Wednesday, October 18, 2006

More on adoption

Interesting piece on African adoption in the Guardian today. I can't help thinking there are too many children in the world. Why follow the urge to have babies in a world probably on the brink of ecological disaster, a world that is over-populated, over-heated and fast running out of vital resources (its been said for quite a while now that the first really savage global wars of the near future will be the water-wars).

Better to ignore that biological bell that clangs inside the body and adopt. There are too many of us struggling for access to too few resources.


Christian Writer 12:09 pm  

Some of us like procreating.

Anonymous,  1:46 pm  

yes many of us like procreating. but we should nevertheless always question the reason behind that desire. In a world where there are so many unwanted children, if all those who desire to procreate actually go for adoption or fostering then their will be less orphanges.

Back in the 80s one of things my husband made very clear to me was that he had no desire to procreate. He wanted us to think about adoption. Of course this was weird coming from a Naija man. Needless to say, I was devasted. I spent the first 3yrs of married life crying and thinking I was going to change his mind. I didn't. Well I have 4 children now. All adopted. And I think it is the best decision I didn't have to make. I guess if my husband hadn't insisted I will just be like your typical naija woman - procreate by any means necessary.

I understand that people want to create 'cause society has made it has part of the requirement to be a full adult male and female. So, I think everyone to their own. But lets pause and I reflect for a moment about our urge to procreate.


Christian Writer 2:41 pm  

But what's your typical naija woman? I haven't got any kids myself - adopted or procreated - but I would like to think that if I did want to, I have that choice without someone telling me that it's 'cause society has made it part of the requirement to be a full adult male and female.' I know people who foster children, support orphanages and also adopt kids. Some do all three, some do one or the other but I'm sure they'll agree that their choice to procreate is theirs alone not because they're 'like your typical naija woman - [procreating] by any means necessary.'

And believe it or not, there are Nigerian women who do NOT want children. That's their choice and their desire.

Jeremy 2:54 pm  

Few women in Nigeria are left alone for any amount of time to decide whether they really want children or not.

Its a deep form of social conditioning in Nigeria that being a woman is closely aligned with having babies.

Sure, there are plenty of women who stand against it, but I imagine its as tough as hell continuing to resist.

I'd say the vast majority of Nigerian women have never really questioned their internalised conditioning. The evangelical church doesn't help - with special prayer nights for 'barren' women etc cranking up the pressure.

Couples who cannot give birth go through intense trauma, purely on account of social expectation. It often does not occur to them to adopt. A typical stance on adoption is, 'Just have one of your own, then adopt the next.' Meanwhile, the streets of lagos are littered with unwanted kids.

We are a long way from gender being constructed outside of the incidious normative imperative for women to give birth. It's closely connected to the patriarchal value system I talked about in my post yesterday.

Ronke,  5:00 pm  

of course there are Nigerian women who do not want children, but they are a dime a dozen. I have yet to meet them. The pressure here is too much.

I want to have children, but not now. But the pressure is so great you can't imagine christian writer. I must admit , I have attended one of those special prayer sessions for so-called barren women in Jos (to please my in-law). I can't tell them I don't feel ready. My mother-in-law will go through the roof. A few of my friends know that that I don't feel ready, but they think I am very selfish.

Whether one decides to adopt or give birth to a child or not, the pressure is too much. until more women in society start actively making a decision not to have children, would we see a less focus on women who have chosen not to or those for whatever reason can't have children.

Marin 7:15 pm  

There is definitely a lot of pressure on Nigerian women. I have been married for two and a half years and we don't have any children yet. We are trying to settle down first and I am working on my career.
Every time I talk to a relative there are hints. My father even went as far as asking me if I am on the pill or what, so that he can can know how to pray. My cousin who is a year younger and who got married last year gave birth exactly nine months after her wedding. Never mind the fact that they are struggling to survive, the first thing she told me when I called her was "You will be next in Jesus name".
I have not bothered explaining to anyone that I am enjoying my time alone with my husband, and that while I eventually hope to have children, I'm not sure I am emotionally ready to be a mother yet. They would not understand.

A friend who got married last December has her mother call her every month to find out if "it has happened". Since this girl is one of those who does not want to procreate, it really annoys her.
How does one rebuff these people who really do want the best for you in their own albeit weird way.

Anonymous,  7:15 pm  

there are so many little children in orphanages in Nigeria.

People should adopt.

Shango,  9:05 pm  

Why are liberals such pessimists? The world is nowhere near over-populated, it has not been proved to be over-heated and is most definitely not running out of resources. These are myths, lies even. Get your head outta your ass, J, with all due respect and read some more instead of quoting some unknown someone somewhere talking about "a savage global war" over water. Pish!

