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Vihiga ‘taboo’ baby girl finally gets adopted

A girl who was born in Vihiga County in 2013 out of an incestuous relationship will mark Monday September 26 as the day she ultimately escaped death that the culture of her people prescribes for babies in her situation.

The minor was on Monday formally handed over to a 41-year-old single woman by a Nyeri court, finalising a three-year wish by the baby’s parents that she be adopted by someone else rather than face the possibility of being killed.

Among some sub-tribes of the Luhya community, which form part of the Vihiga County population, a woman who gives birth to a child she bore with her relative should not nurse the baby as the young one is considered evil. That usually leaves the baby’s future uncertain.

Moreover, an age-old tradition dictates that such children be killed, though a spot-check by the Nation in May 2015 revealed that residents are embracing children’s homes as one of the options to dispose off the children.

In the case of the child whose adoption was finalised on Monday — identified in published court records as Baby N — her parents took her to the Springs of Life Children’s Home for temporary care following orders issued on September 26, 2013 by a magistrate’s court in Vihiga.

Six months later, the woman who is now her official parent took her in after making an application to the Child Welfare Society of Kenya (CWSK).


Mr Justice John Mativo, sitting at the High Court in Nyeri, said on Monday that Baby N “has since then been continuously in her care and that the mandatory fostering period has since lapsed”.

What made the formal adoption possible, the judge said, was because the child’s parents had signed an agreement on December 10, 2013 consenting to give her out.

Also, Justice Mativo noted, the societal perceptions towards a child born in her circumstances informed his decision to grant the adoption.

“A report prepared by the Child Welfare Society of Kenya details that the child was born out of an incestuous relationship and the baby was labelled as a ‘taboo’, and the parents signed a consent giving up the baby for adoption,” the judge said.

He analysed reports from CWSK, the Nyeri Central children’s officer, a reverend among others and concluded that adoption would be the best way out.

“I have carefully perused all the reports in the application and I am satisfied that the proposed adoption is in the best interest of the child who will grow up with a mother figure in her life and will be accorded parental love. I am satisfied that the child will benefit from the parenthood of the applicant and will have a better future and prospects of becoming a useful member of the society,” said the judge.


In the last line of his judgment, Justice Mativo said, “The child shall have the right to inherit the applicant.”

The Nation visited the Central Maragoli location in Vihiga County last year to interview Ms Dinah Mboga, a 21-year-old woman who had had been impregnated by her cousin though she had not known he was her relative.

On realising she had a bun in the oven, her parents investigated the father’s lineage and found out that he was a cousin from a village at Mukingi in Vihiga sub-county.

The relationship was thus discontinued and her family launched plans to “dispose oFf” the child.

Once the child was born on September 14, 2014, it was taken to a children’s home.

“I named the baby but I did not use any family name because it was not part of family. The children’s office took the baby and I reluctantly left the hospital but I could not do anything because if I took it home, the baby and I could be thrown away,” said Ms Mboga.