Thoughts on Childlessness
By: Deji Yesufu
This morning I took a quick trip to a neighborhood on the outskirt of Ibadan before heading to the office. I was driving out of the area when I heard someone calling my name. I knew the person calling me must be someone familiar with me. It turned out to be a woman I knew from a church I used to attend in this city. She was heading to town and I was very glad to help. She had with her a boy of about five years old. “Is this that son of yours, ma?” I asked. She replied: “yes”.
This dear Christian sister had been married for many years and had no child of her own. She would eventually take in sometimes in her 50s and gave birth to a healthy young boy. I remember the brouhaha that greeted his birth because I had suggested that rather than owe the birth of that child solely to a miracle, the Christian community publishing the story as another eight wonder of the world could simply have stated that that child came about by good old IVF. I got some rebukes for that remark of mine but all is about history now. Young boy, father and mother are doing extremely well and they are very happy.
My wife and I waited two years after marriage to have our first child. There are trials in life but I am not sure there is a greater trial for a couple than to have to wait for children because either the woman is barren or the man is not fertile enough. Those in that shoes alone can tell you the trauma they are having to endure. Children are a blessing from God but those who do not have children are not cursed. They have simply been given a different path in life to walk through and in this essay I want to suggest just one aid for this very difficult challenge of life.
For reasons I do not know but it appears to me that adoption is a foreign concept in this clime. Yet all those I know who have embarked on that journey have never returned regretting it. I know a couple that waited close to a decade to have their first child. Then they adopted a child and three years later a flood gate of children was opened to them. They have since taken to family planning to tame the flood. A friend and his wife told me that they still cannot understand why they never took the adoption option until some five years after marriage. Today they love that child as if it was their very own – and it is.
Christian couples, whether they have children or not, should consider adopting children. The reason is because a sexual revolution has enveloped this world with the result being the birthing of unwanted children. After my NYSC program, I returned to my parent’s home in Zaria. There was this dear lady in the church I attended then: one Mrs. Keku, God bless her wherever she is. A girl in her neighborhood took in at 16 and had a boy. The girl’s family said they couldn’t endure the shame and so agreed that Mrs. Keku could have this child from birth. Mrs. Keku said when the girl had the child, the whole family turned their back on him. She picked him up, cleaned him and began to nurse him. That child was about two years old when I got to know them. I learnt later that the girl’s family returned for the child. He is the most handsome little boy I have ever beholden. He should be a teenager right now. That boy would have wasted away save for Mrs. Keku.
Besides sexual revolution, Africa has the twin evil of poverty and disease. Couples who do not have children or who can cater for more children, can adopt children and help raise them to adult life. The beautiful thing about raising children is seeing your input in them bear great and gracious outputs. We will not always have youth, vigor and resources. While we have them, we can invest them in children, even adopted ones, and just sit back and watch those seeds best fruit. The greater blessing is that adopted children are still your children and they will grow up to care for their parents like real children do. My friend Jude (not real name) tells me that his mother adopted him and his other sibling. She was never married. Mama trained them in school and he is today a lawyer. Mama is old now and it is his great pleasure to care for her in old age.
You don’t need to be in your 50s before you can have a child. You can adopt a child right now. Hopefully you will understand that much of the cultural beliefs against adoption is more from ignorance than from any real scientific data. Adopted children are still children. Those who are against adoption could as well give up the Christian faith because God’s only Son is Jesus Christ. The rest of us are adopted into the family of God.
There are very few problems in this world that come with such easy solutions. I believe adoption will solve the problem of childlessness in one fiat. And after adopting that one child and seeing the blessing in it, you can venture on to adopt more.