Why is adoption a stigma?

By Abdullah Siddiqui

Giving a child your name and shelter over their heads is a noble and respectful gesture. However, I fail to understand why is it considered a stigmatized phenomenon in Pakistan even now. No matter how far we have come, our mentality remains the same which is an utter disappointment. I completely understand that our society and culture plays a vital role in shaping our thinking patterns, but that does not mean that we shut ourselves to the idea of adoption.

Factors like societal pressure, religion, family structure and reason to adopt are the main ones that reflect our decision regarding adoption. Let’s look at them independently. Religion is by far the strongest factor that influences adoption decisions, under which comes the issue of mahram (marriageable) and na- mahram (unmarriageable). The problem arises when one must decide the gender of the child. If a single parent is adopting, then there is not much of a problem as single mother may adopt a girl and a single father (which is rarely the case) may adopt a boy. But the main issue is when a couple decides to adopt together. Now if they choose a girl, she would later be a mahram to the father and vice versa unless the mother breastfeeds the child and makes him/her na mahram for the rest of her family. People make an issue out of everything because they lack proper knowledge. Concepts like kafalah (the commitment to voluntarily take care of the maintenance, education and the protection of a minor, in the same way a parent would do for a child) are unknown to them. The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said, ‘I and the guardian of an orphan will be in paradise or Jannah like these two fingers and he joined his two fingers.’ (Reported by al-Bukhari). This, along with many others lay emphasis on the fact that adoption is appreciated in Islam.

Another factor to discuss here is the societal pressure, which I will relate with the reason to adopt. You all will be familiar with the word ‘peer pressure’ which is almost the same as societal pressure. The world where we live in is a chaotic place, yet everyone manages to poke their nose in others’ business. Most of the people have the audacity to interfere in the private space one has. They’ll ask the dumbest and irrelevant questions that will want you to murder them. Unfortunately, many of us are affected by these remarks and it does have an impact on the decisions we make, be it little decisions like what to wear or big ones like adoption. If adoption is the case, and a couple has gathered the courage to adopt, the society makes sure that it ridicules the couple to an extent where they actually start questioning their decision. Questions like ‘why have you adopted?’, ‘which one of you has a problem?’, ‘you could have got married again’ can shatter a person. People with a big mouth need to realise that their comments do more harm than good, no matter how concerned they maybe.

No one has the right to comment on the intention of such couples. No wonder the most common reason to adopt is the inability to reproduce biologically, while there are some who adopt even though they are fertile. Some may choose this option to avoid contributing to overpopulation, or the belief that it is more responsible to care for parent- less children rather than reproducing their own. Every individual has their own reasons and justifications to do whatever they choose to do, and as respectful citizens it is our responsibility to accept their decision without giving them unnecessary opinions.

Family structure also has a say in this matter. People living in a nuclear family structure are much more prone to the idea of adoption rather than those living in a joint family. Many research findings support this view as it was seen that people adopted kids while living in a nuclear family as it wasn’t much a hassle as compared to families where everyone lives together. However, these findings may not apply to every joint family system.

This topic has always been very close to my heart as I myself plan to adopt in the future, but it saddens me to see that our country is nowhere near peace and prosperity. There are many people who I know have adopted, but they think of it as a matter of shame. They do not want to discuss anything and they just turn a blind eye towards this matter. While researching, I found thousands of articles and researches but sadly, none of them were from Pakistan. It’s not that people have not adopted here, but the mere fact that they feel ashamed and do not want to talk openly about it. I just wish that we open our minds towards this social issue and take a step forward by at least not demotivating those who show the courage to give a new name and a good life to a child. If every family decides to adopt one child, it would make a tremendous difference in our society and in our lives. Let’s make an effort to make this planet a better place to live for everyone!

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