KUALA LUMPUR: Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Chew Mei Fun said the longer a child is kept in an orphanage, the more damaging it is to their upbringing.
Unlike a foster home, she said, a family setting allowed children to develop life and social skills, opportunities to develop their own identity and to feel the love of a parent.
“Leaving children in institutions and children’s homes for a long time may develop future leaders who do not have leadership qualities or the independence that is expected once they turn 18,” she said when launching Malaysia Adoption Day 2016 initiated by the OrphanCare Foundation.
She pointed out, however, that it had nothing to do with these institutions failing to carry out their duties in caring for the child. It was because of the environment that the children were growing up in, she said.
“You have to understand that in these institutions, the ones caring for the children are not their parents so there’s no parent’s love there.
“These children need to feel a parent’s love, a sense of belonging and security. These empower the children.”
Chew said statistics for homes registered with the Social Welfare Department in August 2016 showed that 969 children were living in 12 government children’s homes.
Meanwhile, OrphanCare Foundation Chairman Faizah Mohd Tahir said: “One of the biggest challenges is to find people who are willing to adopt older children, children aged two to 16 years.”
Also present at the event was 42-year-old housewife Halija Johan who had adopted four children.
She had adopted her two sons – Muhammad Haziq and Muhammad Hilmi – when they were babies, and her two daughters – Nurul Huda and Nurul Hajjar – when they were 10 and nine-years-old respectively.
Though she admitted it was easier to raise babies, she claimed that older children were more in need of care.
“When I got my daughters they had a problem with physical contact, they couldn’t even read, and they didn’t have any manners. It was challenging,” she said.
She said she also got suspicious stares from the neighbours.
“There were times I felt like giving up and returning my daughters back to the orphanages. My husband told me that there’s no giving up in love. I’m glad now that I didn’t.”