Monday, September 16, 2013

when adoption is an option

my husband and i got married in 2006, we talked about postponing having children for two full years. we decided to start trying after our second wedding anniversary simply because pregnancy for us meant that the child is already "here". during these two years we talked about "options" and "what if's" so the topic of adoption was included in our discussions.

it turned out that we're both open to the idea, so we discussed it further over the course of these two years. then when we got pregnant with our first son we still tackled the subject of adoption and i was happy to find out that we were on the same page, we had nothing against the idea of adopting our second child.

our daughter arrived two years, two months and 22 days after her brother (24 days to be exact, but i like cute numbers that "rhyme"). this second pregnancy and our second child was a planned one, on our side, and a gift from God on His side. we had written a list of pros and cons of keeping the age difference between our children this small, another major decision that i'll talk about some other time, but the adoption option was still an open one for us, even after having a second child of our own.

we are both citizens of countries in the MENA region and we live there (here) too, so the homework ahead of us was to find an experienced lawyer who knows the ins and outs of adoption in Egypt, mainly because the main source of the constitution and law in Egypt is the Islamic Shari'a, there's no adoption in Islam, you can raise and take care of an orphan (the closest term for it could be foster parenting كفالة يتيم) but you can't register that child under your name as a legal son or daughter of yours. we still need to know our stand as a Christian couple who are planning to legally and fully adopt a child.

throughout our 7 years of marriage and 4 years of having children (one child then two) I've always imagined what it would be like to adopt a baby who is not our own. the first few things that come to mind are the following:

  • s/he won't look like us or resemble any of us as parents
  • s/he might (or surly will) face the society, and our Middle Eastern society is not an easy one when it comes to "unfamiliar" practices or decisions, and adoption is almost a taboo 
  • there's a risk of her/him having genetic problems, biological family history of diseases we're unaware of, inherited tendencies of behavioral problems...etc.
all of these are variables out of our control, but who said that we were in control when we decided to have children of our own? we surly did our part, and planned it so well, worked so hard on every single detail that was in our hands, but the actual "giving of birth" or "granting of life" was done to our children by an Almighty hand, so who are we to claim credit for it and count is as a factor not to adopt?

whenever i think of adoption i categorize my questions in two boxes, the first category applies to couples who haven't had kids of their own then they adopted a child (whether they had a biological child later on or not) and the second category applies to parents who already had biological kids then adopted a child afterwards.

if we've tried for years and couldn't have a baby of our own, then there's the question of spoiling the child we're adopting, would we become "over-loving" parents? (if there's such a thing) like "over-protective" parents, which is a totally different issue.
if we already have kids and now adopted a child then we'll keep asking ourselves: is it ok to yell at or spank her/him just like we've done to their older siblings? should the boundaries of love and discipline be any different? would our families love and accept this child the way they did with THEIR biological grandchild/niece/nephew/cousin? how can we truly treat our adoptive child and biological one equally in terms of small daily details and major life-changing decisions? how can we introduce this new baby to her/his older siblings? ... i can go on and on with my questions...

of course there are the big questions of: IF and WHEN to tell the child that we're not her/his biological parents. IS adoption really what's BEST for this little human being? (or in other words: why isn't it better for her/him to stay at the orphanage or covenant or even on the street?) 

all we can do at the moment is collect data on the legal stand of adoption, and also collect real-life stories of people who walked this walk before us, what was their journey like, the ups and downs they've experienced (and still experience on a daily basis) so we haven't made a final decision yet, but for us adoption is an option, and we look at it from the perspective of living our life for a bigger cause, for a reason that goes beyond our limited mere existence. we know that we are already doing this through raising our two wonderful and amazing children, parenting IS ALREADY a big cause to live for. i personally love children and my original plan was to have 5 of them, yes as ironic as it sounds (if you've ready my posts about motherhood make sure not to fall off your chair because you're laughing so hard right now) i've made a final decision of no more pregnancies for me, i'm not willing to re-live the 18 months i've already survived miraculously. as for birth, then it's an even bigger NO, i don't want anyone to cut me open again to bring out a trapped little creature who has no other way out !!! 

but regardless of all this analysis and subjective perspective of mine, we prefer to put our adoption option in simple terms with a logical argument that goes like this: 
instead of "making" new children of our own, adding one more human being to the earth's population, why not raise an already existing child, who is a less fortunate dependent helpless little person?

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