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Attitude and Belief of the Ever-Married People toward Child Adoption
Background to the Study
The issue of child adoption is attracting world wide attention in the recent times. Biological ties form the hallmark of parent-child relationship and its absence has caused concern throughout the history of adoption (Logan, 1996). Nevertheless there is evidence that adoptive relationship can form along other lines, so adoptive parents enrich their children’s lives to compensate for the lack of biological ties and external challenges. There is a biological tie relationship that exists between a mother and her child. This relationship makes a child feel the mother’s absence when she is not around or dead. The adoptive parent can compensate an adopted child by showing him/her a good motherly care which ought to exist between a biological mother and her child.
Years ago, adoption was a taboo in many countries including Nigeria, but today it has become more common and acceptable (Wayne, 2004). According to Wayne, (2004) because people’s attitude towards adoption is changing, there is a polite behavior towards adopted children and their families. Raynor (1980) observed that the aim of child adoption is to cement a new family. Wayne (2004) similarly revealed that the aim of child adoption is to find a permanent home for babies who are the result of unwanted pregnancies.
World Health Organization WHO, (1980) defined a child as a person who is less than eighteen years of age. Molechine (2004) described a child as a person who has not attained maturity or age of legal majority. In the context of this study a child is a young person of either sex (male or female) who is not up to eighteen years of age. Adoption is the act of taking up a new idea and making it one’s own by individual (Rogers, 2003). It could also mean the act by which couples take up children who need adoption and making them their own. Adoption in the context of this study is the act of making use of a new idea as the best course of action available.
Child adoption according to (Eze, 1993) is a statutory process of terminating a child’s legal rights and duties toward the natural parent and substituting similar right and duties towards adoptive parent. Adamec and Pierne (1995) defined child adoption as a legal process by which people take as their own child a person not biologically born to them. Resolving the issue of adoption is a life long process but through an awareness of the issues inherent in adoption, an adoptive parent can use strategies that will enhance children’s self esteem and decrease their emotional vulnerability (William & Christine, 1996). This could be perhaps the reason why Boswell (1998) stated that child adoption is the act of taking a person or child into ones family as a son or daughter Adoption raises unique issues and challenges for the child and adoptive parents. Barbara (2004) observed that child adoption is the act of establishing a person as parent to one who is not in fact his child.
Child adoption in the context of this study is the practice by which couple agrees to rear a child/children which are not biologically their children with the aim of giving the child/children a good and better future. It incorporates the practice by which individual or families with impaired fertility accept to take and care for a child not related to them and have him/her as their child instead of going in for divorce. Every Child need a parent who will take care of him, this parent can be a birth parent or an adoptive parent. According to Boswell (1988) a parent is a person who beget, rear, nurture or give birth to a child. Section 567 of Edict act of 1996 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria viewed a parent as any person who cares for a child or young person.
A biological, natural or birth parent refers to a parent who is the biological mother or father of an individual United Nations Organization (UN 2008). An adoptive parent according to Eze, (1993) is that person or couple who has completed all the processes involved in adopting a child and has taken the child to their home to take care of the child till the age of maturity. This parent must have in one time or the other married either by court, traditional or Christian marriage. In this study it is only ever-married people that suppose in adopt because they are the people that can give hope for the orphan, and the abandoned by giving them good training permanent home and standard education like other children who live with their biological parent. These are the main aims of child adoption and it is the ever-married that can properly provide them to abandoned and neglected children. Single boys and girls may adopt but may not be able to provide for all that the child will need like good health standard education, permanent home and comfortable environment to grow happily like other children who live with their biological parent.
Ever-married people according to United Nations Organization (UN, 2008) include men and women who have married at least once in their life either by court, traditional or Christian marriage although their current marital status may not be married. The rationale for chosen ever-married people as the subject of the study is because they are the people that are supposed to rear, care and offer a permanent home for these children. They are the people that are in the system, they are qualified to take care, train and provide for either biological or adoptive children.
