Elizabeth Githinji, 47, says taking on a child is a calling that one shouldn’t fear. The Program specialist and farmer speaks to Euginia Gathoni why she made the choice
“I don't recall having a great desire to carry a child of my own. Adoption was always going to be my first choice and I hoped my only choice. Even when it comes to my hopes of settling down, I have always desired to meet a man with no deep need to have biological children. You could say that history repeats itself as I was adopted by my parents as a baby.
Growing up in a Limuru farm, I was a rather quiet child. I was an only child and being surrounded by adults made me grow up pretty quickly. I missed having siblings, however, I developed close friendships with my neighbours which filled the void. I was shy and uncomfortable in groups. It wasn’t until my 30s that I was able to function comfortably in groups. Back then in the 70's, adoption wasn't as common as it is today and I never got to discuss the intricate details with my parents until I was about 17.
I was blessed to attend good schools and I even pursued my further studies out of the country. It's funny I don't quite remember having one direction or path I desired. Unfortunately, the 844 system was very limiting in encouraging exploration of gifts. It's only when I went to Canada and pursued a business degree that I knew my heart was in community work.
One time after completing my studies, I happened to visit New Life Children's Home located in Dagoretti North. I made the life-changing decision to adopt my baby girl who was then five-months-old. She had been brought to the home four days earlier and I instantly fell in love with her. It was a closed adoption which is a process whereby an infant is adopted by another family and the record of the biological parent(s) is kept sealed. It was the same process that my parents went through with me hence the reason why I don't have any knowledge about my biological parents.
After undertaking all the legal processes, I got to take my nine-month-old baby home with me. The adoption process was officially completed about 12 months later. The best memory I have of my daughter as a baby was when she called me "mum," the first time she spoke. That moment was precious and it will be forever etched in my mind. For years, my mother has been my source of encouragement and continues to be my number one champion in supporting my decision to adopt.
I haven't had a single person come to me with a negative comment. I'm open about it and I welcome questions and views from people. I always encourage people to adopt because there a lot of children who need to be blessed with a loving family.
My friend, Grace Wanunda who is also an adoption champion has created a Facebook page "Adoption is Beautiful Kenya" and it has served as a great platform for adoptive parents and children as well as prospective adoptive parents. Together we answer questions about our experiences and offer an opportunity for people to ask hard questions. Many parents have opted to adopt based on the interactions on the platform. We consider this a great blessing!
Am no different from everyone else as I face the same challenges. I have moments of difficulty and moments of triumph. Over the years, I have had a few moments when I was tempted to delve into my history, but those have been few and far between. I just decided to focus on the here and now and make the most of it. I do not negate there are adopted children grappling with their identity. This enquiry of self should be embraced positively by those involved and those who support them.
Adoption is a calling. God grants each one of us a gift, if yours is to adopt, then your heart will sing when you think about it. It is a parenting journey like any other and it's one you can choose confidently and forge courageously.
My daughter who is turning nine this year, understands that she came out of another mum's tummy. She is satisfied with that for now and as a parent, I give information incrementally considering her age. While I have no plans to adopt more children, my heart does want to foster an older girl child.
My advice to other parents would be to love children as they are. Guide them to find their God-given purpose. Each child has a gift that God has placed in their hands. Help them to sow good fruit from the gifts and capabilities they have received. Let love be the driving force. Let's not leave the raising of our children to others.
Take an interest in every area of their life by allocating time each day to just sit and talk. My daughter and I do Bible study together. She enjoys mummy and daughter time and that for me is what makes up a happy home.”