ULONWADI ANAGHI EJI OYI

If you do not speak Igbo fluently, there’s no way you can pronounce the title of this post correctly. My great-grandmother named me Ulonwadianaghiejioyi when I was barely three months old. My parents had brought me to the village to be baptised (it was during the Easter holiday) and she was coming to see me when she heard my wailings from the road- it is family legend that I was a champion at crying back then.

 

The road to my grandparents’ house was very quiet (it still is, usually) and it was obvious to my great-grandma that the sounds she was hearing from our house was indeed the cries of the new baby- my father’s youngest sibling was already in his twenties when I was born. So she muttered to herself “a home with a child cannot be quiet/cold”- that’s what that long name means and when she carried me for the first time, she gave me that name (she had a name for each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and she never repeated a name)

 

There are many “cold” homes today, in Nigeria, in the world. Cold not by choice- it is perfectly OK to choose not to have children, whether permanently or temporarily. These cold homes are due to infertility- with or without cause or simply because there is only participant available in the procreation process- yes I am talking about the “mature singles”.

 

Even as a child I never understood how a couple would be married for twenty years without a child when there are children in orphanages, crying and praying for parents to love them. I still do not understand why people would say “we waited on the lord for twenty years without a child until he answered us,” when they could have brought children into their homes to love and care for.

 

Why do we find adoption a taboo topic here, the couples who go on to adopt even do so secretly. I know several where the women faked pregnancies and only succeeded in deceiving themselves that they actually were delivered of babies. Is it our culture that’s the problem or what?

 

How about the many people who get married simply because they want to have children to take care of them in their old age (I think if that’s the only reason you want to have kids, then you’re on a long thing (please google D’banj if you are a nonNigerian reading this) because that is not even guaranteed). Why can’t they adopt children? And save themselves and their potential spouses the misery of an unhappy marriage- many of those marriages are battlefields, trust me.

 

Oh! I almost forgot that it is easier for the camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for an unmarried individual to successfully adopt children in Nigeria, the processes involved will break your resolve and you cannot adopt a child of the opposite sex. They want to reduce the chances of abuse especially of the sexual variety- my father explained to me, but I wondered at that line of reasoning because even biological parents abuse their children (it’s more common that you’d thought).

 

I just reread this post and I think I sound too idealistic, too far removed from reality… But who reality don help?

 

PS: My great-grandma Janet- the one who gave me a sentence of a name departed this world in 2004, she was the most fabulous great-grandma in the history of great-grandparents. She named Obinna, Onyedikachi and Ikenna- Chidiebere.

 

 

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12 Comments

  1. I think it the society that has a problem not the couples. Its less of a stigma here than there not to have kids + the social security system is solid.
    It may also be that the empathy and consciousness of africans generally may not have evolved to the point of being inseprably attached to another living thing that did not come from their own loins and is not bound by a law…#justsaying
    And your brothers names mean…?

    Reply

    1. I hope we get there soon, it really is easy to love a child that didn’t come from your loins though… if only our people could see that.

      Reply

  2. Hmmm, a very relevant topic, this post touched many topics. Jisike.

    The average Nigerian is religious and applies a faith-based approach to nearly everything, even to the point where the fine line between the reality and the expected become quite fuzzy. I suspect that the reluctance to adopt is because it is perceived to be a passive acceptance of the expectant person’s circumstance, as it dilutes their faith somewhat.

    I’ve heard about the cumbersome adoption process in Nigeria, though I understand the need to protect the children from unscrupulous intentions, it could discourage those with genuine intentions to love and nurture the child as their own.

    I recently saw a profound message within an article I read recently – “In Nigerian society, people get married to have children, rather than get married and have children”

    “To” & “And” are small changes but with huge implications with regards to the dynamics of parenthood. 😀

    Reply

    1. Thanks Nedu for this comment.
      How can we find the balance between protecting these kids and not making it too hard for intending parents to have children to love? Do we need to invest more in orientation prograns or something?
      Wow @ To and And, two little words that make a huge difference.

      Reply

  3. For a while now, I’ve been working on a bill for alternative childbearing and alternative child caring. Coming from a home where there was so much love available, it boggles the mind how so many people think. In an ideal world, if people don’t want to have children, they’ll never bear kids and if they did, they’d have every child they wanted. But seeing as this is NOT an ideal world and some people produce children like its a hobby and subsequently don’t know how to or even want to take care of them and others are never able to conceive and so badly need children to love, hug and spoil, why aren’t we fostering kids? Or adopting more often? Or even paying surrogates? Where it’s done here, it’s whispered about, like a shameful secret. I hate that nonsense. Granted, you might have tried before and it didn’t work out but that’s no reason to go to an illegal baby factory for something you should be able to do and talk about without shame.
    I love children, truly. Surprising I guess that I’ve been struggling with whether or not I want to have them but I do. And it hurts me so much that childcare is not fully explored.
    Anyhoo, good article and I really love that name.

    Reply

    1. Uju you have my support on the bill matter and if you think you need my input on anything, please buzz me.
      The matter of wanting or not wanting kids still weighs on my mind, because I already have gynaecological issues, I shudder at the thought of putting myself through the horrors of trying to conceive. I don’t know again Nne.

      Reply

  4. Hmmm. This is something I’ve pondered on as well. I shall not attempt to speak of shoes I’ve not walked in myself.

    I recently read of an adoption story on livelytwist.wordpress.com as part of her “Choosing Motherhood” series which gives me great hope.

    Reply

    1. Timi’s series partly inspired this post, I remember that story but she was already in her forties when she adopted her child. It would be practically impossible for me in my late twenties to adopt a child.

      Reply

  5. I guess that as regards adoption, it’s all about the mindset.
    My family has so many adopted children we don’t even remember who’s adopted and who’s not.
    The time people begin to realise that family is bound by love and not be blood is when all these ideologies will change.
    I wish adoption is simple in Nigeria but I’ll tell you free of charge that it’s not. Many adoption homes here do not want to release children, they’ll rather hole these kids up in the orphanages all for the donations of well-meaning individuals and when they want to give out which is rarely or if ever, they give to the richest people. Sometimes I don’t blame those who go through illegal routes even though it’s been polluted by ritualists and people with wrong intentions.
    May God help us.
    Ulonwadi….nice name.

    Reply

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