It’s unknown exactly how many babies are abandoned each year in India, with some sources reporting up to 11 million, but it is known that over 90% of them are girls. Babies are abandoned for many reasons: victims of rape, like Kaama whose story we shared a few weeks ago, or unmarried mothers fearing recriminations, being unable to financially support a child or simply not wanting another girl in the family.
Since we opened the doors to our adoption center in 2004 we have successfully rescued and saved the lives of over 500 of these babies. Some are dropped off at our centre by their mothers or left in the cot we have just outside our gate, others are the unwanted pregnancies of the child rape victims living at our Rehab Center. Our Childline team and volunteers also bring us babies found abandoned in public places, sadly many infants arrive in a very fragile and/or premature state and require hospitalisation and intensive care. Fortunately, most survive.
Once recovered these babies are adopted under a government approved and accredited process which finds loving families for them. We make sure we are with them every step of the way from an adoptive family’s initial enquiry right through to the adoption ceremonies where our Snehalaya ‘family’ officially hands the child over to their new parents, ensuring a safe and smooth transition to their new home.
We also help in the rehabilitation of unwed mothers, rape victims and minors – giving them education, vocational training and remarriage options. By sitting on the Committee of Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) we also contribute to the enforcement of the law against sex determination.
Many of these parents keep in touch with us sending updates on the progress of their child and returning to celebrate the milestones of their lives such as birthdays with us. Others write letters and send photos and some have even established their own Snehalaya networks within their home cities to support our work.
Maya was one of the first babies we rescued. Her parents were in advanced stages of AIDS, very sick and unable to care for their four-year-old daughter they came to us for help. Not only did we take in Maya we also wanted to help her parents. The family lived with us allowing her father to die with dignity and when her mother realised that she too was dying she wanted to complete the formalities to ensure Maya's future with an adoptive family. Within days of completing the paperwork Maya's mother also died.
Maya stayed with us for two years while we searched for the right adoptive parents for her, becoming a daughter to our care staff. When a couple from Pune came to our center with their hearts set on adopting a baby, we suggested they speak with six-year-old Maya. They were won over and started to process of adopting the little girl immediately.
Maya recently came to visit us. We were so happy to see how the small girl who had lost both her birth parents by the age of five has enjoyed a second chance with a new family. She is currently studying at a reputed college where she is excelling.
She told us: "Thank you so much for looking after me and my dying parents, without you I don't know where I would have ended up. It's thanks to you that I have had such a happy life with a loving family. I've never forgotten my Snehalaya family and really wanted to come back to say thank you and show you how well I'm doing."
Unfortunately, some children are left with us because they are disabled. They are much harder to place which is why this year we have started our first international adoptions specifically for children with special needs. This has enabled children to receive specialised treatment in their new countries of residence much quicker than they would in India.
Last year we rescued 51 babies finding new homes for 46, including our first six international adoptions. Demand for the cots in our center remains high and we also want to be able to offer support to the mothers of these babies, which is why we are nearing completion of a new 50-bed adoption center with improved neo- and post-natal facilities. You can help us to ensure this much-needed facility opens before it’s too late for another scared, pregnant girl and her baby.
You can help! It will cost around Rs 4,500,000 (US$69,900/UK£53,600) to keep this vital project operating this year. Donate now to help us ensure this much-needed facility opens before it’s too late for another scared, pregnant girl and her baby.