Thirty-five year old Lilian* has made the decision to offer her unborn child for adoption. This, she says, would be for the baby’s best interests.
“I was born on 25th November 1983. I am from Homa Bay County, but I grew up at the coast. When I was in Form One, at the age of 15 years, I met a boy from Uganda who used to school in Jamhuri High School. That was during a school holiday. I fell in love and intimacy followed. It was the first time I had sex, after that I went back to school for my third term,” recalls Lilian.
Little did Lilian know that her innocent first love intimacy would change the course of her life. “When I went back to school, I missed my period, but I assumed that it had to be due to the change of weather. I could see that my body was changing as well, but I was a growing teenager so I attributed that to adolescence,” says Lilian.
“One day, during the assembly, I felt dizzy and fainted. I was rushed to a clinic and that is when they realised that was pregnant,” she narrates. The school’s administration summoned her parents over the ‘disturbing’ news.
“My mother was very strict and harsh. But when she heard that I was pregnant, she remained calm and just informed me that it was the end of my education,” says Lilian.
Due to her pregnancy, Lilian was forced to drop out of school.
“I am from an SDA family and our religious belief don’t condone abortion. So, I stayed home and went for ante-natal clinics whenever I could. During one of my clinic visits, I realised that I was having a set of twins. We have the twin gene in my family so no one was surprised when they found out I was pregnant with twins,” she explains.
Lilian stayed home for four years taking care of her twin girls. It was not easy. She had such a hard time taking care of her babies, but with the help of her family, she was able to overcome the challenges.
“I am the last born in my family and being pregnant while still in high school brought shame to my family. I was depressed through the whole process and the fact that my friends in school would refer to me as ‘mother’ made me fall into depression. Finally, when the girls were four years old, I decided to go back and finish my secondary school education,” says Lilian.
“My girls were treated as siblings by my family. They don’t call me mum and instead, look up to their grandparents as their mother and father. I am okay with that though. When I went back to school, I felt like I was getting my life back. I joined Form One again and eventually finished with a good B- score in my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams,” Lilian says with pride.
After high school, she enrolled at a college but was forced to drop out two years later because of lack of school fees.
“Times were hard; my family was taking care of my twin girls, so I had to discontinue my education. I started working at a hotel at the coast but that did not last for long. Tourism was a bit down because of the elections jittery, so we were laid off. I decided to move to Nairobi and start my own business. I ventured into the food industry, preparing meals for those working at construction sites. That has been my source of income ever since,” adds Lilian.
Soon, Lilian met a man and they fell in love.
“From the onset, I knew I did not want any more kids and neither did my partner. He already had two failed marriages and five children, so, he too was not after anymore children. That is why I went to a clinic in Mombasa and had a birth control implant. The implant was supposed to last for five years, but unfortunately, things did not go as planned,” she says.
“I started experiencing bouts of illness, but would brush them off. Eventually, I sought medical help and was shell-shocked when I was told that I was pregnant. I could not believe what I was hearing. It was just year three of the implant . This could not be happening. Immediately, I knew I wasn’t ready for another baby. I was content with my two girls and did not feel like I wanted to take care of another being. My girls are in Form Four and I am just about to finish with schooling, so starting the whole process again was not what I had in mind,” says Lilian.
She discussed this with her partner and they we were in agreement that she should have an abortion.
But Lilian could not bring herself to go through with the procedure
“Every time I thought I was ready and visited a clinic, I would be informed about the procedure and that scared me. I felt that I would be putting myself at risk. So, I decided against it. After a lot of soul searching, I decided that giving up the baby for adoption was the best option,” she explains.