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How do I tell my family I am adopting?

posted Sep 28, 2013, 7:15 PM by ThinkClickGet Admin   [ updated Sep 28, 2013, 7:15 PM ]

 


How do I tell my family I am adopting? 



-Sudatta Online
 



Telling the grandparents is often the most challenging part of making the decision to adopt. A young couple planning to adopt their second child reached out to other more experienced adoptive parents for inputs on how to tell the extended family
“We’re expecting a baby!” a statement that brings smiles to the faces of the extended family. After all, that’s the news everyone is waiting for after the wedding day. All very well if one is pregnant. But what if that statement is actually expanded to mean, “We’re expecting to welcome a baby home”? Can you imagine telling your family that?!

Most couples thinking of adopting a child reach a decision and then get into the nerve-wracking dilemma of telling the extended family. So many doubts and questions arise………

Do they need to know? In the Indian context where family is important, yes, as any agency will tell you while you are registering for adoption. You have to tell your family, before you adopt.

Is their approval necessary? No, it’s your life and your child.

However in some Indian States the home study involves giving information about the extended family. In some situations such as a single parent it becomes necessary to consider this aspect of the child’s future environment. Sometimes one has to declare a guardian in the event something happens to the parent.

How do we inform the family? It’s a matter of wishing to share the joy of one’s decision and wanting them to be as excited about the new child. But on the other hand there is fear of disapproval, rejection, disappointment etc. Not wanting the reaction to be negative, and the dream to be shelved temporarily or permanently, aspiring parents are challenged to find the ‘right’ way to inform the grandparents.

One such couple reached out to SuDatta’s online support forum 2 years back and received the much needed strength and a whole bunch of suggestions on how to approach this delicate situation.

Hi,
I just joined this group. We have almost decided to adopt a little brother for our daughter. But we're very nervous about telling the grandparents. Can anyone who has adopted recently tell me any ideas on how to put it across firmly and positively? 
N

Hey, 
Congrats on your decision. We have one biological child and one adopted child. Boy and girl respectively.

It is advisable to tell parents about your decision to adopt without a lot of preamble. Stay calm and inform politely and boldly of your decision. Continue to stay calm, polite but firm if they react. Important: You should never react back.

Elders have apprehensions. If you address them politely and honestly, they will appreciate and welcome your decision and stand by you.

Regards,
S

Hi ,
You could casually invite a family with an adopted child over to your place and allow the elders to praise the child. Then after the guests have left, quietly inform your parents or in-laws that the child is adopted. Perhaps bring up a discussion about the child. Depending upon their reactions you will know how to take the next step. You may find it's not a problem at all and that they are probably as enthusiastic about the idea as you.

Regards
K

PS: My in-laws came with us to the adoption agency when we were to see our second baby. Everyone fell in love with him immediately. He's over 2 years old now and the delight of his grandparents' lives.

Hi,
I adopted my daughter very long time back. She is 13 now. It was the best decision of my life.

Once we had decided.... we were so sure about it that we just did not expect anyone would have a negative response. We conveyed the information to both sets of grandparents as one of the most joyful happenings in our lives. In the face of such an attitude I think their apprehensions just melted away...

All the best G

One way would be to talk over this over several sittings. Perhaps start by just sharing your thoughts on adoption, how long you have been thinking, what concerns you may have, why you think it is a wonderful idea, what concerns they have and then slowly in the second or third discussion disclosing your decision to adopt.

In our case, our parents knew that while we are talking about these, the decision is ours not our parents, and they respected that -- so it was not difficult for us. Besides, my parents were overjoyed to have a grand daughter. For us, adopting a daughter meant our son was thrilled to have a baby sister. But that was 8 years ago and they are fighting a lot these days!!! Oh what fun parenting.

Good luck .... 
C

Hi, 
We adopted Diya 2 years ago. We informed my in-laws and parents even before we went to apply. They were initially not comfortable with the idea. Talking about their fears, insecurities related to adoption did help. I have my first born daughter Tisha - so my mother thought that all our relatives will compare our parenting skills between the two. They also wanted to know why we are adopting. We talked to them about what we felt and why we made the decision. They eventually did understand.

Thankfully there is a comfortable wait period from when you apply to when you 'get' a child. By then parents usually accept your decision. Many adoption agencies have pre-adoption counselling sessions. You can take them to such programmes. My experience has been wonderful – her grandparents dote on her just as any of their other grandchildren.

