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Monday, January 21, 2008

Convincing your family about adoption

Our biggest barrier in giving homes to orphan children, in terms of Indian society, seems to be convincing family about adoption.

When we started telling our friends about our plans to adopt, they were absolutely thrilled but then they had this lingering question, has your family agreed? So many times I have heard people tell me , you are so lucky to have adopted, my family would never agree to me doing it. Or we would love to adopt too but our family will not be happy and so I am not going ahead.

Now there are people here who i can clearly say that have no wish to adopt but just want to look good. So instead of saying that they have no intentions of adopting, they blame their poor families who haven't , for all you know, been even talked to about it in the first place.

And then again there are people who tell me straight to my face that they do not wish to adopt lest they ever ever feel that this child is not ours in the true sense or they differentiate between their biological kids and their adopted child. These people I truly admire.

For those with this genuine concern, let me share with you our experiences in this topic.

When we decided to adopt, we had a biological daughter who was 2.8 years old. We knew that it wasn't going to be an easy task mainly because convincing our families would be the most difficult task (i said difficult and not impossible). My husband and I first decided to tell our brothers about it. They being from the same generation were thrilled about it. To go ahead with the adoption, the law requires that one of our siblings had to give a letter of undertaking that if anything were to happen to us, they would be totally responsible for our adopted child AND more importantly they would not separate our biological child from the adopted child and that both would grow up in the same household. Well there was a mini fight as to which of our brothers would give the letter as both wanted to do so and the law required just one. :)) We knew that half our battle was won. We decided to take it easy on talking to our parents.

I told my dad first. (my mom died a long time back). His first question was, is there anything wrong with you that you cannot have a baby yourself. :)) I knew that was coming and convinced him that that wasn't the case. Next he decided to play devil's advocate and kept grilling me with questions as to why now, will i be able to treat both the kids equally, what will society (read as your aunts, uncles, cousins, in laws.. ) say. After about a day's grilling, he was still not convinced that I was ready to adopt.

The social worker who we were interacting with managed to console us by saying that most of the parents react this way and there is nothing wrong with your family.

Then came the time when we had to talk to my in laws. We thought that would be easy as they were much more broad minded. My mom-in-law's was worried that when they grow up they would kill each other over some property. :) We attributed that to too much Tamil versions of the bold and the beautiful or Santa Barbara. You don't need to be genetically different to fight, it happens more often when you are from the same gene pool. Her next question was when we tell our son that he is adopted, he will react badly. That we knew was a huge task but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

My father in law was so happy for us and for a man who never called, he started calling us everyday to check how the progress was and when we get to see the baby.

We decided to tell extended family about our plans to adopt after we see our baby. Of course when we did that, the first thing everybody asked was whether we are capable of having another biological child. Then the question was 'how do you know this child is not born to bad parents. then he/she might turn out to be bad too'. History has time and again proven that the child isn't born good or bad but environment and upbringing are major influences. Many a time people are curious about the child's biological parents and why he/she was given up. The social workers do share these details with you but in many a case they advice you against sharing this information with anybody except the child and his/her siblings. Unlike what people think there are many causes why a child is given up. Many assume that an orphan is usually from unwed mothers but reasons for giving up a child include a poor young lady becoming a widow when she is pregnant, where will she go with a child, a poor family with no clue on family planning has yet another baby, a war widow and in many many cases , another female child.

People asked us whether we would allow our son to search his biological parents. We said we would and we would in fact help him to do so. Then they ask what happens if he decides to stay with them. For that we said, that though that would kill us inside, we would let go and acknowledge the fact that we have not been the parents he wanted. And the social worker did say that all the times the child returns to his/her foster parents.

I would be wrong in saying that my dad or my mother in law have totally accepted my son as their grandchild but they love him, I know that maybe because you cannot help but fall in love with kids and thats more than enough for me. Whenever I scream at my son, they feel pity towards him because he was rejected as a child and I tell them very very clearly that he is my son now and he is now very very loved but disciplined he must be. After 2 years of fights on these grounds, they have finally agreed with me.

What I am trying to say here is that instead of being discouraged to adopt a child just because you feel that your family is not going to support your decision, I think you need to give them the benefit of the doubt. Look at it this way, tell your parents that you are changing professions and that you have finally decided to follow your dreams of becoming an artist rather than sit in a meeting room with doodling your dream works on a sheet of paper. I would say that that would be more difficult to do than convincing them on your decision to adopt.

3 comments:

Ruby said...

Veena, Thank you for writing an honest account of events!! Enjoyed reading every bit of your post. For an Indian context, I think you and your husband are very progressive and broadminded.

Ruby

Pratik Gupta said...

Veena, the moment I read the first few para's, I had a feeling that this post was probably written by you :-) I hope you know why. Thanks so much for the nicely written post and detailing out what you did to convince your family. This is a very relevant topic for most of the couples planning to adopt. I am sure most of the couples would not give adoption a thought just because they would think "what would our parents say?". They would never think of discussing this with their parents and drop the plans of adoption even without discussing. I think the first step is taken when you decide to adopt, because you have decided that you are going to discuss it with the parents. Discussing with the parents is the second step as you have clearly detailed out. Unfortunately, I do not have the figures of PAP's in waiting for the different adoption agencies, but what I gather is that there are more PAP's in waiting than there are children. In 2007 there were 200 PAP's in waiting in each of the 10 agencies in Delhi. Children are often stolen so that they can be put for adoption. There was a case where 2 girl siblings were adopted by a American couple to find that they were stolen from their mother. There is a competition amongst the agencies to get children from nursing homes as they can be placed for adoption immediately as, I assume, the demand for new borns would be higher too. We have a 15 month old daughter and we want to adopt a girl because we want to give a child a caring home. We are in two minds after hearing about the demand supply disparity and how children are procured by the adoption agencies. Do you think that the supply demand disparity is a truth? Veena, can you also please send this post to the PGCAI google group as well?

Vishalakshi said...

Hi Pratik,

I would say that this article is totally inspired by you after our discussions. I must thank you for helping me contribute to this blog. I was feeling so guilty that I wasn't doing anything to contribute to the group or blog.

Ruby,
Thanks for your kind words. :)