Given up for adoption

Relates to:
Date: 2013-06-07

Tevita Vuibau
June 07, 2013

THE birth of a child is one of the most profound experiences for mothers and fathers.

But the truth of the matter is that sometimes parents are just not ready to look after their own children.

And there are a number of factors that could lead to a mother giving up her child.

Inability to cope financially with the demands of a newborn, unplanned pregnancies and teen pregnancies are chief among these.

The latest cases of mothers abandoning their babies took place at the country's largest hospital — CWMH — where three mothers gave up their babies for adoption at the hospital.

The babies were given up after the mothers made prior arrangements with the hospital to take custody of their infants.

And this news came as a shock to many.

But as hospital head of gynaecology Dr James Fong explained, 24 babies are given up for adoption at CWMH alone each year, which means the problem is not new.

Dr Fong explained that looking after babies put a strain on hospital finances with the babies ending up having to be cared for by nurses.

But speaking to The Fiji Times on Tuesday, Ministry of Social Welfare permanent secretary Dr Josefa Koroivueta said this did not have to be the case.

He explained the ministry had well defined procedures in place for the adoption of babies at the nine registered homes for children.

"The placement of the children is facilitated depending on the availability of space in residential homes and foster parents," Dr Koroivueta said.

"The ministry works in alignment to the existing Juveniles Act under the State, there are nine registered homes. These are Boys Centre, Dilkusha Home, St Christopher's, Mahaffy Girls, Treasure Home, Veilomani Boys, Lomani Au Children's Home, St Meena's Home and Homes of Hope."

He also warned against those trying to adopt children through means other than those stated under the law saying that those acts were a violation of children's rights.

"The utilisation of marketing deploys through social networks and informal networks for child adoption is a clear breach of the child rights.

"The wellbeing of the child is paramount and leaking of information or taking pictures of abandoned children without proper consent of the Ministry of Social Welfare is a serious breach of confidentiality and violation of children's rights," he said.

He explained that the ministry administered the Care and Protection (C&P) from the allocated budget of $5.9million to families/guardians supporting children other than their own, or for parents facing financial difficulties in maintaining the basic care for their children and to residential homes that provided care for children who are placed under the care of the Director of Social Welfare as provided in the Juvenile Act.

The recent news as well that 400 teen mothers gave birth at Lautoka Hospital each year would also have raised a few eyebrows.

According to figures quoted by Viseisei Sai Health Centre director Dr Swaran Naidu, teen pregnancies in Fiji were unacceptably high at 10 per cent of all deliveries.

The Ministry of Social Welfare acknowledged this problem saying that it had signed an MOU with Homes of Hope to facilitate the adequate care and support to teenage mothers.

Education permanent secretary Brij Lal says the ministry has the Family Life Education (FLE) which is taught in schools.


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