2nd Annual Heritage Adoption Support & Advocacy Group Conference In Celebration Of World Adoption Day
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE 2ND ANNUAL HERITAGE ADOPTION SUPPORT AND ADVOCACY GROUP CONFERENCE IN CELEBRATION OF WORLD ADOPTION DAY ON THE 15TH OF NOVEMBER, 2018
Let me say first how very glad I am, that I was able to make it to this event. I had promised Emem that I would be here long ago, and probably I forgot that I made that promise. But a friend of mine reminded me that I had made a promise to Emem and I thought to myself that everyone knows Emem, she’s a very gentle person but she can be very persistent. So, I thought my life would not be worth very much if I didn’t make it here today. And so, I’m here but I’m very pleased to be here.
As Pastor Ituah said, I have a very special privilege of serving on the board of Heritage Homes as a member of the board of trustees. So, from the inception of Heritage Homes, which is the mother of this advocacy group, I have always somehow been associated with the whole issue of adoption. And I think, it’s a very excellent work that has been done by Pastor Ituah, Emem and Co. It’s so evidently what we’re experiencing today and what we’re able to benefit from today.
I don’t think there can be more events that can be more substantial, one where we’re trying to do something about how we can properly bring children into the love and care of parents who want to give them that love and care. I don’t think there can be anything more substantial than that. And that’s why I think for all of us who are here; it is a very special thing indeed that you and I are willing to participate in, even in the discussions about this.
I think our duty here, as government, as activists, as concerned persons, really should be how to make this process easier. You’ve heard all the stories; you’ve heard also from Emem, we’ve heard from Ibidun, we’ve heard from others about just how difficult that process is and how insensitive most people are, to the whole idea of adoption. That insensitivity also, in some senses, influences even the process. Because if it takes 7 years to go through the legal process of adoption then clearly, it’s evident that those who are involved in the processes are just not sensitive at all with the issues that concern the parents who want to adopt these children.
So, I think the first order of business for us, is to sensitize and educate those around us. And that should be our business in churches, our businesses, particularly everywhere, to let everyone understand what this whole thing is about and why it is so important.
I think practically all around Nigeria, there’s no single state I’ve not been, having been to several local governments, one of the things you find is just a sheer number of little children that are just wandering all over the place, so many.
Anywhere you go, it’s just so heartrending because you just find little children, all over the place. And people say in the hinterland, people are more loving, and the way they romanticize villages and interact but that’s not so. Even in the hinterland, there are so many children who are just all over the place who are not cared for by anyone, who are just sleeping somewhere.
So sometimes it’s a paradox that is rarely considered. How is it, that it’s so difficult to find children to adopt when there are so many children all over the place that are not being taken care of at all? That is if there’s a need for us to find parents where that convergence lies, because clearly there are so many little children in need of the love and care of parents who want to care for them and who can actually take care for them.
I think the second stage is really to look at how to simplify the processes. How do we simplify these processes? And part of our engagement is, for example, looking at the way human rights organization go after human rights issues, and they’re everywhere, if you look at how many of the activists we find in our midst, I think that what is missing for adoption, is that we need to have men and women who are also as committed, but not just committed, who are also substantial in their advocacy in the way that they go about it. I think that is missing because you don’t often find that they’re persons who are involved in the work of adoption, who are lobbying the legislature, who are talking to the House of Assembly, who are making this an item time and time again.
We don’t have enough of such people and I think we need to have that digital mass to be able to make a difference. We must have more people, I mean look at the number of us that are here, who are so obviously interested enough to spend the whole evening. But I think that we certainly need to advocate more. We need to be more committed to the cause, and we need to simply speak up more and do more for this.
I was looking at somebody who had sent me a message about a number of very famous people, who are adopted. And I found it very fascinating that Nelson Mandela was an adopted child, Bill Clinton also an adopted child. I couldn’t believe the sheer number of those who were adopted. In fact, one of them rose to be an American president and also a popular one, Malcolm X, and so many of them.
And this just means that this is really and truly in God’s plan. He just wants to demonstrate to us time and time again, that however you come about your child, however you come about children, it is certainly His plan. Whether it is by natural birth, or it is by grace, which is by adoption, it is in His plan.
However we come about children is certainly in His plan, He is the one who has brought it about. When you hear the incredible story of Ibidun and Tito, and how their children are so grown and how good it’s been, it just tells you that there’s something divine about adoption.
I think that ultimately, God always has a way to show in patterns what His real desire is. When you look at the Christian faith, the way it is that we who are saved, are children by adoption, it is very clear that that is how God will have us look at it. If He could actually die for us, accept all of our sins, just so that we can be adopted children, I don’t think there’s any doubt at all about how God would want us to look at the issue of adoption.
Somebody wrote something about children by God and children by grace. And it really is quite interesting; children by grace, of course, refer to children who are adopted. Because you and I are adopted so, we’re not called adopted, we’re called children by grace.
Now, what is grace? The unmerited favor of God, unmerited, completely unmerited favor of God and it is the greatest act of love. The greatest act of love is grace, because it is regardless of whom we are, what we’ve been or what we’ve done. I think that we must really talk about it, persuade others about it.
Lastly, let me just say that sometimes when you look at how a whole nation or country develops, and you look at countries of the world, where processing adoption is so easy, where it is taken seriously, you find that after a while, you discover that there are no children to adopt and people go elsewhere for that.
But all of those countries are usually much better than countries where adoption isn’t taken so seriously. And that is so of developed countries, and undeveloped countries. If you look at all the countries that do so well, countries that have a great development index, you find that they’re also countries where adoption is taken seriously. And really, it’s all about whether society cares or not. And I think it is time for us to let our society, this Nigerian society, be the one that cares.
Really, it’s up to all of us who are here, to work at it, to ensure that between now and another conference, we have several thousand more persons that were persuaded about what adoption is and why adoption is so important. And also persuade those of us in government about what to do to make it easier.
So, I’ll like to thank you all very much, for coming here today, and for your time, and the time that you put into this work and especially, Emem and all the members of her team, especially Mrs. George and all of those who work in this particular field. This is really God’s work. You are truly God’s representatives here on earth, doing the work that is closest to His heart. And I’m sure that God will reward you, for all your labour of love.
God bless you, thank you very much.