Children’s Advocate urges caution with Terrelonge’s adoption stance
Children's Advocate, Diahann Gordon-Harrison, has suggested that the adoption of children should be a last recourse and not about one of quickly snatching them from their biological families.
She was responding to State Minister In the Ministry for Education, Youth and Information, Olando Terrelonge's recommendation recently, that once parents abandon their child who are in state care, they have abandoned their rights to the child, who should be given up for adoption.
"A starting point, however, is that we must be cautious because adoption ought never to be about ripping children from families. The best place to raise children is within their own biological families," Gordon-Harrison argued.
She, however, conceded that in special cases, the adoption option should be utilised.
“If, however, you have cases as we do have in Jamaica, where there are children who have been residing in institutions for very long times because of inadequate care by parents, or wanton abandonment and parental neglect, it is my firm view that these cases need to be looked at very seriously," she said.
Gordon-Harrison was addressing an Office of the Children's Advocate conference in St Andrew on Friday.
Last month, speaking at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) Field Services Conference at the Iberostar Rose Hall Hotel in Montego Bay, St James, Terrelonge said pending changes will see children who have been neglected, abandoned or abused by parents, guardians or caregivers, becoming eligible for adoption within a year of being placed in a facility.
“I have made the recommendation that once nine months to 12 months have passed, then we must be able to go to the court and to say to a judge that this particular parent has relinquished their right because they have abandoned their child. In so doing, we can go through with having the court order made, so that the adoption process can, in fact, go through. That is the future of childcare in Jamaica,” the state minister indicated.