Phew…as I wipe the sweat off my brows I cannot help but wonder – how fast the year 2022 has gone. Since February this year, Havilah’s laptop has clattered incessantly to bring to our readers’ consciousness one topical issue after another. I want to appreciate all our readers and contributors from far and near who have served as sources of encouragement throughout the year, without whom the exercise would have been worthless. Thank you so very much.
The holiday season is indeed a time for relaxation and bonding with family. It is a busy time of various family engagements with loved ones and Havilah recognizes that need. Catching up with the various family engagements, shopping, cooking, family bonding time, weddings, birthdays, picnics, etc. is indeed energy consuming and Havilah will not belabour you with making time out to read as well.
I just want to wish you Happy Holidays as I take time out to enjoy the holiday season as well. See you in 2023, as I pray that we all cross over successfully into the year and that the advent year will portend much greater and more beautiful things in our lives.
Once again, happy holidays and let’s clink glasses to a Happy New Year!
It’s a week to Christmas and Dami is playing with Rere, the 8-year-old daughter of Princess, the cook to the Faderins (the parents of Dami). She recounts the plethora of gifts she has received from her parents for Christmas, – 2 new shoes, two lovely dresses, and a new bag, among others. As she mentions her gifts she notices Rere is crestfallen and inquires as to the reason. A sullen Rere replies “when I asked my dad for a Christmas dress he said there is no money and that he has to save towards my second term fees”. Immediately, Dami excuses herself and dashes off to her room to pick up one of her new dresses to give to Rere who is about the same age and size as her.
Just then, she bumps into her mother who with a quizzical look asks what she is doing with the dress. Her response was clear and direct “Mum, it’s Christmas and we are taught at children’s church that it is a time of giving. Rere does not have a dress for Christmas and I have two. Christmas day is just one day, not two so I have decided to give her my second dress for her to wear at Christmas”. Her mum replies “Certainly not Dami! That dress cost a fortune! I won’t have you do that. Let me look for one of your used dresses to pass to her for Christmas”. Dami replies her mum, rolling her eyes and appealing to her emotions “Pretty please mum, we always give her my castaways…this is Christmas, why can’t she have a new dress. Furthermore, we are told that God’s greatest gift to us was the birth (giving) of his son which we commemorate at Christmas. Mum, she is my best friend and I want to give her this dress”.
Pelumi Faderin throws her hands up in exasperation and promises to revisit the matter when dad returns from work. By the time dad is home, Dami is already in bed but Pelumi replays the scene to Lanre Faderin at the dinner table.
Lanre takes a deep breath and says point of factly “You know Dami is intelligent and indeed she is right. This brings to memory one Christmas season I will never forget. A Christmas gift like no other that changed my life and that of my siblings for good and provided you with the husband you have today”. Lanre continues “20 years ago, I was in the first year in the university when my father, a motor mechanic, died in his sleep, a week to Christmas. My father had struggled to give his children an education while my mother, a petty trader at the time, took care of day-to-day expenses. For me, the first of 6 children, the world had just caved in, my dreams were broken and my ticket to an education that would eventually take the family away from the poverty line had been severed. That day Dim (yes, the same Dimeji Anyanwu) my bosom friend, walked into my room and I broke down uncontrollably, letting him into my shattered world. You know, Dimeji and I were from totally different backgrounds as he was heir apparent to the Anyanwu fortunes. An only child with affluent parents whose association with me had made him better focused resulting in him experiencing improved grades. Dim exercised the spirit of Christmas by persuading his parents to set up an Education Trust for me and 2 of my siblings thereby securing our education up to the university level. Today, your husband is a proud Chemical Engineer working within the Oil and Gas Industry, thanks to the Christmas spirit of a friend who is closer than a brother and his kind parents who understood the true spirit of Christmas. Pelumi, please allow Dami to put a smile on Rere’s face this Christmas by giving from the heart”.
Dear readers, once again, it is that time of the year filled with magical excitement for children, while parents are stretched to their limits. Christmas portends new outfits, good food, family events, Santa (a.k.a father Christmas) Christmas trees, lights, etc. for the children while parents struggle to provide for them. Parents are not left out of receiving as some employers give various holiday packages and gifts to their staff. Of course, all the buying translates into sales and huge profits for retail outlets and their vendors and the ripple effect of Christmas is a worldwide phenomenon. No other holiday season is as electrifying. It is a season when Christians all over the world commemorate the birth of Christ as God’s greatest gift to the world. Therefore, it is a time of giving and importantly, everyone has something to give – be it time, advice, kindness, love, assistance and the like. The list goes on. Have an awesome festive season.
