On adoption

I saw the legendary ‘Kannathil Mutthamittal’ a couple of days ago, and was absolutely floored. I loved it totally. A beautiful theme, handled in a sensitive way. The movie left me feeling a lot sad, and with a lot of questions. And that is what this post is for. I wanted your views on one of the subjects handled in this movie, one that is very close to my heart – adoption. There were other things in the movie I would love to discuss about, but not now. Maybe later. As of now, I would like to have a healthy discussion, some sort of answer to the questions milling about in my head. Even if our views clash, you are welcome to let me know. I would welcome some new insights on the subject.

Coming to adoption, I have always thought of it as a very beautiful thing. There can be nothing more beautiful than giving a life, a smile, to a kid who has lost everything. I think that ranks above all other forms of worship – giving hope to someone who has lost it.

Whenever adoption is discussed, the first question that usually comes up – how can we be sure what blood runs in the baby’s veins? Yes, I do believe there is something called genes. There are a few things I do because my grandfather and dad do them, because it is in my blood. The baby could have anyone’s blood in its veins, but there is also something called upbringing. Upbringing, in my humble opinion, plays a more significant role in shaping a child’s future than the genes. The effect of the genes, if there are any wrong ones, can be mitigated by the upbringing. The case of genes vs. upbringing. What do you believe about this?

The movie brought me face to face with the several problems that adoption could lead to at a later stage. Can these problems be resolved amicably? With the least of pain and tears? I hope so.

The first issue is – is it right to let an adopted child know that he/she has been adopted? I believe yes, the child has every right to know the truth. But what is the right age to let the kid know? Early enough so that the child comes to know the truth from his/her own parents, or later, after he/she has attained the necessary maturity? When it does come to know, won’t its very existence, its base, all that it believed so far, be shattered? In the movie, Amudha was a rather well-adjusted kid, with the right kind of upbringing by two sensible parents. She was able to deal with it. but what about those kids who are not as well-adjusted as Amudha? What about the psychological problems that would arise in the child on coming to know that he/she has not been born biologically to the parents he/she has been living with for years? I am sure it would be a shocker. What if the child is not able to accept it? What if the child develops complexes and problems? Wouldn’t there then be a lot of guilt at having spoilt a life instead of giving a life?

Not letting the child know would also not be a solution. The child has the right to know and it would be unfair to withhold such information. Then how does one deal with it?

The second issue – let me explain it with Amudha’s example. Suppose the couple adopted Amudha because they were not able to have children of their own. Then, due to some quirk of fate, they did have kids of their own. They never thought Amudha was not their own kid and gave her the same love and care they gave to their two own sons. Amudha loves both her little brothers. But once the kids come to know that Amudha has been adopted, won’t their relationship change? Won’t even a little bit of jealousy creep into Amudha’s heart on seeing her brothers? Will her brothers feel the same towards her later? If problems are indeed created between the kids, does any kid deserve to go through that?

The third issue – suppose the adopted kid wants to meet his/her biological parents (assuming that they are alive). How much pain would that involve? Revisiting the past like that, finding out why one had been abandoned and all that? Would it be wise to rake up the skeletons of the past? How does one deal with all that new information that suddenly comes in?

I could literally feel Amudha’s pain in the movie, as I watched it. Having to deal with adoption is difficult enough for a kid, and on top of that, she has to see all that destruction and hatred. For those who have not seen the movie, here’s a clip:

If any adopted child, any parent who has adopted a child, or anyone who knows someone who is adopted or has adopted is reading this, do share your views. I might be looking at the subject with a myopic vision. I would really appreciate it if you could help me in getting the bigger picture.

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24 Comments

Filed under Discussions, Movies, Musings

24 responses to “On adoption

  1. Lovely theme! Very close to my heart.

    Suchitra, first of all, thanks for taking the time out for such a detailed comment. appreciated it. it gave me a whole lot of new insight. 🙂 adoption as a theme is rather close to my heart as well….

    IMHO there is nothing like a ‘bad gene’ unless it is potential lethal and ends up killing you or making your life miserable by giving you some inherited disease. Everything else is perception oriented. I mean, we could be holding ‘bad genes’, bad with regard to anything else we have apprehensions about, and is there anything we can do about it? Not really. To not adopt just because you are not sure about ‘the blood’ seems more of a lame excuse to me than anything else.

    I quite agree with this… i always thought not adopting because one was not sure of the blood was a lame excuse, but you gave me the right words to my feelings.

