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Adoption: High cost, tedious process spike illegal sale of babies

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Adebayo Obajemu

Many Nigerian couples desiring to adopt babies, whether out of social responsibility or childlessness are finding it increasingly difficult to realize their objective as a result of the obstacles they are facing. Before now, it required just a formal documentation and payment of a moderate administrative fee to the caregivers, whether orphanage or social welfare of government to get a baby.

However, given the rising awareness of Nigerians about adoption and the nefarious activities of child traffickers and ritualists, demand has skyrocketed, and both the price of babies and the process have become frustrating, which is driving the business underground. Recently, there were reports of many northern children being sold to couples in the south for adoption illegally.

Child adoption is said to take lengthy of time for it to be fully completed, most experts put it at between 2 to 5 years processing period. In Lagos, to commence adoption process, the couple concerned will have to go to the Ministry of Youth and Social Welfare to collect adoption form, thereafter, there’s a slew of bureaucracy that discourages intending couple and this tends to slow the desire for formal adoption, even after paying a reasonable fees charged by the ministry.

On account of this, many couples, according to findings, tend to patronize many orphanage homes, especially the unregistered ones where the process is faster.

The registered homes often follow the Ministry’s guidelines.

Each state is said to have varied adoption guidelines in tandem with the National Assembly’s Child Rights Act of 2003. It was learnt that the fee for a boy is between N800000 to a million naira now, while girls attract between N600000 to N800000.

In the Northern part of the country, there’s no specific legislation on adoption as the practice is not favoured by Islam, so the cultural and religious hostility to adoption has driven it underground, giving rise to booming child sale.

Only recently, the concern over illegal adoption, which is outright sale of a child reached a scandalous pitch, and was a subject of a get together in Kano. The Kano Emirate Council and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) had warned against the kidnapping and selling of children of North extraction in the Southern part of the country, insisting that the act must be stopped to ensure peaceful co-existence amongst all the tribes.

It will be recalled that sometime last year, some people were arrested by the Kano State Police Command for allegedly kidnapping seven teenagers from Bauchi and Kano states and selling them to people in the South-East and Lagos for prices ranging from N400,000 to N500,000.

The 11 suspects arrested were subsequently paraded by police.

At the Kano parley to discuss the challenge, the ACF called a meeting of all stakeholders on four Saturdays ago in Kano to proffer solution to the development.

At the meeting, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, who was represented by Seriki Shanu, Alhaji Mohammed Shehu, condemned the development and called for a lasting solution to the ugly act.

Also speaking at the event, ACF chairman, Dr. Goni Faruk Umar, called on those who engage in the inhumane treatment of innocent children to stop immediately. He also called on the Nigerian government, traditional institutions, security agencies, community leaders, judiciary and legislature to put all hands on deck to arrest the situation once and for all.

“Some were sold by their parents; some were sold by doctors in the hospital after delivery, as confirmed to us by the police commissioner when we visited him”.

Professor Atanda Jamiu, a sociologist told Business Hallmark that “because of the high cost, lengthy processing period, couples often look for easy way out to bypass bureaucracy and build total blackout around the process, so they go for outright purchase of the child from underground network, using shady hospitals, greedy health care workers and shady orphanages. Government has not done well to regulate the practice.

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A tragic botched sale of a child occurred in Enugu two years ago. After 31-year-old Chineye Odoh allegedly agreed to sell her newborn twins for about N3m, sadly Odoh was allegedly killed by some women collaborators who purportedly facilitated the process.

The desire for a baby, Juliet Agbonifo stated, was what led her to buy a nine-day-old baby girl from a retired nursing officer at a maternity centre in Edo State. “The bureaucracy involved did not allow me to pass through the normal adoption channels”, she stated.

After being caught by the police following a tip-off from a relative, Agbonifo stated that she bought the baby from the nurse for N400,000 and paid more than N20,000 to settle the hospital bills.

Sometime in 2018, in Owerri, Imo State, two women were arrested for buying newborn twins for N1.8m in Abia State. The reason for the purchase: they were childless desperate for children.

Many sociologists spoken to by this medium said illegal adoption through outright sale secured through underground channels have dire sociological implications.

They posit that the improper documentation and placing of children in families through the illegal buying and selling of children, could lead to incest.

Professor Jamiu said that placing children in the same orphanage without proper documentation , “ would lead to issues of a brother marrying a sister because unknown to them they have biological relations. So there are several implications, which would act negatively on society and some of them may even need to be researched. Until we overcome it and make it unprofitable, either for the individual or set of people doing it or the parents engaging in it, the society is in for it.”

Professor Mohammed Aminu of the Sociology department at the Bayero University Kano, Kano State, stated that certain pressures of life were some of the reasons parents sold their children.

He explained that some parents’ inability to cater for their children was responsible for the thriving of baby sales.

Aminu said, “On the demand side, there are buyers, who want to acquire the children for ritual purposes or those, who want to adopt children. Also, there are organisations within or outside the countries that also deal in sexual abuse of these children; this is called paedophilia, who demand the kids for their sexual pleasures. There are organ harvesters, who buy off the kids to harvest their organs. All of these are issues affecting our society and it is spreading.”

To ameliorate the practices, Aminu called for societal, communal and religious organisations saddled with the care of people’s needs and desires to look into the affairs of poor people and families around them to prevent them from selling off their children for whatever purposes.

Pastor Adeyinka Adebayo Christ Redeemer Church said “buying a child through illegal means is evil. Religious organizations: churches and people of the other Faith must give proper teachings and counseling to childless couples, who want children. They must learn to wait on the Lord. And if they have to adopt they must follow the right channels.

According to experts a child bought can not be traced again, but proper adoption that follows official channels have proper documentation , and as such free from the possibility of being used for ritual purpose

 

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