Adoption process is difficult because human lives are involved – Oguntoyinbo

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Mrs Aderonke Oguntoyinbo, the matron in charge of  Lions’ Village Motherless Babies Home, In an interview with MIDPOINTMALL, spoke on the basic requirements for adoption, legalisation and why the process is seemingly difficult, especially, in Lagos state.

The Home,  jointly owned by Lions’  Club International and the Lagos State Ministry of Youths and Sports currently has about 100 children. However, children are being adopted from time to time

What would you say are the challenges of running this Home?

It is mostly on the contributions to the education of the children. Although, its not much of a challenge because we have a scheme on ground called “Educate a Child Scheme” where the public, schools and even individuals are expected to partner with the Home to educate the children and we have some infrastructures on ground where plans have been made to use them

What is it like when a child is brought in here?

We get our children from different sources and backgrounds. Some are motherless, fatherless, orphans, others are brought in due to allegations of abuse. It could be physical, it could be mental and even children that were being used as slaves, housemaids and all kinds of abuses as well as children of destitute.

We don’t take children directly without the consent of Lagos state because the Home is jointly owned by Lions club and Lagos state government, specifically, the Ministry of Youths and Sports. When a child is found from wherever, first, he is taken to the police station where they obtain what is called a police extract.

This gives a brief history of the child after which he is referred to a Home like ours or any other Home approved by the government

Besides all these, when a child gets here, we will carry out medical screening on him within 24 hours to make sure that he is fit to be kept here. We have about 100 children in here. We also do physical screening to be sure that this is exactly the Home for him or other Homes that are specifically meant for such a child. There are Homes for different types of cases, some for mentally challenged or physically challenged and all sorts

It is the duty of the social welfare officer here to determine where a child should go to depending on his defects and if we don’t have the provision to take care of such child, we duly send him to the appropriate Home where he would fit in.

In this Home, it is evident that there are teenagers, pre-teens and little ones. Why do you eave them here to grow to that level?

We do adoption, fostering and guardianship. Most people who adopt children often like to take them from zero year to five years old. They take them home essentially for bonding purposes such that they automatically becomes their own.

About two weeks ago, we gave out seven children for adoption and so as people show interest, the children leave the Home but for children that have peculiar cases like allegation of abuses and other contentious issues, until the court decides, we cant just release them

What of cases where the child is motherless but has a trace of fatherhood. What do you do?

We have had cases like that where a father is unable to take care of the child. We would then sign an agreement with the father where he is given a certain period of time after which he would come back for the child.

It may be one, two years or whenever but he will finally take back his child because he knows that he would be able to cater for him.

We had a case of twins like that. They were brought in here at birth. While here, their father was visiting. They knew him and had regular interface with him until the agreed time, he came back and took them because he could adequately cater for them a that time

Have you ever had a case of adoption gone bad and a child is returned to the Home?

Yes, we have had once. A couple had adopted a child but we had complaints of physical abuse but they were passing bulk. Even when we did investigation, we couldn’t get the truth. No one agreed that he/she knew what happened or when it happened to the child.

So, we had to withdraw him because we don’t want to give out a child to an unfit parent. Such parents are seen as unfit and can’t take care of children

For grown ups in the Home, what do you do?

Right now, we have some grown up children here. Some are in the Universities, while one is doing her Youth service

Do the children sometimes stay with workers here?

No, we train them to be able to take care of the children as their parents.  They go through training and counselling on how to properly take care of children. Like girls who get to puberty and adolescent stages are taught on how to take care of themselves

Although, on the issue of mentorship, we also have a lot of care givers here. Of course, naturally, care givers have favourite children, we also have administrators that have favourites but not one on one that can take them home

Can you recall any nasty experience you had had here?

No, I have never had any case like that because most prospective parents usually go through a lot of screening. People have even told me that the whole process of adoption in Lagos state is very difficult.

And I say, yes. Why will it not be difficult?  Indeed, we are talking about a life here and life of a child for that matter. Its not an item or a commodity that you can negotiate on.

For adoption in Lagos state, you have to go through the Ministry where you would be thoroughly screened. You don’t have to be rich to adopt a child but you have to be comfortable. You can be a female single parent

But do you have to pay certain any money to adopt a child?

No, adoption is absolutely free

Can you give me an insight into some of the pre-requisites?

Of course, you have to be gainfully employed. You must have your tax clearance and be resident in Lagos

You can be a single adoptive parent, it doesn’t matter. You can also be married but the law clearly states that a single female parent can only adopt a female child while married couple can adopt child of either sex

Why is this so?

It is essentially to prevent abuse. Now, as an adoptive parent, you must provide a conducive environment because for the child to come to an orphanage, naturally, he must have gone through difficulties so it will be unfair to take him/her through another unpleasant experience.

But people always want the easy way out of adoption process. They want to take a child in just two months or even less than. It is not so. There are very necessary administrative processes and screening which you must pass through. Now, people are more aware about adoption now.

No, people are not aware. It is still not socio-culturally acceptable. What are you doing to create more awareness?

It is simple. Just go to the website and type in and you would find out all it takes for you to adopt a child. You would also see all the options opened to you

Now, how many people know about your website or is it just about going to the site?

If you go to the Ministry at Alausa, you will see. You don’t have to go to the adoption unit

Why is it that the children here are left to grow into adolescents and adults without being adopted into proper families because they are used as baits for goodwill?

No, that’s a wrong perception because we do adoption all the time. The fact is that most people who want to adopt like to take in babies in this part of the world. In America, the fostering system, you don’t have to foster and the child automatically becomes your own.

You can have a big house and foster as many children as you like because the state pays you to do that. In this part of the world, adoption is not yet socially acceptable, so, people want a child that will belong to them.

Here, the category of babies we have is far less that the big ones. If I get a baby today, I will readily give out but the list of prospective parents is so much. The last time it was done, we had about 230 applicants and it is done three times a year

What is the last lap of adoption?

We, the Home is the last lap in the sense that once they get approval from the Ministry, after going through counselling and screening, they would come to the Home

Where does the court come in?

The court comes in during the last screening and legalisation processes but after the approval, they come to a Home

What is the duration for legalisation?

Legalisation occurs after six months

What about your monitoring team?

There is a department for that and they do unannounced visits. We want our children to be adopted into a happy and loving environment. The monitoring officers even do it outside the country, in cases of international adoption

What your last word for prospective parents seeking for adoption?

My candid advice is that they have to be patient because a lot of people complain that the processes are rigorous. We are dealing with lives here. They are not commodities that you can trade in and out. We don’t want to keep the kids here either.

Much as we want to give them out, we also want them to be adopted into clean, happy and loving environment. They have already gone through so much before coming to the home, so, it would be criminal if they are not properly taken care of in their new homes. When you take in a child, show him much love as you would love to be loved. Remember, all you have gone through before getting the child

Do you have parents who have come repeatedly for children?

Yes, we have one or two cases like that

Does adopting a child more than once make the process less cumbersome?

No, they still go through the same process but for them to come for another child, it means they are happy the first one

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