Probe into newborn not registered under name of biological parents

Relates to:
Date: 2006-04-16
Source: Malta Today

Probe into newborn not registered under name of biological parents

Matthew Vella

The Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity is currently investigating a private adoption which occurred after a woman gave birth to a child in a private hospital, the child never being registered under her name.

Instead, the mother was registered as having been admitted for a surgical operation, while her child was handed over to an adoptive couple.
The matter is now under investigation by the government, although the practice is widely believed to be one way of bypassing government laws on adoption.
Private adoptions are believed to happen in cases where adoptive parents decide to bypass the onerous government regulations on adoption, which take time and often demand a thorough assessment of the interested parents.

The ministry will now be advancing amendments to adoption laws and a new fostering bill in the coming weeks. Under the new laws, the courts will be afforded more powers in “freeing up” children to be taken into adoption without the consent of parents who may otherwise want to keep their children locked up in institutes.
“It will give the courts greater ability in freeing up children who are in care institutions but who also have a right to a family,” child services manager Bryan Magro, from Agenzija Appogg, said. “We are working in line with the obligations stipulated by the Convention of the Rights of the Child.”

Children of a certain age will also be able to express their open wish to be adopted according to the new law, which will afford a greater say to children in decisions affecting their lives.

Magro also said the new amendments will also offer better regulation on private adoptions. “Private adoptions can be dangerous, especially in cases where births are not registered. Whoever adopts has to be ready and trained, assessed and be offered support. Even the matching of a child and the adoptive parents should be taken into consideration. Private adoptions have to be regulated.”

The family ministry is now strengthening its support services with the recruitment of specialists, and a greater investment in fostering services and child protection. Magro said stronger services will ensure a better application of the law protecting children. “Appogg already offers numerous services for the community – even women who need support after the birth of their child are assisted through the Homestart programme, which brings together the community to help women who might be suffering from post-natal depression.”

Agenzija Appogg, the national social welfare agency, has been providing services for children for the past five years. Magro says there are 170 foster families today who care for children who cannot live with their natural families because of violence, illnesses, drug abuse, or neglect.

“The new fostering law is designed to increase children’s rights who are in foster care. Today there are 430 children being looked after, an increase from 0.3 per cent in 2000 to 0.4 per cent of the children’s population. However, there has been a decrease in residential care of 22 per cent, which means fostering in families has increased,” Magro said.

mvella@mediatoday.com.mt

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