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The truth about adoption: Doctors advise parents to tell the child early

More and more childless couples in India are beginning to adopt,in order to fulfil their need for parenthood.

Written by Sanjna Sudan | Chandigarh | July 20, 2012 12:49:45 am

More and more childless couples in India are beginning to adopt,in order to fulfil their need for parenthood. But what about when it is time to tell the child about his or her origins? Experts say that it is imperative that the adopted child be told the truth at the right age and at the right time.

A majority of child psychologists recommend telling the child about the truth of its adoption from the very beginning,as the child then adjusts better and that saves it from the shock that it may get if it ever learns this at a later stage. “The appropriate time to tell a child that he/she is adopted should be between 3 to 4 years because that is around the time that the child is developing a sense of identity and self. The earlier the child gets to know about it the better it is for the child and also the family,” says Dr. Deepali Sharma,a child psychologist and a professor at Panjab University.

Agrees Dr Adarsh Kohli,professor of Clinical Psychology,PGI,“At a later age,when the child comes to know,it leaves serious repercussions in the form of anger,suicidal tendencies,feelings of betrayal and mistrust.”

Parents who have adopted children,however,sometimes disagree,saying that the child is at too young an age to understand such a sensitive issue.

“We adopted our baby girl when she was barely a year old and now we have no intention of telling her that she was adopted. We will treat her as our own,and never let her know about it,” said Rakesh (name changed) who had adopted a baby from a local orphanage in 2010.

“I always tell parents that when it is a case of very small children,they should never be told about them being adopted,because then they will not connect emotionally to the parents. In fact,99% couples who adopt from here do not intend to tell their children about it,” says Onkar Singh,manager of the Kartar Asra Trust,which runs an orphanage in Sector 5.

However,Dr Kohli points out that there are dangers to this approach. “Most parents prefer to leave it a secret and are afraid to tell,fearing the consequences. The situations of adoption are different for everyone and revealing them may have different reactions. It may lead to a search for the real parents,which can become complicated.”

Dr Rupali Virk,a child psychologist and counsellor in Manimajra also feels that there may be dangers to keeping the child in the dark. “A child should be told from the very beginning that she is adopted,as this will help her grow up with the fact and still find an emotional bond between her and the family. But if the fact is hidden from her or told later this might have a negative effect on her emotional attachment to the family.”

But while telling the child that it had been adopted,parents need to be sensitive towards its feelings and tell it in an age appropriate way,says Dr Sharma.

Since adoption is a long procedure,orphanages are cautious about the right parents for the child. “Before we hand over the child,we have sessions of interviews,we do a background check,and learn about the financial background of the parents. We don’t want to end up giving a child to the wrong parents who may turn out to be abusive or exploitative,” says Onkar Singh.

The Incharge of Adoption in Missionaries of Charity Orphanage in Sector 23 agrees. “We have a social worker who does the background check of the couple by visiting their homes and taking a few interviews. We generally look for the medical reasons why they couldn’t have a baby,the financial and social outlook of the couple before giving the child for adoption.”

The tricity has a few orphanages from where couples can adopt a child,for example,the Missionaries of Charity in Sector 23,Kartar Asra in Sector 5 Chandigarh,and Bal Sadan in Sector 2 Panchkula.

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