In Uzo-Uwani LGA many ever-married people abound. Uzo-Uwani is a typical rural community located in the southern part of Enugu state. It is occupied by people whose main occupation is farming. It was bounded in the east by Kogi state, west by Udi L .G.A, in the north by Anambra State and in the south by Nsukka L.G.A. The choice of the community for the investigation was necessitated by the researcher’s personal experience of witnessing of three women who were divorced by their husbands because they do not have a child of their own. The most surprising thing is that nobody wants to talk about this evil menace, every man wants to have his own child even when it is obvious that the problem of their infertility is from the man, they may prefer marrying young girls that are already pregnant and then divorce their matrimonial wives. Depending on the interpersonal relationship, people’s belief, attitude, religion, and educational level could be either supportive or against child adoption practices. People’s religion and belief affect the way they will accept or reject health practices.
Attitude is the mental arrangement and disposition representing state of readiness which has motivational property Bern (2007). Attitude represents the organization of both positive and negative emotions. Attitudes are certain regularities of an individual’s feeling, thought and predisposition to act towards some aspect of his environment. Heldier (1987) described attitude as one’s likes and dislikes. Heldier (1987) further suggested that attitude means one’s attraction to and dislike for situation, objects, ideas, persons or any other identifiable aspects of our environment. In the context of this study attitude is the positive or negative view of people towards child adoption. It could also mean the negative or positive view of the ever married toward child adoption.
Attitudes are very important in people’s daily life because they determine the direction of their activities (Perlman & Cozby, 1983). According to them once an individual has a favorable attitude towards something, he supports it. Attitudes are learnt and people’s attitude towards various objects, groups and issues develop with time (Brodzinsky & Schecter, 1990). Attitudes somehow depend on belief and knowledge. They also added that the way one feels about people or object depends upon what he/she knows about them. Belief determines attitude and this influences behaviour and action. Fishbern (1980) stated that a person’s belief about an object determines how that person feels toward that object. On the other hand, attitude determines a person’s behavioural intention with respect to the object (Perlman & Cozby, 1983). Attitude and belief are related; so to understand attitude formation, people’s belief must be examined.
Ruth (1996) defined belief as people’s opinion, feeling, idea, view, theory, impressive assessment, motion, judgment, point of view, sentiment, persuasion and presumption concerning things, object or certain activities. Ruth added that it is a vague idea in which some confidence is placed. Kermerman (2006) indicated that belief is whatever an individual is willing to accept without direct verification by experience or without support or evidence, resulting in assumption which is taken as a basis for action or non-action. In the context of this study belief is a vague idea in which some confidence is placed.
Finley (1997) indicated that it is not all cultures that believe and accept adopted children as their own biological children. Attitude and belief regarding adoption vary greatly (Herman, 2007). Herman further stated that whereas all cultures make arrangement whereby children whose own parents are unavailable to rear them are to be brought up by others, not all cultures have the concept of child adoption.
In some countries like America, China, India and Nigeria, some demographic factors support or prohibit some couples from adopting children not born by them. In America, some socio-demographic factors that are in support or prohibit people from adoption include gender, age, occupation, income level and race. In China, some social demographic factors that support or prohibit people from adopting children include age, number of children, having infertility, having high income, being married, having some college education and considering religion to be very important.
Studies carried out in Nigeria by Ezugwu, Obi and Onah (2002) and Oladokwu Arulogun and Bamgboye (2011), showed that some demographic factors that are associated with positive or negative attitude toward adoption include duration of infertility, awareness of child adoption practices, knowledge of what child adoption is all about, tertiary education, no child living in the family (death of all the children born by a couple), house hold income and pressure from parent or relatives, infertility age of above fifteen years and knowing the correct meaning of child adoption.
Reuben (2008) indicated that there are some demographic factors t hat support or prohibit child adoption by couples In India there are some demographic factors that support or prohibit child adoption by couples, these includes age at first marriage, perceived ideal number of children, literacy status, religion, mass media exposure and experience of child death. Mars and Stallion (1985) described demographic variable as those variables such as age, gender, level of education, marital status, occupation, socio-economic and health status. United nations organization UN (2008) also defined demographic factors as socio-economic characteristics of a population expressed statistically such as age, sex, educational level, income level, marital status, occupation, average age at marriage, religious affiliation, birth rate, death rate, and average size of a family. Age, location, level of education culture, occupation, religious affiliation and gender have been identified as variables that influence the attitude and belief of people from adopting children who are not born to them.
