PRESIDENT of the Rapidfire Kidz Foundation, attorney Kevin Ratiram has made an appeal for TT to start adopting children who are languishing in homes throughout the country.
Ratiram said, in TT, the word adoption was almost taboo and called for a national conversation to begin on the subject.
Quoting statistics provide by the Children’s Authority, Ratiram said there were 651 children, ages two and upwards, living in 40 orphanages/children’s homes across the country.
He said some had been abandoned by their parents, some parents were in jail, while the parents of others had died
He said over the past four years, 33 adoption orders were made by the court and as of July, there were 62 people on a waiting list for children to adopt.
“About eight children a year are legally adopted in TT. I have never heard anyone give this statistic on a platform. I have never heard anyone express surprise or alarm to know there are 651 children in children’s homes today and we are adopting eight a year. Something is seriously wrong with that.”
Addressing the organisation’s Annual Gala Dinner, which was attended by President Paula-Mae Weekes at Achievors Banquet Hall, San Fernando, on Saturday night, Ratiram said the children were doomed to spend their lives in those homes until adulthood because TT did not have a culture of adoption.
He said he never heard orphanages encouraging the public to adopt children from orphanages, as they were considered inferior because their parents might have been alcoholics or addicts, or not very “bright."
He defended the children his organisation had been interacting with and assisting for the past eight years, and spoke of the love and affection they showed in return.
“Many of these children would never know what it feels like to sit on a father’s lap. They will never know what it feels like to fall asleep in their mother’s arms or wake up in their mother’s arms. They are destined to remain there (in orphanages) almost forever.”
“Why is it they are not good enough to be part of us, part of our home, our families?" he questioned.
“Why are they not good enough to receive our love?
“That is why I want to make this appeal today, to not just start the conversation, but to carry it to the hilt where every child who is adoptable can be adopted.”
He said there was a lot of crime being committed by children growing up without parents.
Ratifam said the time had come, “for us to acknowledge and to understand that these children at children’s homes are not inferior. They are not damaged goods. They are the future of TT and if we don’t do our part to raise them and care for them, then tomorrow many of them would become statistics."
Weekes, who spoke briefly, commended the organisation for stepping up to fill the gaps in the social fabric of the nation.
She noted that service to others was a most demonstrable form of patriotism and good character and necessary parts of nation-building.