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NEichild, An Adoption Group Focuses On Kids From India

Nirmala Garimella

There is an air of expectancy on the ground as the new parents wait anxiously for the plane to arrive from India. The little girl that gets off looks around equally anxious, perhaps a little nervous, excited and tired. She has never flown in her entire life. This is her first trip and a lengthy one at that. As the plane circles to a stop,her new parents rush forward tentatively but surely to greet her. There are hesitant smiles all over and then pure joy. Laxmi has finally arrived home to her family.

Laxmi is an adopted child from India and her parents are from US. It has not been an easy process but the couple who have adopted Laxmi have not given up. They have been patient and have also gained support from a local support group called NEichild, (New England iChild) an independent association of families and other people who are involved with adoption from India. We meet Lyman Phillips who has been there since its inception and is actively involved with its various activities. He has two adopted children from India, a son, Paul Abhinaya Phillips and daughter Lily Kalyani Phillips.

NEiChild provides activities, resources and support to enhance or encourage adoption from India. The group says Lyman, is used to support people who have adopted kids from India and educate people who ar thinking about the idea and the opportunity.

There are about 120 families who have adopted, from Maine to Massachusetts and who communicate with each other through an email list serve to keep connected. They meet occasionally to celebrate their Indian Heritage. The most recent one has been Camp Masala during the summer that had activities like making Rakhi bracelets, mehendi drawings, an Indian clothing fashion show, flying Indian-style kites, an Indian Dinner, an Indian play market and a captivating play based on the Ramayana.

“So why India and is it difficult” I ask Lyman and he tells me that only around 500 children are adopted from India each year. An astonishing low number, I find and he attributes it to red tape. “It also takes almost 12 to 18 months to complete the process whereas in China you wait for only 9 months”. This has obviously not deterred him in his case.” I wanted to adopt a child from India because my wife always had an affinity toward India. It seemed a good option for both of us since India also has a rich and a wonderful lasting culture and we greatly admire that”.

To bring an awareness of this group, Lyman makes presentations at the annual conference of the Open Door Society (ODS). He discusses services available in the adoption process in India and also internationally. The group is also listed on the main website of the Ichild network.

NEi is happy about the reaction from the Indian community. "We always had a great response and have been welcomed by the community. In fact we raised around $750 in funds for the Gujarat earthquake. We also participate in other community activities".

Our function is twofold “concludes Lyman “One is to support the Indian heritage in our children and the second is support them as families created by adoption. There are very specific issues we need to be sensitive to, like their acceptance level in schools, inappropriate homework assignments on family tree etc and of course as they grow older, dating etc. It can be very overwhelming to the child when they arrive here. In India they share homes with so many people and here the households are so quiet it can be difficult at first". What about religion ? Does it matter? I ask and Lyman admits “It is a fine line we tread but more often than not, the children are integrated into the family’s faith. The most important thing is of course when you adopt a child from another culture that culture become part of your family too.

For more information visit www. http://www.neichild.org/

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