Sunday, 5 June 2011

Telling the truth now, will hurt... but not telling will hurt even more

There are certain times in our lives when we face a situation that puts us in dilemma. More often than not, such a situation is a result of a decision or choice we made quite a long time ago. At the point in time when the decision was made, we believed that it was the correct one, or at least it was the most appropriate one under the circumstances. In actual fact, we are merely pushing the problem to a later date, hoping that somehow a favourable solution would present itself sometime in the future. Sooner or later, we come to the inevitable point of dealing with the matter, whether we like it or not.

A few days ago, my cousin met me to discuss about a problem she is facing. She is making preparations for the wedding of her only daughter in a few month's time. She wants my help to arrange for my mother (being the closest elder family member) to be present when she breaks an important piece of news to the young lady who's getting married. And what is this important bit of news that needs to be told?

The young lady is adopted. My niece is not my cousin's biological daughter. When my cousin got married many years ago, she found out that she couldn't bear any children of her own. An opportunity came by her way when someone gave up a baby girl for adoption. My cousin took up the offer and proceeded to raise the girl as her own. I can still remember the first time I set eyes on my cousin's new daughter. She was so cute and chubby, and everyone adored her.

The baby girl has now grown up to be a pretty young lady. She started work as a graphic designer a few years ago and her hand is now sought in marriage by a handsome young man.

The time has therefore arrived for the mother to reveal to the daughter who she actually is. It is something that cannot be avoided, especially in Muslim marriages. My cousin is now in the unenviable position of finding a way of breaking the news to the young lady. I can picture the heartache and grief that both mother and daughter will face when the news is broken. Expect tears to flow, all around.

Why is my cousin asking me for advice? Because I have first-hand experience of such a situation. My own youngest sister is adopted. The day when my parents told her the real story was one of the saddest days of my life.

I recall the day very well. My mother had called me one day, asking me to come home urgently. Something to do with my sister, she said. I went to my parent's home with my wife. On reaching there, I saw that all my three younger brothers have already arrived. When we were all seated, my father started to speak. The old man is a seasoned speaker and he delivered the story in a most gentle and calm manner as he could. Even so, how are we to know what my sister felt at that time? When my father finished speaking, it was the turn of my mother... and the emotions started to flow as soon as she spoke. When she finished, the time came for the brothers to speak. Being the eldest, I spoke first. I wasn't sure what I said had helped relieve my sister's feeling of grief and possibly disappointment at that time.

I love my sister very much. Before she came into our life, we were four mischievous siblings, all boys. My mother brought her home when I was 13-years old. I helped my mother take care of her until the day I had to enroll into boarding school. Never once did it cross my mind that she and I do not carry the same blood.

I told my cousin our story. How she would approach her own situation now would very much depend on how she expect the reaction would be from her daughter. It would be preferable, I thought, if my cousin was to speak to her daughter on a one-to-one basis. The fewer people around, the better... because it always hurt you more to know that other people know about your background than your own self. But if my cousin feels that she needs our moral support, then we will be there. Whatever it is, I hope she doesn't wait too long. Waiting does not help lighten the sorrow...


Pak Zawi said...

Very delicate situation indeed but earlier get done the better. Since she was loved as much as anyone else, I guess she will get over it.

mamasita said...

Oldstock..this is a common matter.
As long as she knows she has always been a very much-loved daughter, she will not think much of it..considering that she has grown to be a beautiful and an intelligent adult.
Your aunty will always be her only mum. Nothing else matters.

Just assure her that this is purely a wedding confession..for her to know.That's all.The family's deep affection for her remains totally intact.
May she be blessed with a very memorable and an extremely happy wedding.

Wan Sharif said...

Mmm.. faced a worse situation.. the lady is not only adopted.. got some intricate issue of legitimacy as well.. luckily after all our effort we managed to sort out that.. what was assumed illegitimate turned out to be legitimate... a happy ending of some sort.. after we go along the line suggested by mamasita above :)

Pat said...

I don't think any one of us can know how she will really feel - unless we ourselves are adopted.

It's the same for those who don't have children: we can never know how they feel, because we have children of our own.

I hope she will feel blessed to have been chosen by the family; to be loved as one of them; to have never felt different, or slighted against . . . . my list is endless.

I pray that she can find a way to come to grips with this, and go on to making a happy marriage.

Oldstock said...

Pak Zawi,

Yes, I hope she gets over it. Cuma masalahnya, the mother is still not sure on how to break the news.

Oldstock said...


In the end, that's the best that we can assure her.... that we love her just like any other family member. Tapi kan, sometimes words can seem to be not enough when the heart has been hurt. But as the saying goes, time is the best healer...

Oldstock said...

Ayoh Wang,

I guess the situation is unavoidable when we have an adopted family member. The issue has always been what is the best time to tell the adopted person the truth. There is no one correct answer.

Glad to know that your situation turned out all right.

Oldstock said...


You are right. We can never know how the person in particular actually feels. I didn't say particularly much during my sister's situation. But I told her I'll always be there for her and she'll have my support anytime. In such situations, action is always better than assurances... thankfully she has kept faith in me.

Thanks for your kind words and wishes.

little ain said...

this is indeed very sad.

i don't know what to say because i'm not in that position.

but for me, i think we, as the parents should tell the truth to our kids, especially daughters soon they are matured enough to accept this. because we know that somehow sooner or later we have to tell them because they'll get married and surely, she'll need the real father to perform those things.

i hope everything is okay between them now :)

Oldstock said...

Salam Little Ain,

It is always a difficult thing to do for parents of adopted children to decide when is the right time to tell the real situation. Keadaan yang serba salah...

Thanks for the comment and do drop by again soon.

Al-Manar said...

About the time Awang Goneng was around, someone mentioned your name among other names he met. He must be one of the bloggers I met recently.

Anyway when I read this entry I told myself this is the kind of true-life story I enjoy writing. These turns and twists in real life are, to me, the evidence of a powerful hand orhestrating our lives. I wish you would have more of this sort of strange events in life. Being an OLDstock, but not for one moment I believe this, you should have many of such experiences. This kind of posting is rare among those we encounter, the type that offers a moral value that one can reflect and learn from it.

Salaam to you mr Ir.

Oldstock said...

Salam Pakcik Al-manar,

Thank you for those kind words. I am but a humble writer putting personal experiences on a computer screen to prevent an idle mind.

I do hope to be able to drop by your place one day on my next trip to the east coast, insyaAllah..