Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Tribute to Vathsalya Charitable Trust

The VCT Building in Kalyan Nagar, Bangalore

This is the text of a Three-minute speech I gave at a function to honour Vathsalya Charitable Trust, on their Silver Jubilee (June 7th, 2014).

Thank you very much for the opportunity to say a few words at this happy celebration of Vathsalya's 25th anniversary.

My wife, Arpita, and I have had the privilege of being able to adopt three beautiful children from Vathsalya between Feb 2008 and Dec 2011. In a sense therefore, I am aware, I speak today representing the hundreds of couples who have adopted from Vathsalya over the years. Mrs Mary Paul, Shirley and the team at Vathsalya have been friends to us, walking with us through the process of adoption, and giving us, as families, some of our happiest moments and memories. We often come across couples who have adopted from other agencies, and as we listen to their stories, and the distress and pain they have gone through in order to adopt, we feel almost embarassed to tell them how smoothly everything went for us, and how we look back over our own stories with so much joy and gratitude.

Vathsalya has also come to represent so much more!

Some of our children were relinquished by courageous women who spent the last few months of their pregnancies living with dignity and respect in the privacy of Vathsalya, choosing to deliver their (within quotes) 'unwanted' babies, breast feed them for a while, go through the process of grief and a type of bereavement, and then offer these children up for adoption. Vathsalya represented to these abused and helpless women, and to us who heard their stories, the dignity and value of every human being, and an option by which hopeless tragedies could be redeemed with kind and loving action, courage and respect, and result in so much joy to so many people.

Some of our children were abandoned by courageous families, who dared to hope that their babies could live better lives, if they could be placed through adoption in different families. We live in a culture which places precious little value on human life, and under some of the most liberal pro-abortion laws in the world. In our culture, babies are routinely aborted for the flimsiest reasons. The Lancet, in 2006, talked about 10 million missing girls in India, who had been aborted, paying the ultimate penalty for the extra X chromosome they carried.

Vathsalya, on the other hand, was a powerful reminder of a message which was profoundly counter-cultural. All life is precious, and every baby valuable. Adoption speaks so powerfully about the worth of the child. Each of these babies, placed in loving homes, is a source of so much life, joy and fulfilment.

Vathsalya also represented to us the inherent value and worth of people living with disability. As a paediatric surgeon, I was sometimes called to examine and opine on children with various mental and physical disabilities who had been given up for adoption. I was consistently struck by the love and kindness with which these children were served and cared for by the staff at Vathsalya, and the way in which every one of these children were also placed in loving families, where they found love, dignity and supportive relationships. In our culture only 'perfect' babies are valued, and the disabled are routinely aborted. For example, I recently came across a case where a baby was aborted because she was found to have a cleft lip....an eminently treatable condition! Vathsalya,on the other hand, was a powerful, counter-cultural advocate for the disabled.

And so, on this special day, on behalf of the hundreds of couples who have been blessed by your exemplary work, and the many children who have experienced your love and care, and who have been placed in loving families around the world, Thank you!

God bless you and continue to lead and guide you as you reflect on the years past, and think strategically about the future. We know that you will continue to represent all that is good and right at the frontiers where very few others venture. We know that you will continue to challenge us as a conscience keeper in our times, and continue to be an advocate for the weak and marginalised members of our human community. We wish you all the very best for the journey ahead.

Thank you.

(You could read more about Vathsalya at their website http://www.vctblr.org/home-page.html)

Possibly related posts from the past:

1. The Ridiculous Grace of Adoption
2. Hundreds of couples offer to adopt a child with Down's Syndrome to prevent an abortion
3. Image Bearers