Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Don't Adopt Us!

As a response to the terrible Tsunami tragedy, relief measures are now nearing completion. The phase of rehabilitation begins now.

Rehabilitation includes many aspects. Repairing the houses of the Tsunami victims, and ensuring that the new houses are sturdier than before. Providing boats to fishermen and self-sustainable livelihood to the affected families. Providing counselling to traumatized villagers - often just hearing them out silently is therapy enough for them to snap out of often-suicidal depression modes. And, last but not least, adopting those children left without family and home by the ravaging waves.

Of course, adoption of Tsunami children has its own complications. It is not just about signing on a dotted line. There are multiple linguistic, cultural, and emotional issues to overcome.

But the benefits clearly outweigh the costs. Read a new adoptive couple's experiences here.

For further assistance, contact any NGO involved in doing relief work in the affected areas. But a word of caution : Before embarking on this journey, read on ...


(Source : News Reports)

NAGAPATTINAM: Fourteen-year-old Kavidevi breaks down in tears as her uncle begins to register her and her three sisters at a government centre for tsunami orphans in southern India.
She keeps shaking her head, mumbling that she doesn't want to live in an orphanage after her parents were washed away by the sea last month.

Her uncle and orphanage workers try to console her, but she cries and runs out of the gate to hide in the motor rickshaw that brought the sisters from their fishing village.

"I don't want to stay here, I don't want to stay here," she says as she sobs, begging her dead father's younger brother to look after the girls himself.

Her two younger sisters and an older sister stare blankly as Kavidevi pleads.

Uncle Ramajeyam fails to convince her that she would be better off at the orphanage and could even find a new home as hundreds of people from across India and abroad have offered to adopt orphans of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

He takes the girls back to their village, hoping that he will succeed in persuading Kavidevi after a religious ceremony in memory of her parents later this week.

Kavidevi's refusal to leave her village and live in an orphanage, let alone consider being adopted by a new family, does not surprise adoption experts.

The last thing orphans want, especially those above the age of five or six, is to be uprooted from the environment in which they grew up, they said.

The cultural complexities involved in rehabilitation were starkly reflected when many tsunami survivors in south India refused bread served by charities from wheat-eating northern India, preferring their staple of rice instead.

With Indian laws requiring the consent of children before adoption, it is a scenario bound to disappoint hundreds of couples who are keen to adopt India's tsunami orphans.

No ideal solution

"One of the most difficult things for a child is change. And children have had so much change right now that naturally an average child or even an average adult would not want any more change," Aloma Lobo, head of the Indian government's Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA), told Reuters.

Children were hardest hit by the tsunami which killed 175,000 people around the Indian Ocean including 16,000 in India.

They account for about a third of the dead in India and tens of thousands more are orphaned or have only one surviving parent.

In Nagapattinam, India's worst hit district, 222 children were orphaned, and another 879 children had one parent left, according to government records.

Dozens more may still be with relatives before they are brought to the orphanage, officials said.

S Suryakala, head of Nagapattinam's social welfare department, said authorities were only considering allowing adoption of tsunami orphans by families in the same region and no thought had been given to foreign adoption.

"We have to be very careful. We have to ascertain that there is no child trafficking or abuse," she said.

While younger orphans would receive regular education, older boys and girls would be trained to work as computer operators, nurses, typists, make pickles or knit clothes.

And under local government rules, such orphans would be given preference during recruitment for government jobs, Suryakala said.

Yet, it is not exactly an ideal solution.

"My first preference would be to let older children remain in their own community. And family care is any day better than institutional care," said CARA's Lobo.

"But allowing adoption of children older than seven presents challenges to both the child and new parents. So we have to play it by ear."

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