Thursday, January 10, 2008

Adoption - Alternative Parenthood

Parenthood is parenthood, no matter by what mode it is achieved. Becoming parents biologically or by adoption are two unique experiences. The process of adoption might take one through a gamut of emotions ranging from intense hurt and grief to inexpressible joy. Coping with these feelings is a difficult task and a challenge that must be met. A successful adoption needs open communication, acceptance, and a supportive environment in which one can discuss adopting a child as a viable alternative means of achieving parenthood. The decision to adopt is fraught with many apprehensions. As a 'childless' couple, it may be extremely hard to decide to accept an unrelated child into your family.

At the same time, you might be experiencing a craving for parenthood to fill what you perceive as a void in your lives. A common reason that might lead a couple to consider adoption is their involuntary childlessness - a condition that gives rise to a complex of emotions for the two individuals involved. These emotions have their roots in the fundamental human need and desire for parenthood. Other motivation to adopt could be a desire to give a home to a child who needs one, wanting a child of the other sex, advanced age and the possibility of genetic problems in one's biological child.

Infertility is most often seen only as a medical problem, but such a viewpoint overlooks the emotional and psychosocial aspects, which are probably more important to the couple. Most couples simply assume that conceiving, childbearing and giving birth are matters of choice and an inevitable outcome of a marriage. Hence, an inability to conceive or to take a pregnancy to full term is an unexpected and traumatic shock.

Parenthood is thought of as an integral stage in life that goes hand in hand with being married. When you cannot have biological children, and when you think you might miss out on the experience of parenting, you may experience a void in your life.

The hardest part of being infertile is coming to terms with the fact that there is some physical problem which is coming in the way of childbearing and that no amount of medical intervention can successfully change this. This realisation may lead to feelings of loss, inadequacy and low self esteem in some parents. One might experience denial, guilt, depression, frustration and a sense of helplessness. In the Indian context, infertility has negative connotations. Particularly among traditional society and lower socio-economic groups, a woman who does not produce biological children faces social ostracism; threats of divorce, and the husband are pressured to remarry. Infertility shows that in 40% of the cases the man is the cause, in another 40% it is the woman, and the couple share the problem in the remaining 20%. Still ignorance leads society to most often hold the woman responsible for childlessness.

When a couple resolves their crisis of infertility only then can they channel their energy into deciding to adopt a child. A way to resolve this crisis is for one to view and accept childlessness or infertility as a shared loss. Doing so will let you look ahead and explore your alternatives constructively. Articulating your feelings and discussing the issues facilitates the process of acceptance. Before one decides to adopt, you must resolve satisfactorily all the issues relating to your infertility as a couple. If not, there is the risk that your adopted child will be a constant reminder of your own inability to have biological children. But by reframing or redefining the problem one can find an alternative mode of achieving parenthood - namely ADOPTION.



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