In Africa, a man is seen as man enough only if his ability to father a child is proven, the belief that a couple’s first priority in marriage is reproduction is widespread and almost an acceptable belief. This belief has swept the idea that a man could be sterile and responsible for the childlessness of the couple under the carpet and the blame is solely on the woman. The expectation on the African man is very high, taking away every form of vulnerability available to him as a human.
A man’s ability to express emotions is seen as a great weakness, it is also popular opinion that a man should suck up every form of emotion ranging from excitement to pain amongst others. The vulnerability of men is seen as weakness hence a lot of men put up a mask to hide away all their challenges from people and sometimes even their spouses.
In the face of childlessness, the men are mostly reluctant to find a solution among the many options available to them and this is because again, the woman would go through all the hurdles to find a solution for the family. A typical example of this scenario can be seen in churches whenever there is an altar call for people going through infertility, a large number of responders are women. The rarity in seeing a man respond to this altar call supports the claim that our society has placed the responsibility of conceiving on the woman.
Among the many solutions to infertility is adoption. Adoption is one of or maybe the last solution couple resort to in the face of infertility and most times one of the reasons why it is a last resort is because they are bothered what people will say, and for the men, it is a clear indication that he can’t biologically father a child.
In a typical African family, it is believed that a man can never be sterile, so it is expressly the fault of the woman that the couple is without a child. If after every effort to get the woman pregnant, that includes prayers, taking every concoction and there is still no child, the man would then be advised to take in a second wife that can give the family a child that will inherit the father’s properties. Although this is something that happened mostly in the past, it has shaped the mind of most African men hence they decline adoption because society has provided a solution to the challenge. When all options are exhausted and eliminated, then the man may be grudgingly considered to be the cause and to perhaps run a test in that regard.
Another reason why I think African men reject adoption is because they do not want a child that is not biologically related to them to inherit their properties when they are no more. It feels out of place in Africa for someone who is not related to you by blood to inherit your properties, this is like selling your birth right. Even with the option of surrogacy which is close to home with insemination of the egg and sperm from a couple into a “carrier”, the option is still alien in the society if the woman doesn’t bore the child herself. Adoption seems like a far stretch when placed in comparison with surrogacy.
The pride a man feels when he is clapped on the back and given a pumped handshake upon the proclamation of a successful delivery by his wife is a ceremonial ritual that is looked forward to. The giddiness, the anticipation, the relief upon pronouncing mother and child as okay, these are the ultimate ingredients that make up the taste of family building for the typical African man.
There is also the popular Nigerian saying that when a child is good, he belongs to the father and when he is bad he belongs to the mother. This saying, for obvious reasons, flies more in a home with biological children while suspicions may raised in the event the adopted child displays certain traits that are not in line with the parents. This is an angle several might like to argue from, “what if there is madness in the lineage of the child?” “What if the child displays inexplicable behaviors?” All these are unfounded yet prevalent in the minds of most. Even if it weren’t, the womb of the society’s mind is not a suitable clime to birth thoughts of adoption.
Author: Kangmwa Gofwen