Adoption of children by a childless couple has been happening since time immemorial. There are contradictory opinions about whether the adopted child should be told about his/her adopted status or not. If yes then when is the right time to divulge the information? The reactions of the human mind are strange and unpredictable and there is no guarantee that the child is going to react positively to the news if and when it is disclosed. They say blood is thicker than water. But is it really so? Don’t the years of nurture put in by the adopted parents count? I have the example of a few cases that make me conclude that the adopted parents are lucky if their wards take the news well but it would be better to be prepared for the worst.
I do not know their names so I have decided to give them names of my choice. On second thoughts I feel that naming them is not that important. This could happen to any of us whether our child is adopted or not.
I met the mother and daughter some 12 years back when I went to a friend’s place on invitation during Navaratri. They were visitor's at my friend's place having come there on a short vacation from New Delhi. The child was about 5 years old and unless otherwise mentioned one would not realize that she was adopted. Unfortunately the father had died soon after the child’s first birthday but the child was a source of joy and the mother worked hard as an assistant in a reputed institution in Delhi to give her the very best in life. I am a regular invitee to their house during Navaratri and I’d make it a point to enquire after the child’s progress when ever I visited. But the report I got this year was alarming. The girl was now a school drop out and is probably into bad company. She remains out with friends for days together makes atrocious demands for cash sometimes at gun point. She regularly steals money from her mother’s purse has removed the adoption papers from the locker of her mother’s almirah. The slightest rebuke makes her violent and she challenges her mother to ‘throw her back into the gutter’ from which she picked her. She claims to be working in a call center thereby justifying her absence at night. Her mother is now emotionally dependent on her and the girl is well aware of the fact. My conclusion is that the girl is into drugs and since she is the nominee to all her mother’s assets there may be others involved in encouraging her to threaten her mother and terrorize her to submitting to her unfair demands. In these days of HIV/AIDS spreading like wildfire I wonder if the mother is equipped to deal with the girl as well as those behind her. Any way that is beside the point.
The mother feels guilty about not having disclosed her adopted status at the appropriate time and feels that the shock of having found it out by herself perhaps led her to revolt. She tries to convince herself that drug abuse is not involved. I did not have the opportunity to meet the mother and I report the story from what I learnt through her sister who is in Jamshedpur. I personally feel that this could have happened even if the daughter was her own and not adopted. But then this is one of those issues that have no answer or solution. Blinded by her affection for the adopted daughter the mother refuses to take her for counseling or to find out what her problem happens to be and whether she is indeed working for a BPO. After all who’d hire a school drop out who has failed her 9th standard? Her main fear is that of losing the daughter for ever. And the sixteen year old is well aware of this. In this case the girl accidentally found out about her being an adopted child. I don’t have detailed information about adoption laws but there appears to be a condition making it necessary for parents to inform the child of his/her status at an appropriate time.
The world and its whimsical ways are strange. If the child turns out to be normal no credit is given to the parents whether adopted or natural. The moment things go wrong every one starts giving their expert opinion. Those that sympathize with the child accuse parents of over indulgence or indifference and if they are on the parent’s side they blame the child’s lineage laying the blame on bad blood. Neither of this really helps. Any child can fall into bad company and adolescent crisis is not unique to a particular group. Drug peddlers are on the look out for victims and a child who is confused is an easy prey. As parents one need to recognize signs and deal with it accordingly. Blaming one’s fate is not going to help nor would be helpful to indulge in self pity. No one wants a child to go astray but should the worst happen let it be faced and rectified before it is too late even if it is at the risk of losing the child's affection. Children are sharp and will understand your good intention pretty soon. One needs to remain patient. And in case the misunderstanding persists but the child's behavior is corrected, one can atlest watch his/her growth from a distance and it would be better than witnessing their downfall and not being able to do anything about it. It is the responsibility of the parent to deal with the situation in an appropriate manner and for adopted parents it is like walking on tight rope.