ADOPTION; accepting the alternative family system to break infertility stigma

Being married for a decade without biological children is one of the most painful emotional and psychological experiences any woman or a man could go through.

Mrs Eva Quansah, a resident of Odorkor in Accra, recounts how pressure from both family and some members of her community who labelled her barren put her into a terrible state of depression.

Even the decision to opt for adoption, she said, came with its hurdles as society had its own way of negatively tagging adopted children and parents.

“A child is a source of inexplicable joy and feeling of fulfilment that is why being blessed with one either through adoption or birth is seen as a privilege but in our part of the world, adoption comes with its own challenges that are as a result of the kind of perception most people have about it.”

“After going through challenges, including humiliation from family members and some neighbours due to inability to have children, one day the thought of adoption came to mind, I became elated because at last, though adoption did not mean having my own biological child, I could have a precious being to call my own,” she said.

Rejection

Mrs Quansah said she was prepared to love this child unconditionally and offer him or her the best she and her husband could as parents but little did she know that breaking the news of adoption would sound awkward to their families.

“No! No adopted child would not be accepted into the family as a child of my son”, she recalled the words of her mother in law.

To her, the only thing that qualified a child or a person to be called family was blood, adding that anyone who was not linked to a family by blood or marriage could never be accepted as one of them.

“My husband and I became speechless for some minutes. We explained to them the need to adopt and also extend hands in supporting such children but my in-laws told me if I was not in the position to give birth, then they had no option than to look for a fertile woman for their son. When we left the meeting I become so sad, locked myself in the room and cried bitterly,” she lamented.

According to her, together with the husband, have gone through a series of fertility checks in order to conceivebut to no avail.

She wished she would one day have a child to call her own, “infertility stigmatisation is so real and painful, while you are thinking of how to have a child, families, friends and society add salt to your injury, making lives a living hell,”

It got to a point where I was advised to allow my husband to have a child outside, since it was not a bad idea, adding that even in the Holy Bible, Sarah allowed Abraham to have a child with Hagar.

Infertility

A Gynecologist, Dr Hope Quashie Mensah, says infertility comes into play when couples have continuous unprotected sexual intercourse for about a year without any sign of pregnancy, adding that infertility could affect both male and female.

According to him, the World Health Organisation estimates suggest that between 48 million couples and 186 million individuals live with infertility globally.

He said male infertility could be caused by sperm motility, problems in the injection of semen, low sperm count among others.

Dr Hope said female infertility may be caused by abnormalities of the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus, among others.

He said infertility could be primary or secondary, explaining that Primary infertility occurs when a pregnancy has never occurred and secondary infertility is when at least a couple have achieved a pregnancy before.

Dr Mensah advised couples facing infertility should adopt healthy living style, avoid smoking, high temperatures, stress, and self-medication,

“Couples facing infertility should not over work themselves, avoid junk food, drugs and not to resort to herbal medicine but to see a doctor for investigation because infertility could be treated,” he said

He said in African, people have attached too much importance to children in marriage that every couple is expected to have children by all means, adding that infertility is a shared responsibility.

Dr Mensah advised couples to have a second look at child adoption, “Adoption is also a way of having children elsewhere people marry and decide whether to have biological children or go for an adoption”.

Adoption

In an exclusive interview with the Ghanaian Times on the misconceptions of adoption and breaking infertility stigmatisation in Ghana, the Head of Central Adoption Authority (CAA), under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Production, Stephen Tikai Dombo said adoption is a way of providing a child who is in need of a family with a new family.

Mr Dombo said one key benefit of adoption was the provision of an alternative for having children by couples suffering from infertility.

He, therefore, urged members of the society to desist from pointing fingers at couples struggling to give birth but have taken bold step to adopt a child.

“Stop worrying such couples and stop seeing adopted children as cursed but rather see such children as a blessing to the new families they belong and society at large,” he said.

Mr Dombo said some people opt for adoption simply because of the love for children.

He said it was also a socio-legal procedure, which transfers the parental responsibilities for the child to the adoptive parent, adding that an adoption could not be reversed once the adoption order has been granted, except in very rare circumstances.

He bemoaned that in many situations, some families refuse to understand that adoption is not a bad thing.

“To be a good parent or a mother is not only about caring for your biological children but also extending help to other children, especially adopted children,” he said.

BY AGNES OPOKU SARPONG

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