In most part of the country including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, societal myth that adopted children are evils has become a perception that has refused to die. That greatly accounted for the reason there are children on the streets of Nigeria and Abuja begging and scavenging to survive without any hope of future.
While many of them are orphans, others are permanently separated from their parents, growing up in the streets, sleeping under the bridges and uncompleted or completed but unoccupied houses, ending as social miscreants. Many have ended up as insurgents, kidnappers, robbers, pickpockets and culprits of crime and criminalities.
As blames are treaded on who is responsible for the social menace of the abandoned children, the discomfort of many Nigerian wealthy families to embrace adoption of children has been the reason for the escalation of the number of children on the streets, even as the society has failed enacting birth control laws to check the ever-growing population explosion.
Miffed by the myth and apathy in adopting the high number of helpless children in the country, an Islamic group, Halam Children Home, recently mobilised religious leaders, entertainers among other Nigerians in thousands to the streets of Abuja, to sensitise the public on the need to foster children.
In commemoration of the child adoption day, the group distributed fliers, wearing clothes with boldly inscribed; “Fostering is Halam,” meaning taking care of a child that is not yours biologically is good and attracts blessings from God.
While decrying the number of children on the streets without parental love and care, are increasing by the day, they warned that if measures are not taken to curb it, the future may be doomed as most of the kids would be left with no option than to dive into crimes.
Some of the members said though there are many homes in dire need of children and willing to adopt, they are afraid of the societal myths that adopted children are evil that may harm their families in future. They insisted that children are the same irrespective of who gave birth to them, that the destiny of a child could only be determined by God and the level of love the child is being exposed by the parents.
Nollywood actress and director, Joke Silva, who was part of the campaign, encouraged parents with fertility problem to consider the option of foster, which could give them some level of fulfilment. She disclosed that she was fostered and encouraged to identify her talent and nurture it to peak.
She expressed concerns that people are willing to foster children but are afraid of societal myths that these children may be harmful as most of them are believed to be children from faulty backgrounds or broken homes: “I bless God for my parents for the way they brought me up and what I have become in the society. It was almost that one is the symbol of possibility of what fostering and adoption could do through the support of an amazing family that allowed me to be what I wanted to be in a nice way.
“I don’t believe the societal myths that adopted children are evil. Such myth is not true. We can’t even tell the future of our own biological children. We only pray for healthy and good children but only God knows their destiny, which plays out at the end likewise the adopted children.
“There is no need for us to continue living based on others opinion, if you know that you need a child in your home, go ahead and adopt, all children are the same depending on how they are been brought up.
“It is very important to note that you don’t foster a child out of pity but with love. Love brings out a big difference in the life of the child because investing the best in the child gives you the best in return.
“There are different ways through which you can parent a child. He can live with you as your own child or stay with his parents while you take care of all his needs,” she clarified.
Vice president, Halam Children Home, Ramatu Abubakar, lamented that millions of homeless Nigerian children are in need of parental love. She insisted that if these children are not taken out of the streets and given necessary training they needed, the future of the country would be endangered:
“We want Nigerians to know that these children are in need of home, although Halam Home takes care of them, it is better to train a child with in a family. We are encouraging people to come and complete the fostering process and take these children into their homes.
“Nigerians are more conversant with adoption which has to do with taking a child into your home and changing his identity while fostering is in line with the Islamic law, where you take a child into your home, carter for him and still allow him to maintain his identity that is his surname. We have 35 children in our home now but have taken care of about 43 children.
“The home was incorporated five years ago by a group of sisters that were concerned about number of vulnerable children on the road, statistics show that 17.1 million vulnerable and orphan children in Nigeria alone and these children are those nobody takes care of them, are children that would eventually cause problem in the society. Taking those children making sure they are productive members of the society will be a way of building our nation.”
A stakeholder, Abubakar Sadique Mohammed, warned that there is urgent need for Nigerians to promote fostering looking at the increasing number of indigent and orphaned children. Suggesting that fostering should be done out of love and not out of pity since no child is responsible for the situations they found themselves, he said:
“We have lots of children today who unfortunately are orphans, it is not any choice of theirs, it is the power that fate has dealt with them. It is now left for us to provide much compassion and love to them. Nigerians need to promote fostering and doing it properly, not taken these children in and turning them into maids but giving them love and treating them like our own blood.
A foster mother, Saidat Shonoibi, said that it is fulfilling, urging other Nigerians who are in need of children, especially those having difficulties in bearing to foster, as it can be an open door for them:
“It is fulfilling. I am telling people that are still looking up to God for the fruit of the womb to try fostering. It is the first step, learn how to take care of these children before you get yours, you don’t know what God has in stock for you, it is clearly stated in Koran that I will give to some and will not give others.
“Not having a biological child is not the end of the world. There is great rewards attached to taking care of an orphan, you are indirectly building a future and there are great rewards awaiting you in paradise.”