The present study is however set to determine the attitude and belief of the ever married people toward child adoption and also to ascertain whether, gender, level of education and religious affiliation will affect the attitude and belief of the ever-married people in Uzo-Uwani Local Government of Enugu State from adopting children who are not born to them.
Despite the fact that child adoption aims at providing a permanent home for the abandoned and neglected children, despite the reasons and objectives of child adoption, Donaldson (1998), Herman (2007) and Brondizsky (2007) revealed that some couples in developing countries such as Nigeria and its rural areas seem not to accept child adoption. Boswell (1998) suggested that this negative attitude towards child adoption could be as a result of negative experience people face when they adopt. Negative experiences people met or hear from others who involve themselves in adoption prevent some people from going into adoption. This negative attitude could be as a result of processes involved in adopting a child, it could also be because of misbehavior of the child adopted or even society stigma on adoptive parents. Mail (1993) earlier indicated that adoption experiences could lead some people to have either negative or positive attitude towards it. March (1995) asserted that some culture prohibit child adoption misunderstanding it as a means of bringing evil blood into their lineage. Kick (1988) had earlier noted that some culture still see adoption as taboo especially where the children’s genesis cannot be traced.
Some culture and religions see child adoption as a taboo and misunderstanding child adoption as a means of buying evil blood into their linage especially when the genesis of the child is unknown. They see any body who want to adopt as going against the wish of the ancestors and they may even stop to associate with such person or the child that will be adopted. Some cultures still have it today that an adopted child is illegitimate and will not share their land with them. These prevent some couples from engaging themselves in child adoption. Finley (1997) revealed that the fear of a birth parent taking back her child, the cost of adoption and potential future problems that may arise hinders some couples from going in for child adoption. Some people refuse to adopt because they were afraid that, the parents of the child may one day trace her child or the child may search for her parent and may one day locate his \ her people and leave the adopted parent.
The reason why some people do not adopt is because of the cost of adoption. Some people see adoption as being costly because it supposed to be legally recognized and this will involve settling the lawyers, welfare offices who had been taking care of the child from the time the parent kept her/him in motherless or orphanage home, till the time of completion of adoption order by the adoptive parents. It is all these processes that make adoption to be costly as some people understand it to be costly. Some people were afraid of what might emerge in the life of the child in near future, they may think about the potential future problem that may arise in the life of the child and this prevent them from adopting children not born by them. Daly (1992) opined that ignorance of the need to save abandoned children contribute to some people’s negative attitude towards child adoption. Ignorance of the fact that children who are left in motherless babies and orphanage homes need care and attention like other children is another reason why people do not adopt them. These children in the motherless babies’ homes like other children need all round education (mentally, physically, spiritually and socially) but ignorance of such need by the people in the society prevent them from adopting these children.
In Igbo land some people’s concept of child adoption is “Igota Nwa” or “Ire Nwa” meaning buying or selling of a child and that is why such people have negative attitude towards adoption of children who are placed at motherless babies home or orphanage homes. Misconception of what child adoption is all about has prevented many people from adopting children from motherless babies’ homes and orphanage homes. Some people who suppose to give a future and a hope to these children, because of their culture or how their people view child adoption have exempted themselves from adoption.
It has been observed that children are left at motherless babies’ homes, orphanage homes and foster homes and couples who do not have children are going out of their marital home to have children while others accept divorce because they do not have a child or children of their own. This poses serious problem especially in Nigeria where the study area Uzo-Uwani L.G.A in Enugu State is located. Many international and national studies have dealt on the awareness and knowledge of child adoption practices, society perception of adoption, child adoption practices in developed countries, child adoption as a treatment option for infertile couples.
