Mums share joy and challenge of bonding with adopted children

Besides telling their children about their parentage, adoptive parents have to address the search for identity that their children will go through. -- ST PHOTO DESMOND WEE
Besides telling their children about their parentage, adoptive parents have to address the search for identity that their children will go through. -- ST PHOTO DESMOND WEE

This Mother's Day, we speak to adoptive mothers about the challenges they face and the bond they share with their children.

Important to be truthful

Mrs Ayana Raychoudhury and her daughter Rishita. -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN

Bedtime stories are fun for children, but for some adoptive mothers, telling them can be an emotional experience.

Mrs Ayana Raychoudhury tells stories to her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Rishita, every night.

Sometimes, she explains her daughter’s parentage through these stories. Little Rishita might not fully understand the concept of adoption yet, but Madam Ayana does this ever so often to familiarise her with the idea.

This is one of the biggest challenges that adoptive parents have to face - explaining adoption to their children.

"It is very hard, emotionally, but for her well-being, I have to do it," said the 35-year-old homemaker.

She, like many other parents, agrees that it is important to be truthful with their children from a young age.

"I think it increases the trust a child has in you," she said. "I feel that if I am confident about our relationship, she will grow to be a confident girl."

She strongly believes that a child’s upbringing shapes her personality as well, and observes this in her daughter. Rishita is outgoing and friendly, like her mother. She also has a keen ear for music, like her father.

Husband Ranadev Raychoudhury is a 37-year-old auditor, who enjoys music of many genres and languages. Little Rishita can even sing along to some tunes, ranging from Hindi and Bengali to English and even Russian.

"You might have your looks and features from your birth parents," Madam Ayana said. "But, your mentality, attitude and upbringing show who you really are."

Helping children make sense of who they are

Ms Melanie Lee and Christian at their Sembawang home. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Besides telling their children about their parentage, adoptive parents have to address the search for identity that their children will go through.

Ms Melanie Lee, 35, started this by writing her first children’s books for her two-year-old son, Christian.

"This search is something that I'm preparing myself for," the freelance writer said. "I think stories are very important in helping people make sense of who they are."

The idea came about when her friend, illustrator David Liew, met her son a year ago. They then decided to collaborate and do something fun for Christian and other adopted children.

The result was a book series called The Adventures of Squirky. It will be published in June.

"It’s a resource for him and a way for me to educate myself," said Ms Lee. "When you write, you put yourself in the shoes of the characters. It also helps me to understand him better."

As adoptive parents, she and husband Darren Soh, a 38-year-old photographer, sometimes hear others call them noble or say they have big hearts.

Ms Lee does not think of herself this way.

“I don’t think we're any more selfish or selfless than other people,” she said.

However, she does hope that there will be a more active community of adoptive parents in Singapore.

"Sometimes, you feel a bit isolated because you wish you had more regular contact with people in the same situation," she said.

Daughters heal 'wounds' from failed IVF and miscarriage

For Mr and Mrs Tan, adoption gives the couple a chance to build a family with children.

Their pre-adoption years were a stressful journey of failed in vitro fertilisation attempts and a miscarriage.

It was as if their world had been crushed, they said, but bringing up their two daughters has helped to heal the wounds from that traumatic period.

The couple, who wanted to be known only by their initials, adopted their second daughter last year. This surprised their family and friends, for it meant a greater emotional and financial commitment.

Their daughters are now six years old and one year old respectively.

Before their second adoption, Mrs Tan P H often worried about her first child's future and whether she would have someone she could relate to.

"I've always believed in having siblings," the 44-year-old financial planner said.

She and her husband met their second child when they were ready to give up trying for a baby.

"I was supposed to go back to the hospital on a Saturday to decide whether I would stop or continue treatment," she said. She had not been responding well to it.

"On Friday night, we received a call from the adoption agency, telling us that there was a baby."

So when her gynaecologist advised her to stop treatment the next morning, she added, they made their decision. They have not looked back since.

"It felt like we found the missing piece of a puzzle," she said.

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From The Straits Times Archives:

 Number of adoptions in Singapore falls by half since 2004