same face, you should try to love all equally, therein lies your greatness,” she said.
Janu wished more people would adopt children. “You shouldn’t be stubborn that you will love only your own kids. Give life to these poor kids, they deserve your love, care and protection,” she says.
Once Janaki is older, Janu says she will adopt another girl. “I want one more girl, a sister for Janaki. Let them live like a family, let them know the love of siblings,” she said.
Janaki meanwhile has adapted well to her new environment. The little girl has a gang of friends in her neighborhood.
“She calls me Amma now, what else do I need? I will give her the best I can,” says Janu.