“A full medical report of the biological mother is needed, before I will give my consent to this adoption case” was the ruling of a judge of a fellow adoption couple a week before we were due in court, possibly in front of the same judge. Sandra and I decided we would find the report before we would be asked to. Happy that I could finally do something myself, I drove to Nyeri on Monday morning early. I had approached Gabriel Ndiritu, the administrator of the children’s home in Nyeri to see whether he could accompany me to the hospital. It certainly was not his task to guide me. He was responsible for the home that Matthew had stayed in for fourteen months, but not for the adoption process. With an hour’s notice Gabriel was ready to come with me to the hospital. He seemed determined: “It is crucial for Matthew and yourselves that you can travel as soon as possible”.

Gabriel waved and greeted many people when we entered. Before I knew I was wearing hospital shoes and found myself in the maternity ward browsing through the abscondee book with the details of all abandoned children over the last three years. In the background were some 20 odd newborn’s screaming and crying. Gabriel seemed to know the hospital records better than many of the nurses and matrons. We gathered the register where Matthew’s mother appeared, the abscondee record and Matthews medical file within half an hour. However, we had not found the full medical report of the mother yet. “Hospital records are kept in a different room” was the message from one of the matrons: “Can you please wait for administration to open the room”.

I got anxious the longer it took, anticipating that Gabriel could inform me any minute that he had to leave, to focus on his responsibilities at the home. It took a little more than an hour for the key to arrive. A lady who looked at us pitiful, took us down to a basement room. She opened the door and the smell of dust and untouched paperwork reach us well before we could see a sea of some 20.000 – 30.000 medical files in front of us. “Only 2008 and 2009 have been organized” she said pointing to some piled  records. “2007 should be in that corner” she said pointing to some 7.000 files which had been dumped against one wall. It was clear she was not going to help and I was worried how Gabriel would respond. Would I find myself going through these files by myself? Gabriel did not complain once, neither did he question what we should do. He took his jacket off and started digging into the files in one corner. I started on the other site. We worked our way through the seven thousand  files in a steady five hours. No luck.

We decided to make copies of the gathered material before shops would close. When we came back for a stamp and signature from the medical superintendant, she had gone home for the day. Her office was being cleaned. Gabriel walked down the alley, spoke to someone and learned that some matrons were in a management meeting at the other side of the hospital. Gabriel managed to get the matron in charge out of the meeting and convince her to stamp and sign on behalf of the medical superintendent. He also found the cleaning lady again to open the medical superintendants office.

When we got back to New life Home, he thanked us for adopting Matthew, blessed us and wished us good luck in court. I was amazed. I dedicate this column to his attitude: thank you Gabriel!