Adopting A Family

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To find the truth behind the relationship adopted children share with their siblings, Sean Sequeira speaks to two adoptees about their family equations

The plight of the adopted
Adopted children aren’t looked down upon, but unfortunately, they are treated as special cases. It seems harsh to think that a child that was given up by its biological parents, for whatever reason, should bear the brunt of modern society after being given a new lease on life. 22-yearold media professional Titus Mehta and 16 yearold high school student Pratik Iyer are proud adopted children who share their stories in this article. Titus was adopted by the Mehta family who have two biological daughters, Priscilla and Lydia. Pratik was adopted by the Iyer family who have one biological daughter Harini.

Adoption isn’t sympathy
Most people have awrong notion towards adoption. They equate adoption with charity. Jayashree Iyer, Pratik’s mother, says “It’s the surrounding people that are judgmental and tend to concentrate on issues that have no relevance on the momentous experience (of adoption).”
Within the family, adopted children are treated no different from biological children. “When I think of Titus, I don’t think of him as adopted. I just think of him as my little brother,” says Priscilla Roxburgh, biological daughter of the Mehta family.

Misconceptions
Outside parties tend to have misconceptions about adopted children. Pratik says, “People think adoptees don’t really listen to their parents. That’s a big misconception.” Jayashree believes it is uninformed people who propagate misconceptions about adoption. Titus knows of real-life adoption cases ending in child labour and sweat shops but most of the time adoption gives a person a new life to be thankful for.
When it comes to society’s misconceptions, there is a small amount of blame to be attached to sections of the media.

Media and misinformation
Films and television shows that take up the topic of adoption do not deal with it in the right way. Adopted children are portrayed as troublemakers or as charity cases which leads to audiences believing that they do not get along with their family members. The worst examples of films portraying an adopted child poorly are the 1990 film Problem Child and the 2009 film Orphan.
Pratik believes people shouldn’t look to celebrities as examples since couples like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt make adopting a child look far too simple.

Breaking the news
Both Titus and Pratik were raised with the knowledge that they were adopted. Pratik read the book Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis. Jamie Lee Curtis is a Hollywood actress and author with two adopted children of her own. Priscilla and Lydia (Titus’ sisters) and Harini (Pratik’s sister) were informed by their parents about the respective adoptions before the processes were finalised. This allowed them to come to terms with having a new member in their family.

Coming to terms
When realising the true meaning of his adoption, Titus felt the pain of being rejected at birth. But he says it was his sisters who helped him through the process by treating him like a brother and not like a brother from another mother.
Pratik says Harini helped in the process by being there for him and not treating him differently. Siblings play a vital role, especially in the formative years of the adopted child, because they help neutralise pain and anger.

The forbidden ‘A’ word
Both Titus and Pratik have said that they have no problem referring to their adoption in jokes. When taken the right way, it is just a part of life which is accepted as it is. However, at times when tempers flare and arguments ensue, the fact that one of the members of the family is adopted looms around like an elephant in the room. But Titus says it is usually he who would yell, “It’s just because I am adopted!” before storming out of the room; never his family. Eventually he would realise that it was just the heat of the moment and apologise once he had calmed down.

Questions and more questions
The problem never lies in the family questioning itself; it is always in the nosy neighbours and relatives. Titus has faced questions from curious peers like ‘Why were you adopted? What’s your story, bro?’ while Jayashree has been bundled with questions about Pratik such as ‘How did he adjust?’ and ‘How do the siblings get along?’ Jayashree pays the questions no heed because, as she says, “at the end of the day, he is ours and we are his – and that is everything.”

Whose parents are they anyway?
People think the biological siblings would tend to be possessive about their parents but Harini explains it very  simply by saying “I love my Appa and Amma very much and I think Pratik also loves Appa and Amma very much.”
Titus has had bouts where he has told his parents that they treat him differently because he was adopted. But it was his sisters who would step in and calm him down enough for him to realise they were all part of the same family.
The biological sibling is usually compassionate, especially when they are elder. They are forthcoming and do everything possible to make sure the adopted child feels as much a member of the family as they themselves.

We fought, argued, cried, laughed and created memories together with no difference because I was adopted. One thing is for sure, I would give my life for my sisters if required.
Titus Mehta, 22, adopted member of Mehta family

 

 

 

ADOPTION IN FILMS AND TV SHOWS
▶ Juno (2007)
▶ Despicable Me (2010)
▶ The Blind Side (2009)
▶ Friends, Season 10 (2004)
▶ Modern Family, Season 1 (2009)

INDIAN ADOPTIONS
RATAN TATA
His grandmother adopted him. His father, Naval Tata, himself was adopted by the Tatas – one of India’s biggest business families.

 

 

 

 

 

SUSHMITA SEN
She faced a court case in 2000 for adopting a baby girl as a 25-year old single woman. She created history by winning the case and also adopted a second daughter in 2010.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL CELEBRITIES WHO WERE ADOPTED

STEVE JOBS – He was adopted at birth by the Jobs family because his biological parents were not married and faced opposition from their families to keep the child. He went on to become one of the greatest innovators of our time.

 

 

 

 

 

FAITH HILL – She was adopted when she was a few days old and raised with two biological children by devout Christians Edna and Ted Perry. Her vocal talents were honed by her adoptive parents at a young age to make her a famous country singer.

MICHAEL BAY – He was adopted and raised by a Jewish family who encouraged him to search for his birth mother when he was a young man. He has gone on to become a famous Hollywood director and producer.

MARILYN MONROE – She lived in an orphanage for two years and with foster parents for most of her early years because her birth mother was mentally unstable. She went on to become one of the most famous Hollywood personalities of the 20th century. Her foster parents encouraged her to become an actor.

JACK NICHOLSON – He was raised by his maternal grandparents and believed they were his parents. He did not know that the woman he believed was his sister was actually his biological mother until a journalist broke the news to him when he was 37 years old. He was hailed as one of the greatest actors to work in Hollywood from 1960 to 2000.

 

Volume 3 Issue 10

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