Indeed, there are still many kind hearts in the world who would risk giving love and shelter to some of our less fortunate children in the Philippines. I am not talking of street children who have less in life and even less in love, but also babies who are abandoned in some shelters, left in front of churches, or homes of some affluent families.
Recently, I encountered Philippine Sen. Pia Cayetano, who opened her world to the public by allowing herself to be interviewed about her new love: Rene Lucas, a toddler she recently welcomed into her home and whom she plans to adopt as her own.
Cayetano outpoured her emotions during our brief interview, and the experience gave me a glimpse of how she is as a mother, as a person.
There is a pending proposal to enact the country’s Foster Parenting Act of 2010. It stipulates that the State recognizes that in most cases, a child benefit more from Foster Care that institutional care. Towards this end, the State shall symtematize and enhance the Foster Care program in the country.
Once approved into law, it shall ensure that the foster family shall provide a wholesome atmosphere for the foster child. Foster Care is also seen as an important step towards the child’s return and reintegration to his biological parents and placement with an adoptive family.
“So if you have the heart to be a temporary parent, then it’s okay. The intention (of foster parenting) is to have a permanent home. Then to be in one loving home before moving to a permanent home, then this will have an impact,” Cayetano explained.
“My objective is that the government’s foster care program be given support since statistic show that we have many children in the streets. A child needs foster care should be given a loving family, not necessarily well off. I hope the government gives enough support,” Cayetano added.
Cayetano noted that “the cost of lost opportunity to rear a productive Filipino is so hard to compute.” “But what will it cost us if this individual becomes a gang member or a drug addict?,” she said.
The proposed law also aims to protect the rights of the biological child of the foster family, and ensure that in no case shall he be disadvantaged as a result of the placement of the foster child.
Those who may be eligible for foster care are: an abandoned, surrendered, neglected, dependent or orphaned child; a child who is a victim of sexual, physical, or any form of abuse or exploitation; a child with development and/or physical disability; a child whose family members are temporarily or permanently unable to provide the child with adequate care; a child awaiting adoptive placement; and a child whose adoption has been disrupted.
An applicant for foster parent shall meet all qualifications mandated by law—legal age; must have a good moral character, emotional maturity, physically and mentally capable and whose resources are able to provide for the family’s needs; must have a healthy and harmonious relationship with each family member; must have genuine interest, capacity and commitment in parenting and is able to provide a family atmosphere for the child; and must be willing to be trained to further hone his knowledge, attitude and skills for caring a child.
A foreigner who possesses the same qualifications, and who has resided in the Philippines for at least six months may qualify as a foster parent.
There are provisions for assistance and incentives for foster parent under the proposed law, but it also includes penalties for any foster parent found to be committing any act of neglect, abuse, cruelty or exploitation against the foster child.
PRESIDENT AQUINO HAS SIGNED THE FOSTER CARE ACT OF 2012 LAST JUNE 21.