My mother was very open right from my childhood that I had been adopted. In India, parents often fear the reactions from society and are wary about telling people that their child is adopted. This gives the child the impression that there is something shameful about being adopted. In my case, since I knew from a very young age that I had been adopted, it was something that was ingrained in my psyche and it never bothered me. I remember seeing a pregnant lady when I was around five and asking my mother why she had a fat stomach. When she explained that she was expecting a baby, like any curious child, I wanted to know if I had come from her stomach too. She told me, “No, you did not come from my stomach, you came from my heart.” I think when a child is loved and cared for, there is no room for any kind of insecurities.
Since my mother is a social worker, she used to visit several NGOs and children’s homes and I used to tag along with her. We were in Kolkata at the time, and SICW (Society for Indian Children’s Welfare) was a place where I spent a lot of time. I was four years old and used to love playing with the babies there. There was a baby there who had a hole in his heart. I used to adore him because he was a very cute baby. I was thrilled when my parents decided to adopt him. They named him Adip. Over time he recovered and he has been healthy since. He is an amazing brother and we share a special bond. We had our share of sibling fights, of course, but most of our childhood memories are fun-filled. Adoptive parents do not prefer to adopt babies with disabilities because they are scared of getting emotionally attached to a child who might not survive. Fear is the only factor that stops us from making decisions that can make us really happy.
I was lucky to have an amazing extended family, too. My father is a quiet and calm person, but he has a wacky sense of humour. Even now, when my brother and I visit home, he ensures that all our favourite snacks are stocked at home and we get really pampered. We have been close to all the other family members, from grandparents to uncles, aunts and cousins. I have also been open with friends and colleagues about my being an adopted child. Though I never faced a negative experience with my relatives or at school, I know of others who have. Since my mother’s work with child welfare organisations included working with adoptive parents and children, she has got children facing issues to meet me. There was this girl who was told in her teens that she was adopted and was finding it difficult to deal with. I had a few conversations with her and I think I was able to help her cope.
Today I am married with two children of my own. It was my mother who told my children that I was adopted. I don’t think it makes any difference to them since they know they are completely adored by their grandparents. In fact, I think my mother went through all the excitement and stress of my first pregnancy as if she was expecting herself! My in-laws and my brother’s in-laws were very accepting and we have been lucky to have such a loving family. My brother and sister-in-law stay in Australia and the distance makes no difference to the bond we share.
Once I grew up, my mother took me to the children’s home in Mysore from where she had adopted me. She told me she had no problems if I wanted to trace my biological mother. But I had no interest in that and neither does my brother. As far as we are concerned, we are blessed to have such amazing parents. I speak to my mother at least five to six times every day. I cannot even imagine not speaking to my parents for a day.
- What I would advise those who are considering adoption would beTalk freely to the child about the adoption. Tell the child right at a young age. Answer all the questions that the child might have as frankly as possible.
- Do not hide the adoption from extended family and friends. If anybody makes any negative comment about the child’s genes or similar topics, tell the person off immediately and make it clear that such behaviour will not be tolerated.
- Legally, the adoption process is not too fraught with red tapism and there is a centralised, more transparent system in place in India now.
- I came across this verse and I think it applies to all parents, whether they have biological or adopted children.
One hundred years from now,
It won’t matter what car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much I had in my bank account,
Nor what my clothes looked like,
But, the world may be a little better
Because I was important in the life of a child.