Mr. and Mrs. Bruno are comfortably seated on their patio, sharing a bottle of sweet red wine and reminiscing over their courtship days. It is their 35th wedding anniversary and they ask themselves where the time went. Their two daughters, Kewe and Roli, aged 31 and 33 respectively, are graduates with comfortable though demanding jobs while their brother Renner, at 29 is a qualified neurosurgeon with one of the Teaching hospitals. As the happy pair turn their searchlight on their milestones over the past years, in walk the ladies – kewe and Roli, with some finger food and grilled fish (a favorite dish of the parents). After a hug each and the usual pleasantries, they settle down to join in the wine-drinking and conversation. Mrs. Bruno resumes her reminiscing with “Temi (meaning mine), do you remember the day my father came home and met you comfortably seated in our sitting room? We were deep in conversation and did not hear him come in from work…Mr. Bruno quickly cuts in with a burst of laughter and continues ” how could I ever forget? That was indeed funny. I felt like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. One look from your dad and I froze in my seat. I didn’t even notice his outstretched hand for the handshake that never came, neither did I hear a word of what he said until he barked at me in his baritone voice saying…”Omare, where did you find this discourteous young man? Did the dog bite off his tongue or is he a breathing statue”? mimicking his father-in-law. At this, all four of them fell into fits of laughter to which Roli exclaimed ”I can just imagine the look on grandpa’s face even as he spoke!”
After the laughter subsided, almost as if on cue, the parents chimed in unison – “by the way ladies, when will we meet with our sons-in-law? It is about time you settled down. Life is not all work”. Kewe responded with a quick “soon enough mum” while Roli went on to ask rhetorically, “where are the men”? The responses formed the basis of a lengthy discussion by all four as to the challenges faced by today’s young adults, regarding “settling down in marriage”. Roli sets the ball rolling with “Dad, your days were different. You guys had integrity which showed up in virtues like sincerity, trustworthiness and steadfastness. When you talked about love you were not stringing the ladies along and you were faithful. Besides, your parents were your role models and their marriages acted as the blueprint for you to follow. We saw that with grandpa and grandma Soares. I remember how grandma used to fuss over grandpa like a mother hen”, she said with a laugh and continued. “The converse is the case today. The men are so filled with deceit, insincerity and falsehood. You cannot trust them or take their words for truth. Speaking of which, mom, do you remember my friend Lande who now lives in Banjul? She suffered a nervous breakdown when her fiancé ditched her a week before the wedding after confessing to being lawfully married to another lady abroad. Can you imagine how devastating it was for her?”
“In addition” Roli chips in …” Many do not have sustainable incomes and worse still are those who cannot succinctly reveal their source of income. In response to inquiries about their occupation, you hear responses like “This and That” – r-e-a-l-l-y, where do you place such? Also, a number of them suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) whereby they exhibit an inflated ego and severe lack of empathy, resulting in a series of whirlwind romances. To be honest dad, your generation has failed us in the portrayal of healthy marriages. We have observed that a number of marriages can be considered failed marriages although the participants remain in the unhealthy situation, to keep up appearances. Mrs. B…count yourself one of the lucky few to enjoy the institution”.
Just then, Renner interjects. (He had arrived while the family was in the middle of the conversation and had his own opinion on the topic). “Come on ladies, this is a very biased notion of the situation. I certainly agree that what you have said is true but not all of us guys are bad. Sometimes the economy makes it difficult to settle down in marriage because financial adequacy is an important requirement in marriage. Where are the jobs and where they do exist, does your take-home income actually take you home? Let us also be mindful that some of the ladies out there are only interested in good times and are “fair weather” partners. There is also the set that practices radical Feminism in its most extreme form. They seek to dismantle traditional power and gender roles by advocating equality in every situation. This raises a red flag for men seeking to settle down in marriage”.
Mrs. Brume ends the conversation with “Hmmm…it appears that we have a lot to do to reinvent the wheel regarding the attitude of our young adults to the institution of marriage. Religious organisations such as churches, mosques, etc, and parents, have a lot to do in this regard as trust has to be rebuilt in marriage being a veritable institution for the propagation of mankind”.