All the best! 
Regards
A

Dear N,
I am so happy you have planned to adopt. There is a saying that Grandparents never refer to the adopted child as 'he/she is my adopted grandchild' but only as 'he/she is my grandchild'. This itself proves a lot!!! And once you are convinced about adopting, believe me its very easy convincing others!!! In fact, when we planned to adopt our daughter of 4 (we had a biological son of 8 years then), our mother-in-law reacted positively first, but got influenced by her family and was very negative later.

Believe me, my husband did some more talking and then she was the first one to come around and apologise, and praise our decision for wanting to adopt!!! And she now lives with us, and every now and then feels so happy that we adopted Medha who is 10 years now!

There are many things we can achieve financially, but when you can achieve something like adoption, it’s the best thing that you can do for yourself, the child and society at large!!! I strongly believe you can pass any hurdle for this joy!!! Just go ahead and start your life!!

With warm regards,
V

Dear N,
We have a biological girl child (13 years) and we have adopted a boy (4 years). 4 years ago when we adopted him, we simply met our parents (my wife’s as well as mine) and informed them directly of our intentions to adopt. There were apprehensions (religion, genetics, caste), there were several questions (why don't you want to have another biological child etc). However, we were quite well prepared for all these questions and were firm with our answers.

They accepted our decision and today see him as one of their own grandchildren. It is also important and helpful to get your siblings and those of your husband's to back your decisions and perhaps advocate your decision to your parents and in-laws.

Best regards
A

Dear N, 
You must have got quite a bit of ammunition on how to broach the topic of adoption, probably enough to face your parents. Some more from me, special ammunition, just in case....

I had read quite a bit on adoption before I thought of telling my family including my parents and my sister who would be my daughter's guardian. Obviously, my parents advised me to reconsider adopting a child being single, as they were worried about the child not having a father. But as C said, it is how convinced you are about the mission of adoption and how boldly you put it across to them. In any case, they have a biological grand-daughter to contend with.

As a back-up, you can get your daughter do a bit of recommending by way of asking for a brother "now". The grandparents will definitely yield. Ultimately, what do parents want more than their children's happiness? In fact, my parents dote on my daughter more than they ever did on me. She is pampered and loved, so much so that they favour her when I reprimand her in studies or otherwise.

Cheers, 
D

Better late than never

posted Sep 28, 2013, 7:10 PM by ThinkClickGet Admin   [ updated Sep 28, 2013, 7:11 PM ]

 


Better late then never



-Members recollect
 


This is an inspiring and moving account as narrated during one of Sudatta’s recent sharing sessions. This couple spoke about their struggles and strengths in the journey of parenting; their daughter is now a young adult.

Though adoptive parents are encouraged to be open about the fact of adoption with their child, one particular couple never got around to it. The acceptance and love shown by their daughter is a lesson for all of us.

“We have been members of SuDatta right from the beginning, then called Adoptive Parents Association. We participated regularly in most SuDatta activities in the early years. People spoke about telling and we thought that was alright. But somehow we kept putting off telling our daughter that we had adopted her.

Dr. Saraswati would often encourage us to go go ahead. We were afraid that our child would be hurt about her birth parents, or reject us as her real parents,” the gentleman shared.

His wife added, “We did not hide it totally, her adoption records were always within easy access and maybe we hoped that she might find out herself if she read them. But her not knowing, led to some awkward situations. Once, for a class project, her teacher had asked for my daughter’s baby photo. As we obviously did not have it, I gave her a picture of my nephew, hoping she wouldn’t realize the difference.”

But the truth will prevail.

“One day, my daughter at the age of 14, asked us herself if she was adopted, and with tears in our eyes, we admitted the fact. She was so accepting…”

“…she almost counselled us and assured us that she could never think of anyone else as her real parents. She could not believe that we had feared she would leave us or reject us,” they recounted.

And when had this child realized or suspected that she was adopted?

“She said that she had known it for a long time, but could not remember when or how she became certain. She even knew about the baby photo! We apologized to her, saying we never meant to conceal her status from her.”

We listened with rapt attention, admiration and humility.


His Gift of Love

posted Sep 28, 2013, 7:07 PM by ThinkClickGet Admin   [ updated Sep 28, 2013, 7:11 PM ]

 


His Gift of Love



-Deepa Dumblekar
 


Very few people know that loneliness is a state of mind and not a physical condition, which is why we can be in a crowd and yet be very very lonely. It was when I stepped into the 30s a single woman that I realized I was terribly lonely and it hurt.

I had a loving family – doting and caring parents, understanding siblings and their spouses, and nephews and nieces too. Yet, I sensed there was none I could call my own. My nephews and nieces were just that, despite the loving rapport we shared.

A single mother describes her passage from aloneness to togetherness in her new family

It is at this juncture that I contemplated adoption.

