The Gidwaney family’s adoption journey began decades ago, thousands of miles away in an Indian village when Sanjli Gidwaney was only eight years old. Her family had traveled across the world hoping to grow their family via adoption, and Sanjli can still remember how excited she was to be getting a sibling. But when they left the village without another child, Sanjli was devastated and vowed adoption would be a part of her life. After meeting her husband, Vinay, “It became a dream for both of us,” Sanjli said. Now, Sanjli and her husband Vinay have three children: Niam, Leela, and Kayvion, who was adopted.
The adoption process was not always easy, but the Gidwaneys were always determined to see it through. They began by working through the MAPP trainings, meeting several social workers, and attending MARE matching events. It was at one of these events where they first met Rashida, Kayvion’s social worker, who told them about Kayvion. “As soon as we saw his picture, we knew,” Sanjli says.
When Sanjli and Vinay first set out to adopt, they had some ideas of what they were looking for. They knew they wanted to adopt a younger sibling. But they also wanted to adopt a Brown child, thinking it would be important for their child to look like them. But when they met their son Kayvion, who is Black, they realized that wasn’t as important as they once thought. “So much changes with what you think you want, and the child you are blessed with,” Sanjli said.
Being a mixed-raced family has presented the Gidwaneys with a few challenges—like when Sanjli was given the wrong child at daycare pickup—but, they say, it has given them far more blessings. It’s important to Sanjli and Vinay that Kayvion is connected to and proud of his Blackness. “We want him to know it is one of his greatest strengths,” Sanjli said.
Kayvion first came home in the fall of 2019. But as many courts remained closed or virtual due to the pandemic, Kayvion spent over a year living with his family without the adoption being able to be made official. Finally, the Gidwaneys were given a special exemption from the courts, and Kayvion’s official ‘Gotcha Day’ was September 29th, 2020.
Kayvion’s adoption was an adjustment for everyone in the Gidwaney family, but Sanjli and Vinay say that Niam and Leela are natural older siblings who love to teach their little brother new things. Kayvion certainly appreciates the help; it was from them, he brags, that he learned how to snap, some new words, and most importantly, lots of new dance moves.
Kayvion’s giddy nature is so radiant that his family has nicknamed him ‘Joy’. “I love my mom and dad because I love everyone!” he exclaims. Kayvion seems to exist in a permanent state of elation. He squeals with glee as he remembers the family’s trip to Storyland, proclaiming that it took place yesterday, his eyes wide with excitement. Vinay has to remind him that the memory was from a couple of months ago. It doesn’t matter—Kayvion is smiling as if he was still on the rides.
The Gidwaney’s love to travel, and now are finally able to share that with Kayvion, celebrating the one year anniversary of his ‘Gotcha Day’ in Puerto Rico. When reminded of the trip, Kayvion jumps up with excitement.
The Gidwaneys say they aren’t done adopting. “Our family doesn’t feel quite complete yet,” Sanjli says. They plan to adopt another younger sibling for their three kids—hopefully a little girl.
And to that, Kayvion smiles once more.