Government blamed 'inhumane' by lawmakers for separating children from foster families
Lawmakers on Tuesday slammed the government of being inhumane for separating children from their foster families when the foster parents would like to adopt them.
In the Legislative Council meeting today, New People's Party lawmaker Eunice Yung Hoi-yan asked Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong regarding the existing procedure for switching from foster care to adoption of a child, and whether the government has reviewed if the procedure is in line with a child's best interests and actual circumstances.
Yung questioned if the government is “putting the procedure above a child's best interests” as some foster parents were told by the Social Welfare Department that they must relinquish their foster child who has been staying with them for almost two years, before they could apply for and be put on the waiting list of adoption.
Lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun also challenged Law: “It's inhumane for taking away the child and let them [foster family] wait.”
He asked the government if it could be more flexible in dealing with such cases.
“You are talking about the so-called rationality and fairness, but you completely don't understand the child. It's even not ideal to take away a dog and send it back to its owner later, let alone we are talking about a human,” he said.
In response, Law said the nature of foster family and adoption is different, and there are different requirements and standards.
“A foster family could be only an appropriate home which can take care a baby or a toddler for a short term,” Law said.
He said foster parents are not necessarily to become adoption parents as there were examples of foster parents who are elderly, or their financial status is not good enough, making them not suitable for adoption.
Law said the temporary separation between the child and foster parents is to ensure there will not be conflict of interest. If authorities did not request the foster family to relinquish their foster child, it would make the adoption more difficult, and would affect the child's best interest.
But he said the government does not act rigidly as it would take various factors into consideration including the family, the child and different arrangements.
“It's not easy for a child to find parents for adoption, so when these foster families are willing to apply for adoption, we are glad about this,” Law said.