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.

This is why at the CTRDW or other such organisations, they have certain unwritten, informal criteria for judging how suited the foster parents will be to a child or to see whether or not they will be able to fulfil their responsibilities as expected. 'We look for fairly educated parents with a stable financial situation, says Dr. Dilruba. There is always a period before the adoption when they interact with the parents to see their feelings towards the child, how eager they are to adopt and their attitudes towards adoption in general. 'For example, we would never give one of our children to parents who have very strong opinions against unwed pregnancies, people who think these children are the products of sin, or even parents who discriminate between the genders.'

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.

By Diya
Photo: Munem Wasif

On The Cover

With summer in full swing, flip to the centre to catch a glimpse of the season’s must have styles.

Models: Munia, Shormi, Trina
Styling, make-up, hair, wardrobe and accessories: Farzana Shakil
Photo: Zahedul I. Khan


Off to Neverland

If food was a battery for the human body, sleep would probably be the recharger. Lucky are those who have a goodnight's sleep and don't face traumatic hours of tossing and turning in the wee hours of the night. As D.H. Lawrence would say, “And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep, and sink in good oblivion, and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.”

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 schedule

Maintain a regular bed and wake time schedule including weekends. This way soon your body will set its internal clock accordingly and tell you automatically when to go to bed. Try to set a regular, relaxing bedtime routine like soaking in a hot bath or hot tub and then reading or listening to calming music. This will help you unwind and help you fall asleep better.

The environment

Create an environment conducive to sleep. It should be dark, quiet, comfortable and cool. It is a lot harder to fall asleep amidst even the slightest of noises and in brightness. A comfortable mattress and the right pillows will also help your body settle into a position where it can relax and sleep better. Don't tend to use your bedroom for working and other such mind-asserting activities. Use it primarily and most importantly for sleep and soon your body will know that this is where it comes to relax.

The food and lifestyle

It's harder and unhealthy to sleep on a full stomach. So finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime. Caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) keeps you awake. So avoid these things before bedtime. Avoid nicotine (e.g. cigarettes, tobacco products) and alcohol close to bedtime because they lead to poor sleep as well. And exercise regularly because exercising regularly makes it easier to fall asleep and contributes to sounder sleep. But complete your workout at least a few hours before bedtime because the body needs to cool down and a cooler body temperature is associated with sleep onset.

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.

By Tahiat-e-Mahboob



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2007 The Daily Star