The Dutch Antropologist Pien Bos' PhD research project was yesterday rewarded with a CUM LAUDE. Her findings can be read in 'Once a Mother'. I was present during this event and must say I was deeply impressed.
Bos researched the motivation of Indian unmarried mothers to relinquish their children for adoption.Her conclusion is that Indian women who relinquish their children are not well informed. They often relinquish their children because they find themselves in an environment where adoption is considered the best, if not the only solution. Often they feel they relinquish the care of the child, but not the child itself. The cultural significance of the blood bond between a mother and her child, in combination with the cultural meaning of the notion mother, implies that motherhood is not transferable.
Pien Bos argues that these mothers should be better informed about the possibilities to keep their children.
Crucial is the role of the NGOs. Pien Bos interviewed 36 mothers in different mother and child homes in Chennai. The NGOs running these mother and child homes also have another role: placing children for adoption (in foreign countries, but more and more within in India). For adopted children these NGOs receive money, and this is, says Bos, where the situation becomes problematic. Staying in these mother and child homes is a like a trap, rarely unmarried mothers can leave with their children.
Pien Bos lived for two years in India and her interviews with the Indian mothers give a great but disturbing insight in the lack of freedom of those mothers. And the question remains if in such an ambiguous situation, children should be placed for adoption.
A must read.
The book can be ordered at firstname.lastname@example.org - 15,00 Euros