Adoption used to be this big hush-hush thing where I grew up — it's like this big secret that no one was supposed to know or else it would be a one-way ticket to social Siberia. Divulging such a secret is likened to opening up Pandora's box with a vengeance. I remember how school children would use the term with malice to take the mick out of someone else. The term “adopted” back then represented someone who was vastly different, or simply, someone who did not belong. We have all been called names at least once in our lives. And no matter how fancy or rotten they were, they all hurt either way…
People always seemed to be walking on eggshells whenever they were around adopted kids. It was as if they were afraid that their tact and tongue-biting would betray them and accidentally spill the beans to the poor fragile child. And the slightest hint of pity would always be present in their conversations with the adoptive parents — the patronizing glances and the inward sneers. “Poor thing would never know how it is to cuddle with your own flesh and blood.” A rather noble act of kindness was all of a sudden likened to the curse of a dreadful and incurable disease. It is beyond me why it is the strong and compassionate people are the ones being unfairly judged.
Plucked directly from personal experience, I noticed that it is those from the older generations that are not as forthcoming with the concept of adoption. Those from clannish and wealthy families are worse. Perhaps it has got something to do with taking excessive pride with the family name and gene pool, but aside from DNA, is there a real difference between a biological child and an adopted one? The big misconception back then of being adopted was that one is only of second rank compared to the real ones. I mean, imagine if the Queen of England had 2 sons — one adopted and one biological. Clearly we know right off the bat which one will be at a disadvantage. Hopefully, someone would prove me wrong on this one.
Adoption — I compare it to being an artist; a painter, for instance. We can all technically do it but it is not for all of us. After all, not everyone can paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Only the worthy and special ones are called to go through with it. And the rest, well… I'm not sure. Maybe they're those who are still unsure or those who simply don't understand.
I would be so honored if I found out one day that I am picked to be an adoptive parent. Of course, I wish to have children of my own as well, but I pine after the chance to provide a deprived child the love and care that he or she deserves. I honestly believe that no one must have to go through living with uncaring (especially abusive) parents. And believe me, this decision came way before Angelina Jolie started scooping kids left and right around the globe for her to create a mini-United Nations General Assembly in her home. Then again, as I always say, it's easier said than done. I am open to the chances that I may do a 360-degree turn once I'm installed in that particular situation. I hope not though.
Questions that constantly plague my mind: Should a child know if he or she is adopted? Does it matter? If so, when is the best time to break the life-altering news? This adoption business truly is more than meets the eye.
There are millions of homeless children out there. And likewise, there are millions of childless parents who want nothing more than having a child. Do the math. Tell me, why is it that the scales still don't balance?
Sure, people nowadays are more open with adopting children, especially those of foreign origin from developing countries. I'm almost afraid to ask, however, if it is only a fruit of a fashion trend. Adopting a Chinese girl isn't quite like investing a boatload of money on a Birkin bag. Nonetheless, the awareness that Hollywood icons have brought to adopting children have been massive. A bit misguided, yes, but still massive. And it has led many families to consider — or even pursue with — the option.
I have dealt with a fair number of adopted people — I've met them, I've spoken to them, I've hung out with them, I've embraced them and I've loved them — and they are unsurprisingly nothing short of normal, just like you and me. I'm beginning to think that the idea of adoption is a highly psychological condition with non-adopted/adoptive people.
Having the means to adopt and to provide is a privilege. But having the capability to give a complete stranger a loving home and a sense of security — is a gift.