One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I’m not sure if my account of our trip to Pondicherry to file papers gave the impression of quite how rushed and hectic it was, but it really was. Amit was extremely tense about the whole process going off smoothly and without any further delays. I was only worried about managing the kids and keeping them happily occupied.

Our lawyer, for some reason, thought she was doing us a great favour by asking us to come and sign all the papers at her office on the morning of the filing. She apparently thought that the only alternative to this procedure was for us to come a day earlier, thus she was showing us maximum consideration by sparing us a day. She did not consider that we might actually have much preferred to arrive a day earlier and finish the work at leisure instead of being under such pressure. She also did not appear to have heard of or thought about the possibility of sending us either the actual documents or a draft of those documents by fax, snail mail or email beforehand, so that we could read or even sign the papers well before the date of filing.

Naturally, there were pages and pages of stuff to be signed by each of us, along with filling in our names and addresses in a couple of places. By the time it was all done, it looked like we hardly had enough time to get to the courthouse before 10 a.m. – and if we were late, that was one day wasted.

Amit asked the lawyer for a copy of the papers we were signing, and she flatly refused. Obviously, there was no time to make a copy at that time (it’s not as though her office even had a copying machine), but that was not her main reason for refusing. She said it was not required for us to have a copy at all!

How can that be? I’m signing legal stuff on stamp paper stating something or other, shouldn’t I at least have a copy of whatever it is I’m filing?

Amit, being nothing if not stubborn, insisted on photographing the documents with his cellphone, which he managed to do without making it unduly late. I tried to hastily scan through the pages – I wanted to be sure there wasn’t a line in there somewhere saying that we agreed to make over all our worldly possessions to the said lawyer, so help me god.

So, in some ways it wasn’t surprising that we missed it. What did surprise me was that Amit actually read the photographic copy of the entire document word for word during the drive back, and he still missed it (and he’s the sort who’ll catch “Foster Care” spelt as “Faster Care”).

It’s not as though what we missed was a tiny little typo error – no, there it was plainly stated that I, the joint petitioner, was currently employed with such-and-such company and drawing a monthly gross salary amounting to exactly so much. (And therefore financially empowered to look after the said children.)

This, on a petition dated 9th April, 2008.

When we had submitted the entire set of documents including our payslips to the adoption coordinating agency in Bangalore way back in April 2007, I was gainfully employed. By the time we got the twins home in September 2007, I wasn’t. This statement – which, by the way, occurred twice – in April 2008 was plain wrong, by well over six months.

The penny quietly dropped into my head sometime on Thursday morning, but even then I didn’t pay it much attention. It wasn’t until I discussed the matter with Amit late on Thursday evening that we both realized just how serious it could be. HOW could we have missed this? We both knew we had read this in the document, it had just not occurred to us that it was no longer true.

After much serious discussion and several frantic phonecalls, remedial measures were put in place. Our lawyer, who was plainly peeved at us not having pointed this out that morning (HOW??), agreed to stop the file in court, and one of us would have to dash down to Pondicherry, legally withdraw the file, make the corrections, initial them, and “appear” (if you can call it that) before the judge to re-submit. The only saving grace was that only one of us need go, which meant that Amit would have to do the dashing, while the kids and I stayed home.


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