‘I accept who I am and what I am,’ says adopted child

success-adoptPETALING JAYA: Barely a day old, an innocent baby girl, oblivious to the fact that her mother had rejected her, was handed over to a married Muslim couple longing for a child after numerous failed attempts to have one of their own.

26 years later, Alana Maulad Azmi (not her real name) has grown up to become a successful entrepreneur, holding her head high, despite the stigma she had to live with because she was adopted.

“I am one of them,” Alana told FMT. “I accept who I am and what I am.”

Born out of wedlock, Alana however says that for the most part, she never felt any different from others simply because she was never treated differently, especially by her parents.

However, she did struggle with public prejudice when she was younger.

She remembers feeling uncomfortable when having to spell her name out in class and explain why she did not carry her father’s name but the term “Maulad” – or “Mawla/Mawlad” as spelt in Arabic, and which means guardian or trustee.

“It is a bit difficult in the beginning once you find out why you have Maulad stated on your IC and birth certificate.

“But you get used to it eventually to the point that it doesn’t bother you anymore,” she said, adding that any child, regardless of whether born out of wedlock or not, deserved equal and fair treatment by those around them.

She said that from her personal experience, adopted children like herself were just as much discriminated against as children born out of wedlock, because both were not allowed to carry their biological father’s name.

“Public perception towards adopted children and illegitimate children (anak haram) is almost similar and we carry the burden of stigmatisation by society.”

However, she said that she did not condemn the practice of adding the surname “bin Abdullah” to the names of illegitimate children – as it was in accordance with Shariah law as stated in the Quran.

“It is a clear-cut ordinance in the Quran that an illegitimate child (“anak tak sah taraf”) shall not carry the surname (“tidak boleh dinasabkan”) of the father of the child or the person who claims to be the father of the child.

“It is a matter of reaffirming the child’s status in matters of inheritance and marriage,” she said, adding that the embarrassment of carrying the “bin Abdullah” surname was only temporary.

“In Islam we all know that an illegitimate child cannot inherit anything from the family.

“Even the man who claims to be the father, cannot be a qualified “wali” (guardian) of the child if she were to get married,” she said, adding that a judge was appointed as guardian for her own “Aqad” (wedding) which took place at the Islamic religious department.

On Thursday, the Court of Appeal ruled against the NRD, allowing a child born on April 17, 2010, three days short of the six-month period to legitimise the birth to a couple, to use the father’s name in the birth certificate as the parents requested.

The Court of Appeal also said the NRD’s insistence that “bin Abdullah” be used instead, violated the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957 (BDRA), which made no distinction between a Muslim and non-Muslim child.

The NRD justified their action, saying it was based on fatwas issued by the National Fatwa Committee in 1981.

The court however said the fatwa was in conflict with the BDRA, which allowed the father of the illegitimate child to make his name the child’s surname.