The Adventures of Squirky the Alien

A Children's Book Series on Adoption


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An Interesting Study on Adoption in Singapore

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I came across an academic abstract titled “Attitudes Toward Adoption in Singapore” by Asst. Professor Jayashree Mohanty from the Department of Social Work at the National University of Singapore. Fortunately, I part-time in a university that gives me access to all kinds of e-journals, and so I was able to download this paper and read it in its entirety. While I got a bit lost with the statistics (it’s been a while since I came across dichotomous variables gah!), the general findings were fascinating, especially given how this paper was just released late last year. I appreciate getting a big picture perspective of adoption attitudes in Singapore – Dr. Mohanty had interviewed over 1,2000 Singaporean citizens and permanent residents for her research.

In any case, here’s the stuff that I found fascinating:

– 86.2% of Singaporeans approve of adoption, yay! However, this approval rate is lower than in studies conducted in Western countries such as the US (94%) and Canada (98%).

– Importance of blood ties (blood ties seen as the strongest form of relationships in Chinese culture, and Islamic beliefs in purity of family lineage). Previous studies in other countries show that having unknown blood ties leads to social discrimination.

– Familiarity/personal experience with adoption is positively related to favourable opinions about adoption and intention to adopt.

– Only 47.4% were in favour of open adoption, largely due to the belief that contact with biological parents may interfere with bonding in the adoptive family, and challenge the parental role identity.

– Indians and Malays are more favourable towards transracial adoption than Chinese; one factor being that transracial adoption is more prevalent historically among these communities in Singapore.

– Dr. Mohanty’s conclusion: “There is a need for programs to raise the general public’s awareness of the various issues and concerns of adoptive triad members [birth parent, adoptive parent and adoptee] and the important role of adoption in creating families in Singapore. As a society, if we want our families to be strong and stable, we need to be sensitive toward the specific needs of adoptive families and provide the support they need, so that they can grow in a happy and enriching environment.”

My brain ached a little after reading it. But it’s such a rare and relevant resource! Do drop me a line at adventuresofsquirky[at]gmail[dot]com if you’d like to find out more about this study.

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Lessons Learned

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Last week was tough for Little C. He came down with Salmonella poisoning, but we didn’t know what it was until the 5th day, when there was blood in his stools, and the PD told us it was a bacterial infection and took a culture test to confirm it. We knew it wasn’t any run-of-the-mill bug, because he would wake up in the middle of the night sobbing with excruciating stomach spasms, and his fever never went away. One night, I burst into tears while he was shrieking in pain because I didn’t know what else to do.

Last week was also when I was  sick, running a fever with a bad cough. Last week was also when we were supposed to travel but we cancelled the trip. Last week was also when I had to ensure Squirky Book 2 materials were ready to be submitted to the publisher, give a three-hour lecture (when I barely had a voice) , and had to submit work to two clients.

I didn’t think I would get through last week. But in this frenzied, feverish situation, some thoughts came through:

I am a mother. 
There has always be this part of me wondering if I love C. enough because I am an adoptive mother. Many people have asked me this: would I be doing more if little C. was my biological child? This has always made me feel like less of a mother. In the past, I usually answer honestly by saying that there’s no question of loving C because I have always loved kids, but I really wouldn’t know if I would be doing things differently because I don’t have a biological child. But last week, the answer came through. Last week, I just wanted to protect him and take the pain away from him and do everything I could to make him better. He is my son and I just wanted to take care of him well. I remember someone telling me that she doesn’t like to refer to herself as an “adoptive mum” because to her, when she parents, she is just a mother. And I finally know what she means.

A child needs more than a mother.
While I was overwhelmed with maternal selflessness, realistically, there was only so much I could do. I never felt so limited as a parent being sick, strapped for time and sleep-deprived. But I thank God that my husband is a loving, not-afraid-of-projectile-liquid-poop father who stood through it all like a rock (while doing a lot of disinfecting). Little C’s grandparents also helped to watch over him for a few hours here and there, giving us the time to deal with the other commitments. I could not have handled this alone. I’m so grateful Little C. is surrounded by love from other members of the family.

Things are much better now, and we’re on the mend. To better days ahead (and definitely, a better appreciation of such days).


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Preparing for Book #2 (and some Book #1 meanderings)

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We are working on getting Book #2 ready later on this year, and have some Squirky promo lined up during the year-end school holidays. I’m really loving how illustrator David Liew has imagined my fictional space world, it’s exactly how I pictured it – and much, much more. 

In the meantime, there’s life. Little C. fell sick soon after the launch, then I caught his bug and am currently awake at 3.30am trying not to cough and being acutely aware of my limitations. To be honest, I’ve been feeling particularly challenged in the parenting department. Being the free-spirited little boy he is, everyday is a huge creativity exercise in working out enough space and fun for discovery, but also setting up the necessary boundaries of what is acceptable and not acceptable in our home (with love). 

Besides this, I’ve also been thinking about how people have been responding to the topic of adoption with Squirky Book #1. Here’s how it’s been: 

– Received a few random e-mails from strangers asking if I could help them answer the more emotionally-gruelling questions of their home study reports. I had to tell them that the answers had to come from them, no such thing as “model answers” but what they honestly feel about the prospect of becoming adoptive parents. 

– Received a few discreet queries on behalf of “friends of friends (of friends)” who are exploring adoption but don’t know where to begin. Perhaps I’ll do a simple “getting started” post  on this soon. I also found out that a friend of a friend adopted soon after reading an FB post we did when we announced our adoption to our friends and family (we tagged a few people, and their contacts saw what we had written). 

– Received some genuinely concerned queries on the topic of disclosure. Someone told me that they were afraid that if they told their child, their child would run away from them. Someone mentioned that it was good that he did not know his cousin was adopted earlier, because if not he would have made fun of her when they were kids. Ooof. I know it’s so taxing emotionally to speak hard truths and leave things to the great unknown. I know this part of the world can be particularly ignorant/discriminatory about adoption. But to me, disclosure is the only way to go. Here’s why

– Received a few lovely accounts of adoption stories. I’m so thankful for this. It is comforting to know of other people who have been through similar (and yet different) journeys.