Human beings are our greatest resource and who knows when or where the next Albert Einstein or some other genius will be born that will make life and all these so-called scarce resources unneeded. He or she could invent the next nuclear power source from cow shit or something.

People, have babies!

Anonymous,  4:02 am  

oga jeremy, the world isn't overpopulated, the world is old!
and when all those old ppl die katakata will just burst. all that contraception..pfft!

just do research on birth and date rates, social security in the US, shango has already touched on this.

i do agree that a lot of naija women are conditioned to have kids, but then a lot of them want to have kids anyway its hard to draw the line.

and a lot of naija families adopt as per informally through social welfare. you know what i mean? paying the school fees of xyz's children. so and so distant person coming to live with you for donkey years. tho abuse does occur, it still kind of works.

what we should do is to adopt kids in addition of having our own. lol i still want to perpetuate my own blood cause my family is fly like that and has some damn good genes too!

Anonymous,  4:03 am  

furthermore, that your bribing incident was really foul. this is one of the problems with nigeria, 'its not bad b/c its only a banana shey?' well then don't complain about xyz politican and his billion bananas
a banana is a banana is a banana. don't let nigeria seep into you like that.

Styl Council 3:40 pm  

To Jay and all those cowardice-Anons or whatever...

PLEASE STOP! STOP! STOP! This sad and pathetic nonsense!!! It’s all spout!!

Ok so Nigerian women are pre-conditioned to having babies (might add that; so are women from other societies across the world-over)...So WHAT???? The same Nigerian woman is also educated (to an extent) and therefore KNOWS that is it NOT illegal in Nigeria not to want give birth!!!!

Quite frankly, the whole argument about when the world will end is for me neither here nor there! If the world is about to end, then let it!! Global warming or not...choosing not to giving birth will NOT prevent the END!!! Or has this been proven to be the prevention of the END??? Does anyone know if the dinosaurs stopped procreating just when they were about to become extinct??? I bet you they didn’t

I'm not saying don't do your bit for the environment (do whatever you are able to within the means available to you bcos you want to… not bcos you've been psychologically bullied by the Green Brigade)

My advice (for what its worth) …

To those that want to give birth; GO-AHEAD as long as you're sure it’s what you want.

To those that are barren but still desire a child of their own; MAY your wishes be granted!

To those that have babies and wish to give them up for adoption (as oppose to terminating the pregnancy); GOOD-LUCK!

To those that wish to adopt, then go-ahead and ADOPT away!

To those that do not wish have any children in any form, then DON'T!!

And more importantly to those who DO NOT want to give birth; please stop blaming society for your human limitations and conforming behavior. Be brave enough to stand by your wants and beliefs.

I am personally sick off women who kowtow just to look good to their in-laws or to society…and then protest in private…Please tell me; what value does this add to your plight??? In fact your continued deceitful stance causes detrimental ramifications to those who have been courageous enough to tell it as they feel it and to those around you who spend their time praying, hoping and wishing in your honor!! Thus, it is these type women who have the problem and not society.
Of course any society would promote procreation as part of future progress and continuance. WHY the HELL NOT!!! Who would wish their blood line to fade away if they can help it???

The desire to have bear child is an exclusive to oneself. It can’t often be explained or fully described. It’s a painful journey for those who wish for a baby and can’t have one. Just as much as it’s a painful wait for those who wish to adopt and are constantly let down or turned down. Adoption is not just the easier option as you’ve implied it to be in you post mister Jay! Most couples seeking to adopt often find the process so painful and sometimes demeaning that they get close to giving up all together.

I made the decision to have my child when I felt I was ready and when I felt i had met the "right" male-parent which was more important to me than our love for each other since parental love is more unconditional than marital love! The strange thing is that since being blessed with my son, I can now truly understand how unimaginably painful it must be for women who crave to have a child but are denied by nature or otherwise. My son is often the unwitting healer during any negative moments in my life. His smile is better than any antibiotic or the strongest medical painkiller. Previous to having him, it never occurred to me that I would feel this way…..But everyday, I can see how my feelings have developed in this way towards this child. I believe this is how it must feel for most parents adopted or otherwise. And if my son grows up and doesn’t wish to have a child of his own then I will find the strength to support him. If he choses to adopt I will thank him for giving me grandchild(ren)

So Jeremy stop perpetuating this limited idea of child-bearing and child-rearing…and get on with whatever bit of happiness you’re lucky enough to find!!


Jeremy 4:01 pm  

Good to have you back Ireti!

