Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Raising Little Orphan Annie

Adoption used to be this big hush-hush thing where I grew up -- it's like this big secret that no one was supposed to know or else it would be a one-way ticket to social Siberia. Divulging such a secret is likened to opening up Pandora's box with a vengeance. I remember how school children would use the term with malice to take the mick out of someone else. The term "adopted" back then represented someone who was vastly different, or simply, someone who did not belong. We have all been called names at least once in our lives. And no matter how fancy or rotten they were, they all hurt either way...

People always seemed to be walking on eggshells whenever they were around adopted kids. It was as if they were afraid that their tact and tongue-biting would betray them and accidentally spill the beans to the poor fragile child. And the slightest hint of pity would always be present in their conversations with the adoptive parents -- the patronizing glances and the inward sneers. "Poor thing would never know how it is to cuddle with your own flesh and blood." A rather noble act of kindness was all of a sudden likened to the curse of a dreadful and incurable disease. It is beyond me why it is the strong and compassionate people are the ones being unfairly judged.

Plucked directly from personal experience, I noticed that it is those from the older generations that are not as forthcoming with the concept of adoption. Those from clannish and wealthy families are worse. Perhaps it has got something to do with taking excessive pride with the family name and gene pool, but aside from DNA, is there a real difference between a biological child and an adopted one? The big misconception back then of being adopted was that one is only of second rank compared to the real ones. I mean, imagine if the Queen of England had 2 sons -- one adopted and one biological. Clearly we know right off the bat which one will be at a disadvantage. Hopefully, someone would prove me wrong on this one.

Adoption -- I compare it to being an artist; a painter, for instance. We can all technically do it but it is not for all of us. After all, not everyone can paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Only the worthy and special ones are called to go through with it. And the rest, well... I'm not sure. Maybe they're those who are still unsure or those who simply don't understand.

I would be so honored if I found out one day that I am picked to be an adoptive parent. Of course, I wish to have children of my own as well, but I pine after the chance to provide a deprived child the love and care that he or she deserves. I honestly believe that no one must have to go through living with uncaring (especially abusive) parents. And believe me, this decision came way before Angelina Jolie started scooping kids left and right around the globe for her to create a mini-United Nations General Assembly in her home. Then again, as I always say, it's easier said than done. I am open to the chances that I may do a 360-degree turn once I'm installed in that particular situation. I hope not though.

Questions that constantly plague my mind: Should a child know if he or she is adopted? Does it matter? If so, when is the best time to break the life-altering news? This adoption business truly is more than meets the eye.

There are millions of homeless children out there. And likewise, there are millions of childless parents who want nothing more than having a child. Do the math. Tell me, why is it that the scales still don't balance?

Sure, people nowadays are more open with adopting children, especially those of foreign origin from developing countries. I'm almost afraid to ask, however, if it is only a fruit of a fashion trend. Adopting a Chinese girl isn't quite like investing a boatload of money on a Birkin bag. Nonetheless, the awareness that Hollywood icons have brought to adopting children have been massive. A bit misguided, yes, but still massive. And it has led many families to consider -- or even pursue with -- the option.

I have dealt with a fair number of adopted people -- I've met them, I've spoken to them, I've hung out with them, I've embraced them and I've loved them -- and they are unsurprisingly nothing short of normal, just like you and me. I'm beginning to think that the idea of adoption is a highly psychological condition with non-adopted/adoptive people.

Having the means to adopt and to provide is a privilege. But having the capability to give a complete stranger a loving home and a sense of security -- is a gift.


Blogger Lucid Darkness said...

Ah yes. Adoption. Well, my own take on it has always been that if I have the ability and the means to bring up a child, then I'll certainly go for it.

The thing is, I don't consider it "kindness". For me, adoption is something you do to ensure that more members of the next generation get a chance to grow up with opportunities. Perhaps I feel this way since there are many in my country who don't get to grow up with enough space.

I really like your analogy. Yes, being able to unconditionally love and care for a complete stranger without any reservations is certainly something that is not everyone's cup of tea.

Very thoughtful post. :]

11:25 PM  
Blogger Ancalagon The Black said...

I have many friends who are adopted, and frankly, that has never bothered me, on another side, my aunt has 3 adopted kids plus 2 of her own kids and I have never seen her give extra attention to her biologically own.

Apart from the DNA, adoption blues are not really a factor, nor should they be, unless, you are finding the Grand Duchess Anastasia herself or something...

On the flip side, I have some friends who were not told that they were adopted until they found out themselves when they were much older... led to a lot of problems they did... solution? Tell the kids that they are adopted but make it very clear that thats just a fact and the love is not fake...

1:21 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

Questions that constantly plague my mind: Should a child know if he or she is adopted? Does it matter? If so, when is the best time to break the life-altering news? This adoption business truly is more than meets the eye.

