Peace in a pod Society

Dear Pari: A podcast series on adoption

Dear Pari features a variety of voices in its extremely moving episodes

Adoption is a big subject for a podcast to tackle. How do you find every kind of stakeholder in this complex web of relationships, from parents (who get, who give, and those who wait) and children to agencies, counsellors, and lawyers? How do you balance the personal and the societal, the cultural and the regulatory, the numbers and the narratives? How do you weave it all together in a compelling manner that keeps people listening through 12 episodes (and counting)?

Dear Pari does exactly that. Drawing from a personal adoption story, SunoIndia editor Padma Priya and co-producer Rakesh Kamal detail the twists and turns in the journey, from registering with the Central Adoption Resource Agency to bringing home a child to negotiating the complex issues of belonging, alienation and identity.

“A podcast format seemed like a perfect fit for this theme,” says Padmapriya. “Audio offers the kind of privacy and anonymity that is needed for such a topic... where the stories could be listened to without judgment... it certainly can’t be told on YouTube.”

Reflections

While each episode begins with a reflection on their own adoption journey, the hosts very quickly jump into the larger issues facing the community of adoptive parents, children, and the entire system of governance and support.

“It was tough to balance the need to tell our own story while protecting our child’s privacy,” notes Padma Priya. “We were very aware that she might listen to it one day,” adds Kamal. They consciously chose to “not shy away” from topics that did not stem from their experience. “My training as a reporter helped me develop some distance, and bring in a wide range of sources and voices,” says Padmapriya.

The eight episodes that make up the first season of Dear Pari feature a variety of voices, some of which tell extremely moving and even disturbing stories. While Episode 3 (‘All about the law’) delves into the intricacies of the laws governing adoption in India, Episode 5 (‘The heart speaks’) contains two contrasting experiences of adoptees. In ‘Closing the triad’ (Episode 9), we hear the rare voice of a mother who gave up her child for adoption, in the process challenging several widely held preconceptions.

Adoptive parents

One of the toughest episodes for the team to record was with child rights activist Arun Dohle (Episodes 7 and 8), who holds that society and systems need to focus on a reunification and rehabilitation of children within their communities rather than on adoption — a position that sees adoptive parents as “part of the problem”. Says Padmapriya, “Even though it was hard for us, as adoptive parents, to hear this, it was important to have all these views out there.”

The second season of Dear Pari, which launched in July this year, pushes the theme further, exploring adoptions by non-resident Indians, the role of teachers and schools, the barriers to adoption of older children and those with special needs. With close to 25,000 downloads, the SunoIndia team believes the series has started a more nuanced conversation around adoption, both within and outside the adoptive community.

Now the team has embarked on an even more ambitious project, with their new podcast The Lost Child, which takes a close look at the lives of children in shelter homes. But that, as they say, is a whole ‘nother story.

(A fortnightly series on podcasts.)

The Hyderabad-based writer and academic is a neatnik fighting a losing battle with the clutter in her head.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 1:10:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/at-the-heart-of-adoption/article29300452.ece

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