Is adoption an option?

Published: December 1, 2012

Adoption is indeed a kind and beautiful thing; to make someone who is not of your own body feel like he or she belongs to you; a true miracle of nature. PHOTO: REUTERS

It is a dream and sometimes a paramount desire for a married couple to have their first child. Some couples have his desire fulfilled soon after marriage, others a little later.

However, a few people remain childless throughout their married life. Some of these couples go for adoption to experience the pleasure of raising a child.

However, adoption is a very serious matter and the couple in question needs to seriously consider whether or not they would be more comfortable adopting a child from within the family or outside or with the help of welfare institutions.

I was blessed with my first child three and half years after my marriage. Unfortunately, my uncle who loves children a lot remains childless, even after 12 years of marriage. The couple started exploring the option of adoption very early in their marriage (within the first three years of their marriage).

He ended up adopting the youngest daughter of his brother who lived in the same house as him. The child lived with my uncle and aunt from the first few months of her birth but the couple officially adopted her when she turned two-years-old. Along with all other formalities, the surname and other documents all now held the name of my uncle as the father.

In the initial years, everything went smoothly, but later on issues started creeping up on their family. The real parents of the child wanted to be closer to their child, who had started recognising them as uncle and aunt. They started cursing their decision and on several occasions asked other family members to help them regain custody of the child.

The adoptive parents love their child a lot, treat her as their own and fulfil all her demands, but the worry that remains instilled in them is the fear of how the child will react when she comes to know that she was adopted from under the same roof her biological parents live in.

Whenever there is a brawl between the two brothers or between their wives, the adoption issue always seeps in. Some family members even raised issues like how it would be inappropriate for the child to go to their adoptive mothers parents’ house as she would be in the company of male members, who may be the adoptive mothers family, but were not the child’s blood relatives and hence, it was not right for her to mingle with them.

I think it is best that the adoptive parents don’t have any child of their own; otherwise the adopted child may have been neglected and would never understand why. What I fear the most is that were they to have had a child of their own, the adopted child would curse her real parents for giving her to someone else and will surely curse her uncle and aunt for depriving her of the love of her real parents. The result of finding out the truth may also impact her personality in a negative manner and give rise to many questions to which any answer may not be satisfactory.

My uncle loves the child a lot but he is not ready to disclose the reality to her. While having a discussion with him some time ago, I asked him if he would consider telling his daughter the truth, as one day he will have to marry her off and then it might be too late. In a resigned voice he said,

“When such a time comes, I will tell the truth to the bridegroom of the girl in secrecy. But I can never tell my little girl.”

My uncle deeply loves his daughter; their bond is so unique and strong. The love and care he gives to his child is probably far more than her own parents could have ever given her.

Considering all of this, I strongly believe that if any couple chooses to adopt they should disclose the reality to their child as soon as possible.Moreover, it is best, in my opinion, to adopt the child from outside the family – a child who is either an orphan or has parents who do not want a child.

This way, some form of distance can be maintained and personal issues do not seep in to the relationship.

In a situation where a child is adopted from within the family, the real parents and foster parents continue to face problems and it is difficult not only for the parents but confusing for the child as well.

I hope parents never have to face this sort of a predicament, but if they do and a baby is adopted within the family, they should carefully analyse the merits and demerits of their decision before actually taking the step.

For starters, make sure that the biological parents don’t come claiming the child later – suffice to say that this could be irreparably damaging to the child’s self-worth. Also, it is the best that the reality of the situation be revealed to the adopted child before someone else has a slip of tongue; this could crush the child’s trust in his/her foster parents and destroy their personality forever.

Adoption is indeed a kind and beautiful thing; to make someone who is not of your own body feel like he or she belongs to you is a true miracle of nature. However to complete this noble deed successfully, it is very important to own up and be responsible, as it is at the end of the day the question of a child’s life.