As my youngest sister was adopted I have very strong beliefs on all of this. She was adopted from a different country so not telling her wasn't really an option (being a different color then the rest of us an all). But I don't believe it is about the timing of the delivery it is about how you say it. Adoption IS special, it is wonderful, and it isn't something anyone should ever be ashamed of. My sister KNEW she was special to us. We all adored her because she was like a wrapped up little blessing of happiness and light. We told her that mom went to Romania and when she saw her she knew that although she wasn't born to our family that she was supposed to be with us and only us. We always said that our family was only complete after she came home to us. She has absolutely never had any issues with it; it isn't always that way but perhaps always knowing the truth and never questioning our love for her made all the difference.

In Jr. High she always kept it a secret; people didn't understand. They always asked her if she wished she was with her "real" family. Her response was, "MY family IS my real family. Someone else gave birth to me, that doesn't make them my parents or my family. Don't be stupid...". And she was so very right; I hope she changed other's obscured views on adoption. Once she moved into high school she stopped caring what others thought or assumed, it didn't bother her anymore.

We also had a stable home life. Parents who loved and adored us and told us that every morning when we woke up and every night before we went to sleep. She was NEVER a "stranger" because she belonged with us and the love was unconditional from the moment we saw her sweet little baby cheeks. I still weep thinking that for even just a few days she was in a hospital waiting...waiting for us and hoping we would find her. My sisters and parents....we were the ones who have been blessed. My life would not have been the same without her and I pity anyone who does not have the love in their heart to understand adoption....even if it isn't for them, everyone should understand how blessed we are to have such opportunities.

I also have multiple cousins who were adopted because their parents couldn't concieve. It has touched my life in a million ways and I hope anyone who thinks of it as "different" or the children as "strangers" can someday understand how lucky the families who adopt are. These children save us more then we save them. It is truly a miracle that the opportunity is there.....

2:33 AM  
Blogger angry ballerina said...

As someone who is adopted, and grew up knowing that I was adopted, I agree, it is a gift, but it's also a curse, it's always in the back of my mind of how lucky I am, and can't help but think if things were different, who I would be, etc.

5:10 AM  
Blogger soul&body said...

well I have a friend that "her sister" is adopted, and from my own point of view , yes the child have to know! soon or later she can discover by from other persons and that would be worst! why hide?! this would have the seconds parents, in spite of she doesnt know the biological parents these second are like mom and dad, the give love and soemetimes more care than the biological! the most important here is love and care no mathers if is biological or no. Because this child nee all that!

5:14 AM  
Blogger Libby said...

i like this post a lot! my daughter was adopted by my 2nd husband when she was 6, and she's always been, quite rightly, proud of it! she knows that it was his choice to have her in his life, not something forced on him! and she's always been the first granddaughter, first niece, etc in my family & his!

6:42 AM  
Blogger nel said...

=> Having the means to adopt and to provide is a privilege. But having the capability to give a complete stranger a loving home and a sense of security -- is a gift.

... truely enjoy reading that one and someday I will have to quote source. There really good wisdom in you and have a great day ahead, princess ... :)

10:32 AM  
Blogger Princess Stefania said...

Visiting your blog in the morning is a great way to start the day.
Three of my good friends are adopted. While one is grateful and the other indifferent to the fact, the third is resentful, and I can quite understand. Her extended family members refuse to accept her as one of them, and she lives a rather lonely life.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Aditi said...

i agree it is actually quite difficult to take up a complete stranger and love them like your own
as far as adopting a foreign child is concerned.
My ex-boss in chicago had adopted two children, one was from china. She did it because her first child adopted in usa was half chinese and the couple being white wanted continuity. It makes sense then, or to provide someone with a home. It does not make sense when you pluck the child out of a loving home and give him yours just cuz u're richer

4:46 PM  
Blogger ScRiBbLeR said...

Adopting a kid is my life long dream.. :)

6:29 PM  
Blogger Jennifer McK said...

Kudos to you. My sister used to tell everyone she was adopted so she wouldn't have to admit to being part of our family.
She wishes!

9:53 PM  
Blogger SJ said...

Strange I've never met a adopted person yet not any I know of - maybe India isn't the best place to look?

I know coworkers in US who adopted babies from other countries long before Hollywood found them.

I too hope someday I will be able to adopt a child.

2:12 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I have always wanted to adopt a child. Ever since I was a little girl, when I would dream about my house, my husband, and my children, I always knew that at least one of the children would be adopted. I think it's great that Angelina adopted those children. I think she did it for the right reasons. However, I think she needs to hold off on adopting any more. Four kids under five years old? Wow!

2:22 AM  
Blogger Esmerelda said...

I am an adopted child. Raised by my biological mother, we're not really sure who my biological father is (hey free love, baby!)

I've always known the facts, but my sisters (who biologically my adopted father's) have always been my sisters, and I'm more like my adopted father's family than anyone. I fit in with my adopted family better than I do with my biological family, though I spent more time with the biological one over the years.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, like everything else. If you do it out of love and the purest motives, and explain it simply and without regret, that is how your child will experience it.

