“The child has, by birth, the right to a name, a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by their parents” – UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Sadly, children do not always have the possibility to know their parents. Not all parents can assume the responsibility of raising and caring for a child, There are situations in which, because of the lack of financial possibilities, parents decide to leave their child in the care of the state until their situation improves and they can take care of their child’s needs.
There are also cases in which parents decide to permanently break the connection with their child for various reasons. In this case, it is the state that assumes the role of parent for that child. Over 52,000 children find themselves in this situation, according to the data published by ANPDCA, at the end of 2018. Hence, for these children, the main mission of the state, carried out by the protection system, is to find a family in which the child can integrate and with which the child or children can grow and develop, ensuring the physical and emotional well-being of children in every stage of his development.
The path the child has to take from abandonment to integration in a family is a difficult one, not so much from a legal and procedural standpoint as from an emotional one. In the best scenario, a child spends 2 years in the protective system, during which various bureaucratic procedures are put in place to ensure the good conditions for completing adoption. All the same, the UNICEF study, done in collaboration with the Government of Romania and the World Bank, shows that the average time spent by a child waiting for a family is 7.5 years. Throughout this period, children await a family, either biological, extended or any other, to take them home and offer them the love, tranquility and attention they so very much require.
Out of the 52 783, only 35 687 benefit from family-type services, with the other 17 000+ still living in high-capacity residential centers where they do not experience family life and are deprived of the chance to fully develop independent living skills that should prepare them for when they leave protection system. A more appropriate option for these children is to integrate them into family-type houses/apartments, where they live with other children of similar age, participating in activities similar to those done in normal households, they can take on certain responsibilities and be offered better care and attention than in big centers. Another type of service, serving as a temporary solution for children in large residential centers, is that of foster parents or foster families. These are the closest family variants that currently exist for children in the Romanian state system.
Our country has promised to close down all residential centers by 2020 and integrate the children from these centers into the family-type system. In this respect, along with my colleagues in the Romanian Parliament, we have proposed a legislative initiative, which has been adopted as law, whereby children up to the age of 7 cannot be sent to residential centers anymore.
I have been thoroughly following the evolution of this process, which is difficult but not impossible to achieve. At the same time, I support the changes brought forth to the adoption law, which is now in the General Assembly, to which I have proposed a number of other amendments as I believe that it is essential for every child grow up within a family, whether it be the biological family or an adoptive one. One of the proposed amendments addresses the solutions needed to ensure a happy life to #HardToPlaceNotHardToLove children, for whom national adoption has not been successful.
I believe with all my hearth that we can change the lives of these children for the better. But in order to no longer have ‘sacrifice generations’, it is necessary to bring together all agents involved in this field of action, to speak the same language and think about how we can best implement these solutions, always bearing in mind the superior interest of the child.