|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 4, Issue 22 , Tuesday June 05, 2007|
Someone to watch over me
Whether to fill up a childless void in an otherwise happy married life or to raise an orphaned child alongside their own, more and more couples and even single mothers have been adopting children from orphanages all over the country in recent years. However, the laws that allowed children to be 'adopted' or given all rights of a biological child that were made in 1972 to accommodate the adoption of war babies was changed in the 80's during the Ershad regime through an amendment that now allows only legal guardianship of a child. 'So the foster parents take up the responsibility of raising the child but the child does not have the right to inherit from them,' says Dr. Dilruba, a doctor now working for the Center for Training and Rehabilitation of Destitute Women (CTRDW).
The CTRDW started working with destitute women in the late 80's, specially unwed mothers and others whose pregnancies were never accepted in society. They were and still are often mistreated while pregnant, have nowhere to go and end up harming the children they give birth to. Also, other orphanages that were raising these children ultimately failed to give them the parental guidance they needed so desperately. They could not 'grow up' with relatives and the people who looked after the children often had children of their own and could not give them the same kind of love they gave their own. That is when the organisation decided that they should try to find foster parents for the children who could fill up the parental void in their lives. However, it is a long and often difficult process to find the right people to raise a child and with no specific child protection laws to allow the child to come back to the organisation in case the foster parents turn out to be abusive, there is always a risk taken when the legal guardianship is entrusted to someone. Also, when adopted the children are usually very young and sometimes as they grow into adolescence, foster parents have difficulty dealing with the changes they go through during that time.
How do they decide which children to give to which parents? Sometimes parents specify if they want a child of a particular age or build and the organisation tries to find a baby suited to their needs. They also try to find a child who looks similar to the parents in terms of build, complexion, etc. so that the child feels like one of their own as s/he grows up. The CTRDW, now a concern of HEED Bangladesh and funded by many local and foreign donors, only houses children up to the age of five and if there are any children who are not adopted within this time, they are transferred to other orphanages. Younger children are more eagerly adopted as it makes it easier for parents to bond with the children at these ages. Besides CTRDW, one of the oldest orphanages in the city is the Mother Theresa orphanage in Islampur who have also been working in this area for a long time. Other orphanages such as Shishu Palli Plus in Sripur and Rays of Hope in Savar house older children, educate them and put them up for adoption. However, no government run orphanages accommodate the options for adoption. They only rear the children and educate them.
When parents living in Bangladesh want to gain legal guardianship of a child from such an organisation, the first step is to visit the place and talk to the counsellors there so that they can get to know one another. Once the relationship with these people becomes comfortable and they are convinced that the parents are capable of handling the rearing of the child, the parents are shown the child most suited to their demands, and they may do a few routine medical tests to make sure the child does not have any serious illnesses like Hepatitis or AIDS. The organisation helps with the tests but the parents usually pay for them. After this the parents take the baby home and are kept under a six-month probation period. During this time, somebody at the organisation visits their home regularly and checks on the child and if they think the parents are doing a good job, they give them a No Objections Certificate (NOC). The parents then apply to the Family Court for legal guardianship. Depending on the lawyers they hire and certain other factors, the process can take up to a few months.
If non-resident Bangladeshis want to adopt, they go through the same process but the organisation skips the probation period for them since they can usually not stay that long in the country. Also, in the countries where they live, there are home study packages and authorities who visit their homes every three months to check on the child once s/he has been adopted and submit reports on the performance of the parents. These parents are also required to apply to the Ministry of Homes in addition to the Family Court and acquire a NOC from them so that they can take the child out of the country. While they only get legal guardianship of the child here in Bangladesh, they can 'adopt' the child and give her/him all rights of a biological child once they return to their home countries.
Giving up a child for adoption or adopting a child when you can't have one of your own, is a choice that every woman has the right to make. Forward thinking organisations and professionals involved in making these choices easier to make or accommodating them have contributed immensely in the acceptance of adoption and adopted children in our society and made many lives more complete and happy.
On The Cover
Models: Munia, Shormi, Trina
But not all have been so blessed and thus it is vital that people, who are craving for some fitful sleep, alter their lifestyles a tad bit to get some better shut-eye.
The food and lifestyle
So you see? It's really simple. A few changes here and there, and in no time you'll be sleeping, as they say, like a baby.
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