Apr 04 2012
We wanted to adopt a baby right from the time we got married; that was the first mutual thought we had as a couple. We wanted to have a biological child first then go in for adoption, but five years down the line when we started facing fertility issues, treatments, and what not we stopped enjoying everything around us and all we could talk about was baby, baby, and baby! That was when we decided to bring home our child.
#1: How do I choose my baby?
With us, the adoption agent told us that they would try to match the child with the parent, so at first sight no one would know our child was adopted. They brought some baby photos to us and we started hunting for our baby among the few photos they showed us, i.e. trying to match the babies’ features with ours! All our noble thoughts of saving a child, any child, were gone when we started to hunt for our baby. Imagine us doing this with photos of babies that were just 10 or 11 days old!
When I couldn’t find the “perfect” baby, I started talking to parents who had successfully adopted. I remember calling up a mummy and asking her how she found her baby. She replied that she saw her baby and loved her immediately. I was so surprised ‘coz I loved every baby I saw, but I didn’t see myself or my husband in these babies, so I asked the mum again, Did you really find your baby so easily? She laughed and said, “Gayathri, a few years down the line you will understand the weirdness of this question. I hope you find your child soon.”
Luckily for us, the agent who helped us through the adoption process was very intelligent and understood our dilemma. She stopped showing us photos and took us with her to meet the babies in person. When we held the first baby, we stopped looking for anything: Imagine our happiness when we knew that this baby could be ours if we only wanted, and yes, we brought him home and trust me, he resembles us more and more each day in all his manners, habits, and language!
#2: What if people say insensitive things to us and our children?
All of us do say insensitive things without really meaning to say them, and yes, it does sometimes cause severe damage, but our children are more worried about what WE say and how WE handle these things.
My mom reminded me of an incident that happened years ago when I was still in school. History was a subject that never held my interest and my teachers and friends would keep telling me to pay more attention, but I always turned a deaf ear to everyone. One day I overheard my mom talking to my daddy about my lack of interest; it hurt me real bad and I refused to go to school. That was when she talked to me directly and encouraged me to accept help from the teachers, and yes, I started listening and reading. It is true that what parents say affect their children much more than what others say.
People around do ask us questions like who is his real mother or natural mother, but I always reply saying “Oh I don’t have those details about his biological parents.” I try my best to use neutral terms, but these are just terms. There are c-section babies or naturally delivered babies, while my son is an adopted baby. The only difference is that the first two babies are made in the tummy. Mine is made in my heart, so yes, he is extra special.
#3: When should I tell my child he is adopted? Should I tell others that my child is adopted?
We should tell our children as early as possible. My son’s favourite bedtime story is the story of how he was born. My son doesn’t understand what adoption means, but he knows he was adopted and that he came from my heart. I know I will have more questions to answer as he grows up but I believe transparency saves lot of hurt and pain. I trust he will come to us for any questions he has regarding his adoption story or his biological parents.
As for whether I should tell others my child is adopted, I generally don’t reveal this unless it is needed, and I try to handle questions as neutrally as possible, like:
“Where was he born?” I reply India (which is not true but sometimes people we meet in the park or in shops ask us these questions casually and we might not meet them again, so to avoid too much probing into my personal life I don’t reveal his birth country).
“Who does he resemble?” He talks like me (which is true), he imitates my husband’s laugh (which is also true) and regarding his physical appearance I think he resembles everyone in our family and yes our family is really really big!
I believe as long my son knows his adoption story, we don’t have to reveal it to every Tom, Dick, and Harry we meet.