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Arunima Maharshi

IWB Blogger

Born With Cerebral Palsy, Activist Jeeja Ghosh, Finally Wins The Tough Adoption Fight

  • IWB Post
  •  June 13, 2018

Kolkata resident Jeeja Ghosh has broken many ceilings and has had many firsts, and the 48-year-old added one more to the list last week. She is now the first person born with cerebral palsy in Kolkata — and possibly India — to become an adoptive mom.

A Presidency College graduate and Delhi University postgraduate, Ghosh is a staunch believer of the rights-based approach and dignity of all human beings. She has been a part of the disabled people’s movement, and is working as a disability rights activist, from the past two decades.

Motherhood was a dream that Ghosh, born with the condition, nursed since she tied the knot in 2013. But little did she know about the hurdles she would have to face before being “considered fit” for adopting a five-month-old girl. Last Thursday, after an epic struggle, Ghosh welcomed home a girl child, lovingly called Bhujungu and Sonai at home.

Her husband, Bappaditya Nag, is a law officer at Syndicate Bank, and the couple had applied for adoption in 2016. As reported by Times Of India, Madhusmita Nayak, programme manager for the specialised adoption agency project at Keonjhar’s Self-Realisation Mission (SRM), from where the child was adopted, said the baby was born in January 2018 and was abandoned at a Keonjhar hospital.

 

Jeeja Ghosh

It was love at first sight for the couple when they saw the yet-unnamed child at SRM. But it took them multiple trips to Keonjhar to convince the adoption committee that Ghosh could be a responsible caregiver. “We submitted a fit certificate from a gynaecologist but even after that the committee told us this certificate was not acceptable because it had to be issued by a ‘medical practitioner’,” Nag said.

It was an uphill struggle since then and, after numerous mails and reminders, the couple finally escalated the matter to Dr Sadaf Nazneen, consultant (eastern region), Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA). “It needs to be checked whether the couple is emotionally, physically and financially suitable to adopt a child. This was the first case where a parent with cerebral palsy was keen on adoption. It will remain as a reference point for other such applications in future. Some questions might have seemed uncomfortable but they were perhaps asked to judge the suitability of the family adopting the baby,” Dr Sadaf.

Ghosh and her husband could not buy the argument. “I felt so humiliated with the questions they asked. The district child protection officer described cerebral palsy as a ‘mental disease’ and expressed apprehensions about my communication skills. I fail to understand how someone in that position can have such ideas,” Jeeja expressed.

TOI spoke to the officer, Debangana Barik, who said she “did not want to hurt” Ghosh at all. “My language issue might have created a problem. I am very impressed with her personality and she is completely fit to take care of the baby. Her adoption case is a success story for all of us here,” Barik added. But the new parents’ legal work is still not over. Bhujungu is, legally, in Ghosh’s and Nag’s foster care right now. “We are going to file a court application in Keonjhar soon and, within 60 days of that, we expect to get the order that will make us her legal parents,” Ghosh said.

Both parents are on leave now. Friends and relatives are dropping by regularly with cartloads of gifts for the little one. Nag, too, is a complete hands-on father, from feeding Bhujungu to cleaning her when she soils herself. Ghosh’s octogenarian mother, a dementia patient, is thrilled. On rare occasions, when memory serves her right, seeing Ghosh and her daughter is a reminder for the old lady of her own motherhood tales of fighting against odds to bring up a daughter.

H/T Link: Times Of India

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