Now Or Never

I always pictured myself as a parent. So I decided to adopt alone.

'We had to stay in Nigeria for the next seven months. It was definitely scary to realize that I was on my own. It was just the baby and I, and I just had to figure it out.'
Chidinma and Isabella Onyinyechi Chiwetelu (Chidinma Chiwetelu)
Listen11:39

By Chidinma Chiwetelu as told to Now or Never

I always pictured myself as a parent. When I was married, we tried really hard to get pregnant — we were going to doctors, doing diagnostic tests, and it just wasn't happening for one reason or another. It was a lonely road because I wasn't in a very supportive relationship. Also, I didn't know anyone else going through fertility issues. At some point, I had to stop and pause all the doctor visits and ask myself: "Why am I really doing this?"

And I realized, it's to pass on what I've learned in life to somebody. So I thought: I can do that through adoption. I don't have to keep going through these invasive medical tests. But my husband was unwilling to adopt. We came to an impasse, and couldn't see a way forward.

Chidinma and her newborn daughter Ninye in Nigeria. (Chidinma Chiwetelu)

After we separated, I applied with the local agencies here in Canada, but for some reason, it didn't feel like it was for me. Ideally, I'd have a child that shared the same culture as me because the family, the food, and the traditions are already in place.

I love our [Nigerian] culture; It's something that I want to pass on to my children. So that's why I decided to look into adopting from Nigeria. My aunt over there started the paperwork, and within a few months, they called saying that they have a one-day-old baby girl! I decided to take a leave of absence from work and fly down there. I was so nervous. 

'Am I really cut out to be her mother?'

The day we got to the orphanage, I was sitting in the office, waiting to meet the baby. And the moment they brought her in, I just thought, "Oh my god, this is really happening!" All my hopes and dreams were becoming a reality. And here she was, in the flesh. They put her in my arms, and it was just so overwhelming. She was so small, and her head was flopping everywhere! I thought, "I don't even know how to hold her! Am I really cut out to be her mother? Do I really deserve this?" That day really felt like an out of body experience.

But I couldn't fully embrace it yet because the adoption wasn't complete. I had to wait for my daughter to receive her Canadian citizenship. So we had to stay in Nigeria for the next seven months. It was definitely scary to realize that I was on my own. It was just the baby and I, and I just had to figure it out.

'I can't imagine my life without her.'

'She's such a funny girl. She loves people. She loves talking.' (CBC/Ify Chiwetelu)

One day, I got a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada: "We're pleased to inform you that your daughter has now been granted Canadian citizenship." I was shaking. I remember crying. It was really that confirmation, that yes: I am her mother now. The seven months of waiting to hear back, everything just melted away. At that moment, life with my daughter could finally start.

Now, we've been in Canada for eight months. It's just been amazing. I can't imagine my life without her. She's such a funny girl. She loves people, she loves talking, she can talk all day. There's not any free time at all, but it's a good thing because I'm busy doing meaningful things. It's almost like I'm seeing the world for the first time again through my child's eyes.