A few weeks back, I stumbled upon an Instagram account – @extrachromieveda. After going through various videos and pictures, I was really impressed with Veda’s hard work and dedication. I spoke to her mother, Kavita Bulani who gave me an insight into child adoption, Down’s syndrome and some tips on motherhood. Here is an excerpt from my discussion with her.
Q. Can you tell us a little about your background?
A. I am Kavita Baluni(29), a former HR and Pre-school teacher. I have lived across India’s diversification in my early life, as my father was posted at various places. I have been married to Himanshu Kaktwan for nearly 7 years and been a proud mother to Veda Baluni Kaktwan for nearly 2 years now.
Q. How did you decide to have a family through adoption? How did you know that Veda is the one who would complete your family?
A. Adopting a girl child was always in my mind since I was a teen. I always find it ironic that people in society are busy raising their own family, but a very few are concerned about kids who do not have a family to look after them. I shared this thought with my husband before marriage; we discussed it through and decided to have our child through adoption, although special needs came quite late into consideration.
We came across the word “Down’s syndrome” when we were in the US. We saw a few kids with Down Syndrome. We started exploring the internet and watching videos about it. We spent the next few weeks and months gathering detailed information about Down Syndrome. As we got more into it, we were really inspired to adopt a baby with DS as we couldn’t find any reason to not do so! So, we came back to India as we couldn’t adopt from the US and everything happened subsequently.
Q. How did you know that Veda is the one who would complete your family?
A. After registering ourselves with CARA and home study completion, I started looking in the disability section instead of waiting for referrals as there is no waiting time for special needs kid.
When I saw Veda’s profile, I contacted the agency for her latest pictures. Her pictures made me cry, I shared it with my husband who was in office and he came home quickly and by evening we reserved her. After having a look at her pictures, we were already determined to be her parents and that she is going to be our daughter. We wanted to bring her home asap. We went to Bhopal after a couple of days and within 45 days of registration, she was home.
Q. How supportive your family, relatives and society have been to you and your decision?
A. We did face a real hard time from friends and family who never contacted us after our decision, which we were expecting. We were quite firm and sure about our decision from the beginning, so we never asked for support from anyone. We did inform our parents, relatives and friends but have never believed in the word “society”.
Q.How has your motherhood experience been so far?
A.Amazing, rewarding, joyful, painful and tiring too, but Veda made it so worth it!! It has been a roller coaster with its ups and downs but I am really happy that the ride has been smooth with me, Veda and my husband standing as a family together. It took her quite a time to get attached to me as she was really scared of ladies when she came home. Though she always trusted me, attachment took the time. It generally happens when you are raising a baby who has gone through pain and childhood trauma.
Now, we spend a lot of time together doing activities, occupational therapies, playing around and having fun. It has been a great journey since Veda has been part of the family, we have come along a long way and enjoyed every bit of it.
Q. Can you tell us about Veda’s likes & dislikes?
A. Veda is too young to tell her likes and dislikes. She loves to play with us and admire herself a lot looking into a mirror. She is fond of all kind of foods and plays, she especially enjoys drives and music.
Q. From your Instagram feed, we got to know that you are homeschooling Veda. Can you elaborate more upon homeschooling – how and where to start?
A. Homeschooling is not a new concept actually if we look it as a whole. Many parents worldwide have made this as the learning way for their kids. For Veda, rather than homeschooling we are more focused on “unschooling” currently. She doesn’t have to follow a schedule or a classroom, she does what she likes and as long as she is willing to. She has already missed one and a half years of her childhood, so we don’t want to push her to learn something. Kids are natural learners, so she will learn whatever she wants to, at her own pace. We are currently not following any method we just want her to enjoy her childhood to the fullest.
Q. What is the best way to get into legal child adoption?
A. India adoption process has one-stop solution CARA. You can visit their website or even call helpline numbers to get details on process and inquire about anything else. Everything is mentioned and you just need to follow the steps.
Q. Your message for adoptive parents & PAPs?
A. For everyone- Adoption is just another way of having a family, please do not consider this as charity or a noble deed. Also, this should not be the last option for any couple or single parent, this should be another option right from the beginning when you think of having your own family.
For PAPs- Keep your expectations reasonable and realistic. Nobody is perfect so don’t expect a perfectly healthy child. Kids are just kids; all they need is love and affection. Always remember, you are the one making choice, the child doesn’t even get a chance to do the same.
As rightly said “Adoption is not about finding children for families, it’s about finding families for children”
Q. How are the facilities for special needs people in India be it in terms of infrastructure, different types of therapies, schools etc?
A. In one line not that good, neither infrastructure wise nor therapies wise. Metropolitan cities do have few good doctors and therapy centres, but rural India doesn’t have even the minimal facilities. Also, such facilities and therapies are costly so many people cannot afford them. As far as schools are concerned the condition is no better. General schools do not entertain special needs kids and the few inclusive schools which are running are not affordable to the public in general.
Q. Would you like to spread some awareness around Down syndrome?
A. I believe that is the reason I started Veda’s YouTube channel and page on Facebook. Many people are working for this cause but looking at the life of a kid with Down syndrome gives a perspective and vision to people. Many people contact me every single day to know about the therapies and early intervention. They find Veda’s videos quite informative. It gives them hope for the better future of their kids. They are able to understand that their kids are different but no less. Also, looking at how Veda does therapies and activities, people will get an insight into what needs to be done and how even if they do not have these facilities accessible to them. Kids with DS are no different than any other kid, they just need some more time to learn and excel. Personally, the extra chromosome of Veda makes her extra empathetic, loving, caring and beautiful. We love and adore her extra chromosome.