I think there is a misunderstanding. I don't think anyone would want to question the joys of having your own children biologically, nor question the right of any woman to be a mother if she chooses.

However, this decision needs to be made in a wider context than that of one's partner and immediate circumstances - having children doesn't take place in a bubble that floats apart from the world:

1. The possibility that it might not be possible to have children and
2. The fact that the world is already full of millions of unwanted, unloved babies and children. I sincerely and deeply question whether adoption should be regarded as emotionally/spiritually/whatever less significant than biological parenting. What grounds are there for this assertion? After all, one can bond/fall in love with anyone, regardless of DNA. So why would things be different with babies or young children?

There is also an all-important third point specifically related to developing country environments. Women often live under the constraints of oppressive patriarchal value systems which box them into mother-whore dichotomies.

They face enormous pressure to get married, procreate etc. This leads to womens' gender identity being defined solely around being married and their capacity to have children. This is a limiting condition.

Of course, having children CAN be an extremely important element of women's identity, but it should not be either prescriptive or exclusive.

Women should have all the options in life that men have, one of which is to define themselves outside of being a mother. Just as in the West, as things develop in Nigeria, there will be a growing number of women who define themselves in exactly this way. They should be celebrated for their choices, just as much as married women with children should.

The bigger picture is that a country that gradually turns its women into mothers is a country that undervalues its own human capacity for transformation.

Anonymous,  1:00 am  


I do agree with you that our society conditions us to think of having children more as a compulsory milestone than a conscious decision

I think that often the decision to have children rather than adopt/ otherwise is borne of human self-centredness and the need to want to say....this child is own achievement.


I admire you and i wish i could adopt you and your spouse's thinking

Anonymous,  10:00 am  

Style Council, I think you are missing the point a bit. And I think Gbemi's comment about the reason why people want to have children because they are self-centrered is so true. The way you go on shows a profound self-centredness.

I think the point mr Jeremy is trying to make is that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be a mother, but in a patriarchal society, that choice is in fact not always a choice, especially in socieities like ours where motherhood is so venerated. The flip side of that is denigration of womanhood itself. What happens to women who for what ever reason they can't have children? They are called barren (your term not mine) and witches. The very word barren is so degrading in itself. It connotes emptiness, void, nothingness. Thats such a terribly way to describe a woman - don't you think?

Have you ever wonder why it is childless women who are usually pronounced as witches? By calling such women witches, you ensure that all women make every effort to try and procreate. Calling women witches is yet another form of policing her and demanding our conformity. Yorubas often say a childless woman is a witch because she has exchanged her fertility power for material and other kinds of power. You all go and check out stories behind the calling of women witches and pls share whatever information you come up with.

The other thing thats gets to me about the term barren is that it assumes that women are to blame for their childless. When we know that scientifically men are more likely to have infertility problems. This is not to say women don't have it, but in many marriages it is the man who have the problem, but it is the woman who run around looking for solution.

To style council and many of the woman (and men) out there who thinks they have freely choosen to procreate, hate to disappoint you all. It was not your choice. Yes, I know ms style council you said that you chose to have your child, but did you ever stop for one minute and ask why should I have a child. I think the moment you and I able to ask ourselves why we follow societal norm that will be the day we can actually say we chose to do so and so. Until then we are just part of the masses who follow the natural order of the society and the time we find outselves.

We must remember that cultural ideologies work in numerous ways and we are totally unaware of they are working through us - shaping our thoughts, feelings, desires. Thats what make ideologies so powerful. We always think that we have made a decision independent of our socio-cultural prescription, but we haven't escape it.

I am a mother myself and like style council, I love my children and they bring so much joy, but I also wonder sometimes if I were to come from a different society and under different circumstances will I have had a child? I don't know. Would I still be straight? Would I still be a meater and a polluter of the world? I don't know. All I know is that society has a massive effect on all our thinking and we don't exist in some bubble. All I know is that the likes of Jeremys of the world irritate me because they show me that I am actually not as self-reflective as I think I am. that is why 2 months after discovering his blog I continue to read it.

I think the fact that many women in the west are increasingly choosing not to have children illustrate to me that giving different circumstances, people will come up with a number of different responses to what is expected of them. Some women would want to have children and others would not.

But the reality of the matter is that many of our structures of feelings, desire and choice are not entirely ours. This exactly what Jeremy, ronke, marin and the last anon were all talking about. Sometimes, for the sake of robust debate, we need to move beyond a me -ism and really listen to what is been said.


Anonymous,  8:05 am  

'found the appropriate male parent'
'parental love more important than marital love'

kids are not an experiment, gosh

and yes im still 'anon'

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