OPINION: ISSUE IN FOCUS
Year : 2016 | Volume
: 14 | Issue : 4 | Page : 104--106
Adoption: An option in infertility
Department of Reproductive Medicine, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamilnadu, India
Department of Reproductive Medicine, Christian Medical College, Vellore - 632 004, Tamilnadu
Adoption is a process by which one makes someone or something that is external, one«SQ»s own. A couple struggling with infertility may benefit from artificial reproductive technologies. However, this involves a huge investment in terms of finances, health, and emotions. Adoption is an option that should be considered as a viable alternative. The couple is taken through the process only when both the partners are absolutely ready for it. Adoption finds mention in scriptures and has strong emotional and spiritual components. Adoption provides the components of relationship, family, and security to both the couple and the child being adopted.
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Chandy A. Adoption: An option in infertility.Curr Med Issues 2016;14:104-106
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Chandy A. Adoption: An option in infertility. Curr Med Issues [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 Sep 16 ];14:104-106
Available from: https://www.cmijournal.org/text.asp?2016/14/4/104/194474
The natural procreative potential of a marriage is sometimes not realized through the birth of a biological offspring. The conception and enwombing of a baby as a by-product of a marital union is the high point of the relationship. Those who are unable to conceive try repeatedly and often end up spending money towards assisted reproductive therapy. They may submit even to third party interventions just to have at least partial biological continuity. Those who still remain unable to conceive often carry the emotional burden of a void and suffer from silent social stigma of being considered 'barren'. When all else fails, adoption becomes the closest equivalent to the presence of one's own progeny. What is adoption and instead of being a last resort, can adoption be considered as an early option by infertile couples? The first part of this article looks at the psychological, spiritual and philosophical basis underlying adoption and the second part will deal with the practical aspects involved in adopting a child.
What is adoption?
Adoption is a process by which one makes someone or something that is external, one's own. The capacity to adopt another human child as one's own requires an extra quantum of maturity, resilience and love. The ingredients of adoption would thus include two similar words - Adapt and Adept. One has to be adaptive and skilled in order to make adoption a success. It is undoubtedly a great gift of the spirit as human strength alone may not suffice for the entire process of adoption to reach its natural conclusion. Adoption needs a higher value.
Ancient literature and scriptures contain numerous references to adoption. In the Bible, Moses was adopted by the Pharaoh's daughter. The adoption ensured acceptance of this Hebrew child into the inner chambers of the Pharaonic household. Moses was allowed to integrate into the Egyptian culture with no difference between him and the other royal children. Samuel was adopted by Eli into the temple of God. He was his understudy, being nurtured and mentored into the service of God. Jesus in his most agonizing moment on the cross asks Mary to adopt John as her son, and John to do the same of Mary. In this gesture was surrender to each other, where the differences of biological lineage would blur into the warmth of a new relationship.
There is a strong parallel of adoption in the relationship that develops between a shepherd and sheep. The shepherd adopts a few hundred sheep into his care. As a caregiver, he sometimes risks his life sometimes to protect and care for these animals. Jesus said that a good shepherd would go looking for one lost sheep leaving a hundred in the wilderness. The dimension of love and emotion that surpasses logic and reason is shown in this parable of adoption. It is like that in families that have opted for adoption as a means to family fulfillment. Closeness, affection and generosity are at the heart of the relationship.
Adoption and infertility
In the context of infertility, Adoption comes into play when Assisted Reproductive Technologies fail and the couple is counselled towards adoption. The couple is taken through the process only when both the partners are absolutely ready for it. Little will the adopted children realize the psychological upheaval the parents went through before they made their appearance on the scene. In that regard adoption has parallels to God's own redemption of mankind. Through the blood of His son Jesus, He redeems us and adopts us. God's gift of adoption brings his children into the warmth and love and gladness of the family. Similarly, when a couple adopts a child, the child brings immense joy to the couple converting them from a couple into a family. The child is God's gift!!
Adoption and the family
Adoption, if it can be brought about, can be a blessing. To emerge out of the confines of only being able to love a biological offspring into learning to love someone from a completely different background may actually broaden our humaneness. A child learning to love an adopted sibling makes him or her more adaptable to the larger world which is full of different people. The prejudices of caste, creed, colour, community are more easily navigated by those who have grown up in the 'Adoption' environment. The process of adoption builds the character of the adoptive parents and the adopted child. A 'family' status in acquired without having to go through a prolonged investigative and treatment programme with its attendant uncertainty and painful injections.
A different aspect of adoption that should be mentioned is the ability of certain couples to be able to look after children in spite of having of their own. After having two children some extra-ordinary couples with amazing caring attitude adopt a child as their third one. This is an extreme act of love which is difficult to emulate.
The Journey of the Adoptive Parents
The life of a couple is a roller coaster ride from the time they meet each other, to the marriage ceremony and then a life together. Despite several changes through the decades, Indian society in this 21 st century still tries to retain the values of family and relationships. So the desire to have a child develops within the first few months of the marriage itself. Pressure from the extended family members sometimes converts this desire into a stressful situation. The relationship can turn sour especially if there is too much interference from the parents. Left to themselves, during the first year of marriage, the couple would prefer to get to know each other and then by the second year start thinking of having a baby. They would also want to give enough time to have a spontaneous conception. With pressures from the extended family members, couples start knocking on the doors of various infertility centres very early in their married life.
