A heart-warming interview with Chinmayee Srivathsa

1.Your daughter came home when she was 4 yrs old. Can you highlight some of the concerns that came to your mind then?

Our concern was mainly around language. I was wondering how we would communicate with each other. We tried to learn Marathi, but my daughter made every effort to belong and learnt English and Kannada in just a couple of months. Didn’t have any other concerns – we were confident that we were all meant to be. 

2.Was there any kind of preparedness from a psychological perspective when you considered an older child adoption?

Having a child requires a leap of faith, and adopting an older child also required a huge leap of faith. We knew that there would be many unknowns, but we  also believed that a consistent and secure home atmosphere would help us work through any problems that might arise. Before adopting, I didn’t seek counselling, but spoke informally to a few people who work in NGOs that help children. 

3.How did you prepare your son on the arrival of his sister through adoption?

He was 4 then, and we involved him in every step of the process – he even knew that we had uploaded documents! We  informed him that we (his parents) wished to adopt our daughter. His sister was at a children’s shelter, and was waiting for her forever family. We wanted a daughter and our daughter wanted a family. 

My son was thrilled at the idea and remained helpful and understanding throughout the process, even if it was a 14 hour road travel to meet our daughter. He has been most supportive, and always displayed warm affection for his sister.

4.What were the adjustments that your family had to consider on the arrival of your daughter?

There were really no adjustments as such. The siblings bonded instantly and  she reciprocated our love and hugs with all her heart…yes, I did have moments when I wondered if she was okay, if she was happy, if she was feeling safe and loved. 

5. Can you share with our audience on the social adjustments that one needs to make while considering older child adoption?

Anyone considering older child adoption should be prepared for that surprised reaction from people, when we suddenly introduce a grown child as our daughter or son. We were open about it, and happily informed that we adopted our daughter on July 2014. 

Of course, it helped that we had sent emails and informed extended family, our neighbours, and son’s friends.  She was received warmly by family and friends. 

6.The response from your parents and immediate family on your decision to adopt. Was there any preparation done from your side?

They were supportive from the beginning. 

7.School readiness is a big part of the anxiety for some parents when they choose older children adoption.  What are your suggestions or guidance for parents who are considering this decision?

Each child is different and unique in their strengths and weaknesses, but parents considering older children adoption should be prepared for the fact that child may have not received enough nutrition, stimulation or exposure to learning. Each institution is also different, but my daughter had not received any stimulation or exposure or any type of learning.

There may be attachment and behavioral issues too – but we didn’t face these problems with my daughter. She took to family life naturally, but we had educated ourselves about these possible issues.

8.Do you think that preparedness counselling is important when one considers adoption?

Yes, it would be beneficial. Learning more about the possible deficits and problems will help us prepare better and needn’t be discouraging at all.

9.Was there any trauma or baggage and learning deficit or milestones that you had to address when your child came home, if so, what are the ways to address these concerns.

Losing the birth family is trauma for all those children who go through it. It’s true for our daughter too, but she is a cheerful and positive girl and she often says “that is behind me now, so I’m glad I’m here” and looks at the positive side. I like to encourage this resilience in my daughter and admire her for it. My daughter has missed several milestones and had learning deficits when she came home first,  but in the past 5 years, her hard work has paid off and she has progressed well. She is still behind her peers, but she is bright and is a happy learner. 

My guidance would be to seek help for learning as and when required. We took help with speech therapy for improving the clarity of her speech sounds. Many children may benefit with 1:1 help ( as it has helped our daughter). 

One important thing is that I feel we should not attribute all challenging behavior to adoption, and it helps to remember that all kids (bio or adopted) might also have behavioural/attachment issues or learning deficits. 

10.Is there a difference in the mindset that you see today when it comes to older children adoption?

I know many other families that have chosen to adopt an older child – I have shared my experience with them. I am happy to have met so many open and accepting families and their lovely kids

11.What has been your experience so far in your journey as a parent through adoption?

Adoption is a beautiful word – a blessing for us. Our journey has been wonderful so far.

12.Is adoption for everyone?  And your thoughts on the digital process, has the process been easier or are there gaps to be bridged here?

Adoption is for anyone who is ready to understand the challenges involved and will take a positive approach during the process of parenting. For everyone who can accept and love a child for their unique strengths and deficits.


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