It's a family portrait with a difference. Babies are in and daddies are out. For more and more women in Delhi, being single doesn't necessarily mean being alone.
<b1>Thanks to glam gal Sushmita Sen and her gorgeous daughter Renee, single motherhood is no longer the taboo it once was. And with other celebrities like Raveena Tandon also adopting, many women are determined not to let the absence of a partner dampen their maternal instincts.
"I have been accustomed to living on my own. I adopted a child because I believe you don't always have to be related by blood. I am 43 years of age and still unmarried. It's just so silly to think that a woman needs a man to become a mother! In fact it's good to be a single parent because I can raise my child how I want," says Neena Duggal, who's the proud mom to a 3-year-old bundle of joy.
However the road to motherhood is paved with challenges, and architect Kiran Majumdar admits as much.
According to her: "When I told my family that I wanted to adopt, they were livid. Everyone boycotted me. Even after I got Jhanvi home in 2003, the barbs didn't stop coming. They said horrible things like if I could get pregnant, what was the need to raise someone else's baby? But I was firm about what I wanted from life. There are so many homeless kids in this country and if I wished to take care of one of them, well, that is exactly what I was going to do!"
Neena too had her share of worries. "I am a working woman and my job demands a lot of travel. This became a huge problem after I adopted my daughter. But I was adamant that I wouldn't leave her alone, in a crèche or with a maid. So, I decided to work from home for some time," she says.
No matter what the difficulties, single moms have few regrets about their decision. Sushmita isn't the only one for whom life has become 'very beautiful' after adoption. Interestingly, the maximum number of adoptions took place in 2004.
Each single mom has her own reason for adopting, claims Leela Beigh, secretary of CVARA. Some do it because they don't feel the need for a man, others because they don't want interference from anyone. Being financially and emotionally independent also makes things easier.
"Women are definitely more confident of themselves today but their decision is often circumstantial. It could be a bad marriage or no marriage at all. Circumstances play a very important role," she says.
Whatever the reason, one thing's for sure - with single moms around, 'no man's land' will never be barren. It will bloom into life each time a new sapling is planted.