Adopting a child has really turned my world upside down, and I realize I have reflected surprisingly little on this subject over the last year. When we decided to adopt, I was firmly convinced that what defined a parent was not just the act of giving birth to a child, but whatever relationship we subsequently have with the child. In a way, I always felt that it makes no difference to parenting, whether you are a biological or adoptive parent. But this one year has taught me that adoptive parenting is definitely different. It poses different challenges, and at some level offers different satisfactions.
The first big challenge is the lack of preparation time. Yeah, there is never enough time to prepare for a baby. But I had less than a week to prepare for it. One Monday morning I was told they had identified a child free for adoption and friday evening, she was home. We hadnt even come round to thinking we needed soft baby tissues at home, before she was actually home.
Preparing for a child is not just about getting the house ready for it. There was a complete lack of mental preparation. I had no time to hand in my notice or seek maternity leave from work. My husband had already made many commitments from work and could not even take a day off as paternity leave. In fact, I hadn’t even developed the stamina to carry an eight month old child for longer than five minutes.
Secondly, and this is what surprised me the most, there is also insecurity within the parents. I was frankly stunned to realize this. I never believed biology is destiny and never accepted the fact that just by giving birth to a child, there is a special bond formed. But with my daughter, I was constantly worried that she will not attach herself to me. That I will only be one of the figures in her long list of interchangeable carers. More than a year later, that fear still remains. As I wrote once before, I feel happy when she trots away to day care. At the same time, I feel a pang. Has the day care teacher replaced me in her life?
But enough of the challenges. Let’s look at what gives you a high. For me, it is a whole sense of discovery with my daughter everyday. Because right from the beginning, I accepted, nay, expected her to be different from me. She is social, she is mischievous, she is sporty, she is all the things I never was as a child. In fact I am not even social as an adult. I once wrote about how I will always be an outsider in Ahmedabad, because I cannot dance to the beats of a garba instinctively. My daughter, at one and a half instinctively catches the beats of a garba and dandya (Community dances in Gujarat, which is organized specially during the Navratri, the nine day festival celebrating the Goddess in September-October).
I strongly beleived in Khalil Gibrans words, ‘Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of life longing for itself’. But I guess putting it in practice would have been difficult. We always have some expectations that our children will be like us, and dont fully respect that they are individuals, untill they get much older. With my daughter, I didnt have a choice. She was already an individual when she was handed to me at 8 months.