However, none of those studies have seemed to deal on the attitude and belief of the ever-married in Enugu state in general and Uzo-Uwani Local Government in particular where records of divorce and birth outside marriage abound. It is in line with this, that the investigation is focusing on determining the attitude and belief of the ever-married towards child adoption in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area. This study is going to be anchored on health belief model, balanced theory of attitude and theory of reasoned action.
Statement of the Problem
Child adoption is required for the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of an adopted child, the adoptive and his family relations. It is obvious that adoption provides a good environment and a permanent home for the abandoned children and orphans and makes adoptive parent to feel relaxed for having a child to look after, who will in turn take care of them at the time of their ageing. Adoptions not only provide adoptive parent hope but also provide hope for children who desperately need love and attention. It is expected that every family without a child should adopt a child, cater for and train the child to maturity. It is also expected that every child will have a good and permanent home where he or she will be catered for and offered a standard education
Regrettably, children who would have been adopted by childless couples were left at orphanage and motherless babies homes (David, 1985). These children may die of hunger and other childhood diseases like diarrhoea, malaria, diphtheria, tetanus; measles due to lack of special care like other children that stay with their parents. This could be a sign of negative attitude toward adoption; it could also be a product of people’s belief system.
There is evidence that some couples are going into divorce and others are going outside their marriage to have children from other women and men. Some sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV/AIDs can be transmitted through this method. Literature has also shown that some demographic variables of age, gender level of education and religious affiliation support or prohibit ever-married people from adopting children from motherless babies and orphanage homes.
In Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State there is yet no documented evidence to such negative attitude. The ever-married people’s beliefs toward child adoption to the best of the investigator’s knowledge, has also not been empirically tracked and documented. Following from the above, the question then arises as to what is the attitude and belief of the ever married people of Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area toward child adoption. These are in the main, the problem of the present study.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to determine the attitude and belief of the ever-married persons towards child adoption in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area. Specifically the study aims to find out the
- attitude of the ever-married people towards the adopted child;
- attitude of the ever-married people towards adoptive parents;
- attitude of the ever-married people towards the adoption process;
- beliefs of the ever-married people about the adopted child;
- beliefs of the ever-married people about adoptive parents;
- beliefs of the ever-married people about the adoption process.
- attitude of ever-married people towards child adoption according to gender
- attitude of ever-married people towards child adoption according to level of education;
- attitude of ever-married people towards child adoption according to religious affiliation;
- belief of ever-married people about child adoption according to gender;
- belief of ever-married people about child adoption according to level of education; and
- belief of ever-married people about child adoption according to religious affiliation.
- What is the attitude of ever-married people toward the adopted child?;
- What is the attitude of the ever-married people toward adoptive parents?;
- What is the attitude of the ever-married people toward the adoption process?;
- What is the beliefs of the ever-married people about the adopted child?;
- What is the belief of the ever-married people about adoptive parents?;
- What is the belief of the ever-married people about the adoption process?;
- What are the attitudes of ever-married people towards child adoption according to gender?
- What are the attitude of ever-married people toward child adoption according to level of education?;
- What are the attitude of ever-married people toward child adoption according to religious affiliation?;
- What are the beliefs of ever-married people about child adoption according to gender?;
- What are the beliefs of ever-married people about child adoption according to level of education?;
- What are the beliefs of ever-married people about adoption according to religious affiliation?
The following hypotheses were tested at .05 level of significance.
- There is no significant difference in the attitude towards child adoption between ever-married males and females in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area
- Educational level is not a significance factor in the attitude of ever-married people toward child adoption in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area.
- Religious affiliation is not a significant factor in the attitude of ever-married people toward child adoption in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area.
- There is no significant difference in the beliefs towards child adoption between ever-married male and female in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area
- Educational level is not a significant factor in the beliefs of ever-married person toward child adoption in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area.
- Religious affiliation is not a significant factor in the beliefs of the ever-married person toward child adoption in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area.
