As I look at my one year old baby boy playing happily with his toys, I can hardly believe that it’s only been two months since he’s been in my life. My world completely changed the day he came home and yet now it feels like the most natural thing in the world to me. It seems strange to think about the fact that I have been a parent for just a couple of months. The doubts, the questions the apprehensions seem so insignificant now.
Our journey with adoption began a few years ago. We wanted to be parents and we always thought that we would have a biological child and adopt the second one. It was taking too much time biologically and we began to consider adoption sooner than we thought.
Adoption has been part of the Indian family system for centuries but the practice was generally to adopt a child from one’s own family or near and dear ones. It was only in the sixties that families began adopting an unrelated child and professional intervention of child welfare agencies began only in the early seventies. The adoption program saw significant changes in the eighties at the legal levels.
We talked to people about the fact that we were considering adoption and we got a lot of mixed reactions. Some would be surprised, some sympathetic (assuming that it was our last resort because we could not have a child biologically), some said we were rushing into it too fast (there was still time to try and have one biologically) but the most common reaction we got was appreciating our sense of charity. Surprisingly, that was the reaction that annoyed me the most.
I know they meant well but I didn’t want my future child to be an object of charity. Did this mean that he would be treated differently all his life? This was usually followed by, “because you’re doing such a good thing, now you will be blessed with your ‘own’ child”. Was this child not going to be my ‘own’? Whose would he be then, if I was to be his mother?
I wondered, why did it matter so much to have a biological child? Was the relationship going to be very different with an adopted child? Yes, I wouldn’t have the opportunity of carrying a child in my womb but is that crucial to being a parent? Is the parent-child relationship determined by where the child was formed or is it the how the relationship is formed after a child is born?
We were also worried about reactions from our family. We wondered if they would accept this child and love him unconditionally. Would they differentiate between him and the other biological children in the family? I have heard of cases where couples did not adopt because the families were completely against it. One such couple told me that their parents did not want them to adopt because they did not want the family property to go out of the family bloodline!
It was unfortunate that here the focus was not on developing a relationship with a child but on things like background and social prejudice. Each family needs to consider what their own priorities are and what their apprehensions are even as they deal with parental pressure. Most times once a child is in your home and you love them unconditionally the family will eventually grow to love them. Despite initial apprehensions, both our families completely fell in love with our son after spending just a few hours with him. I don’t think they even think about the fact that he is adopted. Like us, they chose to love him and develop a relationship with him which will last forever.
I also began to worry if I would be able to bond with an adopted child. Would I have that mother’s instinct that women have with their babies? What if I just did not feel a connection? Someone asked me if I was worried if I would be able to love an adopted child the same way I would a biological child. Dr. Aloma Lobo, an adoption expert, answered this very aptly as I interviewed her on this topic, “Being a parent is not biology, being a parent is a relationship.
Love is a relationship that changes and grows and matures as the years go by. Biology does not make you automatically love anyone. Love is a decision.” (Read the complete interview after this article) As we struggled with these questions we came across a few couples who had already adopted and this is what really helped us in our journey. The couple whose story impacted us the most was Sheeba and Biju. They share their journey here as well.
Being childless for 12 years, we made the decision to pursue adoption in January 2009. We were often discouraged to go in for adoption when the thought of endless amounts of paperwork and background checks haunted us but the emotional preparation provided by close friends and other adoptive parents strengthened us and gave a lot of Hope. Although we chose to adopt only in 2009, the journey actually began in 1997 when we were just married.
Biju worked on a project in Pune for a period of 5 months and I travelled from Bangalore to spend a weekend with him, the train I was travelling in abruptly stopped at Daund in Maharashtra and I got off at the station not knowing where to go and how to reach Pune. Standing there alone without anyone to contact I wondered “What was happening?” At the same time Biju, who was waiting at the Pune station, realized that the train wouldn’t be reaching Pune and took a local train and rushed to Daund.
By then I had taken a train to Pune. At Daund, Biju too wondered what’s happening. There were no answers to the confusion then but in those still moments of that cold night the only answer was that our journey to adoption had begun at Daund where Mukti Mission is located; the mission centre from where we would adopt our daughter 12 years later. This was the beginning of the journey to our daughter Ruth Ann Thomas.
