BENGALURU: A tear-jerker of a video for Vicks’ #TouchOfCare campaign, which has over 20 million views, traces the journey of Dr Aloma and David Lobo, a city couple who adopted a child with special needs, Nisha. The video briefly traces Nisha’s journey, with the 18-year-old talking about the bond she shares with her parents.
“It’s a beautiful video, emphasising on the fact that every child needs love and a family. We were just a little worried about the amount of publicity Nisha would get, but she just said, ‘I’ll be fine, guys’. I, on the other hand, tear up each time I see it,” says Dr Aloma, who was the former chairperson of the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA). Though her parents were hesitant initially about making the video, Nisha was certain that if it could help another child like her, she’d do it.
Dr Aloma and David have six children, the youngest being Nisha, who was born with a rare genetic condition called ichthyosis, which affects one in a million children. Nisha was abandoned when she was just two weeks old. Her condition made her skin thick and flaky, completely blind in one eye with little sight in the other, and her lack of eyelids made her prone to diseases. “It was a Sunday morning when we first first met Nisha, and were initially taken aback a bit, when our second daughter said, ‘Mumma, let’s take her home’.”
Before that, they discussed it with their other children, concerned about if they could actually take on caring for a special needs child. When everyone was on board, they went ahead with bringing Nisha home. “The initial few months were hard - she needed a lot of care and love.
But we had a lot of support, and eventually, we didn’t see her for her condition anymore, but saw her as a happy girl, full of life, who was unapologetically herself and wanted to be accepted for who she is,” she says, adding that her appearance and the reaction from others around her were challenges Nisha faced at first, but she learnt from it all.
“There is a stigma attached to kids who have genetic disorders, as people believe it reflects on the family name and bloodline. This notion cuts across all social and economic groups. In fact, I think when Nisha’s biological parents abandoned her, it was an act of love – they realised they could not care for the child and now she’s with a family who can care and give her the love she deserves,” says Dr Aloma, adding that few people can actually care for a child with special needs – it has to be someone who wants to do it. Aloma says that she is lucky to have had a supportive family and friends circle.
“Motherhood is not about the child I want to have, it’s about celebrating the child that I do have. Families should learn to open up their hearts – someone out there can change you, and you can change their lives.”
According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),
India has 29.6 million orphaned and abandoned children – 4 per cent of India’s child population – but only 4.7 lakh children are in
Currently, there are about only 20,000 parents in line waiting to adopt, compared to the 27.5 million couples who are actively trying to conceive but are experiencing infertility, according to the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction
The highest number of children available for adoption is from Maharashtra at 376 followed by Odisha at 299
In the past year, only 42
children with special needs have found homes