Part one – The how’s and why’s

There’s more to parenting than simply giving birth as many biological and adoptive parents have both discovered. In fact the only real difference between the two is the absence of the physical birth process. As a parent your instincts and love make you an expert on your child regardless of whether he is adopted or biological, just as your knowledge of your child makes you the expert on that particular child regardless of how few parenting techniques and theories you may actually know.
What exactly is adoption? Adoption, simply put, brings together a homeless child who craves the love and security of a family and a loving couple who crave to be parents. It is an enriching and transformational method of completing your family. Adoption has a long and illustrious history in India and has traditionally been considered a legitimate method of acquiring an heir – at least until Dalhousie interfered and set off the first war of independence in 1857!
Traditionally, adoptions were from within the family and even today many consider this to be legal and acceptable. But times have changed and adopted children require to be legally adopted from recognized institutions so that they can be the legal heirs of their families. Also an adoption within the family brings its own brand of problems in the form of insecurity and tensions with the biological parents. So for your own peace of mind and the future of your child, make sure that you adopt only from a recognized agency and not from within the family or from a hospital etc.

Considering adoption?

  • Take the time to discuss and communicate your feelings, hopes, fears and apprehensions with your spouse and the rest of your family.
  • If necessary consult a counselor (available at any adoption home) to put any doubts at rest and understand the requirements. These centers will also put you in touch with other adoptive parents.
  • Decide in advance, what and how you intend to let friends, neighbours and eventually your child, know.

There are several reasons why a couple may consider adoption. If infertility is one of them, please remember that physical incapacity to bear a child does not affect successful parenting. The very fact that you feel an urge to become a parent means that you are ready to be a successful one.

There are two basic fears that all adoptive parents have to struggle with: –

  • Will you be able to love a child not related to you through ties of blood?
  • What about the heredity factor?

There are no black and white answers to these questions. The fact remains that human beings are capable of generating immense bonding with spouses, friends, and even pets – all of whom are unrelated through ties of blood and some of whom are unrelated even through ties of species! Children, by their very nature, inspire love easily and while you may be tempted to regret your decision when your child is at her most difficult, remember that biological parents too sometimes question their sanity for deciding to bear children.
As far as heredity is concerned, be aware that most infants in homes have been abandoned anonymously. There is no information available about their birth parents or their medical or other history. However research shows that a child is to a large extent a product of the environment. Research also shows that couples who have lived together for many years begin to resemble each other in mannerism and look. Children who have been moulded and influenced by you from their formative years are therefore, far more likely to resemble you than their birth parents whom they may never have seen.

Whatever doubts you or your family may have will be better resolved with a meeting with adoptive families and counselors – preferably with both.

Finally, remember that adoption is not something that you can reverse – it involves a small soul who needs only a little time and encouragement to learn to love and depend on you. To adopt and then reconsider is one of the cruelest methods of abandonment.

Never consider adoption if you are not sure of yourself or your motives. Feeling charitable and wanting solely to give a child a home are not sufficient for a successful adoption.

In Part two of this article we will be taking a look at how to go about adopting a child – the procedures, the documents and the agencies.

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