    You always give the truth. No matter what. As social beings humans are excellent at framing systems and labelling (albeit unconsciously, I would like to believe) people who don’t comform as ‘freaks’. An adopted kid is not a freak because his/her biological parents decided to put them up for adoption. I think this is the message that needs to be got across to the kid, just because you are different it does not mean you are a freak or abnormal.

    absolutely. i believe the child deserves to know the truth. as for the pain and hurt that might arise, i guess proper counselling would go a longggggg way – for the parents, for the child, as well as the child’s siblings. pre-adoption as well as post-adoption counselling would definitely help in making the child understand, as you say, that you are adopted. you are different, but that does not mean that you are a freak. it is not only the child, but the family as a whole who need a change in mindset before adopting so that unnecessary hatred is avoided.

    I believe that to rear a kid, biological/non biological, or even in a surrogate way (like a primary school teacher) you need ENORMOUS guts. It is no cakewalk; the responsibility involved frankly makes me shudder. You don’t really want to be the cause for hurting them, and they have enormous capacity to hurt you. I believe that when questions of biological parentage come up it will be emotionally taxing for both the parent and the kid, but in the end, I also believe it makes the kid more secure. because they will understand their past, they will understand the love of the adopted parents, and they will understand their own roots. The process of learning may be tough but I think the result is worth it.

    totally agree with this. raising a child needs enormous guts – biological or non-biological. hell, you hold a person’s future in your hands, and you cannot afford to make a single mistake. its a huggggeeee responsibility, and an honour too. **shudder shudder** 🙂

    as for telling the child about his biological parents, yes, the child deserves to be told, i feel. he has every right to know. thanks for giving me the viewpoint that it makes the child more secure. yes, it definitely would. he would be able to fit in parts of a jigsaw puzzle by giving him this information, rather than just letting him draw conclusions on his own…

    Adoption is something I feel strongly about, and I wrote a story on the lines sometime back. Here is a link, if you want to check it out:

    http://talesfromme.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/the-story/

    thanks for the link, suchitra. i shall definitely check it out. 🙂

  2. Good. I dont think there are fixed results for human mind. So no comments.
    Catch up with a movie called Juno on teen age abortion. Amazingly well narrated movie.

    🙂 sure, will check out the movie. thanks for the info…

  3. Adoption,, is something which is really close to me as a subject, it has been one of my greatest dreams to adopt. You know I always thought about the subject from our view point, how would I take it, how would my wife and my parents take it.
    One thing which never crossed me was the actual feelings of the child..

    same here. i always thought of adoption from my own viewpoint and that of my family’s. i never really gave any thought to the problems that might arise due to it, and to the child’s thought process. this movie opened up a new avenue of thoughts for me… in the movie, there is a scene when the kid has just been told (on her 9th birthday, as predetermined by her parents) that she has been adopted and is not their biological child. she tells her mother, i always thought why i am darker than you in complexion. now i know that it is because i am adopted. that was the scene after which i actually began thinking from the child’s angle – how much insecurity does it create… knowing that you value adoption as much as i do, i would suggest that you watch this movie… really good…

    The issues you bring about, the issue whether the kid deserves to know if he/she is adopted, just the way there are things which are better left untold, I think probably the bond that grows between the parent and the kid, may be its better left untold, I know that the bond is too strong to depend on the biological lineage, but then the fear of losing a child would really prevent me from saying it I guess
    Regarding the child wanting to go back to their biological parents, wouldn’t that be natural?..I guess they would want to know the real parents as much as they would love to know us
    A really sensitive topic you have out here.

    yes, not telling the child at all would be a solution. it would save a lot of hurt and tears. but would it be fair to the child? it is a difficult thing to do, but something that has to be done…

  4. neilina

    It is really a very delicate and responsive post to talk to! And I glad that you came up with this topic!
    Yeah, adoption is really a very very beautiful thing. If I have to compare the effect of upbringing and genes, then I will surely go with the upbringing. I strongly believe that upbringing, the environment that you give to child to grow, the teachings, the emotions, and the love that you give him/her, is always more effective than the blood that runs in his/her body.
    About your other question – is it right to let an adopted child know that he/she has been adopted? Yeah, he/she should know, he deserves to know this! But if I see from the child’s eye, he/she will surely feel bad and may be it will be very difficult for him/her to digest it. I feel it depends on you only, how you tackle it. I always feel that when I will adopt the child, he/she will be my second one. I feel that this way you can be more close to him/her. Not like I give preference to second one, but I can concentrate on him/her fully! May be my assumption only! You can make him/her understand that you are not ‘other’ but ‘ours’ only. Setting up his mental attitude and making him/her strong is our work only and we should be happy to take this responsibility!
    As far as the third question concerned, it is better not to let the other child to know about it.
    Bless You! ~Namaste ~

