It was a beautiful crisp August morning. My husband and I were at the Ashram to bring our precious bundle home. It was the day that was going to change our lives forever, and it did in ways we did not expect. About 14 years ago, adoption was still a closeted word, if I may say so, and our choice not to go baby shopping, or choose between light and dusky skinned children was a relatively rare mindset among potential adoptive parents.
We were apprehensive in the beginning to make this choice, since there was a feeling that it may have made things easier from an integration point of view with the larger family and social environment. But we felt that this was (literally) a skin deep issue. The more important thought here was the distinction we make in our minds, not the external distinctions. If we make distinctions in our thoughts, however physically matched the baby is in one’s environment, it would be disastrous. There is no right or wrong in choosing either, but you have to be clear in your mind and the reasons for opting for adoption.
For us personally, our hearts did not permit to make that distinction. Does the universe make these distinctions? The only matching that one can do is the color of the skin and not the DNA. So did it really matter? The only thing that mattered in the end was to take a baby home.
Then our baby arrived, the bundle that opened our hearts and minds forever. Then 7 years down the road our second bundle of joy arrived. This time around, my older daughter was around with us to bring her sister home. That moment when she held her sister in her arms was a treasured moment for us. Now, my older daughter is 14 and my younger one is 7, and they inspire us to encourage more parents to think of adoption as a choice and no different from having one’s own.
One of the frequent questions I am asked is “How do you break the news to children on their adoption and when is the appropriate age?”
The thing is, children process the information in different ways at different stages. We broke the news to my older one at 3, but we ensured that words like ‘adopted’, ‘the day you came home’ (rather than the day you were born) were used freely all the time so that there was no stigma attached to them. Now she is 13, and fully aware of her circumstances. She broke the news to her sister while having dinner and told her this “the only thing that mattered is that we have family now that loves us”. That was another treasured moment in our lives. They know that they have 2 mummies…”the tummy mummy and the heart mummy”. But this is a conversation that goes on as they grow older and reach new levels of understanding.
We have constantly reminded ourselves on three important aspects of being an adoptive parent.
Firstly, we don’t attach noble intentions to adoption as that would be dangerous to the relationship we share with the children. It would be dangerous to see ourselves as someone the children should be grateful to, with the implied superiority and egotism. We have not done them a favor by adopting them. We are as blessed to have this baby as much as the baby is blessed to have a family. It is unconditional.
Secondly, we never deride the biological circumstances or put down the biological mummy. Without her we will not have our babies. A sense of empathy and compassion for their tummy mummy is important and that she is the angel who brought them to us.
Thirdly, we are as firm as any parent would be with a child. We do not give in to whims and fancies just because they are adopted. We do not fear in our minds that they will interpret it in any way other than love and concern. Compassion and firmness in equal measure is crucial for their emotional well being and life skills as they grow into adults.
There are many joyful and treasured moments and I look forward to many more. For me personally, they have shaped my life in many ways and I am changing and evolving as a parent, and the most important thing is providing a nurturing environment. Nature does its part but nurturing has its own way of adapting to nature.
It’s been an incredible journey with its own set of challenges, but is any parenting devoid of challenges? We have adoptive parents calling us on various issues and we are happy to share our thoughts from legal, emotional and on health perspectives.