Sushmita Sen is creating news for having adopted another child. The lady is amazingly bold and beautiful. She is unique- a model by herself. She wants the joys of motherhood without the hassles of marriage. Or, for her, marriage is no bar for being a mother. Marriage is different and enjoying motherhood is a separate issue for her. A single woman adopting a child is not an unknown phenomenon but certainly a rare one. Not so rare some critics might say as they would fling some examples promptly. Some Hollywood celebs have adopted children from different third world countries. Some of them have adopted not one child but many. For a few of them, we could argue, it could be an altruistic motive at work but for most who adopt it has to be the need for motherhood.
Single mothers could be unmarried, divorced, widowed or separated. The percentage of such mothers would be quite large. As the divorce rates go up mothers are left with the duty of nurturing children all by themselves. But these conditions are forced by circumstances on women. They are definitely not made by choice. The percentage of unwed mothers is also significant and proportionate to the rate of abandoned children. Orphanages and destitute homes are proof of that. This category of (unwed) mothers who dump their children needs to be condemned. Logically such mothers should keep the custody of their children and bring them up and not desert them on the roads or orphanages for society to take care of them. But they choose to do otherwise. Going by the present norms, given a choice a woman would first like to marry, have a spouse and then think of building a family and having children.
But Madam Sushmita Sen is different. She wants to be single by choice, wants to be a mother by choice and wants to adopt a deserted baby again by choice. The thought of a single unmarried woman deciding to become a mother of an adopted child sounds preposterous to me. What would be her motivations and what would be her strengths and what sort of a mental resource she would possess to take such a great plunge into motherhood would force me to think deeply about her. Being a single adoptive mother by choice speaks of a different and a higher level of existence and evolution. You have to be made of an unknown metal!
Long time ago I had the opportunity to work as the coordinator of all adoption agencies existing in Nagpur then, as a part time engagement. I remember having witnessed a French woman- a musician- coming to Nagpur to adopt a girl child. She was cleared for becoming an adoptive parent as she stood tall under the scrutiny of the adoption procedures which are actually quite rigorous. She would make a good mother as she had all the qualities of being one I was informed. On the contrary single unmarried men did not make good parents and were not considered for being adoptive parents I was informed further. Predictably they did not have such requests from Indian woman I was also informed then. But that almost two decades ago!
This Sen event, besides being a social phenomenon is no less a psychological one too. It certainly requires a mindset of a different mould which is unknown yet or not popularly known yet. One can only conjecture that it requires a fierce sense of independence, a high sense of self efficacy, great guts to defy all norms of society and a commitment to lead life on one’s own terms. Women in general have being towing the patriarchal systems and following the footsteps of their men. Could they now wear their own shoes, tread their own paths and let others do the following! That’s a great and exciting thought!
Cheers to her!
Published in The Hitavada 03 Feb 2010