Safa Failkawy and Mohamed depicted with radiant smiles on their faces.
Safa Failkawy and Mohamed depicted with radiant smiles on their faces.

Beyond blood ties: Mother bonds with her adopted son

‘You were in your birth mother’s belly, but you were born from my heart’

KUWAIT: “Mom, was I in your belly?” At four years old, Mohamed, Safa Al-Failkawy’s adopted son, asked, intrigued about where he came from. Failkawy, who described her son as “a piece of her that has always been living inside”, didn’t hesitate before responding: “You were in your birth mother’s belly, but you were born from my heart.”

Then young — and fertile — at 24 years old, Failkawy, now 37, had always been driven by the urge to make an impact on a child’s life. It was Moodi (as she fondly calls her son) towards whom she felt an immediate, natural connection when she first saw him at the adoption center. Amidst a room filled with babies, her eyes fell on this six-month-old lying on his belly at the far end of the room. Drawing him gently towards her, she felt her heart stirs as he met her gaze with an innocent smile and hugged her. “It was as if he is the one who chose me,” she remarked, reflecting on the profound bond they shared in that precious moment.

Since then, she has rarely let go of his embrace, especially in his earliest months, as advised by the therapist. “She told me to always hold him and keep him skin to skin,” said Failkawy, as she learned from her that the sound of her heartbeat reminds him of his birth mother, providing him with a sense of security and reassurance.

In their everyday’s life, Failkawy is trying her best to mend the inner crack inside him, left by his mother’s separation at the age of two weeks. She never wanted him to feel as if he was lacking anything, instead urging him to admire his unique nature as a foster child. Since adopted children in Islam aren’t allowed to take the family names of their foster parents, Mohamed sometimes wondered: “Why don’t I have a family name? Don’t I belong to a family tree?”

Meeting such inquiries with positive talk and reading him children’s stories that would teach him about his identity in a very inspiring way was the best approach she used to deal with him. So, she often told him: “We all came from a tree, but God gave you the honor to be the seed. You’re the one who’ll start your own family tree.”

Additionally, she always reminded him: “I am not the one who did you a favor by adopting you. It’s you who added a blessing to my life.” She noted that such words would always raise his self-esteem, which society usually kills in orphans, as the media usually depicts them like criminals, covering their faces and changing their voices. But the decision to adopt at this young age led to widespread criticism from society. However, Failkawy consistently challenged these misconceptions and societal norms, questioning: “Why do I have to be too old and desperate to adopt a child? It’s a right for everyone.”

It amazed her how God has an incredible ability to give every woman the instinct of motherhood, even towards a child to whom she hasn’t given birth to. When giving birth to her biological daughter after adopting Mohamed, she was surprised to find no difference in how she felt toward both. “I never once doubted that he was my son. There were nights when I’d wake up with a sense that something wasn’t right. I’d rush to check his temperature, only to find him running a fever.”

Despite Mohamed having no vivid memories of his birth mother, Failkawy firmly believes she will always remain a part of his life. Therefore, she consistently reminded him of his biological mum, speaking positively about her, and assured him of her unconditional support if he ever wished to seek his original parents out.

She also never feared that he might leave her one day if he ever found them, confident in his loyalty to the family who raised him. “He’s like a bamboo stick,” she asserted without hesitation. “Wherever you plant it, it will take root — if the ground isn’t its own. He is strongly rooted in my family, which is why I am never afraid that he might choose to leave me or pursue a different path in life.”

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