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Nnorom: Hasty adoption processes not in child’s interest

By Geraldine Akutu
08 September 2019   |   3:20 am
Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike, Ikwo (AE-FUNAI), Chinyere Nnorom, in this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU said that adoption should be treated with confidentiality. She also said the adopting process should not be concluded hastily.

Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike, Ikwo (AE-FUNAI), Chinyere Nnorom

Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike, Ikwo (AE-FUNAI), Chinyere Nnorom, in this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU said that adoption should be treated with confidentiality. She also said the adopting process should not be concluded hastily.

Would-be adopters complain about the slow and complex processes of adoption. Can’t the process be made simpler without compromising the integrity of the exercise?

Adoption implies that the child in question is handed over completely to the adopter. The child becomes his/her own and treated like a biological child. Such a child is entitled to all the rights and privileges accruing to a biological child such as the right to inheritance and educational training. What this means is that when a child is given out for adoption, the agency surrenders all the rights with respect to care and protection to the new parents. In that wise, the agency must be sure that the child being adopted is given all the necessary protection and care.

To ensure that this is done, the agency must follow the rigorous process of knowing the new parents’ background, who they are, what they do and whether they will be able to cater for the child properly, not necessarily that they must be rich parents, but just to be sure that the child is in safe hands and not used for other purposes.

In this era of ritual practices, adoption will be more rigorous because the agency must protect the life of the child by tying loose knots, which will be capitalised upon by fake clients, or what I might call ‘wolves in sheepskin.”

Post-adoption monitoring and evaluation are becoming lax. So, what measures should be put in place to ensure that vulnerable children are not subjected to further trauma in their new homes?
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) are important and should never be allowed to go into extinction. With M&E, adopters will be kept on their toes to do the necessary things required of them and also ensure that the adopted child’s back is properly covered. The problem with post-adoption currently, however, has to do with the provision of adequate resources to engage in the monitoring and evaluation process.

The government of the day is not fulfilling its responsibility adequately. What I mean is that the government should recruit qualified professionals, as well as make functional vehicles available to appropriate agencies to carry out their duties effectively. Without vehicles, workers may not be able to respond speedily in times of emergencies. So, agencies must be properly equipped with logistics and qualified personnel if effective monitoring and evaluation are expected.

Some adopted parents get utterly irresponsible later in life. What is the place of profiling in ensuring that a prospective adopter is sincere and of sound mind?
That is why the adoption process should not be concluded hastily. The so-called slow process allows the agency to investigate the adopter’s background and family history properly before handing over the child. If such is done haphazardly, the tendency will be to overlook some tiny details that may expose the adopter’s real intention, thereby putting the adopted child’s life in greater jeopardy and more vulnerable.

Authorities shirk in their responsibilities to follow-up and monitor adoptions until an adopted child comes of age. Does this not amount to the government failing the vulnerable?
Yes, the government is not only failing the vulnerable but also not fulfilling the objectives of setting up the agency in the first place. The protection of vulnerable children led to the establishment of the agency. If monitoring and follow-up are not properly done, the child’s life is in greater danger of being used for other purposes other than the reason given for the adoption. In this era of ritual killings and money-making proliferation, if adopters are allowed freehand and not properly monitored, many adopted children may become easy prey to child predators and ritualists. Monitoring and follow-up must be continually done until the adopted child is of age and able to fend for him/herself.

Certain cultures and traditions still see child adoption as a taboo. Is there any need for this archaic mindset when lives could be so turned around through adoption?
Cultures and tradition die-hard. Getting over the pre-conceived notion about adoption requires legislation. Oftentimes, those against the process are afraid of the family background of the adoptee – how stable in terms of family health conditions, while others see the adoptee as coming to take over their inheritance, especially if the adopter has some wealth his relations think should be handed over to them. When the tradition of depriving daughters the right to their parents’ wealth is abrogated, many of the problems of adoption may be overcome. Most times, those going for adoption have female children, but because the culture and tradition do not allow inheritance by female children, parents go at length to provide a male child that will ensure their wealth is secured and kept in their family when they are no more.

Social stigmatisation, lack of biological/genetic linkage with the adoptee and future claim by biological parents are some factors that stall interest in child adoption. How should the would-be adopters approach matters in order not to wallow in regret later in life?
First and foremost, adoption should be treated with confidentiality, especially in our society where members have not come to terms with the exercise. Adopters should have their backs covered so that the connection between the adoptees and their real biological parents are severed. This will help ensure that would-be adopters are assured that the adoptees would not trace their family of origin later in life. To avoid a future claim by biological parents, adopters should better seek for adoptees away from their own environment so that they could not be easily traced.

There is a slight preponderance in the preference for the adoption of male babies in some parts of the country because they think (male babies) could be more valued in terms of family name propagation, as well as a family inheritance. Does this not also constitute a challenge for females getting a loving home for them to restart their lives?

Yes, that is true. Adopters are under pressure when they do not have male children to inherit their wealth, as well as ensure that the family name does not go into extinction. If that gap is not properly handled, the relations will be waiting to cart away everything, including depriving the female children of any of their fathers’ properties. Some of these relations go to the extent of not allowing female children to use their parents’ resources to develop themselves as the case may be.

However, let me be quick to add that in recent times, adopters are also going for female children as parents have come to realise that it is female children who take care of their parents at old age. So, while male children serve the purpose of family propagation and inheritance, the female children are the ones that care for their parents. In that wise, female babies are still in demand, though not as much as the male ones.

In order to conceal their identities and circumvent pre-adoption medical examinations/screening of both the adopter and the adoptee, some potential adopters patronise charlatans like middlemen and some private hospitals. How can this be discouraged in view of the dire consequences it could have on society?

The only way this can be discouraged is when society begins to come to terms with adoption as a way of life. Adopters conceal their identities so that adoptees become accepted both by the family they are adopted into, as well as the society at large. That is why some adopters pretend to be pregnant, travel abroad or away from where they can be easily recognised for a considerable length of time and return with a baby under the pretext that they travelled to deliver. For those that have the resources, such an option hides the embarrassment associated with adoption and having to conduct a medical examination. I am reducing this to well-to-do couples because the not-well-to-do group may not consider this option, but rather go for another wife whom they believe will give them the needed babies, and in the right combination. The ‘original wife’ is usually blamed for the misfortune.