Finding true love through adoption

Boitumelo Maswabi

“Naturally, when you marry, one of the things you excitedly look forward to is starting a family. So, when my husband and I were confronted with the painful reality of fertility problems, I was shattered. Owing to my difficult upbringing, I had promised myself I’d not have children out-of-wedlock. I had suffered much trauma as a child because my paternal family raised me away from my mom thus I yearned for a more balanced life… Unfortunately, hopes of raising children of my own were dashed when my marriage fell apart…”

These are the words of a career woman and foster mother, Esther Modise, who welcomes Voice Woman into her beautiful home to talk about a different kind of love – adoption – as we begin the month of love.

The couple went through what Esther terms a mentally draining period. During that time, Esther decided to pursue a Master’s Degree abroad.

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She immersed herself in her academic work, but unfortunately upon completion of her studies, she returned to discover that her husband had looked elsewhere to sire children.

“It was the most devastating discovery. I asked him why he chose to spite me because that was something I definitely had no control over. And he simply responded that it had always been his wish to have children, so he went ahead and checked whether he was perhaps the one with the problem. It was the biggest blow of my life. I started to question my own femininity and it was a rude awakening for me as growing up a pretty girl, I realised that there was more to life than beauty. And that truth was driven home by the stigma of infertility; my self-esteem took a hard knock,” explains the mother-of-one.

The 48-year-old go-getter had a well-paid corporate job, and as the breadwinner, she was expected to help at home so she took in her younger siblings, which worked in her favor as she didn’t feel alone.

However, when they also left for varsity, she found herself all alone once again.

“I bought a big dog, and it became my sole companion. Be that as it may, one day, after seriously considering adoption, I bravely approached the City Council to register.”

For someone who had basically helped raise her siblings and their children, she had over the years taken to connecting with children in a very special way, which would later inform her decision.

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“Whenever I held a baby, there was something I felt, especially when cradling them close to my chest. It’s an inexplicable feeling, I get goosebumps just thinking about it. So, I’d determined to adopt an infant – a baby boy or girl, the gender didn’t matter though my friend advised me to adopt a baby girl instead because o ka ntshollela pau, kana a ntlhapisa ha ke setse ke godile (She’d take better care of me when I’m old).”

A few months passed, then social workers scheduled an assessment and a few more months later, she finally got the call that would change her life forever.

“A day before going to meet my child, I had a most surreal experience. I remember I drove to a restaurant, sat by myself and ordered cake and coffee. I felt a rush of intense anxiety. Self-doubt set in and disturbing questions flooded my mind. I wondered; ‘what if I fail to be a good mother? Am I certain about this? Did I make the right decision? What if, what if…?’ I wept bitterly!”

To avoid negativity, and doubting that her family cared at all, as well as the fact family does tend to benefit from one member’s misfortune – especially when the one who brings home the bacon happens to be the childless one – Esther consulted neither her mom nor siblings.

“I mean, if they cared, they’d have gladly shared my nephew and nieces with me, but whenever we fought, they’d turn them against me. I knew it was best for them that I didn’t have children because then I remained the provider. The only person I confided in was my best friend.”

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So, the process of adoption began. Esther was informed of the child’s history and the circumstances surrounding her conception and birth. She was sent a picture of the newborn, a 7-month-old premature boy, hardly a month old.
“I was elated, though apprehensive but luckily I had my friend to coach me: she’d teach me how to ‘kangaroo’ (a method of holding a baby that involves skin-to-skin contact).

When the day came, Esther’s primal motherly instincts kicked in. She had, the day prior, happily gone shopping for the baby. “I knew exactly what to buy, no one taught me.”

Once at the care home, where the infant had been awaiting his fate, Esther was given the child’s meager belongings: a feeding bottle – half full and some documents accompanied by medication.

Concerned, she quickly asked the social worker about the medication, and the official disclosed that it was AZT; a drug for HIV exposed babies.

An oversight that could discourage or scare off a potential foster mother, it totally didn’t deter her.

“Instead, I felt sympathy for the baby. It absolutely didn’t change anything. I just quietly spoke to God and felt assured that it was indeed God ordering my steps, for a reason. I’d take him to the Baylor Clinic until he was cleared. I promised myself I’d love the baby and prayed that God blessed the woman who brought him into this world. God promised to bless those who blessed me.”

Once back home, the new mum would observe that hers was indeed a true blessing.

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“The moment I arrived home with my baby, that’s the day purpose came into my life. In him, my search for meaning ended. For the first time in my life there was a life that depended on me, I elected not to employ a helper so as to fully bond with him. The baby was sweet, quiet, slept throughout the night. I’d whispered in his ear, ‘you shall never know pain!’”

Now that the boy is 10 years old, the doting mum plans to teach her boy about adoption to prepare him for any eventuality.

“My boy is an only child and I’m very protective of him because I’m aware society can be cruel. To build his character, I made sure he trains in martial arts to learn self-defense and discipline. I’m also raising him in the Lord and constantly reassuring him I love him. One day I’ll tell him his story, provide counselling and, if he wants to meet his biological mother, I’ll take him to go see her despite the potential trauma. I almost forget that I didn’t carry this child in my womb; you have to remind me. He’s mine in every way; my blessing, my first love – after Jesus of course. I pray to God to keep me until he’s 45 years old, I’ll be 89. I want him to be successful. This is God’s love because God will give you a child you did not carry, and more than that, equip you with lots of love to pour out to this child.”

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Esther says her child – the experience of motherhood – has certainly brought her closer to her Creator. Perhaps the reason God did not give some of us children was that He saw the abundant love we possess that we can give to other children who need a nurturing mother.