I recollect how I had, in my teens, fantasized adopting a baby after marriage. But Man proposes and God disposes and ultimately I ended up adopting as a single woman.

Adoption as a concept had always interested me and having been a voracious reader on various subjects, I had read a lot about it. I had attended a workshop on adoption organized by SuDatta, which was the only formal platform where I heard adoption being discussed. I didn’t feel the need to go for any counseling sessions – I had it in me to be a mother and my heart knew it.

It was less than eight to ten months from the time I went around enquiring at various agencies to getting Payal into my heart, life and home (in that order). Since then, single motherhood has been a long journey, involving both smiles and tears. Nevertheless the joy of being an adoptive family has been made even more special by our being in SuDatta.

The following verses – addressed to my daughter – encapsulate my thoughts on the bond that is there between us.

Before you came –

My life seemed empty, I felt lonely
With love felt from a distance
None was mine; they were all “others”
To them my love and care were pittance

After you came –

Life is full and lovely
We belong to each other well and nicely
I thank God for His unique blessing
He has gifted you to me so wisely

I have strived hard to shoulder the responsibility of being a single mother as successfully as possible, and at times, feel overwhelmed by the task of looking after my little angel. It is then that I focus my mind on the following verse from a favourite hymn.

I accept you from the hands of my God
You are God’s gift to me
A beautiful gift
This gift of love, God has given me

I believe God had a purpose in His mind when He put Payal into my care. Together, we look after her – and I should say we are doing an excellent job!!!

To tell or not to tell?

posted Sep 28, 2013, 6:51 PM by ThinkClickGet Admin   [ updated Sep 28, 2013, 7:03 PM ]

 


To tell or not to tell?



-By Adhira Nagesh
 


Our dealings with adoption began with our daughter Prerna, when we brought her home 20 years ago - all of 2 months old. It was a moment that Hari and I had thought about for long.

An experienced parent explains her reasoning about and experience of talking with her children about adoption.

Pranay, our son, almost six at that time, was also waiting eagerly for the “permission from the government“(court case) to bring his sister home.

It was exciting and an eventful day in all our lives, when Prerna came home. Time flew fast and decisions had to be taken, and taken fast. The most important of them all, we had a choice: to tell or not to tell………. That she was adopted.

And to all those who are still grappling with this choice as parents, or wondering as educators or friends of families with adopted children… WHY tell…. We would like to share our experiences first hand. It is not to convince or persuade… but to bare a portion of our lives, with a deep desire to build more understanding that this sharing comes to you….

Not telling Prerna about the fact that she was adopted, would have been the easiest. We could just let her believe that she was biological and tell her later. But it would also mean living everyday in the fear of being found out. And then, the most important fear: what would happen after that? How would the child react then? What if she stopped loving us, once she knew the truth? These were daunting thoughts. If we chose not to tell, the question was, for how long? We all tend to procrastinate doing what is difficult. In most cases, that we knew, the parents were so overjoyed and engrossed in bringing up their children once they were home, that before they realized it, the child had grown. And the dilemma they faced then: HOW do I broach the issue NOW? And the issue remained……….

We grappled with the choice deeply and the answer that emerged was quite clear. We chose to go with the Truth and face its consequences, rather than live everyday with the fear of the unknown. That would neither be healthy for Prerna’s psyche nor ours. The thought of beginning a relationship that was so precious, on anything less than the truth, seemed unacceptable. Lifelong relationships like these need the solid foundation of trust. If Prerna would get to know later ( as she was bound to, eventually ), it would be major breach of trust.

We chose to tread a path more difficult, but safe. Most families who wish to build a truthful relationship opt to tell…… however, it does mean overcoming the fear curve. Fear of what society would say, how the child would respond as s/he grows. It is for this reason that we chose to make truth a part of life, rather than wait for some special day to dawn. The wait would be so intimidating that we may not have the courage then to see it through. And this in a nutshell, is one of the most crucial and difficult decisions that adoptive parents make. We decided to be open with adoption, with our children, family, friends and society in general. We firmly believed that the truth was the only basis for a long term stable relationship and deepest inner security for everybody.

Armed with this conviction, we went about talking to both our children openly about adoption. We spoke about its implications and at various stages of their growing, tried to answer their questions honestly, however difficult they were. Perhaps truth and honesty were good foundations to begin a lifelong relationship with our daughter. Pranay and Prerna are well adjusted children till date. They have taken the process of adoption as it should be: that there are 2 ways of becoming parents, either biologically or through adoption: and we chose to have one of each method! That is what we told our children and it was something that we believed in…… we can become parents in 2 ways…. Grow children in their own bodies, or nurture babies who grew in other peoples bodies.

