Monday, August 20, 2007

Adopt a child or drop the woman??

I was traveling in a matatu (Kenyan public transport) from the City center to my home (within one of the shopping centers in the outskirts of Nairobi). I sat next to a lady who told me she was going to the same shopping centre for the first time and wondered how far it was. I told her it is about one hour drive from the city center.

Since we were coming from the city center we had some distance to cover. To manage her boredom, she engaged me in a conversation by asking which part of Kenya I come from. This is very common opening sentence with Kenyans` conversation when they want to know your tribe and switch to native languages. Apparently, she realized we are from the same part of Kenya. She told me she was once married in the same area as my upcountry home but got a divorce as a result of a childless marriage and was in her second marriage.

She narrated to me how she persevered 10 years without a child and being frustrated by her mother in law, she decided to quit. The husband (former) opted to marry another woman after being convinced by the mother. I asked her whether she has a child now and so on. She told me that she doesn’t have one yet after two years in the second marriage. I really felt sorry for this lady .The issue must have been very hurting that she could share with a stranger. I asked her if she has gone for medical advice, she said she has done that without success and is looking for another doctor. I encouraged her that she will one day succeed. I even advised her to visit Dr. Noreh (The first Doctor to undertake the first successful IVF process in Kenya) at his Afya Center clinic. She agreed to pay him a visit.

This encounter brings me to what I want to share today. The devastating impact of childless marriage to a woman and the attitude of Africans towards child adoption.

It is a common case with women all over the world. The causes may be many ranging from infertility caused by many things. I am not a doctor and may not know the details. Cases of infertile men are also there, but in African culture it is normally the woman to be blamed and not the man. The woman will be looked at as an outcast and should be banished from the home. Some cultures in Kenya allow the woman to bring a co-wife even a sister, but most of the time the woman is sent away or divorced to allow the man to marry another woman.

My question is that is this fair? Is this the marriage for better and for worse till death do us part? The woman has always been on the receiving end of human rights abuse and traditional culture even for factors beyond her control. No woman or man chose to be infertile or unable to bear child.

One thing that is amazing is that most Africans like imitating the west, but when it comes to culture we cannot compromise. Most people in the west are very understanding when it comes to such problems. They would willingly adopt a child or children; they even come to Africa to adopt a needy child.
We have many orphans in Africa, especially those whose parents have died as a result of HIV/AIDs. Unfortunately many are ignored by their relatives and taken to homes or left upcountry for endless suffering.

I was once told a story of an old man selling his property in Kenya, I asked why? I was told its because his only son an only child had died, so he did not see it necessary to own a property he had bought for the son to inherit. I was shocked and wondered if he had any other relatives or even a needy child he could adopt from a relative or from a home. This is a typical African attitude that when my child is gone, everything is lost. Without a child the woman is not worth being a wife.

If only Africans and Kenyans in particular would change their attitude about child adoption and see it as a positive decision, we will solve two main problems. We will sustain marriages not blessed by children of their own. Secondly, orphans will be accommodated in such homes and reduce their suffering leading to poverty.

I personally have adopted one in my home not because I could not get my own but to help an orphan. What about you?

8 comments:

T_Maina said...

I have to disagree with you on this one. Having a child is among the top objectives of marriage. If my wife could not bear any children, I must say...(and I love my wife very much)...but I would seriously consider marrying another chik, so I can have children.
Children are not just for inheritance, but also to carry on the family name...not to mention someone to look over us when we grow old. Children are basically invaluable.

I know you disagree with me Sue, but let me tell you this story. I'm currently studying here in Miami, Florida. I know a Kenyan chick, she's about 33...very,very beautiful lady who is married to the son of one of the richest political figures in Kenya. Her husband's dad is one of those names, that if you mentioned somewhere, everyone would know exactly who you are talking about.

So this chick, lets call her Wanjiru, has been coming here to Miami from Kenya over the last 4 years, spending tens of thousands of dollars to get treatment by fertility experts. I know this, coz Wanjiru happens to be my big sister's best friend...so she lives at my sister's place whenever she's in town. Last time she was in Miami, in March of '07...she probably parted with about $40,000....and she's just sent an SMS that she's coming to again to see the doctors in December. All because she can't bear a child.

Children are like oxygen...they're ignored, and discounted until they are denied from you. Then you realize, how important they are.

Sue said...

I agree with you Maina that a child is amongst the top priority in a marriage. Depending on your belief one can marry another wife. Though there are cases where the first wife is sent away, there are those who even suggest to the husband to marry another wife but they refuse.

This makes me wonder, there are women who have put up with men who are not fertile. In fact they cover up for the man by adopting a child and pretend its their own. Some go to an extent of getting children with other men. The man's relatives would hear nothing like that the man has a problem.

Anyway kids are a treasure and a blessing so those of us who got the opportunity to get our own are very lucky.

People do anything even going to different witchdoctors, spend a lot of money like the lady you mentioned to get a child.

Anonymous said...

I think the issue here is that shouldnt we give adoption a chance.Can`t adopted child be accepted in our family as our own to inherit and carry our names after our death.Can`t we name them our family name.Why chase the woman if the child is the issue and we can get a child through adoption.

I think adoption is possible.

Nyandiah.My Kids Mom said...

Jambo Sue.I concur.I believe many people love their adopted children just as much as they love their own.My family is planning on adopting two girls.I checked out Kenya's adoption law and was very discouraged.They want the adopting family to live there for 3 months before they will let that child out the country.
We opted for easier places like Ethiopia and China.

We have children thank God but we just want to help a child or two out and hope and pray that when they are old enough to be parents they will remember the chance they were given and pass it on to another needy child.

Nyandiah.
My watotos'mama.

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james. said...

As much as I agree with you on the need and value of a child in marriage,I would personally never imagine of divorcing or marrying another wife just to bear me a child/ren.

Meet black singles said...

I don't know what to say. In my culture a barren woman can marry another women to bear children for her.

Sociable

Kenya

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