Mr and Mrs Emeka (not real names) have been married for 12 years but have not achieved conception. They had gone to several hospitals and performed several tests, but they all returned a verdict that there was nothing wrong with either party. Yet the pregnancy they so much yearned for, simply did not occur. Mrs Emeka felt the brunt of the societal stigma and shame much more than Mr Emeka – despite his best efforts to shield her.
She frequently cried herself to sleep, while wondering what she had done wrong. She was tired of all the tests and procedures including the expensive fertility interventions that had also not succeeded thus far. She was at her wits end and she felt she was simply drowning. Her relationship with her husband was also becoming strained as they were sometimes irritable towards one another. Her in-laws were also not helping matters as they started making snide remarks to her hearing.
Alhaji and Hajia Halidu (not real names) had been married for 9 years and they have a 7-year-old son. But the pregnancy was a difficult one and she had a c/s delivery. However, it was very difficult to control the bleeding after the c/s as she also had several fibroids. After battling for a long time, they informed the husband that they would have to remove her uterus in order to stand a chance of controlling the bleeding. He immediately gave consent as he wanted her life to be saved.
Subsequently, she was very upset when she recovered from surgery and was informed a few weeks afterwards. She was inconsolable for several weeks and her husband struggled to make her cheer up. She lamented that the doctors should have tried more as she had always wanted to have many children. Alhaji Halidu understood perfectly well and felt somewhat guilty for giving consent so quickly. But then, how could he have gambled on losing her?
He also wanted many children but considering his role in this scenario and how devastated his darling Hajia was, it was out of the question to consider marrying another wife. Maybe he should bring up adoption? He was not sure how she would react though. She could welcome it or she could become upset and think it was a backhanded insult because of her inability to have more children.
Bose was an orphan who struggled to complete secondary school via the goodwill of her Uncle who was a struggling shoemaker. She started hawking in primary school and by the time she completed secondary school, she knew she could not afford to go further with her educational pursuits. She met Tunji, a caring and friendly mechanic and they fell in love and got married. After a year of marriage, she was delivered of a set of twin boys and her joy was complete.
Or so she thought. Until the news came that her Tunji had been involved in an accident with a truck while he was test driving a vehicle. And he died on the spot. The twins were barely a month old at the time. Her bright and happy life was turned upside down.
Tunji had promised to save up some money to set her up in business. They were still living in a rented single room apartment (face me, I face you). How will she cope with no job, no skills and no capital to start a business? What can she do? Who will help her? She looked at the babies sleeping soundly on the bed and she burst into tears again.
She wanted them to have the best of life, a chance at education that she couldn’t fulfill, and to be able to attain their full potentials. What could she offer them other than a hard life and a bleak future? She had read about adoption previously and now she found herself wondering if it might not be a better option for her twins. Perhaps she could extract a promise from the Agency that only a good family that will treat them well and give them a good life will have a chance to adopt them? And they must be adopted together. She didn’t want them separated. She felt guilty but also felt she was giving them a better chance at a successful future.
Post-script: This was inspired by a virtual series of discussions organized by the ‘Joy of Adoption’ Foundation, championed by Mrs Eme Akenzua. The theme of the discussion was around the challenges some adoptees face and solutions. Panelists were Mrs Bami Obasanya, Mrs Chiadi Ndu and me, with Mrs Eme Akenzua anchoring. Kudos for the amazing work of public awareness being championed by the Joy of Adoption Foundation.
To be concluded next week, as we explore the emotional impact of adoption for everyone concerned.
Tribune Article for the column “Your Mental Health & You”
Thursday, 24th June 2021