The “telling” was not a dramatic event on a particular day, but a part of the growing up process itself. Even as she learnt to think and understand, Prerna knew that she did not grow in my stomach, but in our hearts. Letting her know early enough gave her time to internalize it at various stages of her growing. As she grew, her understanding deepened, and questions of various kinds cropped up. Not all of them were easy to answer and they did pull the heartstrings, but the bottom line was that she was growing up with the truth. Her being open with her adoptive status, sometimes left even adults, at a loss for the right responses!

Fears about what the world around us would say, faded away in the back ground, as we faced actual events. We realized that WE were the world…………. The strong convictions we displayed in our decision, reflected back. People took to Prerna and the situation with utmost affection and warmth. True to her name, she was also instrumental in building more such families.

The theory that once the child is home and everything is forgotten, may not always work……… children have curious minds and they need answers. Whether the thought rests easy or not, we have to accept that these families are special and do require special skills. Skills of parenting, brothering or sistering, grandparenting, educating, friending!

Adoptive children, who have been empowered with the information of their status by their families, talk easily about it, sometimes to the discomfiture of the listener. Sometimes the listener is more aware and conscious of the situation than the child. It is for this reason that forums of parent- groups, newsletters, special meetings with educators, gentle counseling of members of the extended family become almost essential in providing the child with a enabling environment and make the process of growing smoother. Sharing always makes things lighter and easier.

Many felt that our openness and involvement with the cause was like opening a wound again and again. Once the child was home and the initial telling done, ( if at all it had to be done ) it should be forgotten, they felt. Forums and groups only served to remind the parents and the child about the “difference”, they contend.

While this may be true of parents, who would be most happy to forget, let’s spare a thought for the child who knows that s/he is adopted. Where are her peers? Who would she go to when she needs to talk? Children are perceptive and the parents’ desire to bury the event is transmitted. This makes the child hold all important questions in her heart as she cannot voice them easily………or the questions are such that the parent or educator (2 people closest to the child) may need help and support in answering them. We have to give secure loving answers to our children through out their life……….. Hence the need to learn and grow based on our roles…. be they as parents or educators. Special forums therefore have a crucial role to play. And over these years, we as a family have been involved in the cause. Sometimes we have received, sometimes we have given. But there has never been any regret about the decision that we took so many years ago…. to stay with the Truth.

We owe this to our children and ourselves………. as parent hood is for a lifetime, whether adopted or biological.

Sheela Ramakrishnan, Hyderabad, India.
sheela.ramakrishnan@gmail.com

Finding my Identity through Sudatta

posted Sep 9, 2013, 10:57 AM by ThinkClickGet Admin   [ updated Sep 28, 2013, 7:18 PM ]


 


Finding my Identity through Sudatta



-By Adhira Nagesh
 


A young adult talks about how, growing up as a SuDatta child, she has found friendship, comfort and close bonding with other children.

My Mummy asked me to write ‘something’ for the Souvenir …
What does that mean??? Ten years of the organization;
Ten years of togetherness; or
Ten years of growth???
Ahem ahem…this is a logical side to it... But when I think from my heart… two beautifully combined words cross my mind… “Su” meaning “Good” and “Datta” meaning“Adoption”.

On a more serious note, the respect and admiration each one of us have for each other makes our “SuDatta Family” a rare find. The greatest gift one can give to someone is their “Time”, because when you give someone your time, you have given a portion of your life which can make a difference to others’ lives in a very positive way.

And when I think of our “SuDatta” completing ten years, it seems as though in these ten years we have all lived a 100 years together. The kind of closeness and honest bonding we have shared as children and families, is infinite and is for sure meant to last for eternity.

And when we all get together considering even the workshops, I feel at peace, cause very few are lucky to be surrounded by beautiful souls.

“SuDatta” has given me the most amazing and heart warming moments which I would treasure forever. In other words I would say… I have found my “IDENTITY” by being part of SuDatta. And I am sure; my friends would agree with me. Some may never express, but I have a feeling, it’s surely hidden somewhere deep within themselves.

When I go back “down memory lane” I often recollect my most memorable day. There was this workshop where we (adopted) children were invited to express our feelings. That was the day when I, among my other friends, felt most comfortable speaking about adoption in front of a large audience. I was overwhelmed by emotion. And yet my participation and my involvement have made me a much stronger person today. I would always cherish this day.

I often wonder: “Why am I part of SuDatta?” I would say that for me, it’s really very important to meet others children who have joined their families through adoption, so that I can speak my heart out and in turn share a healthy interaction with them.