Read more by Khurram here or follow him on Twitter @KhurramZiaKhan

Khurram Zia Khan

Khurram Zia Khan

The writer is the media manager of Asiatic Public Relations and tweets @KhurramZiaKhan (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    Nicely written and the questions posed and answers suggested are realistic. Voicing an opinion on a subject as delicate and personal as this is difficult.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    They should just move away with the adopted child so the child doesn’t grow up confused. Time to go to another city. Recommend

  • Nitish

    Well well,I have a different case scenario.My uncle married one yr back.With in two days of marriage,he found problem with having sex.After medical checkups and treatment for a month ,doctor advised him that while he can become a father ,his wife can never be pregnant. Frustrated,he broke all the relationship with the girl and sent her back home.Girl still in talk with the family hoping someday she will come back to her husbands home. She agrees that my uncle can have second wife but she wants to be with him.But you know, hinduism is very much complex.No one is in favor of his second time marriage.Everyone is making sure that he could not get married second time.He finds himself two minded.Other than him,everyone in the family and society is ready to accept her.But he has also a valid reason to go for second time marriage.Divorce is not possible under Hindu law if husband or wife ,anyone of them is not ready to be separated.He took huge dowry amount too.What can be your suggestion after all coz of kids he doesnt want to accept her?Recommend

  • blah

    Totally in favour of closed adoptions, imagine the benefits our society will reap if instead of having 5-6 kids, couples rather adopt or two kids..Recommend

  • Soraya Aziz

    Khurram you have raised a very important issue here. I am all in favour of adoption but not within families. Reason simply because as you described, regrets often follow causing incredible strain on families. People in Pakistan in my opinion need to realise that honesty with a child is the most important factor to ensure a solid relationship is maintained and the prevention of psychological trauma that can be caused to a child whatever age should they find out the truth from some other means.
    Adoption is a noble act, helping a helpless child and providing love that would otherwise have been lacking. May Allah give us thofeeq to help others not only because we may want a child of our own, but if we have children of our own we should have the generosity in our hearts to take on another child and be able to offer equal love and attention. Recommend

  • Pessimist

    This is the first time that I’ve heard of adoption within the family (with both biological parents still alive). Naturally this is a disaster for recipe. I hope that your family issue is resolved soon! I just hope the poor girl wont suffer as a result of this fight. Recommend

  • Hammad Siddiqui

    I support a medical examination before marriage but in our society, these things are not openly discussed with adult and unmarried!Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    I have heard good and bad stories about adoption. My father was adopted by his paternal uncle who had no children. The age difference between his adoptive parents and him was huge. They were very strict and he had to do all the household chores like going to the market, cleaning the house etc. He could visit his real parents and brothers and sisters once a year. It was a miserable childhood for him but the experience made him a great and liberal father.

    My friends a doctor couple had no issues for eight years and adopted an unrelated girl. Subsequently after another four years they conceived a son. Being modern and liberal they decided to tell their daughter the truth when she was twelve. The girl did not take it too well and it needed great effort by the parents alongside emotional support and almost half a dozen years before there was acceptance and the situation normalized.

    My cousin had a son and subsequently wanted a second kid so their son could have some company. Since both husband and wife had careers and were charitably inclined they preferred going the adoption route. The daughter is a wonderful kid, well adjusted, affectionate and so loving. Hope things continue this way. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Nitish: How could he figure out that he can’t have sex within 2 days? If it is a structural problem it can be fixed by plastic surgery. Did your uncle consult any doctor? Even it is possible now to “rent a womb” where a fertilized egg can be implanted into another woman who can give birth to the child.Recommend

  • Nobody

    Interesting write up. I’m not religious per se but I was under the impression under Islamic law, the adopted child retained his/her birth name so not to lose lineage…? I may be wrong but that’s how I heard it, plus I know of a couple who adopted and didn’t change the child’s name. Can someone clarify please?
    Also, I don’t think it’s wise to not tell the child, and ESPECIALLY not to tell the child as an adult and to tell her future husband…? If anyone ever bypassed me and told someone else something so personal I would be furious. Although I understand the adoptive parents may have some reservations, understandably, but I still think it’s wise to tell the child at the appropriate age (what age that is, I have no clue!).
    On a side note, given the population and amount of orphaned children or those born to families who don’t want them (usually female in our “lovely” eastern culture) or can’t afford them, I hope and plan to adopt someday once I’m financially set. I expect it’ll be difficult, but I think the benefit outweighs the hardships associated with adoption. So many kids around the world need a home! Cheers. Recommend

  • claude

    Children are children, whether your own or adopted. It is the affection of parents which defines how they respond. You can make a hell or heaven with he children whether they are your own or adopted. I feel obliged to narrate my experience.

