The champagne bottle

It stands forlorn on a table. It had been bought with much hope and expectation to celebrate an event many of us had prayed for: the departure of a little boy to another land with brand new parents. But that was not to be as once again the life of a child got irremediably caught in the web of adult egos.

Let me tell you the story of a little boy now 4, who landed in our lives when he was just two weeks old. Born out of wedlock to parents of different faith he faced a grim future in a land where such children are branded for life. We thought that perhaps he would have a better morrow were he to be adopted and taken away to another land where labels and branding do not matter. Everything seemed to be working in the right direction as suitable parents were found and all seemed to be on track. The legal process was initiated and the doting parents-to-be made umpteen visits to India to shower love on the little boy.

We watched him grow, cut his first tooth, utter his first word, take his first step as he was a student of our creche. When the parents-to-be were in town, he slept in my home and was smothered with affection and gifts. Then what went wrong? Everything! The legal case took longer than expected and the child changed from a cuddly baby to a little boy with his own character and temperament. And by the time the case finally concluded in favour of the adoptive parents, a lot had changed. The parents had adopted another baby in their own land. And our little boy still needed a passport to leave his birth land and join his new family.

All of us believed that obtaining a passport was just a matter of time. But to our utter dismay we soon found that there was still a lot of red tape to be faced and egos to be appeased. The adoption agency refused to give the required clearance in spite of a court order. And as is always the case, no one was willing to give anything in writing. The would be parents lost interest and the little boy's future was again in jeopardy. The celebration was not to be and the champagne bottle stood unopened, a grim reminder of a battle sadly lost.

In hindsight it is maybe all for the best. Next year we hope to be able to send the little boy to boarding school, thus ensuring that he gets what is needed to change his life for the better: a sound education. Perhaps it was the God of lesser beings operating in his own inimitable way! But one wonders how many children have their lives truncated because of inexplicable bureaucratic procedures and imbroglios.