Disclosure and Positive Identity

I found that adopting a child was a profound and life-changing experience. It in fact helped me become a better mother to my biological child as well.

Akash will be 12 years in two days. Amazing how time flies. Akash still the same affectionate child, who thinks the world of me, my greatest fan and admirer, so much so that, he will not have anyone say anything against me, even if I am wrong (he! he!).
He always has this naughty glint in his eyes, which is hard when I do have to scold him. Many a time I have told him “don’t look at me, when I am scolding you”, because those eyes make me melt even when I must be firm. His eyes are the most prominent feature in his face, apart from his ears of course… He has this liveliness in his eyes, which charms everyone. Akash can say anything and get away with it. He is a fearless little boy and I really hope he stays that way.

When Akash turned 10, he was very curious about his adoption, in fact, for his 10th birthday gift, he asked us to take him to SOFOSH, the center where we had adopted him from. He asked more questions about who and why? and when he does that, it is so heartrending, I almost have tears in my eyes. He used to have questions like, how come you don’t even know her name, Amma? How come SOFOSH also does not know her name? One day, out of the blue, dinner time, he says “When I grow big, I am going on an impossible mission”. I am curious to know what it is. He said, “I am going to find the mother who gave birth to me”. At times like this, it is hard to keep a straight face. All I said was ” If it so important to you, I will definitely support you, I will be with you all the way”. He gave me this big grin and said “Really, you will do that for me ” and gave me a gigantic hug. It is all so matter of fact to him that he was adopted.
In fact, one day after coming from school, he says, “Amma, I am sorry I lied in school today”. I asked him what the matter was, he said, “while everyone was talking about how their mothers tummy became big when she was pregnant with their brother or sister, I did not tell them that I was adopted. “. I couldn’t but help hugging this little kiddo, so sensitive and so wanted to fit in. I had to then let him know that as he is growing up, he needed to have the discernment between who and when he should let others know he is adopted and that it is entirely his choice.

It is quite funny that some instances where he will just blurt out that he was adopted. I believe in a science class, the teacher was explaining about DNA and one of the boys (kids can be cruel that way) got up and said “Ma’am, Akash should get his DNA tested”. The teacher now quizzically looks at both Akash and the boy and then Akash stands up and tells her, “Ma’am, I think he is saying that, because I was adopted”. The teacher of course was taken aback and thankfully had the presence of mind to say, “I am so glad you have a family”.

I have had questions ranging from “Why did she give me up?” to “What is her name?” to “Wonder if I kicked her in her tummy” to “why am I not as tall as akka (his sister)”. It is interesting though that every question is asked with great openness and because of that I can answer honestly and according to his age.

I started telling him about his adoption right from when he was about 8 months (he came home when he was 5.5 months old). It was called “Akash story” and the story would involve a train, a car, a plane and how he came home in all that. It excited him till he was about 2 years. Then one fine night, he decided he had enough of the story. After that we would talk about adoption, we would celebrate his homecoming day, so it all was integrated in his life in a very normal manner. I do also believe, they will go through a certain angst maybe during their teenage years, all we can do is support them through it.

Today, Akash is very proud that he was adopted, I couldn’t have been prouder of the person he is turning into. He is very inquisitive and considerate, and sensitive. He understands things at a very deep level and thinks about them a lot. He recently registered with the campaign I am working with “Where are India’s Children” and shot for a small video. It was great, seeing my little baby grow up and talk about something which is so huge, in simple terms and advocating for the campaign and adoption.
I believe disclosure about adoption and building a positive identity is very crucial when you have adopted a child. I believe we have done the best we could in creating that for Akash. I urge every parent in adoption to create that in their children. It is the best gift you can give your child!

Contributed by Meera Marthi, Hyderabad

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