Never a Limit to Open Heart Parenting
Many couples yearn for a baby of their own but are challenged by circumstances and reproductive issues. Luckily, adoption can open many doors for families to expand. Adoption is a commitment that one enters into blindly but it is not different than adding a child by birth. This is evident in the lives of Nathaniel and Beverly-Rae Henckert who bring beauty to the story of adoption.
The couple was blessed with three girls but they always had a great desire to have a son. “With my third pregnancy, we were in shock to find out that we were expecting yet another girl. Happy yet sad, with multiple complications we rose to the challenge and started preparing for the new edition to our expanding family. And what complicated this pregnancy even more was a scare that the baby I was carrying could have Downs syndrome,” expressed Beverly-Rae. Somewhere between making a decision not to have the invasive diagnostic test, we started talking about adoption.
Having always desired to adopt, the Henckerts decided to use that opportunity to have their boy. They approached the children’s home in Eros. “When we approached the children’s home, the principal had a number of questions pertaining to the child we wanted, such as hair colour, skin tone, colour eyes etc but I made it clear to them that I wasn’t here to do grocery shopping, I just wanted a boy and he had to be healthy,” said Beverly-Rae. Nathaniel and his wife adopted their son Hector when he was just seven months and 28 days old
To adopt the little Hector they were asked to provide a report from a psychologist to check if they were fit both as parents and individually, provide a police clearance certificate, proof their financial status by means of bank statements and finally a home visit was conducted to see whether they had everything in place for him. The process was concluded with eighteen days and they then started with the process to change his name. “It was a process of about three months until he was officially a Henckert,” said Beverly-Rae.
Upon fetching their baby boy, Beverly-Rae noted how well he was looked after with his bag packed with clothes, Formula and Nappies with his own blanket and hand-made teddy bear. Joined by her sister in law because her husband was travelling with work at the time, she reminisces that “this day was an amazing day in our lives, but it was also very sad for one of the girls at the children’s home who basically raised him. She was 14 at the time and was a like a mother to him and she was sad to see him go,” narrated Beverly-Rae.
“When we got home and I put him in his cot and he slept as if he has been part of this family since birth. It truly was a precious moment,” she says as she smiles broadly.
What makes Beverly-Rae and Nathaniel great parents is, they brought little Hector home when they had an eight month old baby and at the same time she was six months pregnant. “I call my two babies Hector and Kataliya twins because they are just three weeks apart in age. When I introduced the twins to each other for the first time, they were touching each other and exploring each other’s faces and from there on they were in sync. When Kataliya would eat, Hector would eat and when she would sleep, he would do so too”.
When he grows up ?
“At first we thought we would never tell him that he is adopted because we never wanted him to think of himself as not completely part of our family. After we sought a little mentorship on the issue as to how to inform him about the adoption, we realized we should have confidence in our relationship and when he is 18 and want to find out about his biological mother we will support him completely,” said Beverly-Rae. Three years ago, she said that she wouldn’t do it because she was afraid his biological mother might take him away from her but now Beverly-Rae say that she is so confident in their relationship. “He is the first one to notice when my hair is done, and is very aware of when I look beautiful. We are all over protective of him and his sisters are a little army when it comes to him,” said Beverly. She joked and describes him as the neatest of them all and loves to wear shiny formal shoes, he loves a tie and is always well dressed.
“The first day I brought him home the eldest child who was four at the time asked me why her brother was black. I had to think very quickly because I wasn’t ready for that question that soon. I was very practical in teaching her the difference in black and white by displaying two phones and asked her to describe the colour of the phone. After this practical demonstration we concluded that there are no white or black people, we are all only different shades of brown,” narrated Beverly.
The stigma around adoption
When the couple introduced their boy to people, many were worried about generational curses, his bloodline, genes etc. They noted that it was not always easy to explain their view on this to everyone, but once they did there were no more questions. One of the examples they used was that biological children also commit crimes against their own parents and that having children one never knows unless you trust God.
One always has to deal with stigma. “Recently, a client asked me but how can you adopt, are you not afraid of what he might turn out to be and so forth. Sometimes people would come to us look at both my husband and I, look at our child and ask if he is our child and how he is our child. Other people will come and say: he looks just like his father. “People often feel the need to say something because they are caught off guard and then mention silly things like that,” said Beverly-Rae.
She noted that although some people are enlightened, adoption is still a rare thing in Namibia. “People are afraid of it, people want a child who matches their skin colour and that’s the main thing. If we can move beyond that I believe that adoption will be common. I mean when my biological child is born from my body, I don’t know what my child looks like, so if you can’t do that with your biological child why would you want to put in your ‘order’ when adopting?”
People need to realize that the transition after adoption is very easy and truly only requires your mind and heart to be in it. You love your child from the moment you lay eyes on him, so you have to consciously decide to be the best mom you can be to your children daily. That not only should happen when you adopt, but also with your biological children.
“I really want to remove the stigma that an adoption doesn’t work. The social worker who assisted us in getting Hector fights daily to make sure a child does not grow up in a children’s home, but in a home with siblings and parents.”
“There are not many things in life which is as special as when your child calls you “mommy” or “daddy” for the first time and that is always a lovely sound, but nothing compares to when your adopted son calls you “mommy”. He makes a decision to love you. That is priceless,” she expressed. “It’s not just about giving the child a better life; he’s bettering your life just as much,” said Beverly-Rae.
We have 5 children now ( we had another one after the adoption ) and they are all different, not just in complexion, but in hair texture, colour of their eyes, different personalities, and their physical built, they write with different hands etc. Not everyone in a household needs to look alike. Adopting is an easy process, but the prospective parents make it complicated,” said Beverly-Rae.
The couple live by a personal quote “Give yourself a life, and adopt a life” which is a slogan for their adoption charity which is in process of being registered.