Ms Susan Shimba, 54, had visited New Life Home Trust in Kilimani at the invitation of her daughter, who was a volunteer at the centre. There was a baby boy there that her daughter wanted her to meet.
“I found him lying on a bed looking frail,” she said of the 2008 visit. “He was eight months old and had been born with cerebral palsy. Seeing him in that state broke my heart.”
She had already initiated the process of adopting another boy from the same centre. When she returned home that evening, she could not stop thinking about the new boy, Solomon Maina.
“I felt I should adopt him, but I didn’t want to do it out of sympathy. I wanted to be motivated by something greater,” she says. She eventually decided to adopt him.
“Interestingly, he came home earlier than my other son, Lukey. The boys are both 10 years old although Lukey is four months younger than Solomon,” she says.
She adds: “When those close to me found out that I planned to adopt a child with special needs, they thought I had lost my mind. They wondered why I was interested in adopting a baby with cerebral palsy instead of selecting a ‘perfect’ one. They reminded me that the boy would need constant care and medical attention, and wondered why I would sign up for that.”
Her response was the same each time the two questions were asked: “If I don’t, who will?”
A decade later, Solomon has achieved many milestones. For instance, he can feed himself.
He’s playful, gives tight hugs and laughs in boisterous manner. Although he does not speak, he has learnt a way to effectively communicate his needs. In his mother’s eyes, he is a fighter.
“Some of those who wondered what I was getting myself into, now visit our home to tell me how proud they are of me. They tell me that I have challenged them, challenged them to look beyond physical appearance. They think that Solomon is fortunate to have me as his mother, but I think I’m more fortunate. He has taught me many lessons, including patience” she says. But, it has not been all smooth sailing for the IT specialist.
Adoption was long, difficult and expensive. “To begin with, I was single, and unless under special circumstances, single women can only adopt girls while single men can only adopt boys. I visited the boys at the children’s home daily for about a year to bond with them. When I finally brought Solomon home, I was elated, but not for long. House helps were reluctant to look after him, and would not stay for long.”
CONSTANT MEDICAL ATTENTION
He also needed constant medical attention; as a toddler, he had frequent seizures and therefore needed regular therapy.
“Then, I did not have medical cover, and I needed to pay school fees for his brother, who is now in Grade Five. It was a tough time, financially. Thankfully, well-wishers would help out whenever I needed help,” she says.
Last year, Ms Shimba, was forced to resign from her job to take better care of Solomon. House helps kept leaving; they were unable to meet the demands of taking care of Solomon. She now bakes for a living. Her business is called Daphne’s Delights.
“All children deserve love and care from those around them. My decision to adopt my children was to provide a loving environment for them.”