In February 2009 we visited Mukti Mission and applied for adoption. We were told that we were on a “waiting list” with 25 prospective adoptive families ahead of us. It would take a year to be chosen as parents. We were able to handle the wait and uncertainty because of the encouragement from our family, friends and the staff of Mukti Mission. Deep inside, we knew that little Ruth was already born in our hearts. In a few months we were able to send in all the documents required for the adoption.
The morning Mukti Mission received our paperwork, we were having our family devotion and surprisingly the topic was Adoption. In the devotional thought we read as follows — “Adoption was occasionally used by the emperors to pass on succession to competent heirs. Notable adoptees include the emperors Augustus Caesar, Tiberius and Trajan. All of them proved to be strong rulers because each lived like a child of his adoptive father”.
As we pondered over this, that evening we received a call from Mukti informing us that our baby was ready and they would be visiting us for the home study after which we could bring our baby home. It was a strange feeling to know that we had a daughter we hadn’t even seen yet. 1st July was Daughter’s day as well as Biju’s birthday and he received a surprise call from Mukti Mission wishing him Happy Daughter’s Day. It felt great but we waited for the day when we would be able to give Ruth that reassuring look, a smile, a hug, to let Ruth know that she is precious to us and that seeing her would be the happiest moment of our lives.
On the 14Th of July we met our daughter Ruth Ann Thomas; words cannot express the joy we felt holding this tiny little girl who greeted us with a smile. I would often ask God why He didn’t give us a child the traditional way. But every morning when Ruth greets us with a lovely smile we realize He heard our prayers and gave us the best. Thank you God for making our journey complete. Waiting is never easy, yet more often than not it is the greatest thing we do. We would like to tell other families to trust God and go this journey. Ruth our daughter is a constant source of joy and laughter and one of the most beautiful parts of the process has been watching our relationship grow. Ruth was born in our hearts. Having a child to love is the biggest gift one can get.
We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life.
But those who make their journey home across time & miles,
growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,
are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us
by God’s very own hands.
— Kristi Larson
The opportunity we had to see this beautiful child that Biju and Sheeba had adopted and watching them as parents was very inspiring for us. We saw how this child brought so much joy into their lives and how she was growing into a happy, confident and energetic little girl. However, parenting a child who was adopted is not the same as parenting a biological child. The bond you form and the relationship you nurture is the same as with a biological child but adoptive parents have a lot of homework to do on how to raise an adoptive child in a way that will make the child feel secure and safe forever.
Talking to the child about the way they came into the family is crucial to the child’s future. Without preparation, this journey can be more than challenging. With awareness and planning, the journey can be one that promotes growth, blessings and healing for all involved. Families considering adoption first need to evaluate the reasons for considering adoption as well as any expectations. Adoption is not a prescription for infertility or loneliness. It is not just for families who cannot have biological children. It is for anyone who wants to be a parent and love and nurture a child.
Adoption has to be focused on the needs of the child rather than the needs and desires of the parents. Like the vows taken in marriage, this is a life-long commitment. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health! For us it was a journey of faith. All we could do about the fears and doubts that we had was to give them up to God. None of it was in our control. If God had predestined a child for us then we had to have the faith that we would find our way to him/her.
We knew that a God who loves us with such a perfect love and adopted us as His children will surely help us to love our children unconditionally. Our faith gave us this foundation of love and commitment, as well as the wisdom to parent our child. The day my baby came home was wonderful, scary, tiring, stressful, joyous, exhausting and amazing. So have been the last few months with him. He has completely changed my life and I cannot imagine life without him. He was born in my heart.
Not flesh of my flesh or bone of my bone
But still miraculously my own
Never forget for a single minute
You didn’t grow under my heart… but in it.
Positive Adoption Language
The way we talk—and the words we choose—say a lot about what we think and value. When we use positive adoption language, we say that adoption is a way to build a family just as birth is. Both are important, but one is not more important than the other.
Choose the following positive adoption language instead of the negative talk that helps perpetuate the myth that adoption is second best. By using positive adoption language, you’ll reflect the true nature of adoption and educate others about adoption.
|Positive Language||Negative Language|
Born to unmarried parents
Made an adoption plan
Terminate parental rights
Biological or birth father
Child placed for adoption
Child with special needs
Adopted child; Own child
Track down parents
An unwanted child