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Old 10th June 2010, 06:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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S'poreans believe adoption serves its purpose in society: survey

S'poreans believe adoption serves its purpose in society: survey

Posted: 09 June 2010 1637 hrs

SINGAPORE : Singaporeans see adoption as serving a useful function in society, according to a nationwide study conducted by the Department of Social Work at the National University of Singapore.

The benchmark study aimed to understand the attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and opinions towards adoption held by Singaporeans.

What the researchers found was that an overwhelming number of Singaporeans consider adoption as an alternative way to create a family.

Adopting a child is viewed the same as having one's own child.

But when it comes to attitudes towards adoption, the perception is mixed.

While they approve adoption and consider it to serve as an alternate form of family formation, they consider adoption to be the second best solution.

They also hold negative attitudes towards the biological parents who place their children for adoption.

The researchers were surprised to find that only 69 per cent of the respondents believed that adopted children should be told that they are adopted.

They should be told this at the age of 16.

This is inconsistent with advice by adoption workers for adoptive parents to tell the child at an early age of around 3 to 4 years old as it relates to the healthy development and psychological well-being of the child.

72 per cent of respondents also thought that adoptive parents should not tell their friends, neighbours or community about their child's adoption status.

The researchers said these findings highlight the need to raise awareness among the public about the importance of child adoption and provision of support.

The researchers believe that the findings of this study can help the relevant agencies implement appropriate policies, services, intervention programmes and awareness campaigns.

They also suggest that given the mixed findings, voluntary welfare organisations and governmental organisations should sensitise the public on child adoption.

The study was conducted among 1,200 Singapore citizens and permanent residents within the age group of 18-60 years.

Face-to-face interviews of study respondents were conducted between March and April. - CNA

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Old 13th June 2010, 01:02 AM   #2 (permalink)
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S'poreans open to adoption, but only if no choice: survey

SINGAPORE : Many Singaporeans are for the idea of adoption, but only if they have no choice.

These are the findings of a survey by the National University of Singapore.

The study was conducted on 1,200 people aged 18 to 60, by the Department of Social Work at the NUS.

40-year-old Chang Chee Siah describes her seven-year-old adopted daughter, Olivia, as blessing to the family.

She decided to adopt after trying for a baby for about four years.

Chang Chee Siah, mother of adopted child, says: "We had decided we didn't want to have any kids and there was just one gathering where we met with some friends, one of our couple friends actually adopted."

About two weeks later, they brought two-and-a-half month old baby Olivia from Jakarta to Singapore.

Madam Chang went on to give birth to a daughter and a son.

She is among a small pool of Singaporeans who turn to adoption to build a family.

This mirrors the findings of a survey in March and April this year by two researchers.

The benchmark study aims to understand the attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and opinions towards adoption held by Singaporeans.

While the majority has positive attitudes towards adoption, only 14 per cent seriously considered the option.

More than half felt adoption was not as good as having one's own child.

Close to 70 per cent feel adopted children should not be told about this - and should be told the truth when they're at least 16 years old.

The study also found that more than 70 per cent of the respondents thought that it's not wise for adoptive parents to tell the child about their status.

But experts say this is unhealthy.

It's best to "tell all" when the children are very young.

Dr Jayashree Mohanty, principal Investigator, from NUS' Department of Social Work , says: "It helps them to have more good psychological wellbeing, otherwise,) once the children become adults, 16 or 18 or 21.

"If their parents disclose their adoption identity, that means during their adult age they might go through psychological problems. For example identity crisis, low sense of identity and confusion about their own self, anxiety, all those things."

Dr Mohanty says adopted kids should be told when they're about four or five years old.

For Mdm Chang, secrecy was never an option.

She says: "I think the thing that really nailed it for me was just hearing stories where the kids are older, they found out in their late teens or in their 20s. And when the parents were trying to reconnect with their child and saying "We're sorry, it's for your good, we didn't know how to say, we didn't know how to tell you. But the child comes out and say "you didn't tell me, why should I tell you now?"

Which is why before Olivia turned two, Mdm Chang started talk to her about her parentage.

"Since young, she knew she's got two sets of parents. And as she grows older, now we're telling her this is your tummy mummy and forever mummy...Your Indonesian mummy carried you in your tummy, but I carry you in my heart and that's kind of how we talk about adoption."

While it was tricky, Mdm Chang never felt better.

"I can talk about it so openly, I can share. Adoption of Olivia was such a joyful experience, and if I couldn't share that joy, it's almost like a shameful thing and I didn't want that then to be attached to her, that she's not good enough."

However, many surveyed hold negative attitudes towards parents who place their children for adoption.

The study's other researcher, Dr Srinivasan Chokkanathan from Temasek Polytechnic's Gerontological Management Studies elaborates: "The public thinks that biological mothers and biological fathers who place their children for adoption are selfish, they're careless and totally irresponsible.

It might perhaps have to do with Asian values towards family formation. Once you give birth to a child, it's up to parents to take care of them and it's totally unethical or even unthinkable for the parents to place their child for adoption."

But he points out that there are other sides to a story.

"But what the parents or what the public do not know or think about is that the emotional trauma the biological parents or the mother has to undergo in order to place the up child for adoption. So it's not like a straightforward process."

The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports says adoptions in Singapore hovered around 400 over the last three years but this number is expected to grow.

2009, there were 419 cases, down from the 445 in 2008.

In 2007, the number was 407. More than half, or 55 per cent, were foreign children.

Dr Chokkanathan explains: "Given the low fertility rates and an even lower marriage rates, and then also an addition to these two problems, even those who marry, they marry at a later stage in life. So, adoption might play a very crucial role in family formation."

They hope the findings of this study can help the relevant agencies formulate appropriate policies, services and intervention programmes.

This, as information on this topic is very limited.

So researchers hope Voluntary Welfare Organisations and governmental organisations can sensitise the public on child adoption.

For a start, the researchers will be conducting a mini survey on about 200 professionals from next month.

The survey, which is expected to take two to three months, will form the basis for workshops that they plan to organise in future. - CNA/jy

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