Conflicting. Conflicted.

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“You ate octopus,” I say, my eyes wrinkled with laughter. I sneak glances at the back seat where all three of my children are sitting, seat belts holding them back. They are laughing.

“What?!”

Pattu is amused and shocked. Ammu grows quiet.

“You mean we were meat eaters before you changed us?” the question is flung as an accusation. The mood in the car changes.

We are on the bed. I am tying Ammu’s hair before her shower. She leans back to me. “Was I like you when you were young?” I think a tad too long before I answer.

The three of us, the twins and I are crowded around the laptop where I have three windows stacked showing our genetic makeup. Two identical and one so different that we have a laugh about it.

The house is quiet. The questions from the previous day circle my head. I am conflicted.

“Did I change my children?”

“What does it mean to raise children?”

I look back on my life and think of who I am. The existential question of identity. The food I eat, the beliefs I hold, the rituals I follow, the values I hold dear. These are what I consider my identity. This identity is a composite of what I imbibed from my parents, people in positions of power in my life and my friends. This identity has evolved over the years because of the experiences I have had.

When my child hurled the “you changed me!” at me, it made me pause in my tracks. Yes, I did change her identity. Her name. Her religion. Her food preferences. Her family. Everything about her changed once she became my family. In naming her, I claimed her for my own. In raising her as my child, I gave her the best of all that I know.

Early in the pre-adoption process, the term “as if your child” is bandied about a lot. It is assumed that when you become a parent, the verb “adopt” will be in the past and the rest of the journey will be no different from any others that arrived at parenting by birth. But the truth is the verb is very much active. How you parent is subliminally affected by the awareness that there is another identity for your child. How much of that identity you preserve and how much you meld with your own is only limited by circumstance and you.

I have no answers or solutions on how to resolve all that I am feeling. All I know is that I am conflicted.

13 comments

  1. I have no wisdom or suggestions to share in this scenario. All I can say is that, much like you always have, you will find a way to balance the two and before you know it, conflict will be a thing of the past. Must say I admire the raw and honest way you examine these concepts.

  2. Laksh, I am not a parent. Not yet. By sharing yourself with us, you are making me think about things which were beyond my imagination. By doing this, you also gather our love. And that love will help you in some way, to resolve the conflict or make peace with it. I hope. ❤

  3. I think, as the girls grow up, the sentence would changed to ‘you made us who we are’. I do feel the conflict and it confuses me too cos that means adoption is harder than having your own.

  4. I am sorry if I sound insensitive with the following question. It arises with a genuine need to understand and certainly not to pry or judge.

    Would these questions have arisen had you adopted from within your culture? I have a single mom friend in India who adopted two boys way back. While she also has questions and doubts, they are never (to the best of my knowledge) about integration.

    On another note, your doubts could be universal. I often catch myself wondering if v would have been different, if not better, with a different mom.

    Sorry again if my question is inappropriate. As ever I have immense respect for what you are doing.

    • Well! That is the thing. I don’t know. Hypotheticals are just that no? Because A and P ask these questions I wonder so much about L too. Why are we imposing what we grew up with and alternatively why not? This is all I know. Like I said I have no answers, just more questions.

  5. Yes, you changed their lives for better – with love, care and more! Food habits, religion are side effects. Nothing to be sceptical about – you should be proud 🙂

  6. But a family is always a lottery isnt – genetic or otherwise. Just like you and I didnt choose the religion/culture we were brought up in. A, P and L didnt either.

    If a Parent had changed either food habits or religion as an adult they would pass that to their children.

    And as you know children accusing parents goes on forever too ( just recently i was giving my mom a hard time about a vaccination i got as a child that resulted in mark:)).

    You are doing great, from open adoption to exposing them to the faith of birth mother.

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