Formation of diverse family systems today

Family systems are constantly changing and influenced by social, political and economic dynamics of the time and place in a country.  With societies constantly evolving, the societal and cultural framework is giving way to alternate / diverse family formations. In India as well, we see this change in the structural and cultural frameworks in family patterns as traditional joint family systems give way to (predominantly) nuclear family patterns. With respect to other family systems, instances of single parenting by choice and, to a lesser extent, co-habitation are rising. However, the international increase in LGBT parents has not made its mark here yet.

Coming to ways of expansion of families, this too is seeing a number of newer routes, and is not limited to the biological route. The main alternative forms of expansion are adoption, fostering and surrogacy.  The most common of these is adoption. Fostering has become a possibility just recently with revisions in the laws. Therefore, it may too early to comment about its prevalence. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 has been introduced in Lok Sabha and while the cabinet has approved the bill, it has not been passed yet. The bill only allows altruistic surrogacy, where the surrogate mother is a close relative of the commissioning parents.

Adoption, a preferred option by many

Today in India we see a trend towards adoption to start a family, and is becoming a common alternative.  Adoption is no longer a closeted word or a subject of contention. The technical definition of adoption is “The act of legally taking a child under your care where you have all the rights as the biological parents of the child would have”. The caring for infants not just by the mother, but also by other members of the family and sometimes even unrelated adults is not an unknown phenomenon with humans in general. This nurturing ability is intrinsic part of human species and this trait is easily traceable to the origin of human species.

Is adoption for everyone?

Technically, anybody who meets the criteria as laid down by the Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection of the children Act 2015) (JJ ACT) can adopt.  However, before this question can be answered, you need to take a step back and ask yourself whether you are ready for what it entails to be a parent. With increased work and societal pressures, the strain of parenting is quite different from a generation ago. When deciding to adopt, it becomes more important for you to understand the nuances in adoption and go ahead with clarity.  

Here are some factors worth considering before deciding to adopt:

  • Are you psychologically, emotionally and physically ready to parent in today’s changing family systems.
  • Have you gotten past the feeling of inadequacy for not having a birth child in case infertility is your reason to adopt?
  • Can you unconditionally accept a child of another culture, social, and religious background?
  • Are you ready to accept and tackle concerns regarding adoption without any preconceived prejudices?
  • Are you ready to be open and tell your child about his/her adoption?

Reasons to adopt?

People choose to adopt for a variety of reasons. While most people arrive at adoption when the biological route does not work, for others, it stems from the desire to have a mixed or a blended family option. Today, we see a trend towards adoption as a first choice to start a family, which is heart-warming. Providing a stable family, and a nurturing environment, ultimately leads to immense fulfilment for both the parent and the child. What matters most is the formation of a loving family unit.  

The joy is limitless, and the journey is indescribable. There is a sense of awe and euphoria as one begins the journey of parenting with adoption. As we traverse this path, unravelling the unknown we realize that nurturing a child is the core or focal point of any parenting journey, regardless of the route one has chosen.

Gayatri Abraham, Founder Padme

This article originally appeared in


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