The following is written for my final-year project on adoption in Singapore, and posted here for an assignment as part of my course Journalism Reimagined.
There was Spiderman, Superman and Batman. Toy figurines of all kinds stared from their shelves in various corners of the four-room flat. The clutter of colours and shapes made the living hall look smaller than it actually was.
It was a child’s paradise. Only that there were no kids in this household – just Michael, Joyce and her mother. The aged woman had arrived from China three years after her only child got married, with plans to take care of her grandchild. But she has waited in vain for the past sixyears.
Like many other Singapore couples, Michael and Joyce had wanted to enjoy a few years of marriage before having a child. Those few years, however, stretched on beyond their expectations.
In 2003, after undergoing a litany of tests, they discovered that their chances of conceiving were slim. Unknown to Michael, the steroids-based medication he had been taking for hypertension the past ten years had a side effect – infertility.
It put paid to their dreams of seeing their own child grow up. For the couple who work with children every day – Michael as a primary school IT trainer, Joyce as a Chinese language teacher – the irony of the situation was not lost on them.
“Every day we interact with children, but we don’t have children of our own,” Michael said.
In-vitro fertilisation was not an option, because it was expensive, and traumatic, and did not have a 100 per cent success rate. Driven to desperation, they decided to turn to adoption.
They soon realised that adopting a child was not an easy path. Preferring a child to be of the same ethnicity, they had wanted to adopt from China. However, at a pre-adoption workshop organised by family service centre Touch Adoption Services last August, they learnt that China requires adoptive parents to have a body-mass index (BMI) of less than 40, among other rules. Michael’s BMI is much higher.
For now, as they contemplate adopting from countries with fewer regulations like Malaysia, Michael and his wife have only their hobbies to pass their time.
Said the avid toy collector as he looked at the superheroes around him: “My hobbies are here, but hobbies, they never talk back to you and give you joy, the kind of joy a baby can bring you.”