To say that Pune-based software engineer Aditya Tiwari has never experienced love at first sight would be wrong. But it’s not your stereotypical love story either.
“I fell in love when Binney first held my finger and wouldn’t let go,” says Tiwari, a 28-year-old employee of Barclays, who recently became the youngest single man in India to adopt a child.
Now one year, nine months old, the child was abandoned by his parents from Bhopal because he suffers from Down’s syndrome and has a hole in his heart. Tiwari first spotted Binney at an orphanage of the Missionaries of Charity in Indore. “I had gone to gift a few things to the children there on my father’s birthday in September 2014. There were a lot of kids there but Binney caught my eye because he was lying on a cot, away from all the revelry. When I went to play with him, he stuck to me and I felt an instant affection. At that time, though, I hadn’t given a thought to adopting him,” says Tiwari, who was born and brought up in Indore.
A month later, Tiwari visited the orphanage again. Binney’s face had been haunting him for many days. He found that while many other children had been adopted, no family was willing to take Binney. “I decided that Binney would be my son. I had always wanted to adopt a child since I read about Sushmita Sen’s single parent adoption. So, I thought why not?” he says.
But the road ahead was strewn with obstacles. First, his parents objected, asking him to get married first. Then the orphanage authorities told him they could not let an unmarried man adopt — the Missionaries of Charity are against single-parent adoptions. For many months, Tiwari kept visiting the orphanage, trying to convince the sisters. By December, the child had been moved to another Bhopal orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity.
In March, Tiwari was told that the child was now in Delhi. “A week later, I found out that Binney was still in Bhopal and they were planning to put him up for foreign adoption. I contacted the women and child welfare (WCD) department and sent some 100 mails to Maneka Gandhi. I complained to Prime Minister’s Office too. Gandhi spoke to me over the phone and said she was asking the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) to work with the Bhopal Child Welfare Committee and resolve this matter. After my complaint, Binney was ordered to be moved to Matruchaya, another adoption agency in Bhopal,” said Tiwari. Even there, he found officials bewildered by his insistence on adopting a child when he was single, and a man.
But it was in August that the tide turned. Till then the CARA guidelines demanded that one had to be 30 years of age to adopt a child. It was revised last year to 25 years. Tiwari was now eligible to adopt Binney. “I finished all formalities within 15 days and by month end, Manekaji visited the orphanage to see Binney, where she instructed that he should be handed over to me immediately. But alas, the authorities at Matruchaya remained reluctant. They first tried to convince me to adopt another child, then scared my parents by saying no girl would marry me and when all failed, kept delaying the adoption process. Once again, I petitioned the PMO and WCD. The central government sent a notice to the state government and finally due to mounting pressure, in December 2015, I got a mail asking me to take Binney home between January 1 to 8,” he says.
The worst behind him now, Tiwari is home with his son, who has a new name (Avnish Tiwari), and parents who now can’t get enough of their new grandson.
The exacting routine of an infant’s life is slowly starting to kick in — from making formula to changing diapers to regular feeds and evening playtime, besides attending to a continuous stream of relatives. “I took him to a pediatrician who said we might not require an immediate surgery for the hole in his heart. As far as Down’s syndrome goes, I have read up about it it and consulted doctors. I know my son’s mental growth will be slow but unlike his biological parents, I won’t give up. The doctor says if Binney is around children, it will be better for him. Thankfully, there is a daycare in the office building, where I plan to keep him. I also get adoption leave for 150 days. But so far, there hasn’t been a need. He has fit right into my schedule,” he says.