• Ziyanda Mpakama


Updated: Aug 27, 2020

One’s decision to adopt is probably one of the most intimate yet exposing decisions, well, at least it was for me. Remember, most people who adopt are battling one kind of infertility issue or another and nothing questions your being, your humanness more than being faced with infertility. The very nature of species on this earth is to grow and multiply and at the very centre of our beings as humans is the desire to love and be loved. We grow up knowing that there is no bond greater than that of parent and child and when that bond is compromised, life is compromised. We watch shows like Khumbulekhaya as people desperately try to reconnect that severed bond, severed by all kinds of circumstances and decisions made.

As you go through your formative years into adulthood there is a time where you don’t even question whether you’d be able to have a child of your own because that is what is supposed to happen, it’s just a matter of the right time. And when, in your view it is the right time, you then find out that you are unable to have children biologically, your sense of being crashes infront of you, you feel betrayed by nature, by your body, by God.

I was about 10 years old when I knew I would adopt. I had watched a movie or tv show where the lead character had taken in a child living on the street. I remember a scene where the child was taking a bubble bath, he was so happy and I got it into my head that my mom should adopt. I don’t quite remember how the conversation went but that idea was squashed, but in a way my 10 year self would understand that it was not going to happen and from that day, I told myself I would make a difference in a child’s life one day. That decision, made 27 years ago was birthed in my spirit but lay dormant until a few years ago.

From about 18 years of age, a gynaecologist becomes a girl’s new best friend. In 2008, about a year after starting my new life in Pretoria I found my new best friend. It was a routine check-up and I mentioned that my monthly cycle had just stopped, and curious, he ordered all kinds of tests. I went back for the results and he told me that I have something called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). He explained it to me, careful not to alarm me. The name didn’t stick in my head and all I heard was “conceiving may be a challenge” but to me it sounded like a death sentence. I left his office in a haze, I didn’t want kids at the time but what about when I did want children? The first question my mom asked when I told her was “are you going to be able to have kids?”.

I got to work and I called my friend, I was not making sense, I had just been flung into an abyss of nothingness, I didn’t know what was happening, he had put me on contraceptives to stimulate and regulate my cycle. She calmed me down, told me she had been diagnosed with the same thing and at the time she was working a second job at Exclusive Books and she told me she took every break she had to read up on it. I believed she wasn’t just trying to be smart with me with the “I know what you’re going through” generic response because I didn’t even remember the name of this thing that come to steal my future, all I remembered was poly-something. She knew exactly what I was talking about, told me which websites to visit and as soon as I hung up, I got onto it.

I joined online support groups, read about people’s experiences, many of them with beautiful testimonies of trying for children for years and eventually having them, some with the assistance of modern medicine, and some who just could not have children and I had no idea in which category I would fall into. By the way, my friend has 2 wonderful girls, the happiest, most vibrant little people there is. So it wasn’t a death sentence after all, but the not knowing whether I would be able to conceive or carry a baby to full-term if I did conceive ate away at me. These are things that other women don’t even think twice about, I was angry, I was disappointed, I felt betrayed, I felt like I had nothing to offer this world as a woman, I felt forsaken by God, I felt broken, I felt useless.

About a year later I met a guy, we fell inlove and before I could even worry about whether he was “the one” I wanted to make a baby. I wanted to know that I could have children. I stopped taking the pill, I stopped drinking, I ate healthier (one of the effects of PCOS is weigh gain which reduces the ability to conceive). We tried for months, nothing happened and I grew anxious. We broke up (due to other reasons) and I was left childless, back at square one, questioning myself, questioning God.

Instead of going down that deep, dark rabbit hole of self-pity of a failed relationship and childlessness, I focused my energies on what I knew I had control over. So over the next few years I focused on school, starting and completing my Honours degree and then going onto my Masters, I focused on my career, learning and growing and enjoying every bit of it. Yes, I dated, crushed on a few guys but nothing serious. Since 2009, I haven’t tried to be pregnant again, I don’t think I can handle another disappointment like that.

I was a 31-year-old with a thriving career, the textbook “got it” girl, but with a trail of failed relationships. I had been through the questioning of why I was not in a relationship/married as I watched friends get married and have kids. I had my own pity parties, decorated them, played the music, made the speeches, dismissed the party and cleaned up…the party is over!

During one of the December holiday breaks, I was back home in East London and I went to a salon to do my hair. The lady doing my hair was chatting me up in small talk (which I really don’t like when getting my hair done, just let me read in peace), she asked me if I have children and when I said I don’t, she let out a very pitiful “OH SHAME!!”, it was as though I had told her the child I had died. I dealt with the “you should have a child by now” sentiments you get from family and friends. It was all very exhausting.

My journey to motherhood was a spiritual one too, it had to be. I got to a place where I WANTED a child, not because I “should have one by now”, but because my soul wanted one. I was at a place in my life where I knew it was my Divine calling to motherhood, and a motherhood that is different…single motherhood by choice, through adoption. The anxiety grew, I was already anticipating the kind of responses I would get when I tell people about my decision to adopt as a single mother…”there’s no rush chomi, you’ll have your own child when the time is right”, yet for me, the time was right, RIGHT NOW!

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