So often people take the ability to have children for granted. I was reminded of this when I heard Saras’ story.
She came into my office one day for advice. After we had finished the consultation, we chatted about our families and I asked her if she had any children. She smiled, “Yes, I have a daughter who is the light of my life”. Saras is a Muslim woman and she punctuates her conversation with the words, “God is good.”
Saras went on to say that she couldn’t have children of her own and that her daughter had been given to her by her sister Mara. “Oh,” I said and then stopped. I didn’t know what to say. My silence encouraged her to carry on. She told me that she and her husband had tried for years to conceive. She was desperate to have a baby and had often spoken of this to her family. She had reluctantly begun to reconcile herself to a life of childlessness but the hurt ran deep and her sisters were aware of her sorrow.
Saras had to watch her sisters’ families grow while she and her husband remained a couple.
When her sister Mara gave birth to her firstborn, a son, Saras and her husband jokingly asked her to “have one for us”. A year or so later her sister fell pregnant again. and when the child was born, this time a girl, she telephoned Saras. “Come and fetch your child”, her sister said. Apparently this gift came like a bolt out of the blue as it was totally unexpected.
So Saras and her husband fetched the new born infant and took her home. They brought her up as their own child. As the years passed, her sister, Mara, had two more children, both boys. Apparently there was a time when Mara was bitter towards Saras, as she mothered the only daughter Mara had given birth to.
But that passed and all of the children are now grown up. Mara’s three sons live in England and she is moving there too. Saras’ daughter has three children which makes Saras a proud grandmother three times over.
Nothing was ever formalised about this arrangement. No adoption papers were signed. One family just gave their child to another. What an enormous gilt of love with no strings attached and no need for formalities.
I don’t believe I could ever have given a child of mine to another but thankfully, there are people who do.
No wonder Saras keeps saying “God is good”.