Adoption is a beautiful way for a couple to ful? l their emotional need to become parents. But, even here, prejudices and myths can hamper your determination to give a happy home to an innocent life.
M&B got clinical psychologist Dr Seema Hingorrany to help you tackle these issues head-on…
As a country with a population of over a billion people, it’s natural to assume we are a nation pro-birth! We still have a long way to go when it comes to providing a safe ma-ternal and neonatal healthcare system at the grassroot level, but the desire to have children is so much greater than the socio-economic situation, that women will go to great lengths to secure their maternal instincts. Yearly, couples spent an obscene amount of money on infertility treatments to achieve a preg-nancy and while some may be blessed with a baby, there are some who are left empty and depressed.
So why not consider something as simple as adoption? Via marital therapy, Dr Hingorrany has been treating couples who want to adopt but face opposition at home. “The couples go through an emotional crisis. They fear that the child they adopt may carry some genetic disorder passed on by his biological parents. They also have psychological fears mixed with beliefs that have been passed on by their parents. Often, the elderly will warn the couple that they may not be able to love the adopted child as much as they would have loved their biological child. They coax the couple to keep trying to achieve a pregnancy. At times, they will tell the couple that they will not be able to establish an emotional bond with the adopted child. As a doctor, I know that emotional bonding begins while the baby is in the womb. But, it is not mandatory for a woman to carry a baby for nine months to feel an emotional connec-tion! Couples who adopt will have to make an extra effort but, in the end, they can establish a beautiful bond with the baby,” af? rms Dr Hingorrany.
In reality, she says that in India, adoption is not embraced with open arms. “We still see it as a taboo. Many a times, the older generation is not very accepting towards the concept. While the couple is considering the option, the grandparents create an emo-tional upheaval. They keep negating the idea without stopping to think about the emo-tional trauma of the couple who is unable to conceive a child on their own. Fears are in the subconscious mind. In some cases, the couple is anxious to adopt but when the baby is brought home, the spouse may hesitate to accept the baby wholeheartedly. Couples also complain that in India, adoption is a daunting process, dealing with legalities and often one of them loses interest. Some are eager to bring the baby home but have to wait due to the tedious process accompanied by frequent visits to the adoption centre,” she says.
Hingorrany cites a case where a couple initially was in agreement for adoption but as the process began, the husband became withdrawn. “The woman was going through depression as she was unable to conceive. To add to this, her husband who was initially supportive of adoption began to take a back-seat. He was not keen to adopt and became less proactive in the process. This led to mari-tal tension between the two. Often, couples face such problems when one of the spouses discourages the other. When they would visit the adoption centre to choose an infant, the husband realised that this was not something he wanted to do. He would say that the physical attributes of the babies didn’t match him or the wife. He would draw comparisons to the skin colour and features. Couples feel guilty when they do this because on one hand they want to be parents and, on the other hand, they carry stereotypes. Then, there is also dealing with other family members who are against adoption. In another instance, there was a girl who had stopped talking to her mother because the mother was against adoption. She kept telling the daughter to consider surrogacy. She suggested that the girl’s sister could carry the pregnancy so that that way, the child would be ‘of their blood’. Worse, she even warned that if her daughter went ahead with the adoption, she would not be a part of the baby’s life!” exclaims Dr Hingorrany.
Whatever your background may be, you can still overcome these challenges. Hingorrany suggests counselling, through which all fears can be laid to rest. “Adoption agencies have counsellors who will take you through the entire process and provide assistance every step of the way.
Approaching the right adoption agency will ensure that you will bring home a healthy baby. What I do is initiate the couple into talk therapy. They need someone to listen to them without passing judgement. I prepare them to understand why they need to have a baby, how a baby completes the family and why the baby doesn’t necessarily need to be their own,” she says.
Cognitive therapy is also an option which deals with false irrational beliefs such as – ‘I’ll not be a good mother’, ‘I’m not the biological mother so I can’t give my best to the child’ or ‘The child will bring changes in my relationship with my spouse.’ “In some cases, family therapy may be required wherein the family members are counselled to help them understand the psychological impact of not having a child and to make them realise that physical attributes don’t matter,” she adds.
American actress Katherine Heigl, who has ad-opted two daughters, admitted that her con-nection to her ? rst daughter was not strong at ? rst. She was quoted saying that initially, because of the rejection, she blamed herself for the lack of connection but seeing her hus-band and the child get along well, Katherine decided to give it time. And eventually, the mother and daughter were able to form a tight bond! Even actress Sushmita Sen has set a ? ne example, being a single woman and adopting two daughters, Renée and Alisah. M&B
THINGS YOU SHOULD KEEP IN MIND BEFORE ADOPTION
• You should be emotionally strong
• You or your spouse should not be undergoing depression or anxiety
• You must work as a team. Both partners must be proactive.
• Communicate. Talk openly about the fears you have and differentiate between myth and reality.
• Don’t pay heed to physical attributes. Ensure that the baby is healthy.
• Once you are established as the legal parent, the baby is yours and you are responsible for her.
• You can have an emotional connection to the baby. Work towards bonding.
• Visit a counsellor if you have any doubts about adoption. This ensures that you not only give the baby a healthy emotional life but also yourself.
• You can provide a baby with a home, good education and lifetime of security and love.
• You should have a steady income to provide fi nancial security for the child.
• You should be able to provide a secure environment for the child.
• You should not have any major illness.
Words Poornima Nair Iyer
Illustrations Ajay Paradkar