A story in Femina (25 Jan’12): A poor farmer’s wife tried to conceive. She failed time & again, so she even got her sister married to her husband so they could’ve a waaris (heir). But that didn’t work either. Finally, at the age of 70, she went for IVF procedure & delivered a baby! The cost of the IVF was Rs 2 lakh. They sold off 2 acres of land, 1 bullock & a cart they owned, took an agriculture loan of Rs 50,000/-, & now, every 6 months they pay Rs 3000/- as bank interest. Their financial & medical struggles to have a baby, was not the only thing that caught my attention, rather what she said at the end of the interview did. She said, “Why didn’t we adopt? Is that a question to ask? If we had adopted a child, he’d have thrown us out of the house. Who would’ve given us food? And why should we adopt & give all our property to a stranger?”
Why did she fear that he’d throw them out? Why are we paranoid that adopted children will turn out ungrateful? Don’t our own biological children treat us similarly or even worse? Why are we almost sure that the adopted ones will shame us in some way? I understand that the fear “What if the child turns out evil/badly behaved?” or “What if his parents were criminals or anti-social?” is a very real one. And it brings me to the eternal debate of which is the superseding force - nature or nurture? What triumphs ultimately - our genes or the way we are raised?
What I don’t understand, however, is the concept of ‘my blood’ or ‘pure blood.’ What is so pure about it? I’m a Hindu, so I’ll be burnt when I die. And my so-called pure blood along with my pure bones & flesh would turn into obnoxious air. The pure blood notion is deeply ingrained in our psyche & closely linked to inheritance & the sharing of wealth & the reason why we reproduce &/or not adopt. We do not easily accept adoption as a solution to infertility or as an answer to an accompanying desire for an offspring. Traditionally, even if some did adopt, it’d be a sibling’s kid; not a stranger picked up from some orphanage or hospital.
In college, I remember reading stories of couples who had adopted & thinking “I’ll adopt a child, not an infant or a toddler, but a slightly older child.” I wondered where they got their strength from because to adopt, one needs a big heart full of warmth & a great deal of sensitivity. We think that we are changing the child’s life but the truth is, he is making a difference to our lives. When I got married & discussed this with Sathya, the answer was a firm no. I was sensible enough to know that, if he is strongly against the thought of adoption, I couldn’t go ahead with it. I must let go of it altogether, or wait till he comes around on his own, because the resulting negative environment wouldn’t be conducive to the child or for the others in the family. A child can easily sense traces of indifference. This HAD to be a joint decision. And the discussion ended there. But, if I outlive Sathya, then, one day, I’ll do it.
The decision to adopt cannot be an emotional one. One must have a reasonably well-paying job. The adoption procedures itself can be harrowing & so long-drawn that it’s enough to put off any well-meaning couples off it. One must think both from the heart & the brain; be emotional & practical in equal measure for something as momentous as this. I don’t know how long it’ll take us to open our hearts to it. All I know is, if we - the ones who ‘need’ to or ‘want’ to, ever get around to doing it, more than the child, it is our lives that is going to be enriched.