Reimagining Adoption

Nov 22 - Teenage and Adoption

Category: Submission by a parent - Lucknow

I remember when I was working with a middle aged collegaue of mine. I would have been in mid thirties and this colleague of mine was a tad ten odd years older to me. His kids were stepping into teeaneg and once he warned me over a cup of coffee - Seema, wait till your kids grow up. The fun starts at 14. You will regret having kids at all, well until they are 18. But those few years, every parent is at his wits end! At that time we did not have any kids, but ever since we had had, I had been dreading for his prophecies to come true. And come they did - in eastmen colour! And of course I forgot to mention that it was also with Dolby effect and 4D, because our child was adopted!

Irrespective of the transparency we observed with regard to adoption, hoping it will insure the child against any emtional imbalance, all our adoption fodder actually nourished his fancy of imaginaiton. And wait, did I hear 14 yrs? Well my child showed first strains of an adopted teen at 12 - when he yelled at me - You are not even my real Mom! Why should I even listen to you? That it was a teaser would be an understatement. The feature film follwowed soon therafter.

As if teenage is not difficult enough, our son had to grapple with his added identity of bieng adopted. He did not have the wisdom where to divulge the same, and where to recluse. Quite often he ended up mixing the two. His first breakup can solely by attributed to adoption. He even had to change his section, because the breakup was not with his girlfriend - but with his class teacher, who did not know how to handle "an adopted child" in the classrom, who also was outspoken about it. Then there was this close friend of his, with whom he had withheld his status of being adopted, so as not to be judged. My son got utterly tortured by the an overdose of Bollywood films of a particular director, who this friend of his fancied - and his take on adoption. My son was itching to tell his friend - "Dude, this is not what adoption is..this is not how parents treat you.." and so on..but he could not, as he did not want to bring his own adoption story into the relationship. That he still enjoys a great relationship with this friend is an amazement to me. And in private we laugh about his friend's stereotypes on adoption. ut jokes apart, my son has to endure every bit of the prejudice that even best of buddies carry - and there is no point losing the fun moments in educating everyone.

The icing on the cake appears when their grades start falling. No, it does not happen to every "adopted" kid, but when it happens to one, the teachers who know about it are first to sympathize and relate it only to adoption, adding to the child's frustration with adoption, and the world's take on it.

While "teenage" doldrums continue well beyond 18, thankfully, for our son the adoption melodrama slowed down after 16. He seemed to be more at peace with the idea. He began redeeming his adopted status to compensate for the bash he would face form all other situations. His pursuit of subjects, espeially social sciences, sensitized him to the faults of the social structure, differet drivers for aodption and religious hues around the same. He is les combative about the same, and even less defensive.

We learnt that children just nmeed an assurance from their parents that this too shall pass. They need help and guidance, not sermons. Adoption can really make the teenage turns blind and risky. Coupled with the fact that there are umpteen prejudices in films and fiction to add fuel to fire, and very few authetic resources to guide and help. Let us have the wisdom to differentiate adoption issues from teenage issues and help each child realize his potential.

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