I DON’T WANT YOUR BABY
Monday, March 11th, 2013
The first time I mentioned, to the hearing of my mother, that I would like to adopt a child when I was older, I was sharply rebuked. This reaction left me puzzled, for though I had heard someone saying before that Nigerians weren’t favorably disposed to adoption, I had waved it off because I couldn’t believe anyone would be opposed to what in my opinion was a benevolent gesture. So, I set out to find out the truth about Nigerians’ attitude towards adoption, and here’s what I discovered.
Having a child is one of the yardsticks by which the success of a marriage is measured; therefore infertility can be one of the strongest sources of pressure on a marriage. Sometimes, the woman (who mostly bears the brunt of the stigma of infertility in our society) is made to believe that without children, her place has not been secured in her husband’s home [Ginger’s blog]. Adoption is one of the options that can be used to manage the situation.
Upon research on the subject, my fears were confirmed. The Ebunoluwa orphanage confirmed that in Nigeria, customs and traditions have it that children who cannot be cared for by their parents are taken in by someone within their extended family, but the idea of taking in or adopting a child who is not somehow related to the family is highly uncommon.
In a survey by Ezugwu of 264 women who were having difficulty conceiving in South-Eastern Nigeria to determine their knowledge, attitude and practice of child adoption, it was shown that 183 of them [69.3%] were unwilling to adopt, while only 81[30%] were willing to consider adoption.
Omosun and Kofoworola  in a study of the knowledge, attitude and practice towards child adoption among 380 women in infertility clinics in Lagos reported that only 33.7% of them were willing to adopt. This slightly higher rate of acceptability may be due to the higher literacy and awareness level expected in such an urban environment. Oladokun  sampled the attitude of infertile women to child adoption in Nigeria at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, and discovered that only 17% of the 396 seeking fertility treatment would try adoption.
Also among 250 infertile females in Sokoto in North-West Nigeria, a low willingness to adopt was discovered. [Nwobodo and Isah, ‘Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of Adoption among Infertile Female Patients in Sokoto North-West Nigeria].
Sources show that a reason that tops the list for this trend is the cultural rejection of adoption [Oladokun and Nigerian News Today (2012)]. For example, among the Igbo, a high premium is placed on the ‘assurance’ of the purity of one’s lineage, and the fact that there is little or no information about an adopted child’s parentage taints the idea. Adopted children are not so welcome by the society and most people would prefer to find another wife or just impregnate another woman (where it is believed that the woman is the problem).
Other reasons given by the participants in the studies mentioned above included;
There was also the fear that the child would grow up to want to know their biological parents and would feel abandoned (which some felt they couldn’t deal with), be rejected and stigmatized by society as well as the dilemma of whether or not and when to tell the child he was adopted.
Interesting factors were linked with those who had a favorable attitude towards child adoption,
Curiously, people of the Igbo tribe were more willing to adopt [Omosun and Kofoworola], and in the study in Ibadan metropolis, it was discovered that individuals with a higher self-esteem expressed a more positive attitude towards child adoption and adoptive parents [Olubola ‘Impact of Self-Esteem, Locus of control and Gender on Attitude towards Child Adoption and Adoptive Parents among some adults in Ibadan Metropolis, African Research Journal]. The willingness of one’s spouse also played a role in making the decision to adopt.
Fortunately, there is hope as it was noted that ‘child adoption has been on the increase with 210 children adopted from March 2007 to December 2008’, and orphanages have a long list of prospective adopters to screen [Omosun and Kofoworola].
According to Mrs. Bethel Obien, founder of Living Fountain Foundation (a charity home for abandoned and orphaned children that handles adoption), “Nigerians are becoming more aware of the fact that your inability to have a biological child does not stop you from mentoring another”.
Adoption remains one of the cheapest available ways of managing infertility. It is hoped that in a country where so many babies are abandoned, aborted and children populate motherless homes because their mothers don’t want them or can’t keep them, more Nigerians would begin to take on responsibility for children not biologically theirs and give them a loving home.
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