Are you ready to bring home your adopted baby?

Planning to adopt a baby? Here are a few things you need to keep in mind before taking this happy step

Woman holding a baby above head; adopted

Nature has provided us nine months to prepare for the entry of a child into our lives, not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. Just as this preparation period is required for babies that come into our life from our own flesh and blood, some preparation time is also a must when we plan to bring a baby into our life by way of adoption.

Preparing ourselves, our family members and our close friends for the arrival of the adopted child helps to create a positive and welcoming environment for the child to nurture in.

I am a firm believer that adoption is just another way of getting a baby into the family—just as some babies are conceived naturally and some by IVF; some are born through normal delivery and others through Caesarian section. What the baby will become depends entirely on the parenting that he or she receives after adoption. Hence, not only prospective adoptive parents, but also their extended family members and close friends need to be educated on what adoption entails.

Keep these in mind for a happy adoption

Are you planning to adopt a child? Here’s what you can do to make your process a smooth and enjoyable one:

  1. Prospective adoptive parents should go through extensive counselling and introspection and should gain awareness about all aspects of adoption. It is important that both parents should be on the same wavelength about their willingness to adopt, when they will adopt and where they will adopt their child from. You may have your doubts cleared from social workers as well as from those who have adopted children earlier. For adoption counselling you can register yourself here.
  2. Once you are sure about going ahead, you should ponder over and decide who you need to inform and bring in the loop, on a “need-to-know” basis. Sparing a few exceptions, the grandparents always figure first in the list and your siblings should be included as far as possible. Most adoption agencies require an undertaking from a relative or a close friend who will commit to take care of the child if something were to happen to both adoptive parents. This person or couple should be consulted in depth at every stage so that their commitment is complete.
  3. The method of informing relatives should be like a happy announcement—the same way you would inform if it was a pregnancy. If the couple appears confident and happy, the other family members also feel reassured and their doubts are reduced. Nevertheless you should be open to questions and doubts from others—particularly the prospective grandparents. Being of an older generation they may have conservative thinking and their apprehensions should be addressed in a patient manner.
  4. If some relatives have lingering doubts about your decision, they must be reassured that you are perfectly confident and clear that you wish to go ahead, and that you would be very happy to have their blessings.

It is now a universally accepted fact that a child should be told that she is adopted right from the beginning, even before she is old enough to comprehend what adoption is. This way she grows up with the concept, the same way as she grows up knowing that she is a girl, an Indian, a vegetarian, etc. This ensures that there are no sudden shocks or questions in the child’s mind, and since adoption is mentioned freely, the child also accepts it as a way of life without getting any doubts that she is different or inferior.

It is now a universally accepted fact that a child should be told that she is adopted right from the beginning

Hence it’s also a good idea to request your close relatives to bring up the topic of adoption in earshot of the child, maybe showing their joy that they are so happy that she came into the family via adoption and how she is adding great joy to the entire family.

Common concerns

Here are some common concerns that well-meaning relatives may have regarding adoption and how you can address them:

Q. Will the couple be able to love a child who is not their own?

Answer: The child becomes ‘your own’ just after adoption. Many couples who have both biological and adopted children are unable to differentiate their love between them.

Q. What if the child develops some diseases or disabilities later in life, which may not be known at the time of adoption?

Answer: Any child, biological or adopted, has a possibility of any illness or developmental disability. If the same couple had a biological child, would they not go through such challenges?

Q. What if the mother was an immoral woman or a prostitute?

Answer: Children develop morals and other traits based on their upbringing. Genetics does not play any role in it.

Q. Will society look down upon the couple because they could not have children of their own?

Answer: Yes, there are always a few nasty people who may try to make the couple feel miserable with their remarks and actions, and may even gossip about them, but such people gossip about anything and everything, not just adoption. The only way to deal with such people is to ignore them.

Q. Will the child grow up and want to go away to her biological mother?

Answer: There has not been a single case in my 31 years of work in the field of adoption where such an event has occurred. All that the child may have is some amount of curiosity about his or her biological mother, but that will pass.

Q. Will the child become greedy and want to usurp her parents’ property as she is their only legal heir?

Answer: Single children will always be the only legal heir, adopted or biological. The greed depends on the upbringing and not on the fact of adoption. As the child grows up, the parents can create a will for distributing their assets (which should be done in any case). Besides, I recommend having more than one child.

A wonderful story of adoption

Here’s a case of a couple who decided to adopt a baby. Rita and Sunil [names changed] had given sufficient thought to adopting a baby, found out the procedures, underwent counselling in an adoption agency, and were ready to take the plunge. The only apprehension they had was the acceptance by Sunil’s mother, who was an extremely conservative lady, given to extensive rituals, very careful about who she would interact with, and a staunch believer in the caste system. They were absolutely sure that not only would she not accept a baby of unknown origin, but might also cause hurdles. Since she did not live with them, they decided to go ahead without telling her.

The great day arrived and the baby was brought home. Rita and Sunil were settling down with the child, and had planned to go the next weekend to his mother’s house, without the baby, and slowly break the news to her. They were in for a shock when the she barged into their house that very day, armed with a big bundle of baby goodies and a box of sweets. She just swooped the baby in her arms and told the young couple that she would look after the needs of the baby since they are inexperienced and she would teach them how to become good parents. So much for their fears!

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A word of caution

If any member of the extended family does not show love and affection towards the child just because he or she is adopted, then the child in turn may also begin to dislike such “elders”. If you notice any relative making snide, sarcastic or derogatory remarks, you should insulate the child from such people, and explain to her that sometimes some elders do say nasty things without realising that they are hurting the other person.

All the above was with regard to relatives. I personally feel that close persons in the child’s life should also be included in the awareness and orientation process mentioned above. This could include domestic helpers, class teachers [if you are adopting an older child], close neighbours and definitely the child’s paediatrician. If the child is told about the fact that she is adopted right from the beginning, and if the child is made to understand that she is so lovable that her parents cherish the relationship, she will understand that adoption was only the means of her coming into the family, and that she belongs there. Such children can themselves face any negative comments or curiosity of not only elders, but even their friends or peers.

This was first published in the December 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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