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Fostering interest



Fostering interest

By: Brian Douglas

Foster care - which is available throughout Europe including in Romania - is a viable option for children in need of care; moreover, it is preferable to national adoption

Posted: 16/04/2008

Foster care - which is available throughout Europe including in Romania - is a viable option for children in need of care

On 19th February Jean-Marie Cavada (ALDE, France), Claire Gibault (ALDE, France) and Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe held a press conference titled ‘Towards a European procedure for adoption' in the press room of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The three stated that the rights of the child are not always adhered to in Europe and I certainly agree with them; however, they must realise that in calling for European adoptions they are not putting the rights of the child first.

They failed to mention that foster care - which is available throughout Europe including in Romania - is a viable option for children in need of care; moreover, it is preferable to national adoption, considering that the highest number of orphans and abandoned children have living parents or relatives who would love their child returned, if their social circumstances were improved. Here individual EU member states have a huge role, as does the private sector and NGOs who are committed to work in the child's best interest and observe best practices at all times.

What would be better than to have a child experiencing difficulties because of family poverty to be given the chance of a local foster care placement in the child's local area, so he could attend the local school, undergo special counseling and, most importantly, maintain contact with his biological family? Local authorities could ensure that the family who needed help received it, so that their situation could improve enough to eventually have their child returned. Furthermore, they would know that their child was safe and in good care, in a local area where they could visit and even, if agreed, have access to the child for the day.

This would be of greater benefit to a child than adoption as he would remain active in his own community and still have the love of his biological parents as well as the help of foster parents to overcome difficulties. The same can be applied to children whose parents are deceased but who have relatives who need help to adapt to having the child at home, and perhaps some financial assistance. The private sector potentially has a huge role to play here - it could, for example, provide school uniforms for children whose parents cannot afford them, enabling the child to continue his education as an equal.

There are, of course, many cases of children who simply cannot live at home - perhaps because his parents are dead and he has no other relatives, or perhaps because the parents are a danger to the child, or in prison. Local foster care in a caring foster family with special training must be the first priority to assess the child's needs in all areas and give the child a say in his future - depending on age and ability.

It may well be that the child adapts to the foster family in his own locality, blossoms well and is able to continue his education - in such a case if the child's best interests are being adhered to, why break the balance? In other cases foster care may be a stepping stone to national adoption - but I would suggest that often a local family would be willing to adopt, to enable the child to continue to live in his own community. And for older, teenaged children, family-type homes are more appropriate to prepare them for independent living.

Brian Douglas is a director of RCHF, a UK based children's charity.



Thursday 17th April 2008 at 07:04

Valentin Nas said:

"I have read with great interest Mr. Douglas's opinion and I'm afraid I fail to understand why "foster care is preferable to national adoption". How can the child's best interests be better served by a temporary solution than a permanent one? How can it be better for the child to be moved around from one foster placement to another (thus developing serious attachment issues), than to have his/her own forever loving family? How can the child be better off with a family which is paid a monthly salary to take care of him/her, than in a family which gives him/her unconditional love?"


Tuesday 22nd April 2008 at 18:04

Robin Nydes said:

"I am the Founder/Chairman of F.R.O.D.O. a charity that provides care to children who are disabled or affected by life threatening illness, with a focus on those who are abandoned. My charity has no involvement in adoption, but I know first hand the situation which Mr. Douglas refers to, as I was fostered in the United States by 2 different families over a 3 year term. I will never forget the words of the natural children of my foster family during my first week in my new "family". We were in bed in the same room, just after lights off, when the eldest said to me "You know our mummy and daddy don't love you as much as us, because you're only here for a short time." Those words are burned in to my memory forever. To eliminate any option for the care of a child, for the chance of a loving family, is fundamentally wrong. Mr. Douglas has overlooked the grim reality for many children: where the natural parents have repeatedly abandoned the child, or worse, where they are abusive. I know of many Romanian foster parents who have come to love and care for their children as much as their own, who want to adopt the child. Where a return to the natural parents, or movement to another unknown family, would be a living nightmare for the child. Mr. Douglas should try to remember what should come first are "THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD", thus, to keep all options open appropriate to the specific facts related to the child's case."


