Ayesha* and her husband are young Indian professionals, who are parents to a lovely son. They are choosing to adopt their second child (a daughter!) and recently started the adoption process. I asked Ayesha* a few questions about her decision and I am happy to share her responses in her own words.
What is your motivation to adopt after having your first child? Did you decide to adopt after giving birth to your son, or was adoption always in the cards?
I have always wanted to adopt a child, even before I got married. And fortunately, my husband echoed my feelings. Even before our son was born, my husband and I had agreed that we would adopt a girl child. Since we did give birth to our son before we officially started the adoption process, there was no doubt in our mind that we would adopt our second child to complete our family. When we noticed that our son has reached a stage where he is more receptive to people and understands the concept of a sibling and family, we started our adoption process. It really does not matter to us whether we adopted first or gave birth first — both the children will be our children and given the same love and affection in our lives.
How did you know this is the right time to start the adoption process?
Whilst we always wanted to adopt our next child, we also wanted to wait for our son to grow up to an age where he understands the concept of siblings, sharing and playing together. Also, when we met my brother-in-law and sister-in-law at a family wedding with their two daughters (who are adopted), my husband and myself felt the urge to start the process officially. Seeing them as a family together gave me a vision of what I wanted as well — not for a moment when you see them one thinks of them as adopted girls but just a happy complete family. It only made my decision stronger and belief that DNA is the least important criteria to have a family. I also spoke to a friend of mine who is a mother to a adopted child after giving birth to her son, and again I was very positively inspired to start the process.
Who brought up adoption first — you or your husband? What were the key topics you both discussed?
I brought up the topic first but my husband quickly agreed. We both felt that every child in this world deserves love, care and a happy home. If we as a couple can provide a happy and loving home and be parents to a child, who out of no fault of her or his in bereft of a family, we must do it. We discussed and agreed that both our son and daughter will be loved and cared for equally, we will ensure both children reach their maximum potential and lead enriching lives, and we will provide them both equal opportunities for education and overall development. The child may not be biologically ours but she will always be ours in our hearts. We discussed how our lives will be with two children and we both loved the idea of completing our family with a daughter, and a sister for our son. The decision was quick, but the wait feels very long!
Have you talked about adoption with your son? How does he feel about it?
Our son is too young to understand adoption but whenever we talk to him and explain that soon (hopefully!!) he will have a sister who will live with us, play together with him and also call us ‘Mumma / Papa’, he gets very excited.
Why are you planning to adopt a daughter?
Firstly, we already have a son, so our obvious choice was a daughter, even though I am sure that even if we did already have a daughter, we would have still chosen to adopt a girl child. Secondly, the unfortunate truth is that we still exist in a gender-biased society where boys are treated with more reverence than girls, therefore the wait time for a boy child is far longer than the wait for a girl child. Personally, I feel having a daughter and a sister for my son will definitely enhance and enrich our lives.
What age are you considering for your prospective daughter?
We have chosen the age group of 2 years to 4 years. When I was reading about adoption and talking to other mothers who have adopted or are waiting to adopt, I realised that most couples want to adopt a “baby” or an infant. They remarked “I want a small baby” and felt very lucky if they had been able to adopt a newborn child. To me personally, I feel a baby doesn’t stop remaining a “baby” when he or she turns 2 years old or even 5 years old. My sister-in-law adopted a child who came into the orphanage only after her 3rd birthday — so if everyone jumps into the 0 to 2 years adoption line, what happens to children who come much later into the orphanage or are declared “adoptable” much later? I did speak to my sister-in-law at length to understand if bonding takes much longer when you adopt a toddler vis-a-vis an infant and understood that it is actually easier to bond and connect with a toddler. Also, a little selfishly I thought, maybe the adoption process would be quicker if I considered a 2 to 4 years old child as against an infant since statistically there are more children waiting to be adopted in the above 2 years category and hence a considerably shorter waiting period.
When and how did you tell your parents/in-laws that you are planning to adopt? What was their reaction?
After my husband and I started the official formalities of the adoption process, we informed our parents. They were a little surprised to start with, but fortunately were very supportive. My parents were more interested in knowing how our child would react to having a sibling and if we were financially and practically prepared to raise two children. There was no inhibition from them about adoption itself. The questions they raised would have been applicable even in the case of a second biological child.
However, while it was important for us to have their support and positive affirmation, we would have still gone ahead with the adoption process if we had not received their support.
What do you say when someone asks whether you will love both children equally?
My standard reply to this question is always — “Do you ask this question to parents with two biological children? But yes, I will love them equally, because I will be the mother to both of them. When we have taken a decision to be parents to another child — she will be our child, irrespective of whether we have given birth or adopted.”
What do you say when someone asks whether you are concerned how adoption might impact your son?
I often say, it is like giving birth to another child — so if I were biologically delivering a second child, I would have made sure my son understands the concept of family, sharing, siblings etc — and adopting a child is no different. We as parents have to ensure we are well planned for the second child financially and mentally, and ensure that our son is a part of all the excitement and preparations that we will be doing once we get a match.
What is the toughest conversation you have had with someone about your adoption decision?
Adoption still remains a misunderstood subject in our country. Most people assume that you are adopting because of medical issues. Once I was having a discussion with a friend who still doesn’t understand why I would like to adopt a child if we do not have medical issues and already have a biological child. I was faced with questions like “what is the child’s background”, “you do not know if the child has medical issues”, “what if the child is not intelligent” and “what if the child wants to find her own biological parents”. These questions exasperate me because when someone gives birth, they cannot guarantee that their child will be a brainiac, or look like them, or won’t develop any medical issues. The background of the child is irrelevant because firstly we have no control over that and secondly once the child is adopted her adoptive family forms the “background”. Lastly, if at some point of time an adopted child gets curious to know about his/her lineage or family, then it can be handled with thoughtfulness and love so the child gets the needed answers; it’s not any different from children being curious about the world around them. When one cannot guarantee perfection and a life sans of obstacles with a family you inherit through your bloodline, why do these questions and predicaments arise when we talk about adoption.
What is the funniest conversation you have had with someone about your adoption decision?
A question that leaves me with my eyes rolling is “What if the adopted child hits or fights with your son?” — Really!! Can anybody tell me of any siblings or cousins in the same family who have not fought or cried. The upbringing we will give our children will determine how they choose to behave with each other — there is no guarantee that biological siblings always love each other or have no issues with each other.
Thank you Ayesha!
*Name changed because Ayesha would like to maintain some privacy until her daughter comes home.