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Homeless Children in Romania, Research Paper Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1258

Research Paper

Each year, thousands of children are abandoned in Romania. Most of them are dumped in hospitals and maternities only days after birth, or are abandoned in the first three years of life. Many are taken from their families due to the poor conditions of living, or because they are abused. From the moment they become institutionalized, the chances of being reintegrated in a family are very poor, because of the strict adoption laws, and because of the inefficient bureaucratic system that forbids children to become adoptable until they are too old and nobody wants them anymore.  Many of them end up on the streets because of the abuses and mistreated they are subject to while in the care of the state. All the problems mentioned above are extremely serious, and they persist because the government has failed until now to address these problems effectively and to find viable solutions. The solutions to these problems must address both fundamental problems enumerated above, namely, the socio-economic conditions that lead to mothers abandoning their children and the ineffective laws and regulations concerning the protection of homeless children.

The fundamental factor that contributes to the outrageous number of homeless children in this country is socio-economical. Most of the mothers who abandon their children do not have the means to raise them, and very often, they have other children at home and cannot provide for another one. They are not only unemployed, but also uneducated, so they cannot aspire to a better life. Moreover, they do not know how to protect themselves in order to prevent a new pregnancy or do not have the financial means to get an abortion, or to buy contraceptive pills. All these women choose to give up their children once they are born, because they do not see any other alternative. Support centers for such mothers are scarce, and where they exist, the women, often from the countryside, or ignorant about their rights, do not know about them.

Another large category of women who are likely to abandon their children, are those who become mothers very young, and are afraid of the social ostracism, of their parents’ reaction, or simply do not have the financial and psychological disposition to take care of another human being. In Romania, the proportion of women who become mothers before they reach adulthood is very high. This is due to the same lack of access to information and to means and pregnancy prevention. In addition, in Romania, the society still condemns adolescent girls who start their sexual life, and therefore, girls usually do not talk about their concerns with families, teachers or family planning counselors and they rarely abort their children, preferring to hide their pregnancies and give birth in secret.

Once abandoned by their mothers, the inefficiency of the bureaucratic system adds to the problem. In Romania, children become adoptable only after the mother and all the relatives up to the fourth grade consent to the adoption. This can take years, and until the child becomes adoptable, he is already too old to have the chance of being adopted.  Alongside with this problem, potential adoptive parents are also discouraged by the amount of paperwork required, and by the long period of time they have to wait in order to have the chance of receiving a child. Also, the law in Romania does not allow the separation of brothers, and often, adoptive families do not want to adopt two or three children at the same time. Therefore, these children will not have the chance to have a home of their own.

Once they are too old to be considered children, they will have to leave the institutions where they grew up and often, will have no other choice than living on the streets. Even though in the past few years, the government has done much to improve the conditions in orphanages, and to monitor foster parents, children often choose to try their luck on the streets, instead of living with their foster parents, or in an orphanage. Either they feel that they want to take their lives into their own hands, or they were abused in the orphanages and by their foster parents, many of these children reach the conclusion that living in the tunnels, with other children or in abandoned buildings or cars is better than in the state’s care. For these children, the future does not look bright, as they usually start taking drugs, drinking, stealing and begging in order to survive on their own from very young ages.

In what mothers are concerned, the government must take active measures in order to make sure that young women are informed about their options and know how to protect themselves from an unwanted pregnancy. First, children should have sexual education classes, in which the emphasis should be placed on sexual health and contraceptive methods, rather than on promoting abstinence, which is an unrealistic manner of dealing with the problem. Then, more family planning centers, specialized in helping girls who look for information and provide them with moral support as well as contraceptives, should be opened all over the country. These centers should also support young mothers, mediate the conflict with their families, and provide them with a shelter when they have nowhere to go with the child. Finally, specialized personnel in maternities should evaluate future mothers and recognize the ones who are likely to abandon their children. By talking to them, and trying to help them find alternative solutions other than abandonment, progress may be made in this direction.

The second set of solutions that are discussed here concern the children protection laws existent in the country. Even though the adoption law was modified in 2012, there is still very much to be done. The most important step is to simplify the adoption process so that abandoned children may be adopted much sooner than they are now, so that they may have the best chances of being adopted. Although I do not think that harshening the  punishment for mothers who abandon their children would be an effective method of persuading them to keep their children, I do consider that abandoning their children in conditions in which they are likely to die (outside in the cold, for example), should lead to immediate termination of their rights as mothers.  Also, the adoption process should be simplified, and adoptive parents should be encouraged, and presented with multiple options regarding their adoption. In order for the adoption processes to end faster, special tribunals for the children should be established in the country.  Finally, the conditions of living of the institutionalized children should be improved, but also, the personnel should be qualified to work with traumatized children, and children with developmental problems. Also, the foster families should be controlled more regularly, and maternal assistants should be supported better by the state, because many of them give up working with children due to financial distress.

Therefore, as the paper tried to show, the task of decreasing the number of homeless children in Romania is twofold. First, authorities must establish a profile of the mother who is likely to abandon her child, must find solutions to help mothers in difficulty and must offer support to young mothers. Second, the government should pass laws to simplify the adoption process and to decrease the period of time until a child becomes adoptable. It is only by applying a double strategy that aims both at decreasing the number abandoned children and at finding new homes for the orphans, that the problem of the homeless children will be solved.

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