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Mother's Choice CEO responds to SCMP: Delays in Adoption Cause Permanent Damage to Children

Wednesday, February 06, 2013 00:00 | Anonymous member

Delays in adoption cause permanent damage to children

I refer to the report regarding the experiences of children adopted overseas ("HK orphans 'subjected to racism in Britain'", February 4).

The article was unhelpful and misleading about best practice for adoptive children. It failed to inform readers of the reason that Britain is reducing the importance of race in adoptions: black children are taking 50 per cent longer to be adopted.

No one disputes that race matters - but delays in adoption matter far more.

All adopted children are likely to struggle with issues of identity, including race.

Adoptive parents need to be made aware of that process. However, children are still better off with permanent loving families of a different race than without any family at all.

Delays in adoption cause unnecessary and permanent damage to children at a critical stage in their development. Such delays harm their brain development, as well as their ability to maintain healthy relationships and function in society.

Long delays also cause a child's chances of being adopted to fall precipitously - to practically zero for those over the age of three in Hong Kong.

The lesson of The Observer article and British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) study mentioned in your report is that parents should be prepared to help their adopted children deal with issues of race - not that race should be allowed to dominate the adoption process.

No child should be left without a family simply because a perfect ethnic match cannot be found. I am grateful for the advances in training and support for adoptive parents, so that fewer adoptive families will face the experiences described in 1960s Britain.

The children in the BAAF study came from orphanages in Hong Kong in the 1960s that were overcrowded and full of abandoned children, with little or no hope for adoption locally. I note that none of the children currently available for international adoption in Hong Kong have any chance for adoption locally, as almost all have special needs.

Sadly, Hong Kong has not been very accepting of children with special needs. Very few of these children have ever been adopted in Hong Kong, and most will be adopted to the US.

Our hope at Mother's Choice is that every child born in Hong Kong will have a permanent family, no matter what their race or special need, and that no child will have to grow up in an institution. Every child deserves to have a family.

Alia Eyres, chief executive officer, Mother's Choice

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