Mon, Jul 04, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Group seeking to change attitudes toward adoption

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

While ever more people in Western countries are embracing the adoption of children, adoption in Taiwan is in decline. Child welfare advocates yesterday called on the public to pay more attention to abandoned children and to be supportive of families that choose to adopt.

"Traditionally, Taiwanese families view children as a means to carry on the family name. Therefore, adoptive parents in Taiwan are often people who suffer from infecundity, and adoption is still viewed as a shameful secret," said Abby Chen (陳雅惠), a coordinator of the Child Welfare League Foundation.

During a charity drive yesterday to assist abandoned kids and promote adoptions, the foundation, which has been dedicated to helping abandoned children find adoptive families for 14 years, tried to raise awareness of the issue of abandoned kids and adoption in Taiwan.

According to Chen, there are approximately 5,000 children a year abandoned in Taiwan. However, only about 10 percent of those children are lucky enough to find an adoptive family. The foundation takes in about 1,000 children a year. Only 100 children are able to find adopters in Taiwan per year. With the number of foreign workers climbing in Taiwan, the foundation has also seen an increase in the number of children abandoned by foreign parents.

"Handicapped children or kids with different ethnic backgrounds, such as Aborigines or children with Southeast Asian backgrounds are less likely to be adopted. We are forced to send these kids to find adoptive parents overseas," Chen said.

Unable to find enough adopters in Taiwan, the foundation has turned to Western countries, including Holland and the US, for help.

More and more Western countries are joining a quickly growing movement in the adoption world, changing the face of their countries as they take in children from Russia, China, India, Guatemala and other countries.

In Taiwan, however, many unwanted children stay in the custody of the foundation or in temporary foster care until they are seven or eight years old, and still cannot find adopters. If they fail to find adopting parents overseas, those children will eventually be sent to orphanages, the foundation said.

Taking her four-year-old son to the charity drive, a mother surnamed Chang said that although she was not familiar with the idea of adoption, she is willing to offer help to abandoned kids.

"I think the decline of adopting families may be due to financial concerns. I've never thought about adopting a child, since I already have a kid of my own, and it takes a lot of energy and money to raise just one child," she said.

Watching the performances during the charity drive from across the street, a single woman surnamed Luo agreed that financial concerns would be an important issue to consider if she decided to adopt a child one day.

"I think adoption is a good idea, and I may want to adopt a child if I stay single. However, if I get married one day, I would not consider the option unless I cannot have children of my own," she told the Taipei Times.

Chen said that besides taking care of abandoned children until they find adopters, the foundation is putting efforts to change the misperceptions of adoption.

"Adoption is about fully and completely loving and accepting someone not born to you as your own child. That's an important lesson in a world with so many orphans in need," she said.

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