School of Theology and Seminary Graduate Papers/Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2017

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Theology (Th.M)


School of Theology and Seminary

First Advisor

Kathryn Lilla Cox

Second Advisor

Charles Bobertz

Subject Categories

African Languages and Societies | Ethics in Religion | Religion


This thesis proposes the practice of communal parenting in the Igbo culture as critical to strengthening the godparent/godchild bond by way of offering a moral response to baby stealing and childlessness in Nigeria. It examines how practices such as spiritual intercession, catastrophic fertility expenditure, extramarital conception, baby stealing, and baby factories are impacting Igbo Christian families. It exposes the Igbo beliefs about marriage and fertility; explores the meaning of Igbo marriage, marital fruitfulness, and progeny, as well as the Igbo tradition of co-parenting and how this practice has responded to childlessness. It highlights how the Igbo society's shift from "co-parenting" (e.g., relatives, friends, godparents, community) to "sole-parenting" (only the nuclear family) has isolated childless couples, thereby driving baby stealing and merchandizing. The work looks at rituals, baptism and spiritual kinship in the Roman Catholic tradition and how co-parenting can reinforce godparent/godchild relationship. It argues for a retrieval of co-parenting, already existent in the Igbo tradition, as a superstructure on which to build a stronger godparent/godchild bond as a way of providing a more adequate moral response to childlessness, which fuels baby stealing in our society.



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