Wednesday 23rd April 2008 at 17:04

François de Combret said:

""The over-arching framework for children's rights is the 1989 UN Convention on the rights of the child . This was the first treaty specifically concerned with the rights of children and it marked an important shift in thinking towards a rights based approach which held the governments legally accountable for failing to meet the needs of children . The Convention created a new vision of children as bearers of rights rather than viewing them as the property of their parents or the helpless recipients of charity . Among the rights of the children , the first one that mentions the Convention is the right to a family : in its Preamble , the Convention recognizes "that the child , for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality , should grow up in a family environment ". By defending the interest of fostering versus the interest of adoption , Mr Douglas has obviously not understood the shift of thinking brought by the Convention. Mr Douglas views are prehistoric . The first and basic right of a child is to be allowed to utter the sweet words of daddy and mummy . Foster care does not fullfill such a basic right .Bought love is not love , as well for an adult as for a child .Love is not for money . Under foster care , a child is in deposit . He is the helpless recipient of charity . His roots cannot grow . If a child is deprived from his or her biological family , the only solution to provide him with another family is adoption , whether national or international .""


Wednesday 23rd April 2008 at 18:04

Linda Robak said:

"As a long-time child advocate, I'm puzzled as to why VIVID would print such an ignorant opinion piece. Mr. Douglas clearly illustrates his ignorance of children's needs in general, but specifically those who have been abandoned or removed from their biological families due to abuse (physical, sexual, or both), severe neglect, or the simple fact they are unable and/or unwilling to care for them. The last thing a child who has been abused needs - or wants - is to be placed in the same town and school where his abusers reside, where he may come in contact with them, and where visual associations reminding the child of the abuse would be inflicted on a regular basis. If biological parents (and relatives) who abandon their children in hospitals and orphanages don't bother to visit them, what makes Mr. Douglas think they will visit them in a foster home? Mr. Douglas is obviously not a parent and would be much enlightened if he took a few classes in child psychology and sought the professional expertise of those who work with abused and abandoned children. He clearly doesn't understand the basic rights of the child as stated by the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child nor the Hague Treaty - both of which Romania has signed. ALL children's most basic human need is a permanent family, wherever that family may reside, and whether thru domestic or inter-country adoption. Paid foster care parents, most who think of foster parenting as a career, is not the same as a permanent family who have adopted the child from a spirit of love and forever care and support."


Wednesday 23rd April 2008 at 21:04

Thomas H. Haar said:

"Mr. Douglas fails to realize that so many of the children that are placed in foster care are not the progeny of loving parents and planned pregnancies. Adoption is a great opportunity for an abandoned or unwanted child, not temporary foster care, no matter how well-intentioned the foster parents. In the case of Romania, there are far too many children in need of forever, loving families, while there aren't nearly enough willing Romanian parents to adopt them. Internationally, there are thousands of parents eager to adopt these children, ready to open their hearts and homes while offering love and stability. Romania's laws make this impossible, needlessly causing far too many abandoned children to grow up without the benefits of forever families. It's tragic and unnecessary. The Romanian officials and their foreign partners in this travesty should be ashamed of themselves."


Wednesday 23rd April 2008 at 22:04

Maire Hayes said:

"As the parent of 2 children adopted from Romania it strikes me that Mr Douglas is very far removed from reality. Ask the children if they want to spend their lives in foster care or with a Mammy/Daddy in their own home.Ask the children caught up in the closure of International adoptions who are still waiting to go home to their forever families. Many of these are in caring loving foster care or in loving community homes. They still want their own home and their own family. My son came home at 5 1/2yrs old. His parents abandoned him when he was born-all his paperwork show the amount of times his parents were contacted about him and asked to visit him. They never did. He lived in an orphanage in the same area that his parents lived. He suffers daily from his time spent without a family. He was home about a year when he was sitting in my arms one night and he looked up at me and said: "All I ever wanted was my own Mommy and my own bed" these words haunt me and will be locked in my memory forever. These were the words of a 6yr old who spent 5 1/2yrs in an orphanage and 2 months in foster care. The MEP's have done a great injustice to the children of Romania and in time it will all come out."