    I had 4 children, two fathered by me directly. Two adopted from two different ladies, who go on having their mothehood claim on them and share them with me. One is my ‘girl friend’ (after an early divorce I had). Other is my sister in law- window of my younger brother. All four children are loved equally by 3 of us parents and treat me as their father equally well. While I was shattered after my divorce, generosity of my ‘girl friend’ and my sister in law to share their children with me helped us recompose broken families. Gradually we have come to the point that those outside the family do not even know that I did not father all 4 children.

    I’m atheist and have no expectations of other world. But my children have made this world a heaven for me. Allah can wait. Recommend

  • GangaDin

    Children are God’s gift. If you are an infertile couple, may be you are not meant to have children. Adopt and that might do you some good.Recommend

  • Huma

    According to couples who i know that have adopted children,some from within the family and some from strangers, it is best to have a child psychologist on board. These couples were told that it is best that the child be told as early on that they’ve been adopted so that its a normal part of their upbringing and does not come as a shock to them later on in life, because there will always be some ‘well-meaning’ relative who will reveal all at the worst time possible. Also some of these couples managed to not only conceive but carry their babies to full-term, and as far as i can see, the adopted child is prob a favourite, being not only the first child but also the one who relaxed the parents enough to actually have a biological child.
    Whether the situation is a good one or a bad one, is a reult of how you deal with it… Recommend

  • Benazir Mir

    ofcourse adopting a child within family can create severe problems and i suggest, in the rural areas desire for male child is high and despite having limited income the couple keep producing children till they have a baby boy. such parents may want to give away the baby girl and adopting a baby girl is a blessing. also, in that case you dont have to worry about telling the baby abt her adoption later in life.Recommend

  • Khurram Zia Khan

    @ Nitish , I strongly recommend your uncle remain with her pride.How can he be sure that 2nd lady have any issue or not.

    @Nobody, You are right that religiously it is not appropriate to change the name of parents but at times we take our own decisions and pick & choose what to follow and what not to follow.

    @ Claude you have interesting scenario and I wish you good luck
    I still believe adoption is a difficult decision and all pros and cons be evaluated carefully before taking a decision. I know a couple who adopted a child but that child is disabled and sadly now the child become a burden on them,they still love him & look after him but are surely passing through a difficult phaseRecommend

  • Muttahir

    It’s unfair to adopt a child who has parents alive. A child is a human being and not an object to be gifted or donated to cure any relatives’ deprivation or disappointment, neither for making them happy. If the adoption has been done in an inevitable situation, it must be in the knowledge of that child as soon as he gets a little mature. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Khurram Zia Khan: I still believe adoption is a difficult decision and all pros and cons be evaluated carefully before taking a decision. I know a couple who adopted a child but that child is disabled and sadly now the child become a burden on them,they still love him & look after him but are surely passing through a difficult phase

    Many Americans adopt kids from poor countries and/or poor families even when they have their own kids. They just do it out of love for kids.

    Some time kids are grateful for that, some times kids turn out to be bad adults.

    There are some blessed people who knowingly adopt disabled kids also.

    About the couple you know “THEY STILL LOVE HIM & look after him but are surely passing through a difficult phase” I hope things will get better for them.

    Some one has to take care of disabled kids. Government programs, NGOs, ordinary people can help.

    If a poor family has 6 daughters what is wrong if a relative takes responsibility to raise one or adopt one.Recommend

  • Nishant

    it is important to finish the required paper work
    that way you can challange them in the court room and legally take action.
    also one should include the child in family documents like ration card, passport, bank accounts and life insurance. you can even ask the school to make documents related to the child which support your stance as the guardian

    with such growing population and poverty, adoption is a good thingRecommend

  • Mehfooz Aleem

    I am in favor of adoption, but I prefer if adoption is made from an orphanage as adopting a child of a relative may cause complexities. Recommend

  • Hassaan Naeem

    A very fine article on a very delicate subject.

    Adopting a child is not a decision one takes for fun. It should be definitely taken after taking into account all the pros and cons. I agree with the proposition that adoption is better to be perfromed out of the family and not within the family. The child must be told as soon as he is capable of accepting such facts to avoid any issues later on. Recommend

  • Martin Casper

    Adoption is such a challenge and requires such a high level of responsibility. I can see how adopting inside the family could pose a big problem. I think that people who are considering adoption should take their time and think 3 times about it. They should look very closely at all the potential negatives prior to making their decision.Recommend