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Abimbola Adeluwoye: Adoption in Nigeria – The Call

Abimbola Adeluwoye

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This is a topic that is very dear to my heart. Not because I was adopted or know someone who was. But because I believe this is a seriously underdeveloped area in the country and I hope to use this and more media to explore adoption and create so much awareness, we make it a norm rather than an oddity in Nigeria.

This way, we open our minds to the immense possibilities and pressures that would be lifted off the shoulders of Nigerians and society.

When I was much, much younger, I decided I was not going to get married. I was going to adopt a child and he/she will be called mine. I was only eight when I stood by the sitting room door and announced to my mother that I was not going to get married. I remember her saying “Say I reject it in Jesus name” I rolled my eyes and repeated in kind but of course, to my then intractable mind, that was that.

While some people, may be quick to say that mum had taken the extra-terrestrial way out rather than offer some commonsensical advice or questions, mum loved(s) me and that advice was the best and most lovable thing she knew to have said at the time.

My reason for not wanting to get married was because there was so much I wanted to do in life and I felt I would not be able to commit fully to the responsibilities that would be expected of me as a wife and eventually, God willing, a mother.

I didn’t want a family that would have an absentee mother or to have her miss out on important family events, because I wanted to help people. I know this because this is what I am called to do. To help. But what sort of help would I be if I could not help the very people who God had chosen to bless me with intimately? The one with whom I gave life and the ones we gave life? There is after all a reason for the saying that charity begins at home.
Reading this, you might think my reason(s) seem quite altruistic, self-sacrificing and good intentioned. You may even commend me for knowing what I wanted in life from a very young age. But I’ve been forced to face some hard truths in the last three years of my life and look much more closely at my seeming pacts of selflessness.

I won’t bore you with the details. But suffice to say that while my desire to adopt is still unshaken, I have had to be more painfully honest with my “no ring for me” whys in order to move on positively with my life and what I am called to do. It was hard. Still is, but I live freer.

I was opportune to attend the Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation, Parent-in-Waiting Conference. No, I am not a parent, and while I am not exactly waiting, I read excitedly through the page and my heart skipped a bit when I saw something relating to adoption. I travelled down to Lagos to attend the event, and while you will forgive if voyeuristic desire to see and hear first-hand how the “other side lived”, the only reason I can give is that I just needed to know.

It’s the same reason I volunteer for Omotade Alalade’s Beibei Haven Foundation.
Most people who sat near me came as couples and my heart bled. I couldn’t begin to imagine the yearning and desires that fueled their nightmares.

The couple who sat beside me were in their early to mid-forties. I don’t know their names. I didn’t ask, but the devotion and love between them was so obvious, they even fell asleep within seconds of each other while waiting for the conference to start. But few things put love to test like a childless marriage.

There are more options than before for couples with infertility challenges, but I am more interested in adoption. While at the beginning it was a more of a means to satisfy any motherly yearning I may have in life, now, I see how some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

Here, may I honor anyone who has experienced pain and hurt in life and gone on to use it to heal and make miracles happen in the lives of others.

Think of Joyce Meyer, sexually abused by her father for fifteen years; Michelle McKinney Hammond, unmarried handmaid of God; Ibidunni Ighodalo, childless after many years of marriage; Nike Oyetunde, inspiring amputee. These women may have had their moments of “Why me, Lord? Why didn’t you stop the abuse, give me a husband, give me a child of my own, or heal me?”

The journeys break our bodies, destroy our minds and sometimes quench our spirits. We question ourselves, doubt ourselves and are consumed by what others would be/are saying about us. But we rise up, not because of it, but in spite of it and reach a helping hand out to our brothers and sisters mired in the same place of pain.

But who would help you if you were the only one who had gone or is going through a particular challenge in the whole world? No one!

In this series, I am going to be discussing the history of adoption in the world, using the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and the Animal Kingdom (Yes; that’s what I wrote) as case studies.

We will close the curtain with Nigeria and how we can improve and advance the adoption system here. The aim is to educate and explore beliefs, cultural narratives and laws about adoption.

I would also discuss how self-examination has made me arrive at a much healthier reason for considering adoption.
It is with the hope that you find healing within these pages and reorient purpose to a path you may have left unconsidered. I hope you join me.

Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime

'Bimbola Adeluwoye is a lawyer by training and an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) enthusiast. She is also the founder of Ma Belle, an organization that teaches social and emotional skills to youths. A Peugeot lover, she can be reached for talks and commentary at [email protected]

10 Comments

  1. NImo

    October 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    I´m looking forward to the series, I knew at an early age that i would love to adopt too. My moms reaction was quite similar to your :).

  2. Bukki

    October 16, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    I must say that this write-up speaks to me personally not because I am at a threshold where I have to chose between options like the one presented herein or endless torture due to following societal dictates. You don’t know what this means to me but thank you all the same.

  3. LemmeRant

    October 16, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    if its in your heart to adopt, please do. You’re not only helping a life but also helping the society.

    Some years back, a family relative of mine based in US came to Nigeria to begin adoption proceedings for a little girl. The process was a lengthy one, so the mom-to-be couldn’t just abandon her work. They agreed the child stay with us in our house until her papers were sorted out.

    The little girl was a blessing. She was at that perfect age where she was still really little and cute, but old enough not to make a mess by pooping on herself…
    She was the joy of the house. I remember sitting next to her and thinking: This baby’s parent probably abandoned her in a orphanage (or God forbid under the bridge/dumpster) thinking there was no hope for her and here she was laughing joyously in our house about to be a citizen of the United States of America, small time now you’ll see her and she will start blowing “phone” for you.

    All the while we were still disturbing ourselves with when NEPA will bring light and other Nigeria-centric problems.

    She’s gone now, living a better life.

    You’ll never know how much impact you make on someone’s life.

    • Anon

      October 16, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      I have a similar story. The girl was a new born baby who was taken in, in a convent. She was adopted and her mother left her with her sister until all the paperwork was finalised. She finally joined her mother in America about 9 years ago and if you see both of them, you will not know she’s adopted. She’s brought immense joy to her family.

  4. anon

    October 16, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    Please also advise on how to go about adoption in Nigeria. the truth is, there are many people who will like to adopt a child but dont know how or where to even start from.

  5. Papacy

    October 16, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    I have an adopted cousin. the lil boy can eat for africa. cute for days. It makes you wonder “how could anyone give you up?”. Just makes me love the kid so much more. He is really a blessing.

  6. Diva

    October 16, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    We adopted my little sister 12 years ago, 2 days after she was born… It has definitely been a blessing to our families but not without its challenges…

  7. Iyaiyayo

    October 17, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    This is a series after my heart. I plan to adopt and have given myself a timeline of 2 years to get to a financially comfortable place, comfortable enough to bring up a child without feeling like I’m depriving him/her of a better life. I have my heart set on a girl and I actually spent the trip to work this morning day dreaming about it. I hope I can adopt as a single mother, because this Naija, you never know! Before some social welfare worker will deny my application because I’m divorced.

    I’d follow up with this series.

  8. meelikey

    October 17, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Can’t wait for the series,kudos writer.

  9. TY

    December 17, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    I’m interested. Following

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