Are you thinking that adoption might be a good solution to your unplanned pregnancy?
Perhaps this train of thought has prompted you to wonder about the woman who will cradle your baby as her very own, who will soothe this child’s tears, feed this child’s hungry mouth, guide this child to make wise decisions and use their manners, send them off to school and most importantly love this child unconditionally.
What does this woman think of you, the birth mother?
We caught up with Wini, a mother of two adopted children. Her oldest is Matthew who is eight years old and was adopted from Malaysia when he was three days old. Sandra is the latest addition. She is four weeks old and was also adopted in Malaysia, when she was three days old. Her birth mother is a Nigerian university student.
Wini can’t speak for all adoptive mothers, but her mother’s heart is a great indication of where many mums like her are at.
Why did you choose to adopt your children?
My husband and I are idealists. When we were newly married, we planned to have three biological children and adopt a child to complete our family. Believe it or not, this was actually inspired by Calista Flockhart. I read once in one of those gossipy magazines of her saying, “Adoption gives hope to a child.” That got me.
Eventually, we realised I had massive fertility issues. We prayed and felt we should go ahead with adoption. Thus began our journey of adoption.
What relationship do you have with your children’s mums?
With Matthew, his birth mum was 24 years old and her life was a mess. She fell pregnant but decided she would give the child up for adoption. When I asked her why she didn’t terminate the pregnancy, she said, “Just because I can’t take care of my child, doesn’t mean nobody else can.”
We took care of her through the pregnancy. It was indeed a sacrifice for her to go through the pregnancy but she did it. We decided we would never to lie to our children about their adoption. We have no contact with Matt’s birth mum at the moment but we agreed with her that when Matthew is 18, he could go and meet her if he wishes.
As for Sandra’s birth mum, we don’t know much except she is 20 years old and she is a university student. Sandra was left at the hospital after birth.
What do you think of your children’s birth mums?
Honestly, I owe my life to them. They chose the hard way; carrying on with the pregnancy, giving birth and then handing the child to someone else.
But because they did, my children now have a chance to live. They have the opportunity to breathe, to love, to learn, to laugh, to cry, to experience this world, and eventually to bring change to this world to make it a better place. I think those women are so brave. I am forever indebted to them and they have my utmost respect.
Yes, they chose the hard way. But this hard way is also the way of hope.
Will you talk to your kids about their birth mums?
Yes. Matthew knows about his birth mum. As soon as he learnt that babies grew in the tummy, I explained to him that he has a Tummy Mummy and a Forever Mummy. He also knows that his Tummy Mummy loves him very much and was very brave. As he got older, I explained more. Now he knows that his Tummy Mummy is super brave because she could have chosen termination but she didn’t. She did everything to make sure he was well taken care of.
As for Sandra, it will be more so. Her birth mum was a 20-year-old student living in a foreign country. She must have been so scared. However, in that fear, she made a choice that is counter-intuitive. She made a choice to give her daughter a chance. Sandra will know she was loved from the beginning by her Tummy Mummy and her Forever Mummy.
How do you feel about those terms; birth mum and adoptive mum?
I don’t mind whatever terms people use. Someone even asked me recently about Sandra’s “real” mum. I honestly don’t mind because I feel very secure in the fact that Matthew knows he is loved and that he loves us and Sandra will be the same. It’s simply that our situation is different to most people.
I also don’t mind because people are just uninformed and it is our job to help them understand.
How do you navigate some of the misconceptions and stereotypes in society around adoption?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of those out there. In Asia, there is almost an element of shame revolving around the subject. Most people keep their adoptions a secret. In the west, I find that there is an assumption that anyone who is adopted ends up having massive psychological trauma.
For us, we speak openly but sensitively and respectfully about our children’s adoption. We want to help people see that it doesn’t have to be a secret. Matthew is a regular eight-year-old boy who goes through stuff other eight-year-old boys go through. We are not naive. One day he might grieve for the fact that his birth mum left him to us. He might be sad. He would have to face it and deal with it like the rest of us deal with issues in our lives but he would have us to walk with him every step of the way. We all go through stuff. We all have baggage. Not just adopted people.
We speak of the beauty and the joy of adoption to everyone who is willing to listen. Already, people around us are beginning to change the way they view adoption.
Someone I know who has adopted but never talked about it to her daughter, even brought it up and told the truth to her teenage daughter who appreciated her mum’s honesty because she had already known all along.
And no, these children are not “lucky” to have found us. In this journey of adoption, the people who walk away with the most are the parents. Our lives are so full and so blessed.
I would happily give up my toes, a limb, my kidneys and even my life to keep my children safe and well. I never knew I could love this way. Now, I know and it’s indescribable.
If you could say something to a pregnant woman considering adoption because circumstances make it difficult or impossible to keep her child, what would it be?
I would say, yes, if you choose adoption, the next few months might be tough. And then it might get even tougher after you part with your child. It might be very tough. But, please choose adoption.
One thing you will know is that you have given your child a chance. A chance to live. A chance to be happy. I look at the faces of my children every day and I can’t imagine this world without them. They are happy, safe and content. There are so many out there like my husband and I who have so much love to give, waiting and hoping to welcome your child into our family.
Please give that little baby a chance. Please give us a chance to love her.