Single parent dual role

Written by Monalisa Sen | Updated: Feb 2 2009, 05:21am hrs
They are breaking stereotypes. They have a family without the wedlock and its prangs. They have a child without the delivery pains! And they are enjoying every bit of the best of both worlds. These women have the courage and conviction to live by their own rules and strongly believe in the concept of a family. Yes, the single mom generation has arrived in a big way and changed the family ways in our metros like never before. As Dr Vinita Bhargava, founder of Delhi-based Alternating Parenting Network Association (APNA) and President of the Central Voluntary Adoption Resource Agency (CVARA) admits, Till few years ago, there were very few cases of adoption by single parents. But now we see that the numbers are going up.

And this trend is making most adopting agencies change their mindset towards single parents and mend their ways. As Leila Baig, Secretary CVARA shares, Earlier agencies were a bit hesitant to encourage adoptions by single mothers. But now we feel that as long as they are financially independent and have a viable support system, we dont have any problems in giving the child. From what used to be a rare occurrence, applications from single mothers to adoption agencies are now pouring in.

However, Deepti Priya Mehrotra, political scientist, points out that single mother as a category is not recognised in the census data. A single mother herself, she accepts that unless you have a good support system it is difficult to bring up a child.

And herein lies the challenges and responsibilities of a single mom - being the sole parent, breadwinner and homemaker multitasking personified. And they soon realise the joys of being a single mom comes at a price.

Money matters

Right from the adoption costs to everyday expenses all start to count. As Delhi-based freelance consultant Praneet Sukanya Kapur shares, I spent close to a lakh for the entire process. The cost of the adoption went higher since I had to fly between Indore and Delhi a couple of times along with my mother before all the formalities were completed. Now I spend somewhere around Rs 6,000 per month which includes expenses for the maids, diapers, vaccines among other expenses.

So did Sulekha Chatterjee. A self-employed single woman based in Delhi who had to shell out a single standard fee of Rs 15,000 that she feels is lesser than what she would have had to pay a gynaecologist for periodic check ups and a hospital for the delivery if she wanted to be a biological mother.

Adoption expenses vary from place to place and agency to agency. Usually it is between Rs 15,000-30,000. Deepti Singh, Assistant Vice President, HR in a media organisation says, When I adopted my daughter Shloka from Pune it cost me between Rs 30,000-40,000, out of which I had to pay Rs 5,000 to the lawyer. Kasturika Mishra, working in Delhis American Centre, feels it was not at all expensive for her. I spend Rs 5,000 monthly on Mihikas school fees and extracurricular activities. In spite of all the paper work, legalities and money involved in the adoption process, all moms agree that they were willing to spend 100 times more to be a mother.

The balancing act

Price aside, what comes along in the package is balancing career with the demands of parenthood. As Chatterjee states, The difficulty lies in balancing work and spending time with the child. Just as I dont want to miss out on the fun of being with my daughter, I know she too would miss having me around, so I try and squeeze as much time as I can for my little one. Special educator Geet Oberoi running Orkids, a multidisciplinary clinic for disabled children, adopted Indya almost 18 months ago, she now plans to bring home a sibling. She shares that second child will be expensive but at the same time she has her investments to manage that aspect, I am now working with a financial adviser to start a systematic investment plan for mutual funds. A sentiment also shared by Chatterjee, Just adopting a child is not enough. Giving her a good life is more important. I have lots of plans for her. I am not at all impressed by the education system here and I would look for an option soon, such as sending her abroad when she is a bit mature, she adds.

Sending the child to a good school, day-care centre, balancing work and economic struggles are among the seemingly endless problems these women have to face as a single parent. Its hard but not impossible!

Adoption Hows

Stage I

Prospective adoptive parent(s) should register themselves with the local RIPA / LAPA or Adoption Coordinating Agency or with the State Adoption Cell.

Stage II

A home study report of the prospective adoptive parents will be prepared by the social worker of the agency. To allay the fears and apprehensions of the prospective adoptive parent(s), pre-adoptive counseling sessions will be undertaken by the social worker during the preparation of the home study report. Assessing the ability of a couple to parent a child is of importance in a successful adoption. Therefore, their suitability to care for an unrelated child is assessed through this home study and counselling. Documents relating to the financial and health status of the prospective parent(s) will be part of the Home Study Report.

In case of Inter-State adoption applications by parent(s), they will be accompanied by Home Study prepared by a qualified social worker working in a RIPA/LAPA. Where State Governments have officially delegated such work for its officials, the Home Study Report could be prepared by the concerned Official.

The Agency will make a suitable reference from amongst the admitted children legally free for adoption. If no suitable child is available, the family will be referred to the ACA.

Stage III

After a Home Study has been accepted and approved, a child will be shown to the parent(s). The agency will take care to match a child meeting the description, if any, desired by the parent(s).

In case of placement of older children (above the age of 6), both written and verbal consent of the child will be obtained.

Stage IV

Once a successful matching has been done, the agency will file a petition in the Court/JJB for obtaining the necessary orders under the relevant Act. The above process will normally be completed in 6-8 weeks.

Once an order has been issued, it should be followed by regular follow-up visits and post adoption counselling by the social worker till the child is adjusted in the new environment. The follow up should preferably be for a period of one year at-least or as directed by the Court/JJB. Copies of the follow-up reports will be sent to the District Social Welfare Officer/concerned State Government Department, concerned Scrutiny Agency and the Court/JJB from where the order was obtained. CVARA