Growing up, I noticed that mothers were more protective of their daughters than their sons. The reason behind this was that girls were at risk of being sexually molested irrespective of their age. Then, boys as young as four or five years old could roam the streets and enter any house they like and their parents won’t be worried, except that they, the boys, may be knocked down by passing vehicles.
When I joined the motherhood club, I realised that boys have joined the number of those to be guarded. They have become even more vulnerable than girls. They face the danger of accidents, molestation and, above all, kidnapping.
When I gave birth to my first son, I was warned by many caring mothers to keep a close eye on him. I was made to understand that children (especially boys) from 0 – 5 years are the most vulnerable. This, I learnt, is because if they happened to fall into the hands of kidnappers recruited by illegal adoption outlets, they can easily adjust to their new ‘homes’ and also forget their parents. Apart from that, they may not really know their full identity and would therefore not be in a position to alert neighbours and authorities. But from what I can see right now, even older children are not safe.
In case you are wondering what I’m trying to explain here, I want to refresh your memory with the cases of missing children who were found in another state of the federation, where they were illegally adopted. If you noticed almost all of those missing children were within the age bracket I mentioned above.
Most of these children were stolen from their parents when they took them to public places. The majority of the cases heard indicated that these kidnappers prefer places of worship such as churches and mosques. I’ve also heard of how they broke into a house in the middle of the night and stole a 3-year old boy, who was fast asleep in the room he shared with his older sibling. They were able to get away with this act because the parents of this affected boy went to the hospital that night on an emergency call. This shows that even our homes are not safe for our children.
These people that kidnap these infants take them to other states to give them up for adoption to childless couples or those looking for children of a particular sex – especially male. I want to call your attention to the fact that most of these children, that is the fortunate ones, were found in the eastern part of the country – a lot of them in Anambra State (this is not coincidental as far as I can tell).
If we decide to trace the root cause of this inhuman act, we may end up opening a lot of cans of worms. But I’ll first want to point out that our culture and its preference for male children is a major cause. As I stated earlier, boys are at higher risk of being kidnapped and “sold” to other families because of their higher demands and higher cost. For instance, every Igbo childless couple that wants to adopt a child would prefer a male one first and would pay whatever it takes to have one. As a result, male children are sourced more than their girl counterparts.
Another major cause of this illegal and inhuman means of adoption is the bottlenecks and heavy conditions placed by legal adoption homes. These government owned homes do not make it easier for people to adopt children (have you ever wondered why there are should be so many children in orphanages while a lot of people are looking for children to adopt). From what I heard, if you want to adopt a child from government-managed or approved homes, you will drop your application and other required documents. Then, you will have to pay a huge amount of non-refundable fee (speculation has it that for girls, it is 500k and then 700k and above for boys). When you are done with the required procedures, you will be asked to wait for your turn because there are others before you. You may have to wait for years without any result (meanwhile a lot of teenagers are giving birth and killing their babies). The resultant effect of this is that either the couples resort to illegal adoption outlets or they bribe the government officials to hasten the adoption process.
Note that I’m not saying that people should go through illegal means to adopt children, I’m just making it known that inefficiency of government owned homes are encouraging these illegal ones to thrive. There is no childless couple that will want to mess up their reputation by adopting stolen children.
Then, the greatest factor that leads to this atrocity is lack of humanity in the quest for wealth (and children). If these “sellers” and “buyers” still have any atom of humanity in them, they would consider the agony the children and their parents will pass through before embarking on this devilish act. But because their focus was only on money, they dropped off the cloak of humanity in their bid to make money. I don’t believe that the situation of the country is the cause of this inhumanity. These people are just plain mean.
But, we won’t allow these atrocities to continue. We parents should do our own bit by taking care of our children when we are in public places. These kidnappers target mostly those infants left in the custody of very young minders. Parents should endeavour not to leave their infants with older children unless they or other trusted adults are there. They should be mindful of the helps and relations they leave their children with. Children should also not be left with strangers, even if those strangers look friendly. In short, parents should be vigilant and protective of their children.
As for those adopting these babies and infants, if caught, they should be made to face the music because they won’t say that they weren’t aware of how unlawful their method of adoption was. They should be punished alongside those that were linked to the kidnap and the sale of the children (I use the term “sale” because this cannot be considered as an adoption).
However, as the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. If all parents decide to take care of their children properly, these baby traffickers will be kicked out business in no distant time.