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Adoption and foster care: A real blessing for a child

Published:Saturday | October 16, 2021 | 12:05 AM
Diahann Gordon Harrison, Children’s Advocate of Jamaica.
Diahann Gordon Harrison, Children’s Advocate of Jamaica.

Welcoming a child into your home to provide them with a safe and stable place is a noble, yet hard and personal decision for prospective parents. This can happen in a variety of ways, including both foster care and adoption. Understanding the differences can help hopeful parents decide which is the right decision for them.

You may be considering adoption or foster care but are dreading the process. Foster care dwells on the premise of reunification – it operates with the notion that connection with the biological parent is possible. Adoption, on the other hand, is the permanent placement of a child in a family-based environment. In this instance, once adopted, the child becomes legally and forever a part of the family. The Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) believes that these two options are better options than those which have children living in/growing up in an institution.

The OCA is the Commission of Parliament mandated to enforce and protect the rights and best interest of all children in Jamaica. Established in 2006 under the Child Care and Protection Act (2004), the Act is used as the guideline for the operations of the office.

To achieve the goal of reducing the number of children in institutional care, the National Foster Care Programme, that forms part of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency’s flagship programme, Living in Family Environments, has sought to place children in family-based settings.

Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison explains that “Each process is aimed at providing a safe and loving home for a child”. Both processes include serious commitments on the part of the ‘new’ parent(s) and they ought to be supported to play a pivotal role in the life of the child. This is especially so because of the change in the child’s life and the adjustments that he/she will have to make.

In an effort to add its voice to the desire to have less children in institutions, the OCA is using the platform of its partnership with celebrity duo, Kerie-Ann (‘Kiki’) and Denvo Thombs, to highlight some of the issues of children on their television series, Real Life, aired Sundays on TVJ.