Family Stories: Family Adoptions

Following my last post, I started thinking more about what makes a woman a mum. I have also been watching this drama where a woman is forced to give up her five-year-old daughter to her sister-in-law (husband’s sister) who is childless. She has another, older daughter and is pregnant with her third child, which also happens to be a girl. Her husband had taken loans from his sister’s husband who also pressurises the couple for the adoption. The woman’s mother-in-law also forces the issue as she wants her daughter to be happy since the daughter’s mother-in-law is forcing her son to divorce her since she is childless. The only person who is on her side is the woman’s brother-in-law (husband’s brother), but he is silenced by the others in the family. At this point in the drama, the child has been handed over, but everyone is miserable. I am sure the ending will be positive, as it happens in all dramas, but this got me thinking about something that has happened in my own family.

My mum is the oldest of four girls, and when my grandmother was pregnant with her fourth child (maybe in the hope of having a boy), her sister-in-law (my grandfather’s sister) who was married, but childless offered to adopt the child if it was another girl. My aunt was born and was informally adopted by her aunt. Why informally you may ask? This was because she was betrothed at birth to a cousin who happened to have the same gotra as her aunt. Now because marriage within a gotra was prohibited, the aunt could never formally adopt her or even have her call her mum. She lived with my mum’s aunt all her life, a mere 10-minute walk from her mum’s place and used to meet her sisters often. She always knew who her parents were and used to call them mum and dad and her adopted mum and dad as aunt and uncle, but she didn’t go to the same school as her sisters and perhaps in a small way resented the hold her sisters had over her.

When she got married, it was my grandparents who gave her away and this rankled my grandaunt all her life. She was incredibly jealous of my grandmother and my mum and her sisters and would resent anytime my aunt spent with them. This went on for around 60 odd years until the grand aunt died last year.

She was a mother to my aunt in all ways that mattered but never heard her adopted daughter call her mum, while she had to hear her sister-in-law being called mum all the time. I would think the resentment she had within herself was completely justified.

Then I started thinking about my grandmother. How would she have felt, having to hand over her child to someone else, even though she was her own sister-in-law? Would she have felt pressurised by her family to give her up? Or did she do it with full consciousness?

The person who was most stressed was my aunt according to me. She was constantly under pressure between her mum and adoptive mum and had to play a balancing game all her life. It is only now, when she is past 60 and her adoptive mum has passed on, that she is planning a holiday to stay with her birth mum for a month. How sad is that! She had to always watch her thoughts, words and actions in case her adoptive mum took offence in something she said or did, especially when it related to her birth family.

This situation was something I’d lived with my whole life and was not something I really thought about till now because this was normal in my family. But watching the drama and then relating it to what happened/is happening in my own family made me see it in a different light, one that is more emphatic, I hope.

I hope sharing this family story helps you see adoptive families, especially those who have been adopted by their own family a little differently. Life is never black or white and this is one situation where the shades of grey are more prominent.

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What makes a Mother?

 

This Sunday will be celebrated as Mother’s Day almost throughout the world. Across the world, children (and dads) will buy presents and flowers for the mums in their lives and also make a special meal for them. Facebook and other social media will be filled with photos and Mothers Day wishes and mums all over will realise how much they are loved.

 

My mum lives far away in India, so other than wishing her via phone, there’s not much I can do, but we do try to take S’ mum and aunt (who is a second mum to him) out for a meal on that day.

 

So what makes a mother? Is biology the only reason someone gets the privilege of being called a mum? What about adoptive parents? They don’t give birth to their young ones but spend far more time and effort in nurturing them, so are they not also mums? Take S’ aunt for example – she never married as a result of a handicap she incurred as a young girl, the result of a sickness. She has always lived with S’ family and has been an equal partner in looking after and nurturing S and his sister. So she’s another mum we honour.

 

So in honour of all mums out there, here’s something I wrote….

What Makes a Mother

 

The first person we know in this world,

She is the one who makes our world unfurl.

She loves us unconditionally and with balance,

Guides us through life with infinite patience.

She is a friend, philosopher and guide, all rolled in one

She is your one guiding star, she is your sun.

She brightens up your life, she fills your world with laughter

For every question you may have, she has the right answer.

We all know that God can’t be everywhere, so he made mothers

She, who is the zypher, the anchor of your life.

To all the mothers in the world, those who gave birth and those who didn’t, but are mother figures in our lives, here’s wishing you a very Happy Mother’s Day!

As for me, I need to wait till Sunday to see what GG & BB have in store for me….