Reimagining Adoption

Nov 19 - How did my child respond to Adoption

Category: Submission by a parent, New Delhi

One of the most common questions that haunts any parent is that how will the child relate to adoption. For some parents this can be an overwhelming concern, so much so that they decide not to adopt purely because of lack of comfort anticipated on part of the child.

There is no one straight answer. Each child is different, and each parent is different. Each family is different and the age at which a hcild starts comprehending adoption is unique to every child. I saw a progression in the way my little girl took to adoption, through her growing up years and now in her teens.

Initially, the usual question was why did my mother leave me? Rashmi (name changed) came to us as a six month old baby, and we started teling he about adoption by the time she was in grade 2. At first she did not understand. She could only gather that she was born to another mother, Her first direct question was, "why are other children not born to other mothers?" We did not have any answer. We tried telling her that God chose her for us, and that is how she came in our family.

All seemed well until she was in Gr IV. Until then, most of her peers also did not care much about adoption, and she was relatively protected. This changed in middle school. She started to get teased, sidelined and ignored by her friends because se was adopted. Depsite us telling tales on adoption and how much we loved her, she began to believe that being adopted was somehting inferior. It was that made her friends coose to decide if they would be freinds with her or not. A lot depended upon how her friends receved endorsement on adoption in their respective families.

By the time she turned 11, she had started getting defensive about being adopted. She accentuated th differences betwene us and defended her own limitations, attributing them to adoption. That is when we turned to a counsellor. It helped initially, but proved ineffective in long run. there came a phase where Rashmi started deliberatly avoiding people in her own social class, and started mingling with children of hawkers, casual labourers and lower strata. Perhaps, she was trying to find he identity through them. This impcated her learning and education. She grew up into a quiet, inconfident and impulsive personality. She would take time to make friends, but could hardly keep those friendships. Though she acknowledged the loce and rpsect from all in the family, she was overtly bogged down with the put downs received by uninitiated people towards the concept of adoption. She would hate Bollywood films' depiction of adoption through unintelligent stereotypes.

It was at college that she started showing some improvement in her own acceptance of the identity as an adopted child. perhaps, through her subjects, she started comprehending various social norms, situations in which children enter the adoption cycle and challenges associated with children finding a family. She began to asociate adoption as a happy event, rather than a tragic twist of fate, often highligted in films and fiction. She is still reclusive, guarded and defensive in talking about adoption, but she is much more at peace. At least we hope so.

In our journey, we have observed that how a child relates to adoption is significantly influenced by what she understands about adoption, in the first place. Different sources offer varying hues. Some paint as an act of charity. Some outline it as a saga of grief. Others call it divine and noble. It depends which source affects her most, and where she assigns greatest trust. Irrespective, whatever parents say, comes last - at least in manifestation - so long as it is positive. Any stray or undermining comment from anyone, including parents (in one of those weak moments) however, gets etched in their memories immediately.

We cannot always gurantee that our child will look at adoption much in the sme way as we do. It is their life. Their voids and deliverance is for them to experience. But a continuous refill of love, trust and commitment from the parent ensures that at the slightest opportunity when the divisive forces fall weak, your child will start sharing your perspective and find peace. Our children will have questions life long. We may not be able to even answer all of them. even th questions change over a period of time. So long as they understand about adoption in an objective manner and how their life fits into the adoption journey that involves adoptive parents, birth parents, intermediaries, regulators, social workeers etc. chances are that they shall find the resources and strength to deal with their dilemmas instead of being troubled by them

Back to Unmasking Adoption