    thanks, neilina! that is what i believe too… 🙂

  5. Idhula debate panna vaenidya avasiyamae illa priya..

    See..An adopted child should never ever ever be let known that he/she is an adopted child by the parents.. That`ll be The Most best all blunders that parents can ever do to that adopted child..Right from The moment when they adopt..it becomes their utmost reponsibility to not reveal that to the child at any situation..even if they give birth to kids after that.
    So your point on “The child has the right to know and it would be unfair to withhold such information” is not all a valid point. Only if they don t withhold the information it is unfair. If this is followed – your issue no.2 & issue no.3 will not arise at all..

    Also Try watching ‘Azhagi'(Partheeban & Nandita das) – another touching movie..

    i beg to differ wrt your views on telling the kid… i will check out the movie. it is there on my hit list. thanks for the suggestion. 🙂

  6. Priya,
    Well written post. The movie is really an eye opener.

    thanks. i agree, it’s a wonderful movie. really an eye opener….

    Here are my views :
    >>Whenever adoption is discussed, the first question that usually comes up – how can we be sure what blood runs in the baby’s veins?
    I totally second you on this. I mean yes, the genes really matter. But it matters not just in case of adoption. A particular boy’s father might be a mass murder & his mother might be a social worker. It really depends on how he is brought up and not what his genes tell him to do.

    yep, that’s what i believe too…

    >>Can these problems be resolved amicably? With the least of pain and tears?
    My question is, can any problem of this magnitude be resolved amicably ? Say father losing his job while the kid is still in school or something like that. There are something which are gonna be really tough to handle.

    yes, that’s right. the right attitude and approach towards it would go a long way….

    >>is it right to let an adopted child know that he/she has been adopted?
    It sure is. The kid has got every right to know who he/she is. Who her biological parents are, where are they right now(if they know that) and stuff like that.

    exactly!

    >> But what is the right age to let the kid know? Early enough so that the child comes to know the truth from his/her own parents, or later, after he/she has attained the necessary maturity?
    I think its something the couple has got to decide. Rather than age, I think the most important thing is how you put it across.

    Yes the result of that information is going to have a adverse effect on the kid ,afterall its a matter of his/her identity in this world.

    yes, i think so too….as i said to suchitra in reply to her comment, counselling would help a great deal in this issue.. IMHO

    >> Won’t even a little bit of jealousy creep into Amudha’s heart on seeing her brothers? Will her brothers feel the same towards her later? If problems are indeed created between the kids, does any kid deserve to go through that?
    Again it depends on the kids parents. Can they handle another child ? Are they prepared to answer questions like this ? Remember a child will always have questions, questions which are gonna be really difficult to answer.

    i agree… it is not only the kid, but the family as a whole who need to be prepared for adoption…

    At the end , I think anyone whose is opting for adoption should seriously consider first answering these questions. If they can handle situation like this, they are ready for adoption.

    VC

  7. DK… life might not be that simple 🙂

    though we would like it to be that way, life just isn’t simple at times. it all depends on the way you handle it…

  8. Sorry all…how much ever i think I cannot deviate from my opinion..

    I repeat..An adopted child should never ever ever be let known that he/she is an adopted child by the parents at any age and in any situation…that can be an act of crime and such parents deserve to be penalized..(am sorry to say this)

    Better Don`t Adopt, When you know beforehand that you are going to tell the kid at somepoint that you are not the biological pop/mom. The Adoption needs a “Lifetime secrecy mantaining Responsiblity” factor..this is a ‘Do or Don`t do’ case.Am sorry to tell this.

    i somehow can’t feel that this is right… to each his own, i guess. just shared my views. 🙂

    secondly, even if the parents don’t tell the child, the child will come to know sometime or the other from someone, and IMHO that would be worse…

  9. neilina

    @ D.K. Suriya Narayanan – What if the child comes to know from somewhere else that he/she is adopted one? Won’t he/she hold parents responsible for all this? I am not sure how to handle this. I guess if we only take the truth out and at the same time, help him/her to face the truth, then don’t you think this one will be better? Please let me know…..

    exactly! there’s always that to consider… it is always better that the child hears the harsh facts from the parents than from the society or relatives…

  10. swat

    This is a very sensitive topic and I’ve seen my uncle and aunt been going through the same questions. Since 9+ years or so. It’s really very painful to hear them speak about how there is zero support from the other family members(!)for adoption.
    Like the above person says, it aint that easy not to let the kid know that he/she is adopted.. This is one of the points that’s making ’em think for 9+ years 😦

    😦 that’s sad. hope that they find a way out pretty soon…

  11. @neilina.
    Very Good question…and even i thot of this situation before making my comment. Here is my opinion abt it:

    When someone say they have adopted a child, it means they are equating that kid as their own child.Here The parents not to reveal the truth at any situation is their DUTY.

