17 July 2008

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.
Wednesday July 16, 2008
In the name of their fathers
The recent announcement that Muslim adopted children must use the names of their biological male parent and not that of their adoptive fathers, as previously allowed, is causing anguish to many an adoptive parent as well as

I wonder what is it about us as a society these days when common sense has now become less commonplace?

Once upon a time we trusted ourselves, in our instincts and in our own values to do the right thing. We empathised with those in unfortunate circumstances and did our best to mitigate their situations.

These days people trust their natural instincts less, preferring to refer to others who tell us they are in authority.

We abdicate the responsibility to think and instead ask for guidance from others and follow that advice even when sometimes instinctively we know that the advice is unfair and incorrect.

A fine example is the recent announcement by the Home Minister that Muslim adopted children must use the names of their biological fathers and not the names of their adoptive fathers, as previously allowed.

Ostensibly, this was to fall in line with a fatwa made eight years ago but whether this solves problems or creates them seems to not be considered at all.

In the first place, the assumption seems to be that adoptive parents always know who the father of their adopted children are. But since babies are often adopted from unwed mothers, the fathers are not always known.

What if the babies are the result of liaisons with foreign fathers who gave false names? What if the babies are the result of rape?

Sometimes babies are adopted from a different race. If Baby A was originally Chinese or Indian and not born Muslim, do they then have to be known as Baby A Tan or Baby B Ramasamy?

Some have argued that the reason for keeping adopted children’s original names is so that they will not accidentally marry their own siblings.

Perhaps there was a risk of this in the days when people did not travel much outside their own communities or tribes.

This is possibly why the Chinese advise against marriage between two people with the same surnames. But with more than two billion Chinese sharing many common surnames, the chances that a Tan from one end of the country being related to a Tan from the other end of the country has become remote.

But if the logic is that you should take your father’s name so that you won’t marry any of your father’s other children, then what protection would you have against marrying one of your mother’s other children (by a man other than your father) that she might also have given away?

Furthermore, the converse logic is also problematic. If you don’t share the same surname as your adoptive siblings, then presumably you can marry them, even if you have grown up with them all your life.

Biologically this may be all right but socially and morally, would this still not be regarded as incestuous?

Woody Allen was neither biologically or even ethnically related to Soon-Yi Previn, yet people still found the liaison between them repugnant because she was his wife’s adopted daughter.

As the sister of several adopted siblings, I know at close hand the problems associated with both having the same as well as different surnames.

All my adopted siblings knew their status from childhood but the problem came from outside the family, not within. People did not treat them the same as us biological children even though they have the same surname.

In some cases, they simply disbelieved their relationship because of the different surnames. Perhaps it is because we are not an ordinary family but I imagine that even in ordinary families, you can still have this problem.

Besides, in Malay families, we do not have surnames. Not every “bin Ali” is related to every other “bin Ali”. You would have to trace back each person several generations on both sides of the family in order to be certain they are or are not related.

How is that possible with adopted children, especially orphans or abandoned children?

This new policy is one that is causing anguish to many an adoptive parent. Adoption has often meant a better life for many orphans. Couples adopt so that they can provide a loving home to children who would otherwise have never known a family.

I know some couples who've adopted children who turned out to be hearing-disabled and they have done everything they can to ensure that their children lead as normal a life as possible.

Already this policy is causing people to hesitate before they adopt. Many others are concerned about the emotional turmoil that public knowledge of their non-biological child’s status will cause, as opposed to private acceptance within the family.

One has to wonder who exactly is to benefit from this new law? It is certainly not the adopted child.