And by getting this opportunity, I have lately come to realize: in some ways we adopted children do think alike. Moreover, in those times we do feel the same.

One Grows within SOMEONE
And then, Grows without that Someone
Grows again with SOMEONE
And that SOMEONE is a FAMILY!

Moment of Truth

posted Sep 9, 2013, 10:51 AM by ThinkClickGet Admin   [ updated Sep 9, 2013, 10:53 AM ]

 


Moment of Truth



-Vishakha Srinath
 

I was a preschooler when I was introduced to Sudatta and now the bond has become so strong it is family to me. I have always wondered how I would look like if I was a biological child of my parents. I would always tell my grandmom that I wanted her eyes and fair skin. I would tell my mum that I wanted her smile and my dad, his height. Resemblance perhaps just builds into you. Many people who didn’t know that I was adopted would say that I look a lot like my dad or that my voice sounds like my mum’s. I don’t need any outsider to tell me that I resemble my parents in some way. I just needed that inner revelation that I’m just like them.

An adult adoptee shares her experiences of searching for her birth parents.

The search issue came up when I was about 16 or 17 years old. It came as a blizzard when my cousins used to talk about the resemblance they had to each other. I felt a little left out in the beginning. After this I would always watch out for strangers who looked like me. But that got me nowhere. I then decided to let my parents know about it. They told me that the legal age to get hold of documents was 18 years. I had to wait till my 18th birthday. I heard a great many search stories from my friends. One particularly struck me when one of them told me that her legal documents went up in flames when the orphanage caught fire. For the next two years I prayed that nothing should happens to the orphanage that I came from.

When I was 17 years old I decided that on the very day I turned 18, I would go to the orphanage and get my legal documents. The date was set. Now the time, one year, had to pass. This was the longest year ever in my life. I clung to the thought of having two sets of families. Would that happen I wondered.

I announced in the Sudatta workshop of Nov 2009 that I would get my legal documents on my 18th birthday. One of my friends introduced me to the adoption symbol - a heart going through a triangle. The triangle signifies the bond between the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the child. I decided that on my next birthday, on the all important date in my life, I would get a tattoo of this symbol on the left corner of my back close to my heart.

There were still a few months left. I could not stop thinking about it. I was getting scared. I could do nothing but wait. Tension and excitement were building within me. One month before my birthday, I called the director of the orphanage and told her that I would be visiting her to see my documents. More waiting. Finally the day arrived.

I visited the temple first. Please God, be with me. Then, with my parents and my best friend, I went to the orphanage. Anxiety and excitement were steadily building inside. I met the director. I couldn’t wait to find out where I came from but when it came to the actually seeing my documents, I was scared. She showed it to me. The address of my birth mother was blocked out ! I read through the whole document.

There was nothing in it that would lead me to her. I had thought I would find my birth mother and make her a part of my present life. I had thought that I would have two sets of parents. Who was my birth mother? I was no wiser than the day before.

As a birthday gift, the director gave me the very first photo of me which my birth mother had taken. That is all I have. This is one thing that I will always treasure.

At the orphanage we celebrated my birthday with all the kids who were there. They had got a cake for me. It was a beautiful cake, a lovely party but I had within, a riot of emotions that I could barely control. When my parents and my best friend told me they were with me all the time. I broke down.

My parents read the document and became emotional too. I didn’t know what they were thinking. I just wanted to be alone and calm myself. I sat through dinner held in my honour and went home.

The next day I told my parents that I wanted to find my birth mother. I didn’t know whether it would be sane to even try to locate her. Would she remember me, the child she had given away? Would she have put her past behind her, me with it, and moved on in her life?

From the few hints I got from my legal documents, I tried to locate her. I made a few telephone calls. My parents and my best friend’s family supported me at every step but it was in vain. I felt I needed to put an end to my search. It was likely that my birth mother would not even remember who I was. Perhaps even if she did, she would care two hoots for someone she had removed from her life. Was I going to take such a chance? Was I going to spend time trying to look for someone who did give birth to me but who didn’t take care of me. She didn’t teach me how to walk. She wasn’t there to wipe my tears when I cried. It was and is my adoptive parents who have done all this for me. The woman who gave birth to me only gave me the process to breathe. It was my adoptive parents who taught me how to breathe. They are my real parents.

I am thankful that someone somewhere gave birth to me but I am grateful to my family who showed me how to live and love. They did this by giving me immense love and happiness every moment of my life. They are the parents who are important to me. They are the parents I should embrace in my life.

I am twenty now and have somewhat come to terms with the fact of my adoption. What remains is the little lurking curiosity about the identity of my birth mother. I will let it subside on its own. It will, sooner or later.

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