PARENTS who have adopted children without proper documentation should be given the chance to legalise such ties without being penalised.
Dr James Nayagam, chairman of Suriana Welfare Society, says the authorities should not charge such parents, but offer the chance to legalise the adoption.
“Most parents with adopted children are also afraid that their child will be taken away from them if they come forward.
“Once the situation is corrected and the adoption is legal, the next step is to apply for citizenship for the child, ” he says.
Nayagam was commenting on the recent incident of a syndicate being busted by the National Registration Department (NRD) for falsifying birth documents for over 200 babies since 2009.
The syndicate allegedly charged couples, in hopes to adopt a child, a fee of between RM8,000 and RM20,000.
It was reported that the citizenship status of the child will become “not determined” as the real parents are not known.
The NRD then urged parents of children with blacklisted birth certificates to sort out the registration of their adopted children.
Nayagam says heavier penalties should be imposed on syndicates that offer such illegal adoptions as they have misled many prospective parents.
“However, I hope such children involved will not be deprived of access to education as a result of the change in their citizenship status.
“Hospitals and clinics should also continue to charge Malaysian rates for these children, ” he adds.
Nayagam also urges couples who are thinking of adopting to do their research on the legal avenues to do so.
For those who need assistance in adoption, he advises them to contact the Suriana Welfare Society’s hotline at 1-300-88-2200
Child and family psychiatrist Datuk Dr Lai Fong Hwa says the government should minimise any disruption to families who have adopted children.
“It would be good if the Social Welfare Department can set up a special unit to look into this matter and process the necessary documents so that life can go on for the children.
“They would need to continue with school and it will be good for the family’s psychological health, ” he says.
Highlighting that the adopted children are innocent, Dr Lai says it is best if they can be spared any suffering for something they did not do.
“If their adoption papers can be expedited, they may not have to face the consequences of being stateless children, ” he says.
Dr Lai also advises those who have suffered trauma from challenges in adoption to seek help from family therapists.
“These days, people are more open to receiving help for psychological problems.
“There are people who can help, and those who are in need of such assistance, should not hesitate to seek it, ” he says.