Single daddy cool

KAVITHA SRINIVASA | Updated on June 14, 2012

Arvind Nanda, CEO of Interarch Building Products, with sons Viraj and Arhaan.

Sandip Soparrkar with doting son Arjun

Aman Nath, co-Chairman of Neemrana Hotels, with daughter Aadya

This Father's Day, a shout-out to the growing number of unmarried men who are adopting children.

The co-chairman of Neemrana Hotels is a self-confessed atheist. But one of life's odd moments led him to a temple in Himachal Pradesh. Hands folded, he made a wish. The wish was granted and that day changed his life forever. “By the turn of events and circumstances, a one-year-old daughter arrived in my life. She was gifted to me. It's like a film story,” says Aman Nath, the Delhi based hotelier, who was then close to 50. Life had just begun for him.

Welcome to the new age father.

With Father's Day being celebrated on June 17, it's clear the role of the father has changed. There is a rising number of unmarried men who enjoy their single status, yet make life meaningful for themselves by adopting. Society too is slowly beginning to accept the phenomenon of single fathers, along with single mothers. They have gone beyond being traditional providers.

Multitasking tops the chart of single fathers as they manage the mental, physical, emotional and financial responsibilities that go with the raising of a child. Cheerfully, they oversee homework and try to fulfil their children's dreams with determination. “I play whatever role is demanded of me. I feel neither mother nor father, but a parent with all the emotions, I guess,” explains hands-on father Nath. The 61-year-old has named his daughter Aadya, after the original Goddess, spouse of Adideva. She is now 11.

There are more and more single and successful men enhancing the quality of their lives by bringing home a bundle of joy. With a child by their side, life is no longer a lonely journey. Sandip Soparrkar, a Mumbai-based dance instructor, always wanted to adopt a baby even when he was a teenager. He finally fulfilled his cherished dream at 26 when Arjun, a baby boy just over a year old, came into his life. But being an adoptive father was not an easy task. “I had registered in the adoption agency in 2002-03. I was among Mumbai's early adoptive fathers. The court granted me permission to adopt a child after three-and-a-half years of detailed scrutiny,” says Soparrkar.

While his parents and siblings showered him with love, for Soparrkar, the day began and ended with Arjun. “Whenever I travelled for dance workshops, I took Arjun along. Once the workshops were over, I played with him,” explains the Mumbaikar. With each day, there has been something new to look forward to, he says, adding that every time Arjun wailed, the adoptive father also cried!

Parenting is a reality check and Soparrkar has had heady days with Arjun. “During a Mother's Day event in school, Arjun told his teacher that he had no mother and that the teacher should play games with him during Mother's Day,” he laughs. However, this situation was resolved after Soparrkar married model Jesse Randhawa. “The child has improved my life and given a chance I would like to adopt a second child before I have one of my own eventually,” says Soparrkar.

When Arvind Nanda, the CEO of Interarch Building Products, turned 40 and was still single, he decided to enrich his life and brought home a one-and-a-half-year-old baby whom he christened Viraj. The early years were a challenge. “It took me time to bond. I spent many months playing, studying, holidaying and getting him interested in various activities. I tried to see what he was interested in so that we could do things together,” explains Nanda. This Delhi resident found many friends who had children of the same age and he invited them home so that Viraj could play with them.

Now 56, Nanda looks back on his life with happiness as Viraj was later joined by Arhaan, whom he adopted as a newborn. “It is very challenging to be both mother and father at the same time. I tried to make them understand that there is a kind side to me and also a strict side. Gradually you have to learn when to do what. I now find my sons saying that they prefer one parent as they have to rely on one person for a decision rather than two,” he says. Life has truly come full circle. “Till today, some of my best friends are people I met through my kids. I had to learn to live in joy and face disappointment through their eyes. Their joys became my happiness and their disappointments had to be tackled together,” he says. “I learnt that my disappointments were secondary to theirs. I became a better boss and a better friend.”

Their children have helped these high-achieving singletons remain rooted. “My daughter goes to school and we share daily experiences. We just returned from a golf prize distribution and we may go now to a jewellery show. Since she has summer holidays, she doesn't have to sleep early, so we can spend more time together,” says Nath. He also points out that even as his daughter looks to him for support and love, they are not lonely or alone in India. “The larger family plays many roles. She has a cousin who is more than a sister and my twin Rotherham is a second father to her. Children understand love, just as adults respond to it, but more spontaneously.”

This Father's Day is a good occasion to recognise single fathers because it began with commemorating the role of a single parent. That was William Smart, a veteran of the American Civil War who lived on a farm in eastern Washington State with his six children after his wife died giving birth to the youngest child. It was one of his daughters who proposed the idea of Father's Day in 1909, to honour his selflessness in raising the family.

Whether he's a single parent or has a female spouse by his side, the father remains his daughter's first hero. And at the end of the day, family ties matter, whether biological or fostered, as is evident from the fact that today's new age fathers cannot think of life without their doting children.

How would life have been if they had not adopted a child? “I guess I would be working even harder and relaxing much less,” says Aman Nath. Daddy Cool!

The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. According to CARA, a single parent has equal legal status to adopt a child and to be denied this on the ground of the individual’s single status is not only a violation of legal right but also constitutional right guaranteed under Articles 14 and 15. A single person up to the age of 45 years can adopt.

The age difference between the adoptive parent and the adopted child should be at least 21years. The single parent should also have additional family support. Single persons can adopt from Recognised Indian Placement Agencies (RIPA), Shishu Grihas getting grant-inaid from the Central Government, and Licensed Adoption Placement Agencies (LAPA).

Source: CARA Web site

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Published on June 14, 2012
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