As one adoptive mother put it, 'I have never believed the whole ‘nothing is thicker than blood’ idea.'

Nature and nurture How adoptive mothers see motherhoodImage: Flickr/DFID
Features Mother's Day Special Sunday, May 08, 2016 - 18:47

More often than not, the quintessential image that arises when one thinks of a mother is of the biological mother who carries her baby for nine months and suffers through labour to give birth to her child. But for now, let's drop the presumption of biological connections, and ask adoptive mothers about their experience of motherhood.

For most adoptive mothers, a common experience is the combination of the long, almost unendurable wait for the process to be completed, and the galloping urgency with which their baby finally comes home. As Priya (name changed on request) says, “I think we first applied for adoption in 2009 or 2010. It was a long, hard wait but one fine day in 2013, we just got a call and we got our baby. And it’s so magical and cosmic that she looks so much like me. We are tailor-made for each other.”

For many, the decision to adopt is the result of an inability to conceive naturally. But for some like Durga Nandini, Director Communications at Change.org, adoption has always been a natural course.

 “I have always dreamed of adopting a child. Many people look at adoption as an act of charity. But I firmly believe that every child deserves to have a home,” she says.

She adds that her desire to adopt became even more resolute when, as a former journalist, she saw the adversities that children had to face because of choices made by adults. Her dream materialised into reality, with the constant support of her husband, when 5-month-old Maya came into her home just two weeks ago.

 “I burst into tears when I first saw her. I had this déjà vu feeling where I couldn’t believe that this was real,” she reminisces.

Image: Ragou Govardanane, Durga Nandini and Maya

Nandini believes that she was lucky to get her baby in a year’s time. The wait can get painfully long for many. Muskaan (name changed on request), who runs an IT recruitment firm in Pune, for instance, signed up for adoption after numerous medical treatments failed to help her conceive naturally. It was only after a two-year long wait that Muskaan and her husband adopted Maurya about two years ago when he was two years old.

For Muskaan and her husband, the biggest concern was whether their son would grow to adjust to his new home.

“He wasn’t talking when we first met him. We were afraid whether he would be able to adjust well or not. However, about a week after we brought him in, he got accustomed to us and we, to him. He is such a good kid. He smiles all the time,” she says happily.

While everything else has worked beautifully for Muskaan and her family, she sometimes regrets the fact that she doesn’t know anything about the two years Maurya was without her. “It’s a fleeting thought. But sometimes it bothers me,” she says.

For Priya however, that aspect is irrelevant. “I never think about where she came from. In fact, I bless the mother who made her, because she has filled such a big void in my life,” she says.

While Priya plans to tell her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter about her adoption when she is older, Nina Nayak, former chairperson of Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and child rights activist, was open right from the start to both her children about their adopted status. She adopted Aarti when she was four months old in 1981. In 1985, she adopted six-month-old Adip.

“We were always open about it (adoption). However, you have to be cautious about things you say about other adopted children. Issues like abandonment are delicate because an adopted child’s self-esteem depends on how you talk about these things. In that sense I think that adopted parents have to do a little more parenting,” she explains.

Many adoptive parents also have to overcome hurdles of acceptance wherein friends and family differentiate between an adopted and a biological child. However, Nandini feels that it is only a matter of time before they warm up to the idea.

“I have never believed the whole ‘nothing is thicker than blood’ idea. The moment when you get your baby is just so awesome that you don’t even remember she is not from your womb,” she says.

Priya, who adopted her baby when she was 35, says, “After having been just two people for 13 years and being unable to conceive, you try to convince yourself that you don’t want a baby. But ever since the day she came, I haven’t regretted it for a minute. In fact, I feel like I am at an age where I can enjoy her completely,” she gushes.

Nayak adds that experiencing motherhood through adoption is slightly different, in a good way.

“I think we cherish it a little more because we make a conscious decision to enter parenthood through the means of adoption. So for us, it means a little more.”

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