The Heritage Adoption Support And Advocacy Group held its first conference recently with the theme, “The Power of Adoption”. Special Guest of Honour at the event was Her Excellency, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of the Vice President of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, the wife of the Vice-President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo urged Nigerians to adopt saying, “We must choose to fight the negativity that is around adoption and raise our voice to speak out against the stigma, uncertainty and fear attached to adoption.
According to the Managing Trustee and project coordinator of the group, Eme Akenzua, “The aim of this conference is to change the negative perception associated with adoption and thereby make it more acceptable to childless couples and any responsible and God-fearing adult that has the heart and resource to adopt. By so doing, we would achieve our aim of getting all abandoned and needy children into responsible, God-fearing homes.”
The Heritage Adoption Support And Advocacy Group is an offshoot of The Heritage Homes orphanage founded in 2006 by Pastor Ituah Ighodalo. The vision of the group is simply to change the negative perception of adoption in the society and render support to prospective adopters, adoptive parents and adoptees and advocates for better adoption laws.
Speaking at the event, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo said “Adoption would depopulate our streets of children who can easily fall prey to all kinds of vices and become criminals and ultimately a threat to the society. Adoption transforms the lives of both childless couples and adopted children. Through adoption, loving and caring parents are able to fulfill a lifelong desire of having their own child. The culture of shame and stigma associated with adoption in our society must stop.”
He said adoption can be embraced by people who have biological children, but they should have the heart and resources to take another child off the street. He appealed to all government authorities to make it easier for people to adopt children without compromising on the stringent checks and balances to prevent trafficking. He called for the co-operation of religious organisations, government and non-governmental organisations (NGO), corporate entities, the press and all Nigerians to take it as a collective responsibility to promote adoption.
The aims of the conference were to dispel the negative impression of stigma and shame associated with adoption in the society, garner support for the adoption cause, enlighten the general public on the subject of adoption and to let prospective adopters, adoptive parents, adoptees and the entire adoption community know there is a support and advocacy group they can be a part of.
The conference highlighted the issue of infertility in the Nigerian society, which affects about 25% of married couples in the country. The conference noted that while some infertile couples will respond to different types of fertility treatments, some sadly will not and fortunately for such couples, adoption offers an opportunity to have a family. Unfortunately though, because of the stigma and shame associated with adoption, this is usually shrouded in much secrecy. It is this stigma and shame that the group seeks to dispel by enlightening people appropriately on the subject of adoption.