By Bolaji Odumade & Omolara Otuyemi.
That the process of adoption has become better in Lagos State is further substantiated by a letter of commendation received by Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu from a beneficiary of the improved procedure.
The beneficiary extoled the State Ministry of Youth and Social Development for the efficient process of child adoption in the state. At one of the weekly State Executive Council meetings, an elated Governor Sanwo-Olu honoured and celebrated the team of officers from the Ministry that spearheaded the transformed process.
Speaking at the brief but inspiring event, Sanwo-Olu described quality service delivery as a benchmark of excellence in the public service.
The governor said he was not going to wait till the end of the year before rewarding and recognizing those that truly deserve it. According to him, since the officers have demonstrated uncommon dedication and diligence in the discharge of their duty, they deserve to be celebrated.
To further boost the morale of the officers, Sanwo-Olu pledged a bus each to the Child Adoption Unit as well as Child Development Department.
While promising to further empower the officers to be more dedicated in the discharge of their duties, Sanwo-Olu also promised the officers personal gifts. Similarly, he directed that letters of recommendation be given to the officers by the Head of Service.
Responding on behalf of the Ministry, the Commissioner, Mr. Olusegun Dawodu, stated that in view of the essential role of the Adoption and Fostering Unit, he has personally lent supporting hands to ensure that it does not fall short of public expectations.
He said that with the rise in cases of infertility and the attended increase in the number of people who apply for adoption, it has been a very viable option through which many families have been given opportunity to have a child/children they can call their own.
The Commissioner further noted that adoption offers many vulnerable children the opportunity to grow in a safe, conducive and decent family environment. He stressed that many of such children are doing well in their various callings across the world.
Dawodu also disclosed that, as part of efforts to make the adoption process robust and transparent, innovative approaches to tackle challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19 have been put in place at all orphanages in the state.
He also revealed that provisions of the Child’s Right Law 2015 (Sections 119&119), which specify the criteria that must be met by both the prospective adopters and the child who may be adopted, are being strictly adhered to.
Officers honored at the event include Director, Social Welfare, Mr. Asake Kayode, Director, Child Development, Mrs. Bukayo Odukoya, Head of Child Adoption Unit, Mrs. Agnes Olaore, Assistant Director, Social Welfare (Adoption Unit), Mrs. Femisayo Olaore, Assistant Director, Child Adoption Unit, Ipaiye Adetutu, Assistant Director, Social Welfare (Adoption Unit), Mrs. Adetutu Ipaye, Assistant Director, Social Welfare (Child Protection Unit), Mrs. Biola Osifowokan and Assistant Chief Social Welfare (Adoption) Officer, Mr. Alufa Wllington.
Adoption is a social and legal process whereby an individual or a family chooses to raise a child that is not theirs to become a permanent member of the family in the absence or with the consent of the parents.
Reasons for adoption vary from person to person. Some adopt because they feel the need to help children feel the joy of being with families, while some do so because of the need for companionship. Others do the same due to inability to procreate after marriage.
Many children who have ended up in orphanages are victim of circumstances, which may arise from abandonment, abuse, being orphaned or the parents willingly putting up the child in the state’s care due to financial incapacitation. In case of the latter, a legal seal stating that the parent have no ties with the child anymore is effected.
Choosing to adopt a child legally is a major step or a phase that can only be understood by the person that has chosen to trail the path. The adoption process is a long, maybe tedious process due to the sensitivity of the issue. Having to ensure that a child is rightly placed is crucial to both the government and the institution in charge of the child.
In Lagos State, adoption is governed by two Laws; the Child Right Act and the Lagos State Adoption Law.
The Law classifies people who are eligible to adopt to include single people from age 25 and above. Couples who are legally bounded, and have each other’s consent are also eligible. The Law, however, states that a male person is not eligible to adopt a female juvenile; neither is two people cohabiting amongst others.
With these laws put in place and the prominence of different orphanages being run in the state, it ideally should mean that a larger number of the people are quite aware of what adoption is and they will appreciate and embrace it.
However, the reverse seems to be the case as many are yet to fully come to term with the reality of adoption. This explains why a family would choose to relocate from the vicinity where they reside to avert the stigma or bullying of the adopted child. Perhaps, this is an African thing.
The advantage of adoption, however, outweighs its supposed disadvantage. Adoption prevents many vices in society. One of such is abuse. Many children are victims of physical and emotional abuse, on a daily basis. Adoption also creates a barrier for child trafficking.
Through counseling, a handful of people have understood why adoption is a better option and embracing it is by far the best therapy obtainable. Many people have attested to the therapeutic effect of child adoption, stating that starting the process is a stage of healing and fulfillment.
Currently, there is a rise in the number of children seeking to be adopted in Lagos State, which shows that adoption is gradually gaining prominence amongst the people. A lot has been said about the state’s social workers who have proficiently and diligently discharged their duties without bias.
The Ministry of Youth and social Development has the responsibility to provide a safe haven for children who are orphaned, abused or neglected or in some cases parents who have legally cut ties with the child or children, as the case maybe. The Ministry has achieved this remarkably, over the years, based on both local and international testimonies.
Protecting the children put in institutions is part of the duties of the government. That is why in Lagos State, many strategies are employed to checkmate activities of the orphanages.
Members of the public are enjoined to take advantage of the new face of adoption process in the state by offering to give hope and soccour to children who by no fault of theirs are consigned into a bleak future.
Odumade & Otuyemi are of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.