    The moment when someone adopts a child, i feel it becomes their utmost reponsibility for them to groom the child in an envmt where the kid will have no chance to know the truth, even. Basically if at all the child comes to know the truth by someother means, the blame is once again on the one who adopted for grooming the kid in such envmt. The reponsibility lies not just in ‘not revealing’ the truth but even in ‘protecting’ the truth from other means..Thats why i mentioned it as ‘utmost reponsibility’.

    And Still – Any other means which still lets know the child the truth is FATE..and it`ll have its own effects. Once when you adopt , your duty is to protect the truth(as well as the child).Somehow this has a connection with ‘Do your duty. Don`t think of results’ of B.Gita…(Sorry that I am not able to explain in this line more..here)

    Coming back to the case..in such cases of getting to know the truth..If the Child is mature enough it`ll understand that the parents have taken Utmost care to not to reveal the truth and hence will only appreciate..and again if it is not mature enough it might get hurt in the beginning..yet the kid will understand the adopted parent`s devotion to their commitment as when it matures.

    And if this rule of Duty is followed – the issue no.2 & 3 of the post will not arise at all..

    The key word is ‘utmost reponsibility’ and that carries a huge understanding. No offence meant. This is what i feel. Precisely, From your comment i would say – we need not try to ‘take the truth out’ and let the child know. Our duty is ‘to push the truth in’ rather than to take it out.

    as i said earlier, to each his own! 🙂

  12. theshowstopper

    @D.K.Suriya Narayanan
    I read this somewhere and this is exactly what I have in mind.

    Adoption is not a dirty little secret that needs to be covered up. It’s not weird or strange. In simplest terms, “adoption” describes a legal means by which a child enters a family.

    And while “adoption” will always be a part of your child’s identity, it does not encompass the entirety of who your child is. By fearing to tell your child he/she was adopted, you are falling prey to the very stereotype you hoped to avoid: you are announcing to your child that adoption is weird and strange. Your child will certainly pick up on those vibes, and will assume, by association, that he or she must be weird or strange.

    Kids are perceptive. If you’re trying to hide something, they’ll know it. And they’ll dig until they discover what you’re hiding. Wouldn’t you rather they learned the truth from you, as opposed to a cousin, a friend on the playground, or a complete stranger?

    Kids are resilient. They can handle the truth and bounce back much easier than adults can. Begin bringing up adoption as a part of your everyday conversation, and gently begin to discuss your child’s adoption with him or her. You’ll all be glad you did.

    VC

    wow! wow! wow! 🙂

  13. @theshowstopper,
    That’s a very good analysis:)

    its so beautifully put! 🙂

  14. @Chandramouli,
    Your discussion seems to have a point.
    Let me just ask some of the elders and my own parents the same situation and try to get more enlightened.
    I would be happy if all the readers just get back to their own parents and putforth the same situation and ask their opinion as well.

    sure… will try that out! but honestly, given the situation, i would prefer to do what my own instincts tell me to do…. i don’t at all wish to underestimate parents or other elders and their opinions… just mean to say that i would trust my instincts when it comes to such critical situations..

  15. @All,
    Interestingly i just browsed for about half-an-hour and found out that hardly there are one or two comments out of 427 comments(tab no.4 & 6) who say ‘No’ to this situation. Infact i totally surrender after seeing all the ‘yes’ comments in the link below.I might be wrong totally in my opinion.

    Still somewhere, somehow in some corner i feel conveying the child the truth is a gentle excuse that we find to get a license to avoid the duty.

    Here is the link:
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/?qid=20061013134724AAWPCzg

    oh, wow! u surfed for half an hour! cool! 🙂 shall check out the link soon…

    btw, i don’t feel that we get a chance to avoid our duty towards the child by declaring that he is an adopted child and not biologically born to the parents. of course, the duty part remains right there, where it was. it is a question of fairness towards the child… he does deserve to know the truth.. and i believe, if put across in the right manner, it helps in strengthening the parent-child bond in the long run…

  16. theshowstopper

    Adoption is a very sensitive topic. Its something which can be debated but at the end of the day we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.

