Nino Khazhomia, 40, Tbilisi
„I was not able to have children because of biological reasons. I would have never been able to have a baby unless medicine had been so developed. Saba, who is now 13, is a biological son of my husband and me, born through in vitro fertilization. I used to say all the time that Saba’s birth would be a miracle. We know that there is a so-called “movement” in the church which opposes any progressive ideas, and among other things prohibits in vitro fertilization. By the way several years after having my child, I had a serious argument with a priest, who told me that I was supposed to be accursed because I dared and made IVF. “God wanted you to be childless”. I answered quite sharply, “If God had wanted me to be childless IVF would not have been successful” and advised him to accurse his grandmother instead.
Saba was successfully born although I had a risk of having a miscarriage for the whole 9 months. Throughout this period I constantly thought that I was going to have a second child by all means, whom I would adopt…
This decision was related to my past experience.
Several decades ago, as part of the „60 Minutes“ program I made a journalistic investigation about a three-year old boy living in the Kojori orphanage and his brutal treatment there. I remember one shot. A three-year old baby folded his clothes and put them under his pillow together with his shoes before going to sleep to prevent others from taking them away so that he would not stay naked on the following day. I was shocked by the scene. I will never forget it. I thought then for the first time that no matter how many children I had I would adopt one child and give him/her a caring family environment.
I really did that when Saba was one and a half year old and my husband and I were put on the list of families waiting to adopt a child….
Our decision was met by our parents rather aggressively. Even though my mother is a believer, she tried her best to persuade me that I had made a wrong decision. She said that this was a „shame“, that genetics mattered and we did not know what kind of person our adopted child would turn into. I did not listen to anyone.
Perhaps many people do not know that there are two ways of adopting children in Georgia: illegal and legal. Illegal practice entails selecting a pregnant woman who does not want to make abortion or has not been able to make abortion and wants to have a baby to put him/her up for adoption later. This woman is paid money and when the kid is taken out of the maternity home s/he already has the surname of the adoptive family. But this must be done in regional maternity homes, where it is easy to make a deal with doctors too. Some children are sold for USD 2,000, others for USD 5, 000 or USD 10,000.
I opted for a legal adoption. We filed in an official application form. You may indicate the basic requirements your prospective child should meet: for example, a desirable color of skin, hair or eyes, ethnical or religious background, physical features etc. To speed up the process we did not indicate any criteria. We were ready to adopt any type of a child.
In spite of this fact we had to wait in line for 10 years sharply!
Four years after submitting the application I called the agency. I was told that we were 662nd in line, which, based on simple arithmetical calculations meant that I would adopt a child at the age of 70-80! This is because of a legislative flaw. Although there are many children in need of parental care in Georgia they are not on the list of children that can be adopted if they are visited by someone at the orphanage at least once in 6 months. This may be even a distant relative, whom a kid does not know. As a result children may stay in the orphanage until they come of age because they are considered to be kids that may potentially be returned to their families. That is why adopting a child is a lengthy process.
So ten years of waiting was over. It was 28 December 2013. I was preparing for the New Year when they called and told me that there was a child available for adoption and we could see him in Rustavi in the foster family. His name was Nikoloz and he was 9 months old. First I thought that guys from Comedy Show were playing a New Year joke on me. According to my calculations my turn should not have come yet. I learned later that Nikoloz had been “disapproved” by everyone…
I decided to see the child on the following day. Saba was already 11 years old at that time.
I did not sleep at that night. That was the hardest night in my life. Suddenly I got afraid of everything. I was afraid that Saba would have all my attention and Nikoloz would not feel sufficiently favored, I was afraid that I would make a mistake and yield to my relatives’ admonitions. This was a night of struggle, which ended up with Nikoloz’s victory. I made a decision.
Our first meeting in Rustavi assured me that I made a right decision. As soon as I saw a kid wrapped in a blanket I realized that this was my kid I had waited for 10 years.
After our consent we had to implement some rad tape procedures – court, registry, meetings with a social worker. Otherwise we would not have been able to take the kid with us. The process took 2 months.
Throughout this time I have thought about Nikoloz’s biological mother all the time. I felt some kind of solidarity towards this woman. Maybe she was rather badly off, did not have money to buy food to take care of the child and had to give him up?! I decided to find this woman, talk to her like a woman to woman and support her financially on a monthly basis if she wanted her child back. I started looking for this woman, I found the region, village where she lived. But I stopped after I learned during the investigation process that this woman had not fought for her child for a day. She neglected Nika in the maternity home and left secretly…
On 28 February 2014 Nika came to our house and we slept for the first time together hugging each other.
My original fear that I would favor my biological child has proved groundless. There is no difference whether you have a biological child, carry a child in the womb or adopt a child. What matters most is the care and love you bestow upon the child. I do not even remember that Nika is not my kid genetically and for me there is no difference between Nika and Saba.
I think that it is a big mistake when a parent lies to a kid, who is adopted, and hides this fact from him/her. I think parents are driven by selfish reasons. Children should know by all means who their biological parents are. When Nika reaches the age when he is able to understand everything, and should he wish so, I will tell him the name of his mother. Nika is 4 years old now but we have already started preparing him. For example, when he asks sometimes, „Mommy, did you breastfeed me?“ I answer, „No, sonny, when you came to our house, you were already a big boy and ate ordinary food“. If Nika asks further, „Where were I before that time?“ I answer, “You were in one very good family, who took care of you, then we took you away.“
Since Nika came to us we have celebrated his birthday two times a year: on 28 February – the day when we brought him to our home and on 13 March, the day when he was born. I think this will help him take everything smoothly. We will also find it easier to explain to him.
I am rather affected by a stereotype that a child should not know that s/he is adopted because this will be stressful information for him/her. I think the kid will be stressed if I hide the truth and he will learn the story anyway from the so-called “well-wishers”. The kid will probably blame you for lying to him in his case.
I think all the time whether I will be jealous if Nika wishes to see and live with his biological mother when he grows up. But I have the following argument, “We do not have any reason for jealousy as long as we, parents want to have children not because we want to have someone to look after us when we turn old and take care of us like we used to take care of them, but because we want to turn them into individuals with a loving personality.“