The number of young children and infants abandoned across the country has increased, the Child Welfare League Foundation (CWLF) said yesterday as it called for greater public awareness of child abandonment and donations to foster care services.
Research by the foundation showed that between 2007 and this year, 169 cases of child abandonment were reported in the media, of which 28 children died as a result of abandonment. Only sixteen cases were reported by the media last year, but this year, 17 cases had already been reported through the end of last month.
According to statistics compiled by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), more than 2,000 children and babies were abandoned nationwide over the past five years, with the highest abandonment rates occurring in less well-to-do regions, such as Hualien, Taitung, Taoyuan and Changhua.
Meanwhile, financial hardship was cited as the reason for putting children up for adoption by 75 percent of people seeking help from the CWLF, showing that as economic conditions in Taiwan deteriorate, young children and infants are at higher risk of being abandoned, the foundation said.
“We urge people to seek assistance before resorting to abandonment. Many NGOs [non-governmental organizations], like CWLF, can help families find resources and obtain services so they can keep their children,” Pai Li-fang (白麗芳), director of the foundation’s division of social services, told a press conference yesterday.
Having found permanent homes for 591 children through adoption over the past 20 years, the foundation said the average time it takes to complete the adoption process is 510 days and the most difficult part is to find matches between adoptive families and waiting children.
“Adoptive parents come to us with certain expectations for the type of children they want to adopt. They usually want healthy babies who come from problem-free families, but if families don’t have problems, why would they decide to put children up for adoption?” Pai said.
Aboriginal children and children of Southeast Asian immigrants also have difficulties finding adoptive families because “there still exist stereotypes and discrimination against minorities,” Pai said.
Age is another problem. According to the information compiled by the CWLF over the past year, 31 percent of adoptive parents only accept babies younger than one year old, while more than 73 percent of the applicants are unwilling to adopt children older than three. Youngsters more than five years old have only a 5 percent chance of finding homes through adoption.
“So we have many adoptive parents complaining about the difficulty adopting on the one hand, and on the other, we have a large number of children unable to find adoptive families,” Pai said.
Currently, the foundation has 60 waiting children in 50 temporary foster homes.
The number of children put up for adoption through agencies like the CWLF is expected to increase because a new amendment to the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act (兒童及少年福利與權益保障法) stipulates that adoption proceedings need to be carried out by licensed agencies. Previously, adoption could be handled between biological and adoptive parents verifying the decision in court, Pai said.
The amendment came into effect on May 30.
According to Pai, about 2,700 children are adopted each year, one-third of whom are adopted by persons who are not related to the children.