Wednesday 23rd April 2008 at 23:04

Petrica said:

"Surely you jest. Studies show that a permanent family (via adoption into that family, and it matters not in which country that child may end up) is superior to a temporary solution (foster care).If a child is in state care and his biological parents rights have been severed - due to abuse, severe neglect, or abandonment, the priority solution is to provide him with a permanent family through adoption, whether national or international. Credible studies in the United States - which has had a much better funded, staffed, and supervised foster care program than Romania - have shown that 70% of inmates in prisons were once children in foster care proving that foster care is not the best answer for parentless children."


Thursday 24th April 2008 at 00:04

Martin said:

"The idea that foster care is preferable to adoption is absurd. Children need a permanent home. In many cases where children are placed in foster care in Romania, the bio parents have given them up and don't want them back. Forced reintegrations have very often proved disastrous. The adoptive families want the children. The bio parents did not. Foster care is only temporary. Adoption is permanent, and the best alternative in such cases."


Friday 25th April 2008 at 20:04

J Freeman said:

"Having read the article above and with 18 years experience in social care as a case officer it strikes me that the future for any child in need of interventional care short or long term would suffer considerably if the ones who have so far commented had their way. For any child suffering any kind of very serious problem in the family home and for many reasons there is a social safety net and this starts with local authority foster care. In this way the child or children in question can be assessed, as can their parents and other relatives, plus an enquiry into the full set of circumstances can be undertaken by all of the players concerned including those in law and order. It is quite wrong and against the child or children’s interest to suggest that they should be taken for adoption of any kind as a first option at this stage. These enquiries develop into a full case history and of course this does take some considerable time. One must always look if it is safe to do so and this depends on the case for an eventual return home of the child. The child’s opinions also count and one here must also consider age and mental abilities. It is a fallacy to state that foster care is short term as is often long term and as Mr Douglas writes there are foster families who do adopt the child in their care. I know of many such cases. When one commenter speak of bought love is not love they must admit that this is the case in international adoptions too. The foster parent is not given the job before a full set of enquiries into their reasons, abilities, outlook and circumstances are considered carefully plus the local authorities oversee these foster parents. There will always be differences of opinion but one must look at the future of each child in each case on individual circumstances. Rushing in with the adoption heavy hand is not the answer however after foster care children with no other option may be adopted and without a doubt by adoption in their own country. When speaking of international conventions and adoptions then clearly the Hague convention has not offered children the protection they deserve in the past and never will be able to until the financial aspect is removed from these kinds of adoptions as this aspect alone deprives the children of having its best interest placed first. One commenter speaks of being told by other children that he was not loved like the others in the family he was cared for in. Perhaps the commenter might like to know that all children can be and often are vindictive to even their biological brothers and Sisters as well. These instances do not only occur in families where there are children in care. Freedom of opinion is for everyone I might add and so I am pleased that Vivid did print this well-meaning article by Mr Douglas. All opinions do count not just those on one side as only by gaining all opinions can the future children in need of our love and care be given the best chance."


Monday 28th April 2008 at 13:04

Simona Stewart said:

"As Founder / President of a Romanian non-profit child care center, the HOA, which has been taking care for orphans for the past seven years, I am very disappointed by Mr. Brian Douglas’ comments. His views are completely disconnected from the reality these children have been living in and do not reflect any knowledge of the true facts. Over the past 5 years, the HoA has cared for several hundred abandoned Romanian babies and children offering them nutritional meals, around the clock specialized medical care, and especially love. Much needed love. As a simple observation, over the past five years, from over two hundred abandoned children, there were no more than twenty birth parents whom ever came back to visit their natural children, but never with the intention of taking them home! No more than five families ever did take their own children back home; and no more than four were ever adopted by Romanian families. According to the new 2006 Romanian welfare law, orphans under the age of three are not allowed into any form of private or State institution. This was a concession demanded by the European Parliament for Romanian’s admission into the EU, and paid for dearly by those children that could least afford to loose what little security they had. From that point forward, any baby abandoned in any Romanian hospital was immediately sent directly to a foster family. The same fate befell all children living at the House of Angels. Without exception, all were dislodged from the only home they had ever known and sent to foster families they had never met before. What Mr. Douglas doesn’t seem to know, is that Romanian foster families are mostly rural peasants from the country side. They are poor families with limited education, who agree to take on these children in exchange for the generous payments made to them by the State through an EU grant. Until such funds were made available from the State, none of these families had ever come to register with us to be foster families. Another thing that Mr. Douglas doesn’t know, or hasn’t taken the time to investigate, is that these foster families are given two or three children to care for in addition to their own children. This fails to show the increased number of abandoned children, and the lack of funds that the Government has to hire more and more foster families each year. I ask you Mr. Douglas; do you know how many Romanian families are right now fighting to adopt a child, and yet they cannot? I tell you - hundreds of families! But do you know WHY they can not adopt them, Mr. Douglas? I tell you - because people like you who allow abandoned children to stagnate in pay-per-child foster families for years and years and years, without ever declaring them legally abandoned, in the futile hope that their natural parents or extended family will eventually come and take them back. This never ever happens; and these innocent children become your political pawns and thus loose their only chance to enter a loving family and HAVE a real family because people like you must put politics ahead of what is truly best for the children! I challenge Mr. Douglas to answer the question: What possessed him to write this article? I suggest the answer is: The EU wants no more abandoned children in Romania and no more orphanages. The only way to do this is to sweep all these children under the carpet as if they do not really exist (God forbid the reality came to light and the EU be embarrassed by the truth!) and send ALL of Romania’s abandoned children directly to pay-per-child foster families. Thus, the press and public will never be aware of the real numbers, since no one is legally allowed to visit them. Problem solved! If it can’t be seen – then clearly the problem must not exist! Right? Wrong!!! Does it matter that these pay-per-child foster families don’t meet even the most basic norms of decency? NO! Not if it can help make the problem disappear! Does it matter that the children live in mud huts, while the EU’s money is used to buy alcohol for the drunken foster parents? NO! Not if it means Romanian can get into the EU! Does it matter that these children will almost certainly end in the street alone, with no REAL family once they turn 18? NO! Not if it means Romania and the EU can show statistics that belie the true seriousness of the crisis! Do these children matter at all to people like Mr. Douglas? NO! Not so long as the politicians can pat one another on the back and say “See! We made that Romanian orphan problem go away!” All that matters are the political games, the wonderful words without any connection to reality. You and people like you are not God to play with these children’s lives, Mr. Douglas! Let these children go! Let them be adopted by loving families who will love them unconditionally for who they are WITHOUT being paid to do so!"


Monday 05th May 2008 at 00:05

Ciprian said:

"Simona stewart how dare you and who do you thinks you are I ask. we are foster parents and if you please WE DO NOT USE EU MONEY FOR GET DRUNK. we find your comments offensiv to all the foster parent communities. the allocation goes to the children in total plus part of my salary to.do you know how much it costs to raise children in real term in my country, I think not, truly you speak very badly and note we are not as you put it pay per child foster family or if this is way you describe then so are all in europe foster family too.You know not by far about my country.we not live in mud huts with children but live in traditional rural dwelling, the same as in all eastern european country.there are we all know some not so good foster family and biological ones to, but you class all as same to try make all romanian look in bad state. this is not so. I live in as you put it ignorantly a mud hut and my dwelling is as clean as any western one even with not the modern wash aids. My country has made large gains in last few years in helps for children and is not the country of revolution time as you try make out. Mr douglas make very valid points and you dont like cos you only think of take children to foreign country, but for adults and teen these country like america and uk dont give visa to work and have restrictions, so we are not able to have our full eu rights.You want our children but not us, this is the reality. when you speak of parents not visit children in care you show your lacks of experience here. most want to visit we know but have not funds so are not able to gain this. i wonder how many your foundatie ever visited these parents and invite in the car to go with you to see their child, none i think. learn about the romanian peoples before you offend them further"


Tuesday 06th May 2008 at 19:05

Roelie Post said:

"As the author of 'Romania - for Export Only - the untold story of the Romanian 'orphans'' (see Vivid of November 2007) I recognise most of the persons criticizing Brian Douglas' stand on fostercare. Francois de Combret, Linda Robak, Robin Nydes and Vali Nas are all strong promotors of intercountry adoption. Simona Stewart of the House of Angels used to place children with many US adoption agencies. I have met many foster families in Romania, and like Ciprian is saying they were not living in mud houses and it is not because they are paid, that they should be disqualified as carers. Foster care is not charity. It is part of child protection, part of social rights, of children's rights. Foster carers deserve our respect, not criticism."


