Canada-based Damle couple was first family settled abroad to adopt child from SOFOSH
Mousami had first come to the orphanage run by the Society of Friends of Sassoon General Hospital in Pune when she was barely a few days old,and alone. A few months later,when she left the place in 1979,she had a family complete with parents and an elder brother,and a surname Damle.
Thirty three years ago,Vijay and Vidya Damle were the first Indian couple settled abroad to fly down to Pune to adopt a girl child from SOFOSH. On Monday,Mousami was back at the orphanage,but she was not alone this time.
Its an emotional moment and about finding my roots, says Mousami,a former staff sergeant with the US air force who loves cycling and outdoor sports. She now works at an advertising firm in New York.
My biggest challenge was to always let Mousami know that she was loved, says Vidya,57. She and her husband had decided to adopt a girl child when their son,Sarang,was two years old.
Vijay,64,who was an engineer with a construction company,is originally from Thane and had migrated to Canada with Vidya,who is from Belgaum. I worked as an accountant when we were in Canada, says Vidya,who gave birth to Sarang soon after her marriage. After two years,I felt the need to have a daughter and decided why not adopt, she says.
It was,in fact,easier to adopt then as I flew down from Canada,saw Mousami as a two-month-old baby and fell in love with her. The papers were processed and she was with us after two months, Vidya recalls. She says its easier to raise an adopted child abroad. Frankly,nobody cares whether you have adopted a child or are a single mother abroad. We were a family and Sarang and Mousami,like other siblings so,had their own share of fun and rivalry. There were moments when we as parents felt like pulling our hair. But this family bonded well and soon became a role model for others,encouraging them to go for adoption, says Vidya.
The Damles are on their fifth visit to SOFOSH. Earlier too,they had participated in several workshops organised here to encourage adoption. Mousami is at ease with her 84-year-old great grandmother and has an increasing list of cousins and relatives both in the US and in India, says Vidya.
Mousami says she would like to adopt a child if there were an option. There have been a total of 2119 adoptions so far at SOFOSH since 1974,of which 1,012 were girls. According to officials,as many as 662 adoptions since 1974 had been by couples settled abroad,of which 480 were girls.