By Patrick Cole
Looking for a child has been a most harrowing challenge for a great number of men and women. The Bible tells the agonizing story of a woman who continuously wailed as she sought a child. God took pity on Hannah and gave her a child after the intervention of Prophet Eli. She became the mother of Samuel, a giant in the history of Jews.
Henry the VIII of England, in his search for a male heir, beheaded six queens, yet he died without a son and was succeeded by Queen Elizabeth the 1st. In the end, Henry VIII took England out of the Roman Catholic Church and established the Anglican Church in what became known as the English Reformation.
Single professional women have had no bar to their adoption of children. They may have done so in cases where child birth was difficult; when, however, adoption has occurred, sometimes successful pregnancies ensued. So far, there has been no stigma involved in adopted children; if there is, the evidence is small, although I can imagine needling comments of the kind of women that Mama Gee portrays in Nollywood.
In some societies, women marry younger girls for their husbands for all sorts of reasons. Our upper and middle class women almost invariably have children, who, in every other way except legally, had been adopted. It is not always a happy experience but then which marriage is always a happy experience? There is the occasional friction when the woman dies without a will because her relatives may make claims or fight to take all the material possessions of the dead, thereby cutting the adopted child out of his lawful inheritance. My mother, on the other hand, had several adopted children, who remain my siblings till date.
Duruyani and Hannaniya were married for 20 years and, just like any other couple, they tried to have children. However, unlike others, it took them several years to conceive and, despite the challenge with conception and their expectations, all the pregnancies unfortunately ended in miscarriages. This was a very grieving deal for them because the babies would grow to about 5 or 6 months in the womb and then a miscarriage would occur, and some of these miscarriages were for multiple babies. The enlightened couple utilized their globe-trotting exposure to seek medical solution overseas, all to no avail.
Eventually, as time progressed, Durayani became ill and was diagnosed with various kinds of ailments. She developed a type of cough the doctors could not understand and, on the film, some dark spots were seen in her chest region and lungs. Being devoted Christians, they sought medical solution to the challenge yet committed it to the Lord as they expected some miracle. Eventually the Lord took this strange ailment away from her.
One day, while they dined at a Chinese restaurant in Abuja, Durayani began to bleed. She knew what was happening. Her husband, a microbiologist and specialist neurophysician, rushed her to three different hospitals. Unfortunately, in each hospital, the senior doctors had all gone home. After the third stop, he rushed her to the National Hospital where he found out again that all the senior doctors had also closed for the day. At this point, he chose to go against the ethics of his profession that advise against a man performing surgery on his spouse. With junior doctors around with the few junior doctors on duty, they quickly set up the theatre and began the surgery to take out the blood clot that was about to snuff life out of his beloved wife. Then an experienced doctor came around for an entirely different reason, and heard of the situation and ran to take over the surgery.
Doctor’s report versus God’s report
On another day, she fell ill and, in the course of seeking solution in South Africa, they were told that the blood result was bad news: cancer. They were shaken and took the challenge once more to the Lord in prayers. They rejected the doctor’s report and held unto the Lord’s report. They sought medical solution in the U.K afterwards and the doctors became puzzled and asked, “Who said she had a blood disease, a rare form of blood cancer?” To the glory of God, the results of the latter test showed there was no trace of the cancer. Did a miracle take place? They rejoiced and praised the Lord. Soon after this great news, they got a call from the South African doctors stating that there was a mix up with her tests. They investigated further and confirmed that she did not have any form of cancer in her system. Having gone through so much and having wailed on the Lord in the secret place of the Lord, they remained sober and thankful, once more, for sparing her life.
After a while, they tried to have children again but to no avail; miscarriages continued. Eventually they figured that since her womb could not keep the pregnancies, they would consider the option of surrogacy. Their Harley Street doctor, one of the first doctors in the world to successfully deliver in vitro (IVF) babies, had been very sympathetic to their cause and, after series of failed IVF, suggested surrogacy to them.
They began the procedures and, as eggs could be stored for years, they decided to store the excess eggs while they sought for a surrogate mother to carry their child. Unfortunately, the surrogacy laws in Britain were so strict that it would have been impossible to find a mother to carry the child. The doctor, who was natively Greek, suggested that they find a surrogate in Greece. They embraced the idea but it was soon forgotten because there was a serious problem with the transportation of the eggs out of the region.
When that failed, they tried to transport the eggs to Nigeria but the results were the same as that of Greece. It seemed like they would never be able to have their own children, so they opted for adoption. They adopted a little boy, now 6 years old, and later a girl, now aged 4. Duruyani’s body had gone through so much strain over these years and age was not on her side as she was classified as High Risk Pregnancy if she took in. On two occasions, she had been diagnosed with cancer, and later lymphoma; she had suffered hemorrhage, strange cough which left dark patches on her lungs; she had suffered emotional, physical and psychological trauma. She had also been on bed rest all through these pregnancies that resulted in miscarriages.
Yet the good Lord delivered her from the cold hands of death. Her husband, Hannaniya, a rare Igbira man from Kogi State, remained a most loving husband to her, an Igbomina from Kwara State, and kept all their travails away from family and friends. They loved and doted on their two adopted children and once more wondered if it was necessary to have their own biological children.
The Lord understood the desires of their heart and decided to seal their faith with a remarkable gift to them in 2014. They got a call from their doctor in Harley Street that the law had lifted the storage limit of the human eggs/embryo which negated the earlier law of five years. Perhaps because they were silently thinking once more of their unborn children, they became expectant. Her eggs were still available and decided to try once more. This time they asked for the frozen eggs to be sent to Nigeria and this became the appointed time for them for they were able to transport the eggs and implant them in Lagos.
29 weeks after the implantation of the embryo, Hannaniya, while at work, got a call from the surgeon that his twin baby girls had been delivered weighing 0.9kg and 1kg respectively. He could not believe his ears and questioned the time and date of delivery to which the surgeon responded that it was either they were saved at that point in time or they were lost like all the others gone.
Hannaniya, knowing what everybody in this country and beyond knew, which was that the babies had a slim chance of survival in a country like Nigeria, did not get excited. He did not worry either but chose as usual to leave this one more challenge to God. For the first time, their babies had been delivered alive; so it was clear that the Lord had given them the miracle of an identical twin birth, but with incessant power outages and the inadequate medical care, especially for neonates in the incubators, what would be the fate of these little ones?
As usual and with wisdom, he chose to keep the news away from family and friends for he did not want to get excited over his preterm babies. They willingly submitted the case to the Lord and waited for time to celebrate if it was the will of God for them. As God gave his approval, both babies survived and were christened Grace and Esther on Sunday, March 22, 2015.
The other two children who had been adopted were also christened on the same day. There was a lovely celebration of the two babies and their older adopted siblings afterwards at the beautiful event organized by the family in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Their phenomenal testimony was shared by the husband himself and all those present were amazed. Their parents, siblings, relations, friends and well-wishers were speechless and moved to tears of joy for the grace of God on their beloved children.
There are great lessons to learn from the power of prayers and the power in sealed lips for they did not give room to any interference or sympathy from family and friends.
Research for the story was done by Ugonna Ezeanya and Chinwe Ezeanya and I am privileged to bring you the wonderful saga.