Sherin Mathews’ Parents May Have Failed Her, But Let’s Separate Adoption From Abuse

Posted: October 30, 2017

Sherin Mathews’ adoptive father or adoptive mother might not have killed her. Her father or mother might have. Let’s focus on the parenting, not on the adoption. 

The recent tragic death of little Sherin Mathews is all over the news, with judgments furiously flying in the trial by social media declaring both parents guilty. I will not comment on their guilt, but I wish people would separate adoption from abuse.

Reading statements like “They may have wanted to get rid of her since she was adopted, and took advantage of the situation”, and “why did they adopt if they already had a child, this is a mystery” brings up some thoughts.

I raised my eyebrows at statements like, “if she had not been adopted, she would have lived happily in the orphanage” from the orphanage caregivers. An agency employee, even a loving one is a temporary caregiver. The fact is that the agency closed down, so where is the question of Baby Sherin aka Saraswati’s chance of a stable home?

People misconstrue adopting a child as:

  • A noble act saving a lucky, indebted child. Adoption is a one-time act. Parenting is for life.
  • An unnatural relationship. This paints parents who scold and discipline, as revealing their true monstrous natures.
  • A temporary arrangement and a permanent label. Adoptive parents are real parents.

Can we focus on parenting as raising the child? Whether you become a parent by giving birth, adopting, surrogacy, whether you’re a single parent or one of a gay parent couple, you commit to raising your child.

Children challenge us big-time. We have ideal visions of ourselves as parents, and then along come our children testing our every nerve, our sanity and patience. We can’t predict what our children (whether biological or adopted) will present us with, whether it’s disability, disease, behavior, eating or learning. Parenting is not about molding our children to make them perfect people; it’s about learning from our children to become higher versions of ourselves.

I’m a parent through both biology and adoption. Both my children have stretched me to my limits; I suspect I have sometimes failed both of them.

That’s me. My flawed self. Not them. Not the way they joined me. I sought support, role models, and help. As my children grew, I grew as a parent.

Adoptive parenting is certainly challenging; adopting cross-country more so. The loss of and rejection by their biological parents affects children mildly or severely. Adoptive parents certainly need more support and open-mindedness, willingness to change and doing what it takes to support the child. Adoption adds many layers to parenting, and involves several struggles, unknown challenges and a willingness to introspect and evolve. I have dissuaded prospective adoptive parents who felt ambivalent about adopting and weren’t ready to accept the child’s deep hurt and history.

However, the same counseling, support and scrutiny are due to biological parents. I know the hurt carried by my friends whose biological parents have rejected them while still raising them. Plenty of abusive, neglectful biological parents weren’t prepared, had no support or did not seek help and they failed. In the worst way.

They say life is an exam in which you do not know the questions. Parenting is a test in which we don’t know how our children will test us.

If guilty, Sherin’s parents clearly failed the parenting test. Not the adoption test.

Let’s change our question from “why did they adopt?” to “why did they choose to become parents?”

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I'm currently a communications specialist in the corporate world, and mom to a teen

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  1. Sofia L

    What a great, great article Nayantara. It was amazing to read the ‘real’ news. Thank you for such a great article which forces you to think away from the majority view. Wonderful read.

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