For many married couples, life without children feels meaningless. Having a child is the dream of many, yet for some, this desire remains unfulfilled year after year. They may attempt infertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), but the costs of such treatment is high, and the success rate is low. Furthermore, as the couple grows older, the chances of success decreases dramatically, and it can seem like a lost cause.
For some, they reach a point when they come to terms with their stark realities, and discover that all they really want is to parent a while – even if the child is not their own biological offspring. And that’s where adoption comes in.
Adoption has given, and continues to give, such couples the opportunity to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives with their adoptive children, and provides these children opportunities in life once thought unimaginable, like a roof over their heads, parents who love them, and a place to call home.
However, the adoption process is no laughing matter and should not be entered into lightly. Before kick-starting the process, both husband and wife need to be very honest with each other on whether they will really be able to accept an adopted kid into their hearts and lives. They would also need to discuss their comfort levels in terms of gender, age, ethnicity and background of the child they would like to adopt and possibly work out caregiver arrangements if they are both working full-time. Some couples might be open to adopting a special needs child, while other couples would feel unable to cope with such a responsibility.
In Singapore, the adoption process is relative quick and painless, as compared to adopting children in other countries, thanks to the systems set in place by the government. Both singles and marrieds, males and females, can adopt. The following is a step-by-step list of tasks you need to complete if you want to adopt a child.
1. Check eligibility
Find out if you are eligible to adopt. You may adopt a child if are a resident of Singapore, are at least 25 years old, and are at least 21 years older than the child.
If you are a single male, you cannot adopt a female child in the absence of special circumstances to justify the adoption. A married person cannot on his/her own adopt a child unless the consent of his/her spouse is given. (An exception is when the spouse cannot be found, is incapable of giving consent, or is living apart and the separation is likely to be permanent.)
2. Home Study Report
Singaporean couples who wish to adopt a local or foreign baby/child must complete a Home Study Report (HSR) by the MCYS’ (Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports) accredited agencies prior to adopting. This should be done before searching for a suitable child or initiating legal adoption proceedings.
A Home Study Report investigates the circumstances surrounding the adoption, as well as your own family background and current situation. It also assesses your eligibility and suitability to adopt a child, so as to safeguard the child’s best interests. A Home Study Officer from an accredited agency will do intensive interviews with you (as a couple, as well as individually) to gauge your preparedness to be an adoptive parent. If you work with an adoption agency, they can facilitate the process of completing this report. For more information, go to www.ecitizen.gov.sg
3. Start looking
Once the HSR is complete and you are declared to be suitable adoptive parents, the search begins! In Singapore, there are about 400 cases of adoptions every year, with almost half of these children having been born locally. You can choose to adopt a local baby, or one from a foreign country.
To adopt a child, you could do it on your own – through your circle of relatives and friends – or you could go via a local adoption agency, such as Lovely Baby & Child Adoption Services or Lotus Child Adoption Agency International. Do note that many of these agencies have a “waiting list” for interested adoptive parents.
4. Decide who you will adopt
Some couples may feel uncomfortable with this aspect of the adoption process, as it can feel like you are ‘shopping’ for that ‘special someone’. It can feel distressing to say ‘no’ to any kid, just because there are certain criteria you have in mind.
Take heart that many adoptive parents have gone through this before you, and if you have any friends who have had similar experiences, sharing with them your misgivings may help. That said, when all’s said and done, adoption is a business, and the agencies will try to ‘sell’ or promote certain children to you, according to your stated preferences. Be honest with them and yourselves – after all, this is a commitment for life.
5. Sign and submit (a ton of) the necessary paperwork
There are several documents that you will need to sign and submit to the Subordinate Courts of Singapore. If you are working with an adoption agency, A legal document, “Agreement to Adoption” will be signed by both the adoptive parents and the adoption agency. This Legal document facilitates a better understanding and agreement between the adoptive couple and the agency. There are also medical tests for the baby to conduct, and meetings with MCYS and a lawyer. Your adoption agency would probably take you through the procedures and paperwork required.
For more information on the adoption process and steps involved, see here.
By Dorothea Chow