Ronke and Mide had been married for 25 years and in spite of attending fertility clinics over the years, they were yet to have the much-desired child. All attempts to have a child of their own had proven futile and in the last five years, all three attempts at In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) had ended unsuccessfully. The counsel of friends and family members to legally adopt a child had also fallen on deaf ears for two principal reasons:
Clinical results showed that both of them were fertile and should be able to conceive.
They were concerned that they would not know or understand the genetic makeup of the adopted child and the inherited traits and diseases.
Their doctor had therefore invited them over to discuss another viable option open to them…SURROGACY.
Surrogacy is the process by which a woman is contracted to carry and deliver a child for a couple through In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) or Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). The method to be used is determined by the type of surrogacy – IVF for Gestational Surrogacy and IUI for Traditional Surrogacy. Both types however require a legal contract between the couple and the surrogate mother prior to commencement to tie up all loose ends. There are two things that distinguish the options of surrogacy. i) With Traditional Surrogacy, the egg used is that of the surrogate mother which makes the surrogate the birth mother. The sperm used may be that of the male parent or a donor. However, with Gestational surrogacy, the egg is not that of the surrogate but is donated.
ii) Traditional surrogacy could lead to complications as there is a genetic bond between the surrogate mother and the child with the child and if she decides to withhold the child, it could result in knotty legal issues. Usually, Traditional surrogacy is rare because it can be fraught with complications and so is usually contracted with family or close friends who do it for altruistic reasons. This does not however arise with Gestational Surrogacy which is seen merely as rendered service for which the surrogate receives compensation.
Dr. Bentley’s recommendation to Ronke and Mide is as follows: “It is best you consider a Gestational Surrogacy where a neutral carrier would be sourced purely on a contractual basis. This would undoubtedly carry a financial burden of compensation in consideration for the services to be rendered in carrying the baby to term/delivery in addition to all the medical bills and associated pregnancy costs. This option is recommended especially since you both have healthy eggs and sperm and the only problem is the susceptibility of your womb to miscarry. That way, both your egg and sperm will be united and the ensuing embryo transferred by In Vitro Fertilisation into the uterus of the surrogate and she will be monitored until the child is delivered and given to you. Of course, a legal document detailing the steps and all that pertains to the contract must first be agreed and signed. Please go and consider it thoroughly and if found a viable option for you to pursue, give me a call. Are there any questions that may help your decision-making?
Ronke exhaled with a deep sigh and said in a quiet voice: “Doctor, I have a number of questions.
Will the child carry some of the DNA of the Surrogate mother?
Can she under any circumstances lay claim to the child?
What happens if she miscarries or if the child is stillborn?
What happens if the child is born with a disability?
Can the child be breastfed by her after delivery or how does that play out since we take delivery of the child immediately after he/she is born?
How can we be certain that she would take proper care of the foetus during the pregnancy and not subject it to harmful or dangerous exposure?
What happens if she dies during childbirth”?
Doctor Bentley replies “Rest assured sir and ma that the screening process is thorough and the potential surrogate’s age, lifestyle and medical history will undergo scrutiny. The Legal contract will also address the issue of ownership of the child, what happens in the event of miscarriage or stillbirth and breastfeeding among others. You can never be held liable for her death as she would be made to understand that she is taking a risk that could result in fatality although you may be required to take out life insurance for her in that regard. The draft contract will be vetted and agreed upon by both parties prior to execution and commencement of the contract, so you must read and agree to the terms first. Also, the surrogate is merely a vessel of delivery and her DNA cannot be transferred to the child. The child’s DNA will only relate to those who own the egg and sperm used which in this case will be yourselves. I hope I have answered your questions, so I look forward to hearing from you after you have made your decision”.
It is indeed heartwarming to know that strides in science and technology have made it possible for couples desiring to have children but who are constrained by challenges regarding fertility, to have increasing options, the latest being surrogacy. Havilah applauds the development and salutes all scientists who strive daily to improve our choices.
SEQUEL TO PLEASE HELP ME I’M FALLING
I want to thank all who took the time to send in advice for Mami’s consideration towards assisting with Paula’s dilemma last week. There were suggestions for her to go either way – follow her heart, or stick with her husband. However, the resonating word was “happiness”. She should go with what gives her happiness.
Havilah’s take is that “Happiness comes from within”. She needs to find her happiness and peace by connecting with God.