It is heartening to hear Torsha's mother Gargi Chakravorty, 34, from Mumbai proudly say, "Adoption was the best decision of my life. I don't know why people shy away from taking this step." Her dream of becoming a mother came true one sunny May morning (when the adoption agency handed 7-month-old Torsha to the ecstatic Chakravortys and they have never been more happy. Torsha's father Kaushik, a professional photographer, is besotted by the innocent charms of his cherubic daughter and can hardly get enough of clicking her. This is the kind of immeasurable happiness that this little girl has brought into her parents' life.
Gargi and Kaushik, however, are amongst the lucky few who were on the same page regarding the decision to adopt from the word go. Being in complete agreement made their journey towards parenthood that much more happy and fulfilling. But not everyone has it so easy. Sometimes there is a chasm separating the two partners' views and approach towards adoption, with one partner convincing the other for months and years about the benefits of adopting. But according to Dr Anjali Chhabria, a Mumbai-based psychiatrist, no matter how much time it takes, both partners must be in agreement. "It is important that the couple give each other some space and time to accept the idea of adoption as it is essential for both parents to be okay with the decision and feel emotionally ready to include another person in their family and to love him/her as their own child," she says.
The Chakravortys have also enjoyed the unstinted support of their family right from the day Gargi decided that she'd had enough of the probing and prodding of assisted reproduction and would like to opt for adoption instead. Unlike them, for those who have to work on convincing their families, it becomes an even more difficult decision. But don't be disheartened. As Dr Chhabria points out, "The less-than-jubilant reaction may simply be because the news of adoption may have come as a surprise to the family and they may have many questions and concerns. They may also appear upset or disappointed initially, if it is absolutely unexpected. The couple should not get discouraged but give their family time to get used to the idea. In fact, involving them in the process at every step can be helpful. It is important that they feel a part of it as that will allow them to open their mind and accept the idea."
Parenting, one of the most joyous experiences of life, is a lifelong commitment; since adoptive parents have the option of halting the process anytime before the child actually comes into their lives, they are often plagued by self-doubt and vacillation. Irrespective of the jitters a pregnant couple feels during those nine months after conception, couples rarely think of opting out of it. They just have to dump their inhibitions and prepare for the arrival of their child. Once adoptive parents accept that there is no turning back, they can savour the journey to parenthood instead of being plagued by a 'Hamlet-esque' dilemma. Dr Chhabria says, "Once the decision to adopt has been made, the process might seem mechanical, but there are a lot of emotions involved at each stage. With each step, parents need to understand and accept that this may be their best option to become parents and this commitment is for life."
Another overwhelming factor is that adoptive parents get to decide a lot of things at every stage-like the child's sex, age, and sometimes even his/her nationality. Blame it on the paradox of choice; sometimes no choice makes for more mental peace. Before going ahead, the partner who is averse to the idea can come up with endless reasons to resist adopting. They can range from whether the missing biological link will adversely affect their relationship with the child and may prevent them from connecting with the child; that they may never be able to outgrow the fact that the child is "someone else's child"; or concerns like whether the baby was well looked after or not in his/her pre-natal stage; his/her genes; and how different the child will look after he/she grows up.
The questions and reasons to worry may seem endless. But if you are contemplating the decision and are feeling doubtful, ask yourself this: Do all biological children end up exactly like their parents? While it is true that there is little that can be done about genetic factors, how a child shapes up has a lot to do with how he/she is raised. Since having biological children is the norm, adoption seems like an aberration, but nothing could be further from the truth. Loving a child and raising one as your own can help soothe aching and empty hearts. Allow one into yours.