Reflections from a Congolese Adoptive Mother
Of the handful of children who have been adopted, for whom family reunification was not possible, five of these children have joined loving Congolese families. Our hope is that by sharing just a glimpse of one adoptive mother’s journey, cultural barriers will be broken down, and those children in need of families through adoption will be welcomed with the love, celebration and family solidarity that is so central to the Congolese culture. We invite you to please meet Spirita and Grace…
Can you share with us a little about your background?
I was born in the 80s in Brazzaville (Congo), grew up normally like any other girl. My dad used to take me to orphanages, old people houses, prisons…to visit and share food with them. I grew up a very sensitive child; I was always crying. I was always trying to escape from the house and play outside with other children even if my dad forbid it. That’s me: very stubborn but very sensitive. When I saw somebody suffering, it was like a cross on my shoulder, so I grew up with a dream to have an orphanage when I’m an adult.
How did you decide to adopt? Was there anything in your life that grew this desire to adopt?
It has always been in my head, and while things became different as I grew, I never abandoned this dream. I think God made things possible in 2013 when at 6 months pregnant, I lost a baby and discovered I was diabetic. I told God to have total control because I was tired to search for it. Then one day, a colleague told me he was opening an orphanage with his wife, I knew I wanted to visit.
The day I visited, they had received one of the first babies 2 days ago, a very fragile and sick baby girl very fragile. I escorted Cheryl to the hospital with the baby girl, and as I carried her in my arms, I fell in love.
I visited her regularly and reflected on my dream to adopt. I thought, “Ok I’m single, it is true but I have a job I can take care of a baby. I love babies so what can be the obstacle?” Several months later, I told Cheryl that I would like to adopt this baby girl, and after all the formalities at Court, I became the blessed mom of a beautiful, bouncing girl. All my sisters were waiting for us, and my father was so happy to welcome Grace into our family, who has been my daughter for 5 years now.
Adoption for children to whom you are not biologically related is rare in Congo. Can you share with us some of the reactions you have gotten when people learn that your daughter is adopted?
I did not hide it, because it was our reality and a grace of God. I wanted to share with people around me, especially my generation, to show them it is possible especially here in Africa, where a woman without children can be stigmatized by her family. I grew up with the idea that your mom is the one who educates you, who takes care of you whether you gave birth to that child or not. Some people were surprised; some were proud; some were insulting to me—but I never cared about that.
I want to point out here that I have no desire to boast; it is also written in Scripture that what your right hand gives that your left hand does not know it. I hope through this testimony to make the next generation understand those women who have experienced the same difficult situation as me, that nothing is impossible for God. And not only to women, but also to our mothers, to our husbands, to our in-laws. It is very common here (in Congo) to see an uncle take his nephews with him, to treat them as his children, and we celebrate this. Here’s the truth: a child is a child whether you have given birth to him or not, and it is our choice and opportunity to give him love. It is we who have the opportunity to change the fate of children like these in orphanages.
Can you share with us a little bit about your daughter’s personality?
She looks timid but she is not, just like me. Grace is very calm, sweet, adorable and humble. She recently welcomed her little brother, so she is very protective. She has an inclination toward sports, and she is quite stubborn, just like me.