Mary and her husband had discussed the idea of adopting early on in their marriage; something her husband was wholly interested in. With his Pakistani/Indian roots, he had witnessed a series of informal adoptions in his family due to the disruptive partition between India and Pakistan, whereby displaced children were taken on by different members of his family and given a home. On the other hand, Mary didn’t really have a clue about adoption, but she knew it was something she’d like to explore at some point in her future.
The couple ended up having two birth children of their own, before deciding to officially adopt. They got the ball rolling by going to their local authority, who explained to them that they could only place children of the same race with families and finding a half white/half Pakistani child was just not possible for them at the time. Not only that, but because Mary and Taimur already had two children of their own, they weren’t a priority. They decided to go to Coram, who they had heard were great with dealing with hard to place children – including Muslim children. The couple describe Coram as ‘brilliant’. In total the process only took around 8 months. As chance would have it, the foster carer was struggling with the 4-month-old baby, so the process was sped up.
“(On the topic of mahram) I think people need to find out the various Islamic positions on mahram. The importance is placed on the mother child bond… It’s about intention. Not everyone can breastfeed.”
We asked Mary about whether she ever felt like she struggled to bond with her adopted son and she admits she had initial fears.
(On adoption; ‘I’ve got two birth children; will I love this child in the same way I love them.’
These fears were dispelled when she held the baby. She explains that something is triggered in you when you receive your adopted child, and you feel immensely protective. She stresses that any child – birth and adopted – is not your property. They belong to Allah, and through whatever avenue, you’ve been chosen to care for them.
“(On their adopted son) he goes through phases of being quite angry at his birth parents….”
Mary and Taimur have been open about their son’s adoption, welcoming an open dialogue with him. The life story book has helped them discuss his birth family with him in a way that is tactful. Their son is now 13 and flicks between phases of indifference to his birth parents and asking a multitude of questions about them. The couple reached out to Coram again to help deal with their child’s frustrations in understanding why his birth mother didn’t keep him. Mary acknowledges that this is likely to be a recurring thought throughout his life and wants to support him in whichever way she can.
“(On adopted children) the pain they carry that there’s something inherently unlovable or wrong with them can run quite deep”
When asked what they’d want to share with prospective Muslim adopters, Mary & Taimur say go for it, give all the love that you can, but be aware that your adopted child will wrestle with particular issues explore at different stages in their life, and you must be open and willing to help them on their journey of self-discovery. Don’t be ashamed to get help.