Wale is a 25-year-old lawyer and the only child of his parents, and they showered him with love and all the care they could provide. He was confident in their love and concern for him all through his growing up years until they both died in a car accident, while they were travelling to attend a family event in their hometown. He was devastated by the sudden loss and felt all alone in the world. All shades of relatives showed up and started demanding for the sharing of his parents’ assets, which shocked him to the marrow, and he vehemently opposed it. They had not even concluded plans for their burials, and they were here, arguing very cold-heartedly about sharing assets. That was when they informed him that they knew his history and they will tell him in case he didn’t know…..that he was adopted as a baby after his parents had battled infertility for several years. So, he should just keep quiet when family was talking. He was devastated, when the family lawyer confirmed this to be true but re-assured him that they had left a will and he was the sole beneficiary.
But it was not about the wealth and the assets. He suddenly felt lost and without bearing. It was almost like he had lived a lie all his life. His mind was in turmoil. Who were his biological parents? Why did they put him up for adoption? Are they still alive? Could he possibly have siblings? Why didn’t they want to keep him? And as he was entertaining these thoughts, he was also conflicted about the only parents he had ever known. He loved and cherished them and was grateful for all the love they had shown him. But he also felt a twinge of regret and some bitterness that they never confided in him so he could ask them all the questions he had now that couldn’t possibly be answered anymore.
Last week, we started this series with three scenarios involving Mr and Mrs Emeka, a loving couple who had been married for 12 years and were struggling with fertility challenges and critical comments from both sides of their families. We also introduced Alhaji and Hajia Halidu who had a 7-year-old son but Hajia needed to have her womb removed when she was bleeding continuously after the c/s to deliver her son. Thye had always wanted many children and were now considering the option of adoption. Lastly, we narrated the story of Bose who dropped out of school due to financial challenges and married a Mechanic who loved her but was killed in a car accident within a few months of her delivering a set of twin boys. She struggled with the thought of trying to bring them up by herself and the real possibility that they may also end up on the streets without education. She was entertaining thoughts of putting them up for adoption by a family that will take them together and promise to guarantee them quality education and a good home. That way, they may stand a chance of having a better life than she could ever afford them.
This week, we introduced the perspective of an adopted Wale who only found out after the demise of his adoptive parents. In all these scenarios (names are fictitious), it should be clear that adoption provided a viable alternative with potential benefit for everyone concerned. But that will only hold true if it is handled the right way by everyone concerned.
Emotional challenges of Adoption
Adoption clearly carries with it, several emotional challenges for everyone concerned. The parents or single parent who puts up a child for adoption may be wracked by guilt and regret afterwards and sometimes may wonder how the child is faring. An individual who was adopted will struggle for a long time and will continue to wonder why their biological parent felt they could do without them. Was it that they were so worthless to their biological parents? Yet they are so treasured/loved by the adoptive parents? What really is their place in the family and in society? The adoptive parents often dread having to tell the child that he/she was adopted – for fear that they may lose the child. Many never do, as we saw with Wale above. But this is unfair and not in the best interest of the adopted child.
Open and honest conversations from early on is the best strategy for everyone concerned. There are emotional challenges, but they are surmountable, and organizations like the ‘Joy of Adoption Foundation’ provide guidance for anyone who needs it. Kudos to Mrs Eme Akenzua and her Team for the excellent work they are doing. It should and can be a win-win for everyone and the wider society at large.
Tribune Article for the column “Your Mental Health & You”
Thursday, 1st July 2021