A heart-warming and informative Q&A with a mother and daughter duo. Archana Kalia, a seasoned parent, and Eshita Kalia, her daughter, share their experiences as a blended family. It’s not very often that we get an opportunity to hear from parent and daughter about their journey.
Archana Kalia, Parent
1.What were your reasons to adopt?
After we had our biological son, we were very much sure that we wanted a daughter as our second child. Adoption seemed the only sure shot route for having a little girl in our home. And why give birth to one more child when there are already so many kids in orphanages waiting for families.
2.Can you please share your views on the difference in mindset 25 years ago to the present in adoption? What’s the stark difference that you see in mindsets?
Adoption was a rare thing 25 years ago. People who went ahead with adoption were childless couples only and adoption was a very well-kept secret. Going ahead with adoption even after a biological child was totally unheard of. Today people are more open to adoption. Many couples with biological kids are also going ahead to adopt one.
3.Do you see a difference in parenting and does this percolate in how we handle the age-related concerns in childhood and adolescence in adoption?
In our case there was no difference in parenting of our two kids. Both were our responsibility and we raised them in a similar manner. Children are equally sensitive, adopted or biological. And both become equally argumentative and rebellious in their adolescence. We should not relate these behaviours to adoption.
4.Is it important to disclose to the child about the adoption? And why is it important to do so?
Yes, it is important because:
- It is his/her right to know
- The child would be extremely hurt if they came to know from any other source than parents.
- It makes them feel trusted.
- As we don’t want children to hide things from us, then why hide adoption from him/her
- We tend to hide things that we are ashamed of, why portray adoption as such a thing by not disclosing it.
5. How did you do the disclosure?
We started the process of disclosure very early, even though as a two year old she couldn’t register much. We did not rely on any mythological story instead we stated simple facts in age appropriate manner. We added more and more details to those facts as she grew up and her level of understanding also increased. We did not wait for her to reach a certain age for this disclosure. Because we did not want her to see adoption as a very big thing. Instead adoption was a happy word in our home and it was celebrated every year as homecoming day.
6. Pre-preparedness is important in adoption. With digitisation in adoption the human element is disconnected during the wait time. This missing link, is it important?
Yes, pre-preparedness is important because
- Imagining a perfect child as yours and having a perfectly imperfect child through adoption are two very different things.
- Parents are very comfortable with any imperfection or flaws of a biological child, but they get hyper with slightest delays in reaching age related milestone of an adopted child.
- Parents should not relate every behaviour of their child to adoption because any child is only 10% nature and 90% nurture.
I don’t think digitisation has disconnected the human element because during the waiting period PAPs get enough time to judge themselves and contemplate about their decision to adopt.
7. How did your son process this information about his sister?
Children take things as parents portray things to them. We portrayed adoption as just another way of having a child. Our son was 3.5 years of age when we started the process. We simply told him that there are two ways of having a child, one is by giving birth through which he came into our lives and another is adoption through which his sister is going to join us. He was very excited and happy because we were too. He was with us for all the orphanage and court visits. So not much explaining was needed. He very easily accepted her as his sister. Like any other sibling they had their share of fights but united they stood against us when we tried to reprimand any of them.
8. What is the message that you have for parents who are waiting in line for adoption?
The most important message is that please accept your adopted child as your biological one. Don’t expect a perfect child because no child is perfect, and no parents are perfect either. The timeline may be different, but the challenges and achievements are same in bringing up biological and adopted kids. Please don’t let your fear of the future reflect on your child. Because if you are not confident you won’t be able to raise a confident kid. A happy home makes a happy child.
Eshita Kalia, Daughter
1. How old were you when your parents disclosed about the adoption?
There wasn’t a specific age or time when my parents disclosed the fact about my adoption. I knew I was adopted for as long as I can remember. I was told via books, open & casual conversations at home, meeting other adoptive families. I’ve couple of younger cousins who are adopted as well. My family celebrated my homecoming day every year too.
2.Were you curious at all to know about your birth parents?
My family never used the term ‘birth parents’. I was always told that I was born to ‘some other lady’. Therefore, I had no emotional connect with the lady who just gave me birth. My mum and dad are my only parents and I truly believe that. I don’t identify my parents as my adopted parents. Maybe that’s why I never had the urge to go back and find my birth parents. I know some adoptees have that curiosity and that is great if they find peace in that. I never felt the need and am not too curious. I am happy with all the information that I have right now, and I am at peace with it.
3.How was the response in your immediate family/ social circle etc.?
As an adoptee, my immediate family have never made me feel different in any manner. They haven’t differentiated between me and my brother who is a biological child. On the other hand, my parents did face a few awkward questions in their social circles, but none of those conversations trickled down to affect me.
4.How did you process this information in your teens and in adulthood?
My parents were always very honest about everything. The questions I had regarding my birthplace, orphanage etc. were openly answered. Being adopted is a part of my identity. I never felt the need to disclose it to my friends. Because I never wanted my friends and colleagues to think I am someone different.
5.What was it like for your in laws and your husband on hearing about your adoption?
While looking for a partner I was very clear that I will disclose about my adoption to whichever family I am going to. When I met my future husband, I ended up telling him in our very first meeting itself. My in-laws have been very accepting and have always given me a sense of trust. I wouldn’t have gotten married to a person or in a family who was not comfortable with my adoption.
6. Do you think it is important for parents to discuss about disclosure to their child? Why do you think it is important?
Absolutely! I think it is very important to disclose to your child about adoption. It might sound a little harsh, but I think not disclosing is the worst thing you can do to a child. For example if I am growing up thinking that I am one person and then suddenly one fine day somebody tells you, oh you are not this, you are actually this person. That would definitely mess me up. Imagine trusting your parents your entire childhood and suddenly finding this out. I think parents should tell the child from the very beginning. I believe that a child would become comfortable only if he/she is made comfortable by the parents.
7. Would you be willing to share your experience with other children through adoption?
I have been apprehensive in the past while growing up since I was not an extrovert, but now I would love to share my experience with other children.
8. Was your brother supportive of you? Did you ever feel any different because he was through the biological route?
Like any other elder brother, he has been my biggest support. I have always resonated with him more than my parents as he was my partner in crime. We have had major fights as well, but at the end of the day we were always there for each other.