    @D.K.Suriya Narayanan
    No hard feelings, just like your opinion, I stated mine 🙂

    VC
    http://theshowstopper.wordpress.com

    “Its something which can be debated but at the end of the day we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. ” – exactly… no hard feelings meant to anyone. its good to have such healthy discussions, where we can share views. it opens up a lot of new dimensions…

  17. Good to see that we are thru with this topic… zzzzzzzzzz……..

    LOL at your comment… :)) i really enjoyed the discussions.. got to learn a lot.

  18. theshowstopper

    @Vijay Ganesh
    Picture Abhi Baki Hai Mere Dost… lol … I am sure we are not thru with this topic. Its a wonderful topic to debate on and I wouldn’t be surprised if this discussion continues

    VC
    https://theshowstopper.wordpress.com

    “picture abhi baki hai mere dost…” – LOL …. yep, it is indeed a highly sensitive and interesting topic to discuss on..

  19. What a touching, thought provoking post! Came here through….

    Now waitaminnit! Whose blog did I come here from??? Aww, shucks. Forgot. But hey, am I glad I stumbled here..

    (thumbs up)

    hey! welcome to UP! 🙂 am glad the post provoked some thoughts… it is indeed a sensitive topic, and worth thinking about…

    happened to chance upon your blog a couple of days ago.. lots of lovely stuff there. gonna go back and read! 🙂

  20. True .. there is no reason why people should not adopt … If you are really transparent then there is no issue where the child feels let down. I guess Amudha now would have grown up into a pretty lady who would be having similar values in life as Tiru and Indra – if the movie had not ended! 🙂

    yep, that’s probably right! amudha would sure have been proud of her parents, had the movie not ended! 🙂

  21. Wo wo wo.. What have I missed here.. Lovely post.. Here is my 50C 😉

    thanks! better late than never! 🙂

    Yep adoption is a great thing to do. It requires a lot of mental strength to do it and so it ranks right up there when it comes to good deeds.
    Baby’s blood will be one of the known groups only. 😛 Jokes apart. Yes genes do play a major part in an individual characters. So if the father happens to be a violent individual the kid might also turn out to be one. But like you say upbringing might negate the genes but only for a while. If there’s a sleeping animal inside, no matter how good the upbringing some day under some circumstance its bound to wake up and come out. 😛

    maybe, yes… but what if we ourselves have an ugly streak in us? if the child is born biologically and the father has a violent streak, what do we do about it? as suchitra says, we don’t do anything. so it would be just an excuse not to adopt because there might be a ‘bad’ gene..

    I believe at some stage in life when the child is mature enough and can take the shock, its better to disclose the adoption to him/her. It’d initially leave him/her distraught cos of the shift in paradigm but he/she will slowly accept the reality and learn to live with it which is better than living in a delusion. And that is the time when the child feels very very insecure. So in the days after the disclosure the parents have to take exteme good care of the kid. This is the time when the kid will develop complexes, if any and its up to the parents to take care of him/her. But never revealing the child’s roots is not a nice thing at all. No matter how close you are to the kid.

    totally agree with this! 🙂

    The same logic as above applies here as well, The siblings if any should be told about the adopted kid at a right stage and it should be explained to them that it doesnt make any difference to the parents so it must not make any difference to them as well.

    exactly!

    Revisiting the past would definitely be a trauma. But no adopted kid would refuse to do it. They would most definitely want to meet their parents and all. Again the its the responsibility of the parents to make sure that minimum emotional damage is done.
    Also such wounds get worse over a period of time. So the parents’ responsibility doesn’t end right after the disclosure. It goes on. Atleast until the child had accepted and adjusted to the reality and irs insecurity levels are low.

    perfecto! the more transperant and clear you are, the better the relationship you share with your kids, the better it would be, i guess…

  22. yo PI, don’t watch this movie ‘Azhagi’ – it’s so beautifully poignant and full of such sadness that it will continue to haunt you forever 😦 I had to keep reminding myself that it’s just a movie almost every other scene with that little kid.. heart rending.. consider yourself suitably warned, namesake!.

    🙂 thanks for the warning, namesake. i read the storyline of the movie and i thought i would love watching it. should give it a shot, me thinks. 🙂

  23. Bragadeesh

    Adoption is such a great thing to do. But it needs a lot of planning and getting ready. I know a couple who are close to me who had adopted a baby girl. I am quite close with them. I visit them and this little girl born somewhere in maharashtra behave like a perfect telugu girl ( The parents are telugu). And she say to me in her childish voice that Mama told her that she has two mom and two dads.

    http://waitforourangel.blogspot.com. Try visiting this blog if you have time.

  24. priyaiyer

    @bragadeesh

    that’s so nice to hear! 🙂
    thanks for the link. will check it out soon…

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