Significance of the Study
The present study revealed the attitude and belief of the ever-married people toward child adoption in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State. The anticipated data that will be generated from the attitude of the ever-married people towards the adopted child will be useful to the ever-married, and the society at large. It will be useful to the ever-married because it will help them to have the right attitude toward a child not born by them, which will as well make them to consider adoption instead of going into divorce. The society will also benefit from the findings that will be generated from the attitude of ever-married towards adopted child because the findings will teach the society right attitude towards these children so that they will not discourage people who want to adopt rather they will be a source of encouragement to couple who want to adopt children.
The findings that were generated from the attitude of the ever-married people toward the adoptive parents will benefit the adoptive parent because it will reveal the right attitude which the society (ever-married inclusive) will have toward the adoptive parent, the adoptive parents and their families will then be accepted as other people in the society and they will enjoy rights and duties in the society like any other person.
The findings that were generated from the attitude and belief of the ever-married persons toward adoption process will be beneficial to the couples who want to adopt so that they will know the right process to follow lawfully in other to complete the process and avoid the problem which may emanate in latter times. The findings that will be generated from the belief of the ever-married about adopted child will be useful to couples who want to adopt to do that without hesitating. The findings is going to help them to know that these children are innocent and that what matters is the environment where they are raised and how they are cared for not what people think about them; the findings will also help the society to change their belief about adopting children who are not born to them since all human beings are equal. The findings that will be generated from the belief of the ever-married people about adoptive parent will benefit the adoptive parent because it is going to change the societal view over the adoptive parent and as a result they will be encouraged to adopt instead of being discouraged by the society who regard adoption as being a taboo.
The findings that were generated from the belief of the ever-married about adoption process will help the society to know that going through the right and legal way or process when adopting a child will avert problems that may emanate in future. It will also help the couples who intend to adopt to do that believing that if they follow the right and legal processes involved in adopting a child that they will have nothing to regret in future because the birth parent cannot surface again to have the child.
The findings that were generated from the attitude of the ever-married people toward gender will help the couples who want to adopt to know that either of them initiate the move to go into adoption. It will also help the society to the findings that will be generated from the attitude of the ever-married people towards adoption according to gender will be beneficial to the adoptive parent who want to adopt because it will help them to know that all children are the same and also that all sex are needed and when well trained and catered for will take care of their adoptive parent at their later age which is the ultimate aim of child bearing and rearing. The findings that will be generated here will also be beneficial to the society because it will help the society to view both male and female children as being very important in the society
The findings that were generated from the attitude of the ever-married toward child adoption according to level of education will be beneficial to the couple who want to adopt because it will help them to have knowledge of what is involved in the adoption processes. The findings that were generated from the attitude of the ever-married according to religion affiliation will be useful to the couple because it will help them to know that any religion that does not care for humanity is not a right one. It will also help the religious leader to know the right advice to give to their members who do not have children, by showing them the right way to adopt and not to advice or help in issuing them divorce certificates. The findings that were generated from the belief of the ever-married people about gender will help the society to do so knowing that infertility which is the main reason while some couple accept to adopt may not always be from the woman. The findings that were generated from the belief of the ever-married people about child adoption according to gender will be beneficial to the society who have the notation that women have no inheritance to know that both male and female children can now inherit the property of their parents. It will also help the couples to know that both female and male children are useful. The findings that were generated from the belief of the ever-married people about adoption according to level of education will be beneficial to the society in that it will help the society to know that educational level of an individual help to determine his or her ability to accept or reject a new innovation. It will also help the couple who want to adopt to know that education increase knowledge and this increases the chances of an individual to go into adoption societal view notwithstanding.
The findings that will be generated from the belief of the ever married people about religious affiliation will be beneficial to the society who believed that child adoption is a taboo, it will help them to know that it is a way of giving hope to the homeless because any person can fall in as victim of that being kept at motherless babies homes since nobody indicates where he/she will be born while coming into this world. It will also be beneficial to couple who want to adopt to know that any religion that support not the caring of others should not exist.
Scope of the Study
The study is concerned with ever-married people in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area. The study also covered the attitude and beliefs of the ever-married males and females towards child adoption. The study examined factors