4:24 AM  
Anonymous susan said...

I can't help but think that the adoption process is a gift to both the child and the parents.

My brother just adopted his beautiful daughters a year ago. Blessings abound for all of them. (And I'm thrilled too, although I have yet to meet them)

7:24 AM  
Blogger CM-Chap said...

Last few lines literally touched my heart.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Nithya N said...

beautifully written. one need to be way too generous to be able to give some stranger so much love and affection. it's man's inherent narrow mindedness that is at the root of his reluctance to adopt

2:45 PM  
Blogger Behind Blue Eyes said...

I'm adopted by my dad. I know my biological dad too. I consider them both my dad in a way, but my step-dad more so. I think a child should be told. I could adopt a baby, but I'm not sure how well I would do with an older child. I wonder why more people don't adopt?

10:39 PM  
Blogger samrina said...

Sense of owning any relationship in life truly matters a lot in life especially for sensitive people like me so i guess it vary from person to person that how it is been taken that he/she is adopted. Besides its truly important to not to hide this from the adopted child because everyone i guess in this world is touchy ans sensitive about parents as this is one the most closest and pure relationship.

Very well written post, thanks for sharing.

Take care

1:31 AM  
Blogger Natalie said...

My dad told me I was adopted when I was 13. I am not adopted. I look exactly like both my parents. He figured I was smart enough to know he was joking. I had a fit.

That being said, I think it is important that people know if they are adopted or not. As far as what age I am not really sure. I would think relatively young.

3:16 AM  
Blogger nel said...

here is something ... a person can help a child out of proverty with some donation each month which they can actually afford. Just check with your own local ngo sponsoring a child programme. You can even write to the child that you have sponsor and get to know them through the ngo that you have gone through to sponson them. I am very sure your own country have some ngo in commiting to a good cause here and how can i ever forgotten on this topic ... geezzz ... :)

11:45 AM  
Blogger Zee said...

i think people who can adopt are wonderful. i also think adoption is coming into fashion thanks to the jolies and pitts of the world. but u're right, the ones to admire are the ones who can love another as much

1:49 PM  
Blogger The Black King said...

I never really understood why the discovery of the fact that you're adopted might shatter your world, as is often portrayed in soaps and movies, etc. Didn't the parents care enough? It might change the equation a bit, but will everything you hold dear suddenly vanish just because a blood tie is broken?

Thanks for the very thoughtful post, (as usual, I must say) Princess!

2:54 PM  
Blogger Vik said...

Oh yea you are spot on. I think it is one ways of giving it back. Life comes full circle and not that it is some kind of a feeling-nice act, but what appalls me further is to believe that people who are childless just DON'T WANT to adopt a kid. How easy can this get?

Anyway, people are full of opinions wherever you go. So I think it is alright not to worry much about their ways of thinking.

Come to think about whether the kids be told and guided that they are indeed adopted, I think it should be a stage by stage activity as the guy/gal starts to grow. Not that you catch hold of them one fine evening, when your sadistic thoughts are at the helm pounding the drums, and tell the kid, "hey mate! know something you are adopted and that you are here because of my kindness ". That may not be the right way to do but Yes, start doing it when they are growing old is the way to go. It is better for them to hear from the "horse's mouth" than a few stray donkey's!

12:49 PM  
Blogger thisisme said...

I grew up with neighbours where both of the kids were adopted. The agency did an amazing job matching the kids with the parents - the whole family just seems to match. From day 1, the kids were told that they were chosen to be part of the family, and that they were loved 100%. They really are some of the happiest people I grew up around. On, another note, I've lost count of the number of times one of my brothers told my sister, or each other, that they were adopted. Weird things that kids do.

6:12 PM  
Blogger nasia said...

So very well written.. as always..
i hav always fancied the idea.. and also.. even the mention of it is taboo to my family.. they consider it a bad omen..

I too wonder always when u hav one of ur own,, how well will u be able to treat the adopted kid?

11:53 PM  
Blogger Princess Pointful said...

Great post.
I think our fascination with genetics and family ties is really facetious at time. While I do agree that nothing matters more than family, that is because of the love they've given me, not because we happen to share a last name. That also explains why I have so many non-biologically related aunts!

3:05 AM  
Blogger Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Interesting and wonderful topic.

Good pick!

Adoption is very important, I believe. And I've seen it done more times than I can count... in more than one way as well, and at every age.

What was it you said... zoom out... I think? And broaden your perspective...

I've seen people 'adopt' their own children's friends, not legally, but emotionally, I have several 'adopted' aunts & cousins... siblings and parents.

Legally adopting a child is a very admirable and serious committment. It's not something to be entered into lightly.
It is the promise of a lifetime. I applaud those who have the capacity to do that.

I believe that when a person of any age, young or old, is welcomed into a family, adopted in... then they are just as much a part of that family as anyone else.
We all need to be loved for who we are inside, not for the blood that flows within us.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

4:53 AM  

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