Adopted children by virtue of being adopted, have a biological background – which holds their identity and “Roots” is the journey in search of that identity, to find the missing link of their lives prior to being adopted.
It is an important journey for both – the adoptees as well as the adoptive parents for the sole reason that it is the adopted child’s need & right to know where he/she came from. Who were their birth parents and what were the reasons for them to be in Bal Anand. This issue is more pronounced in foreign adoption than Indian adoption. To find out, they make the long journey to India and to the childrens’ home from where they were adopted.
In my experience, there have been a vast variety of reasons to make this journey – ranging from the simple reasons like a visit to their birth country, to see the childrens’ home from where adopted, to find out who took care of them – to thank them for giving them a future with their adoptive parents to know about their birth mother, or who gave them their name, etc. to the more extreme reasons like being besieged with feelings of insecurity over why they were abandoned or relinquished despite being happy with their adoptive families. It is obvious that the adoptees and even their adoptive parents wish to know to help their child. It is also their right to know. Yet how much do we tell? In our concern for the adoptees quest, we cannot forget the young girl who had given up her child in secrecy and who does not want to be contacted again. If we tell, it amounts to breach of trust. In such a scenario, we have to respect the trust vested in us by the birth mother just as we respect the child’s right to know.
It is at this point in the search that the adoption agency in the absence of the birth mother plays a key role in helping the adoptees generally adolescents or young adults to find answers. From the documents maintained, we give all the information except identifying information of name & address. If handled with understanding and sensitivity, they accept and are content to see how the children are cared for, to know that their names figure in our records and that they were not really abandoned. They were given up for their better future by way of adoption. Infact seeing the children, being with them takes care of many of their questions.
These following lines from an adoptee sums up the importance of the visit to the childrens’ home “ I am happy that I have seen with my own eyes what life is like in Bal Anand. I can now feel good about the first months of my life, when I was living in Bal Anand myself.”
Another adoptee has said that “some of my questions remain unanswered for some valid reasons and I have learned to accept. And I have realised acceptance is cathartic. It makes living easier, it makes loving easier.” Many adoptees visit us with their families throughout the year or they come in groups every year, eager to know about their background. Receiving them warmly, listening to them patiently, showing them the home introducing them to any person or incident of the past makes them happy and they move forward in their lives.
Since about five years ago, we give a Life story book to every child telling them about their life while in Bal Anand. ‘This helps them greatly’ is our feedback from both adoptive parents and children.
It is commendable what the adoptive parents do to support their adopted children in search of their Roots. These are the parents who say –
“Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone,
Yet miraculously my very own,
You did not grow under my heart, But in it”
The story of Adoption which starts for an adoptive child with severance of ties with the birth family, continues with the adoptive parents, completes with Roots. It comes a full circle.
That I have made a difference to them in helping them with answers, being regarded as an important person of their background, being looked upto, with love and affection, for me is a touching and gratifying experience.