Wednesday 07th May 2008 at 01:05

David Davis said:

"I visit Romania in the course of my work and on reading the comments from several readers find them well removed from reality. Mr De Combret you need to know that as a child I was placed in foster care as my Father had passed away and my Mother was to ill to care for me and nearly lost her life. I knew she would in time get well again and I would then return home, but in your ideology I would have been adopted. Certainly adoption is not the answer to every case as my own earlier life proves. When you state bought love is not love then you must admit by your own words that international adoption is bought love as the prices range from 10 to 50,000 usd. Foster care is a measure of child protetion used throughout Europe including in France which has large numbers of children itself in care. Why do you cry for Romanian and other countries children when you cant solve your own in France? Simona Stewarts comments are a discrace and must deeply offend Romanian foster parents who like in all countries have opened their door to give a child a chance. Perhaps it would be good for charities like hers to remember that they come to a country to offer help, but have not the right to try run a countries social services. If a foreign charity acted like this in the UK they would soon be out on their backsides!"


Wednesday 25th June 2008 at 02:06

Simona Stewart said:

"I'm happy that my comment gave such reactions which are normal. Ciprian, you are probably among the foster families who really care for the kids in need and you should read carefully my previous comments which said "most of the foster families" and not all of them.I'm sure that there are many others like you in Romania but still the ones that see this "job" as a good income are more. My foundation used to care for hundreds of abandonned babies and NONE OF THEM, NEVER were adopted in a foreing country and only 6 babies were adopted by Romanian families. This information is especially for you, Roelie Post! Once the law changed, all the children in our care went to foster families and during one year I went to visit them. My previous comments were the result of these visits, dear ladies and gentlemen. I'm a Romanian myself, I live in Romania and my foundation is been helping older children as well as children with special disabilities for 2 years. All our funds come exclusively from US every month from private families because Romanians are making donations only for Easter, Christmas or during elections.How many millions of euros do you think the Romanian government spends for foster families per year?And what do you think is the result of that? What happens with the child raised in a foster family once he turns 18 years old?What will happen with tens if not hundreds of thousands of children in foster families? Why it takes almost 2 years for a Romanian family to adopt a child? Do you have answers to these questions? I totally agree with the foster care system since it's everywhere in the world but why is it a priority solution to an adoptive family which can be forever? I'm sorry I can not write nice words about how wonderful the lives of the Romanian orphans are because I'm not a liar and because I live in the middle of them and I know the reality better than most of you who accused me. Ciprian, remember that spring doesn't come when one single flower is in blossom. And Mr. David Davids you mention that France "has a large number of children in foster care" so just compare to the fact that Romania has ALL the "orphans" in foster care. Also, take into consideration the fact that in France or better UK, the percentage of abandonment is probably 1/3 as it is in Romania or maybe less.Every day children are abandonned in Romania and every day the State hires foster families. Do you think this is such a good solution David Davis? We are all disgussed by the stories of foreign families paying big amounts of money just to have the child that they couldn't have naturally BUT I'm sure the State could find a solution to avoid that and let the little orphans have a normal, happy life in a stable family, like me or you. This is my only message: foster families should be a temporary solution and the priority should be adoption so that the child could have a final lasting family."


Wednesday 09th July 2008 at 22:07

David Davis said:

"There can be no doubt that Simona Stewart has a clouded view of her country; all she seems to see is orphans everywere! Could this one might ask be because her foundation is backed by one of the largest international adoption agencies in the US who also she claims in her website handles all of her foundations donations? No need to reply Simone as you have been rumbled and the answer is clear for all to see as is why you are not in favour of foster care. It also seems you know little ablout foster care as there are various types and classes of foster care depending on the needs of the child. Also you are incorrect when you state that all children in Romania in foster care are orphans, many are not."

2008 Apr 16