By Pallavi Bhattacharya
Imagine a scenario in which a single woman in her thirties is being pressurized to tie the knot with any man who wants to marry her as ‘her biological clock is ticking away’. The worst ever decision she can make is by giving in to a pressure like this.
A woman doesn’t have to be married to enjoy the pleasure of motherhood. Nor are we advising her to have a child out of wedlock if she isn’t comfortable with the idea. Impregnation through artificial insemination is also not yet legal for single women in India.
A single woman in India doesn’t necessarily have to give birth to a child to become a mother. She can become a mother through adoption. An adopted child as actress Sushmita Sen puts it is ‘born from the heart’.
According to Sushmita that is what makes her adopted daughter extra-special as she wasn’t ‘born from the tummy’ as it is for most mothers. Indeed her daughter was different. She was after all born out of pure love.
How do you ascertain that you will make a good adoptive mother? First of all you need to understand your motives for adoption.
Do you want to adopt because you want to nurture your motherly instincts? You want that special experience of loving and being loved by a child? Then that is a good reason for adopting.
Do you want to adopt a child because you think he/ she will be a quick-fix for your loneliness and ‘instant cure’ for your depression? That’s a bad reason to adopt. You need to be emotionally stable to raise a child single-handed.
Mothering is after-all a life-long commitment. If you adopt a child when you are in a distraught state of mind, it may be worse both for you and the child. You may soon discover that you can’t manage the responsibility of raising a child. Nor is he/ she the answer to your loneliness.
Do you want a child so that you will have someone to carry on your family name and inherit your fortune? Or maybe you’ve been conditioned into believing that you need to adopt a male child as he needs to light your funeral pyre to ‘guarantee you salvation’?
Perhaps you’re worried that nobody will be there to look after with you when you are old, therefore you feel the need to adopt with the hope that the child will grow up to be your caretaker. These are also not good enough reasons for wanting to adopt.
Have you yearned for a baby and found out that you can’t have one? Maybe your husband divorced you because of that. Now you want a child at any cost. You should be adopting a child only after you have calmly accepted your infertility.
Do you want to adopt because your child has died and your marriage may also have broken up as a result? Wait till you come to terms with your tragedy before you adopt.
If the adoption agency finds out that you are still deeply grieving the death of your child and may compare your adopted child to your late child, they may turn down your adoption plea. You need to have a calm and composed mind to be found eligible for adoption.
Do you want to adopt a kid because you want to prove to society that you are a philanthropist? If you want to adopt to make a statement it is not a good reason for adopting.
Most importantly you need to adopt for the sake of the child than for yourself. Adoption agencies won’t let you adopt unless they are convinced that you are capable of giving the child a loving home.
Please remember that a baby is not an accessory or a doll to dress up. Babies may be up all night, they may fall ill, they need nurturing. Do you have the patience, tolerance and maturity to raise a child?
Ascertain objectively if you are suited to parenting. Do you like spending time with children? Do you get along well with your nieces and nephews? If you’ve had experience in volunteering with children then you may be able to make the transition to parenthood more smoothly. If you haven’t been exposed to children, do interact with them before adopting one.
Can you truly love and bond with a kid who is not biologically related to you? Your adopted child may look very different from you and may also have a radically different personality.
If you are fixated on adopting a fair baby who hasn’t been born out of wedlock, rethink adopting. Looks and the social background of your adopted child just shouldn’t matter to you.
Can you afford a child? Do you earn enough and have a decent bank balance to support a child? You are after all the sole-breadwinner. Are you willing to cut down on your shopping sprees to spend on quality education for your child instead?
In addition to money, you need to be able to devote quality time to your child. Will you be okay with cutting down on partying and socialising to bond with your child instead?
Does your family support your decision to adopt? If your family is vehemently against adoption, raising the child may not be too easy for you. After all when you are out working, if no family member wants to look after the child, what are you to do about it? All crèches aren’t reliable. A home and family are always far better places for a child to grow up than a crèche or just with a nanny.
If you are forty or older it is best to adopt an older child than an infant. If you are young you may comfortably adopt a baby.
A single woman’s right to adopt:
According to the CARA (Central Adoption Resource Agency) website, “A single parent has equal legal status to adopt a child and to deny him/her on the ground of his/her single status is not only a violation of his/her legal right but also her constitutional right guaranteed under Art.14 and 15.
Whosoever is deprived of the right to adopt only on the ground of single status may bring the matter to the attention of CARA in writing.” The single woman may be unmarried, divorced or widowed.
Adoption agencies are however extra-cautious while granting adoption to single women than to couples. This is because they feel that it’s easier for two parents than for one to raise a child.
After all many babies are put up for adoption because the mother was single and unable to care of him/ her well. Therefore they don’t want the child to be put back in a similar condition.
Says Jaissita Panigrahi, Managing Trustee of Bal Vikas Shishu Welfare Trust of India, “We do look for a father figure in the life of the child when granting adoption to a single woman. The father figure may be the father, brother, brother-in-law or a good friend of the single woman. He should be willing to act as a godfather to the child.”
In Mumbai, the court requires an undertaking from a close relative, most often a male, supporting the single mother’s adoption plan, offering future security for the child in case of her demise, and assuring that a male presence will be provided to the child.
If either of your parents is opposed to you adopting a child, adoption agencies may turn down your plea for adoption. This is because they want to make sure that the child is accepted by the family he/ she is going to.
Those who have watched the Oscar winning film, Juno, will agree that it’s not necessarily true that two parents are always better than one for raising an adopted child.
In the film Vanessa makes a far better parent for the child than raising him with her unfaithful husband who even shirks the responsibility of fatherhood. Vanessa not only can financially support the child single-handedly but also gives him all the love, care and affection he needs.