Approach to a couple
In the Reproductive Medicine Unit of Christian Medical College and Hospital, we spend a remarkable amount of time counselling, just listening to the thoughts and desires of the couples who come to us and giving suggestions whenever necessary. This is an important and integral part of taking care of a couple desiring to have a baby. Ultimately when they reach the stage of Assisted Reproductive Technology, like IVF [in vitro fertilisation] group counselling and individual couple counselling sessions are incorporated. So the thought of adoption is a suggestion which comes from the couple, not offered to them from the infertility specialist.
Attitude of the couple
The decision made towards adoption should be a combined one, not by one of the partners. In order to move on to adoption as a method of treatment of infertility, they should provide support to each other. The decision making process should be smooth and stress free. In order to achieve this it should be a slow, ongoing process and not a sudden overnight decision. The greatest support one can have as they journey through this is the spouse. No other family member, medical personnel or friend can provide this support
Role of the counsellor
Every infertility centre should have a counsellor. This is absolutely mandatory. The ideal scenario would be one of the infertility specialists performing the role of a counsellor. The questions and concerns the couples have regarding their treatment are innumerable. There should be answers for questions like, 'Why the treatment has failed?', 'What should I do in order to have a successful outcome of treatment?', 'What do you suggest we do next?' Counselling the couple towards adoption is only one of the many roles a counsellor has to be prepared to play.
As the counsellor starts speaking to the couple it should be evident that the couple is prepared for the process of adoption. If the counsellor feels that the couple, or one of the partners is not ready, the counselling should be postponed to a later date.
How to Prepare for Adoption
The first step is to register with an adoption agency
It has to be impressed on the couple that the process of adoption should be done through a registered Adoption Agency only. It is legally wrong to adopt children of relatives and abandoned babies. This is a crime and the person providing the child and the adoptive parents can be imprisoned. So the counsellor should have the contact details of all the adoption agencies of the state the couple belongs to and the couple should be advised to register with the Adoption agency as the first step. In the registration form details, of the child they are hoping to adopt will be filled, eg: gender, religion, background, complexion, etc. Once the agency identifies a child fulfilling the specifications in the registration form, the couple would be summoned to meet the child.
There will be home visits from the adoption agency to check if the baby will be looked after well by the parents. Once they are satisfied that the baby has found a good home the agency will start the procedure for attaining the birth certificate and the medical certificate. They will explain the legal aspects regarding adoption.
Make the adoption journey memorable (A note to prospective parents...)
Prepare yourself as if a guest is coming to your house. The arrival of the guest is an answer to many years of tearful prayers. All the preparations should be maintained as a journal and in a box which would be a precious gift for the child. This effort will be a source of immense satisfaction to the couple and intense joy to the child. It takes about nine months for a baby by natural conception to come into this world and the parents prepare emotionally and materially for the child's arrival. It is the same journey!!
Some suggestions to make the journey memorable are given below.
Maintain a journal: Write down all the thoughts that crossed your mind as you started thinking of adoption. Do not forget to jot down the date and time. Relate it with some major event that is happening, eg: some festival, function. birthday, etc. Express your excitement in superlative degrees as if receiving a precious gift.
Scrap book: This can be done in a photo album. Pictures are more worthwhile than words. You can express your feelings and excitement in drawings and colours, with texts. Letters from the Adoption agency can be included here.
Loving letters: You would have shared your plan of adoption with your immediate family and benefactors. Request a few of them to write letters to your child mentioning your excitement and the efforts put into the arrival of the child which he/she can read at an older age.
Photo album: Make a collection of the photos of your child from the day you met her/him and store them in a CD. You could even have two birthdays - actual and adoption day.
Baby shopping: Closer to the date of the child's arrival there are many things to get ready. Clothes made by the parents themselves are the best. Make sure you know the gender and age of the baby. You will also need to purchase toys, feeding items, crib, etc. The pictures of these items can be included in the scrap book.
Telling the Child (Absolutely Mandatory)
It is absolutely mandatory that the child should know that he or she was adopted. Earlier, when this was not done, the consequences were terrible. The child will find it very difficult to accept it if he/she gets to know from someone else, especially in the formative years.
Guidelines to follow before talking to your child about adoption
Be honest - Children ask a lot of questions. Both parents should give the same answer. If you don't know say "I don't know".Start young - Use the word 'adoption' freely at home. God gave you as a 'gift' to us, as an answer to our prayers. So adoption should mean a precious gift to the child. Be age specific - The way you talk to a two year old should not be the same as the way you talk to a teenager. Encourage a discussion - It could start with the scrap book which has photos of your preparation for the arrival of the guest [baby]. A continuation of that could be addition of the family photos after the arrival of the baby. The word 'adoption' should be freely, frankly and lovingly used in the conversations at home. "You are God's Gift to us and by your arrival we were transformed from a couple to a FAMILY." This must be made clear to the child.
In summary, adoption as a concept enshrines several God driven values. Adoption provides an excellent platform to experience God's purposes of heterogeneity, interdependence, resilience, tolerance for mankind. Adoption may be much more than just a bail-out solution for infertility. It may in fact be a calling to a higher form of human relational existence.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
CARA - Central Adoption Resource Authority (Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India). Available from: http://www.cara.nic.in/ [Last accessed 2016 Nov 02].Adoptive Families - The how-to-adopt and Adoption Parenting Network. Available from: http://www.adoptivefamilies.com [Last accessed 2016 Nov 02].