Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beyond Biology- broadening the concept of parenting

Given that for many people today, becoming a parent is no longer an inevitable consequence of marriage, we need to widen our definition of a parent as a person who brings up a child, whether or not she/he is the biological parent.
Giving birth to a child is generally perceived to be the ultimate fulfillment for a woman, and there is still a social stigma attached to one who either voluntarily or involuntarily does not produce a child. Even if a couple chooses to not produce a child, for whatever reason, there is still often a lot of explaining to do and various pressures to face.
Those who wish to have a child and are unable to do so are subjected to tremendous pressures, both in the traditional mould ( being advised to visit various holy places, wear amulets, perform certain rituals etc.) and the modern. Reproductive technology is, no doubt, a worthy field with valuable research and tremendous scientific breakthroughs.
But it often increases the desperation of women who feel that they must conceive, at whatever the emotional and financial cost. Very often, assisted reproduction techniques require more than one attempt, each of which is often very expensive. Repeated failures can become even more soul-destroying for a woman who has set her heart on bearing a child. Such women must be made to understand that if biological motherhood is not an available option, it does not necessarily mean that they cannot experience the joys of motherhood- adoption has to be treated as an available, desirable option. We need to lay less stress upon the biological origin of the child vis-à-vis the way in which he or she is brought up, and our society at large needs to be sensitized towards the needs of both the adopter and the adoptee- the process of adoption needs to be perceived to be as normal a way of having a child as physically producing one. The fundamental message to all those who desire to have a child is that bringing up a child is of far more importance than producing a child. Also, you don’t necessarily have to produce the child you bring up. A more all-encompassing view of children is needed- not just as belonging to a mother and/or father or family, (therefore they are also ‘belongings’ or possessions of that family, and often valued as such-as an investment to be nurtured for future returns), but as members of the larger community. A world view of “our” children, in the larger sense of the word, vis-à-vis ‘my’ child, needs to be promoted.
This, in turn, leads to the question of the sharing of resources that are often limited.
An ethic encompassing caring for and sharing with others needs to be inculcated.
Each child can, and does, in his own unique way, enrich the lives of those who share their lives with him.

PS: I'd written this a long time ago. Reading this inspired me to post.


Natasha said...

Lovely post, Dipali.

I know four sets of adoptive parents, and they all adopted because they realised that it made more sense to do so than to go through very painful fertility treatments.

Wish more people were aware of the choice.

Phoenixritu said...

Did you know that in North East India, there is no such thing as an orphan? The bereaved child is simply taken into a neighbor's home. They have a very strong sense of community which sadly is lacking in our so called developed world

Sue said...

*hugs Dipali*

Adopted kids rock, especially girls.

Sangitha said...

Came to your blog via Starsinmeeyes, Dipali. Absolutely agree with your thoughts. Adoption is also a choice now for people who are biologically able to produce children - lending teeth to the belief that parenting is a process that goes way beyond the 9 months of pregnancy.

Also, Khalil Gibran had it right when he said (and I paraphrase) that children only pass through us, we only facilitate the process of their independence. No child is a belonging.

Dr. Ally Critter said...

More than agree. I also think that just birthing a child is not parenting it either.

starry eyed said...

Thanks for linking up Dipali! A very sensitively written post. I often feel bad for the women who want to adopt and are prevented by their husbands and parents/in-laws who say they cannot love the child "like their own". I wish people didn't close their minds like this.

On the other hand well begun is half done...just giving birth or adopting is only the beginning. it's what parents do after that that is way more important!

And oh, how wonderfully you have expressed the thought of a community caring for its children. This 'them' vs us mentality has to be stopped. If we could remove all the taboos and red tape, every child would be enfolded in the warm loving support of a family...sigh, maybe someday!

Aneela Z said...

i second sue...adopted kids rock (and not just for dish tv ads). I think most of the excuses ppl offer are plain silly. one " well wisher' had said oh no one would feel bad if one ever slapped/scolded an adopted kid harshly, someone else's kid and all and you can be strict with your own kid without a guilty conscience, and I was wondering why discipline a kid so severely (and your own) in the first place.

Aneela Z said...

and/or your own. i will not blame the mommy brain for being typing dyslexic

Hip Grandma said...

I agree with you. Becoming a mother is easy. You can produce a child or adopt one. Being a mother is a tough job. Like a well prepared dish has to have a blend of all flavors and tastes in the right proportion so that no single aspect stands out so also motherhood is a blend of so many qualties mixed in the right proportion.A happy New year to you and yours.

Mandira said...

totally agree to u there,dipali.. we shud actually be looking at parenthood as a matter of choice..not as a forced outcome of social pressures..parenting takes a LOT so it makes sense to take ur time to decide about it..
it doesnt matter whether the child was born biologically or adopted...for the child those parents are as real as parents are for biological children..likewise for the parents.. i think it makes soooo much more sense to adopt out of choice instead of putting urself thru torturous treatments..all the adopted kids i have seen are happy,well settled..

dipali said...

@Rayna M. Iyer: Thanks. Awareness of adoption needs to be increased.
@Phoenixritu: What a wonderful culture that is!
@Sue: Yo! (Hugs the Sue right back)
@Sangi: Glad to see you here! I visited your blog from Starry's.
@@lankrita: Absolutely!
@starry eyed: Yes, how we deal with our children is what is important.
@Aneela: People have the most stupid excuses for not adopting:(
@hip grandma: "motherhood is a blend of so many qualities mixed in the right proportion" Well said!
@churning the wordmill: Adoption really needs to be encouraged!

A Muser said...

Wonderful post, Dipali! I agree completely. I have a friend who's been married for three years now, but isn't sure she ever wants to be a parent. She's perfectly happy with her life right now and feels no compulsion to reproduce. So why should she? I feel that motherhood is very fulfilling, but it's a personal thing, and no woman should feel she absolutely needs to be a mom to get fulfillment.

dipali said...

@ A Muser: Absolutely. Especially when it is far more a matter of choice than ever before.