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No stigma in adoption

Sunday, 22 Oct 2023

Navaneeta: I hope more adults will view the idea of adoption in a positive way.

I’VE heard that adopting children is frowned upon by many adults, as they believe that adopted children can pose problems and may not turn out well.

But I’m aware of others who embrace the opportunity to adopt children and provide them with the life they deserve.

Most parents who choose to adopt are either unable to have biological children or are single parents who are capable of raising a child.

Few parents decide to have both biological and adopted children. I happen to know a couple who did this – they are my adoptive parents.

I was born in Penang on Oct 17, 2004. My mother and father received a phone call from a nurse, who was a friend of theirs, informing them about a baby in need of a home as her biological mother did not have the means to provide necessary care.

Without hesitation, they agreed to take me in and raise me as their own.

At just five days old, I was handed over to my parents, who made the journey all the way from Kuala Lumpur to pick me up and deal with the legal arrangements before driving me home.

My father, Vasantha Kumar Tharmalingam, and mother, Thevika Ranee Subbiah, have two biological sons and a biological daughter – all of whom were born in the 1970s.

When I entered the picture, I was immediately considered their daughter and their children’s little sister.

Growing up, I did not know that I was adopted, nor did I understand what the term meant.

However, as I grew older, many of my classmates started asking me why my parents were so much older and why there was such a big age gap between my siblings and me.

Fortunately, my mother had already had “the conversation” with me. I was about eight years old when my mother scolded me for something I should not have done, which left me in tears.

Seeing this, my mother comforted me and explained that she had scolded me because she loved me.

I do not recall the exact conversation, but I remember my mother saying she did not want me to feel “different” or “left out”.

She then handed me a book that she used to read to me when I was a baby, which conveyed the message that “everyone is family”.

It was an emotional and challenging conversation for my mother to have, but it did not startle or overwhelm me in any way. I knew I was loved, so frankly, I did not care that I was adopted.

Now that I understand the world much better than when I was eight, I could not be more grateful for everything my parents have provided for me.

Over the years, many of my friends have asked me about my biological parents. I do not know them, and I have never asked about them because I am happy and comfortable, and simply because I love my parents.

Unfortunately, my father passed away on March 9 last year due to an illness, but my mother and siblings are healthy and are taking care of me.

Adopting a child is costly and involves a series of legal procedures. However, I would like to encourage adults to consider adopting a child in need.

I am not suggesting that you should not have your own children, but please consider expanding your family through adoption – that is, only if you are financially and mentally capable of doing so.

I hope more adults will view the idea of adoption in a positive way.

I am forever grateful to my family members. Thank you so much for raising me. Without you, I would not have been able to play the piano, participate in sports or pursue my tertiary studies.

So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, and I love you all.

Navaneeta, 19, a student in Kuala Lumpur, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team.

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