New Delhi: They're calling it a sign of changing times. Letting go of the traditional preference for the perfect child - fingers and toes all accounted for - 11 Indian couples have signed up to adopt children who are specially-abled.
They are among the 9,000 waiting for a child, show data from the Central Adoption Resource Agency, or CARA. And chances are their prayers will be answered first - given that 760 special children are up for adoption, against the 800-plus able children at this point.
The parents of Meghna could not be happier. The child they adopted from the Missionaries of Charity 10 years ago, turned out to have intellectual disability. Yet, bringing her up, they say, is a "satisfying" and an "overwhelming" experience.
"I am so glad... Whenever we visited the orphanage, we would see people were not adopting girls and special children," said Seema Gupta, Meghna's mother.
So how did they adopt Meghna? Her husband Amit Gupta, she said, wouldn't choose. "He was insistent we take the first baby they got," she said.
Earlier, a majority of special children would be adopted by foreign nationals. Now, the requests from India have left CARA smiling.
"In the last 15 days, I have got four requests from parents who want a special child,'' said Veerendra Misra, secretary, CARA, "That hasn't happened before and it is very encouraging, it shows things are changing."
While he put the positive trend to growing awareness, Usha Verma, principal of the Tamanna special school, said that she was aware of two such instances.
"In one of them, the parent only found out about the disability after the adoption, but they were very happy and embraced the child,'' she said. "In the other, a parent was hearing impaired and wanted their child also to be special.''
The numbers aren't staggering, but it is change. One parent at a time.