Everyday Heroes- Hafsatu’s Story

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My husband’s dream was to have an orphanage one day. He loves kids a lot. We’ve been married for 6years before we adopted our little angel, Zahra. People always think the adoption idea was mine, but it was my husband’s. He is a very supportive partner.

We got a call one Saturday from my husband’s niece about some new babies at an orphanage in another state. We were both excited. We had tried adopting from our home state before trying out the other state. We had registered with the social services of both states so we were on the waiting list for a while. We went through different processes before we got her.

The Nigerian adoption process is not an easy one and every state has its own process. There’s a lot of paperwork now unlike before when orphanages didn’t keep records of both guardians and orphans. A background check is required now and this could take years, depending on the state. This strictness was imposed as a result of child trafficking and other illegal acts like rituals.

I cried the first time I saw her because she was extremely skinny. Most orphanages have limited welfare   and they tend to ration the meals. When I took her for her first immunization, the nurse eyed me and said ” What are you giving her”? I’m sure she was thinking ” This woman wasn’t taking care of her child”. I understand her concern.

My life after adopting baby Zahra has been amazing. She was a very easy baby. She doesn’t even cry much at night. I adopted her when she was only 3 weeks old. She is the perfect fit for our family because she has most of my behaviors.

Most challenges I got were cultural. some friends and family members felt like it wasn’t appropriate to adopt a child we knew nothing about. They never say it to my face but I know they talk about it. My husband and I have thought a lot about this and we are willing to die on this hill. The challenges didn’t really affect me because I never cared much about what people say about me. We got so much support from our mothers especially.

Some people thought we shouldn’t have revealed the fact that Zahra was adopted. We didn’t want to hide it from her. We didn’t want to give people the chance to use it against her, especially in a society that still stigmatizes adoption. If my daughter decides to trace her family in the future, I’ll be willing to do it with her and love her regardless. I want her to grow up knowing that she is enough, it’s not her fault and that this doesn’t make her less human. I am going to raise her to have a thick skin; that what people say about her will not decide who she is.

I didn’t adopt from family because when you do, you will never have that independence of solely parenting your child. With my daughter now, I can choose the school I want and raise her how I want. Of course, the family can help advise me on how to raise her, but I am not obliged to accept their advice. That wouldn’t be the case If I had adopted one of theirs. Children adopted from family tend to connect more with their birth parents and eventually disconnect emotionally from you because people will constantly tell them “Oh, that is your real mother/father”.

Some people thought I couldn’t conceive because I was too skinny or that my husband and I were planning. People expected me to dwell on the negatives and worry about our childlessness which I have refused. Allah has blessed me with a lot of things. I have an amazing partner and family. I have chosen to focus on the good in my life. It doesn’t make me feel less of a woman because I don’t have my own child. My sister always says You can give birth to children and people can give birth to children for you.  children are a blessing to all.

I hope couples like us will understand that marriage is all about companionship, and not only procreation. They should support each other and not blame themselves. Contrary to what society thinks, an Adoption is very much a valid option.

I do not feel childlessness is enough reason to leave a partner. It shouldn’t be a marriage dealbreaker as long as there’s love.  People do not choose to be childless. It just happens.

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