Today, I ran across a neighbour of ours, a sweet, old aunty inquiring why she hadn’t seen me around lately.
I smiled and told her we had a baby girl, eight-weeks-old now. Her face lit up. She proceeded with a congratulatory message.
“This is such good news!” she said.
And then, like always, I added, “It’s been my wish to adopt a baby girl. She came to us from Bilquis Edhi”.
The expected response came. “That’s wonderful. God will give you your own soon too.” I kept smiling, said my polite thank yous and walked into my home.
Also read: The adoption taboo
This was exactly like that other aunty from some days ago, who pulled me aside to tell me not to worry. She knew of people who couldn’t conceive but that after an adoption they ended up conceiving. Polite nods and thank yous followed.
Yes, God could probably give me my own. The literature that comes with my birth control pill tells me there’s a 0.1 per cent chance of that happening though.
People — complete strangers, acquaintances and loved ones have been very honest with me. I’ve been told that I need not be frightened of labour, because women all over the world go through it. I’ve also been asked if it’s because I’m scared to lose my figure.
One lady told me that God wants us to make our lives easier for ourselves and by choosing to adopt, I had chosen to make my life difficult.
A number of times, I’ve also been told that I’m being ungrateful to God; that there are countless women, all over the world who are trying to conceive, investing time and money to have their own child, living with the pain of it day in and day out; I, with a healthy conceivable body, am choosing to not fulfill its purpose.
I’ve often even been told that this is solely my decision, that even though my husband says he wants to adopt, he’ll change his mind if I do.
Even after all this, I’m sure I haven’t heard it all.
A friend asked me when I knew I wanted to adopt. I told her it was the day I learned what the word meant.
I don’t know exactly how old I was, not a teenager yet, when I was enjoying a morning swim at the Lahore Gymkhana. There was just one other lady with me in the pool. We eventually struck up a conversation. As she was telling me about herself, I heard her say she had an adopted daughter. She had chosen to adopt her.
It was then that I realised there was such a thing in the world — a family could be made of biological and/or adopted choices.
Editorial: ‘Adoption’ laws
For most people, adoption is a second option when their first choice of a biological child cannot be fulfilled. And that’s completely okay.
That is why it should also be completely okay for adoption to be the first choice too.
Love is not something we can understand. It is beyond the simple human experience of it because what we do out of love lives way past whatever temporary lives we get to feel it in.
And this decision is out of that love — the indescribable and often unacceptable.
Like all children, I had dreams. Desires of what I would do when I finally grew up. I wanted to live in my own apartment and own a car. I wanted a tattoo. I wanted piercings like those gorgeous Rajasthani women. I wanted to travel far to study.
And just as much as I wanted all the above, I wanted to adopt.
My baby is not a fear of pregnancy. She’s not a statement about the politics of women’s bodies or about taking the road less traveled.
My baby, Jahanara is my dream realised. I’m only living up to my own expectations.