(FinalCall.com) – It was 3 o’clock in the morning when Earl and Lateefah Muhammad got the call. A friend’s daughter was in crisis and could they come over immediately to help. They rushed over to hear the story of a good friend’s 24-year-old daughter who, with three children, was pregnant again.
She was threatening to have an abortion and her mother was at wits end.
“The girl was in crisis and didn’t know what she wanted to do. One day it was abortion and the next it was adoption. We talked with her and when she finally agreed to adoption, she was going to use social services,” Mrs. Muhammad explained to The Final Call. “I thought about all of the children that linger and languish there. Earl and I said that we would take the baby.”
According to the American Association of Open Adoptions, “Open adoption is the healthiest form of adoption. We define open adoption as a form of adoption in which the birth family and the adopted child enjoy an ongoing, in-person relationship.”
For the Muhammads, deciding to openly adopt their friend’s unborn grandchild was easy. Making it happen was more difficult. The families met and agreed that the Muhammads would adopt the baby.
The families came together and wrote a contract agreeing to terms. For the first five years, the mother would have no contact with the baby. For the first three years, the siblings would have nothing to do with the baby and, finally, the mother would have one year to change her mind.
“Earl wanted a closed adoption where there was a clean break. I just truly believed that our belief as Muslims is to keep the families together. So, if she decided that she wanted him back, I would do that to preserve that family,” said Mrs. Muhammad.
“The first year was hardest on my husband. He was nervous the entire time,” said Mrs. Muhammad.
She explains that getting Hafiz was a whole new experience. This was her husband’s first chance at fatherhood and he wanted to do the right thing.
“After the initial shock of what happened, I listened to my wife and supported her in the decision to adopt. I’ve never regretted a moment. We’re the only family he knows,” said Mr. Muhammad, minister of Muhammad Mosque No. 38 in Columbia, S.C.
Four years later, Hafiz, named by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, is the golden child of the Muhammad family.
“I’ve kept a scrapbook for him with pictures of his mother pregnant and on her way to the hospital. I have pictures of his brothers and sisters growing up. We write back and forth and share experiences. I want my son to know all about his family and this book is his connection,” said Mrs. Muhammad.
Hafiz’s birth mother has married and moved out of the state. She has not made any attempts to contact him.
Single parent adoption
Baqiya Adam was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. A friend of a friend knew a young woman with small children who was pregnant and didn’t want to keep the baby. Was she interested in adopting?
“I said yes from the start. I was fearful that something could go wrong along the way but equally excited about the idea of having another baby. Adoption is wonderful. If you say you want to adopt, it means you already love this child sight unseen, boy or girl,” she told The Final Call.
Ms. Adam was single at the time, on a limited income but with a lot of love. She was involved with the birth from the moment she met the birth mother when she was nine months pregnant. When the mother went to the hospital, Ms. Adam went too.
Three days later, she took her baby home. “I felt as if he was really, really mine from the beginning. I tell him I had a birth without pain.”
For Leslie Al-Hakim, single at the time, adopting seemed to be a matter of dollars and cents. “I wanted to adopt but didn’t have a lot of money. My adoption went through Catholic Charities and I only had to pay about $350. It was really affordable.”
The rest is history as they say. She brought home Laila Sahar and they live happily in Baltimore, Md.