To talk about adoption in Cuba is not frequent; however it’s not impossible. Couples who cannot have children see in this procedure as the only choice to have family
Photo: Roberto SuarezZoom
«You didn’t come out from my belly; but from my heart. » In this way Ofelia explained Talia when she was barely five-years old and she stroked her belly asking if that was the place from which she was born. Talia is a teenager now, and she knows she is not joined by blood ties to the family who has given her so much love, and she lives happily, sharing that happiness.
«We want to adopt Camila now when she is nine years old, because we are not so young as to assume the education of a younger daughter. We talked to Talia since the very beginning, and she always agreed that a girl like her, who didn’t have a family, could enjoy of a family where love is always present. She told us that if she could have a big house, she wouldl live with all the small children who are living in homes for minors without family protection. »
Talking to Ofelia and Ariel, her husband, brought not very pleasant memories to light. «I always wanted to be a mother; but I lost the possibility of carrying out a normal pregnancy when I was 24 years old and had to undergo a surgical procedure because of an accident. At that time, my husband and I wanted to apply for assisted reproduction; but that process was very slow, and we decided to find out everything related to adoption.
«Hardly anybody knew how to guide us. I was told about the homes for children without filial protection, where maybe we could find a child to live with us. And I called directory enquiries to find these centers. After several telephone calls, I was told in Holguin that the possibility of being a substitute family already existed, so in this way I would be closer to the adoption as an alternative. I was instructed also about this process at an international level; however, we would have to assume a lot of expenses to do so, and it was not possible for us.
«Having these antecedents, I went to the Provincial Educational Authority for more information. I received better explanations there, I filled in the corresponding forms for this process and after four years of searching, Talia appeared, she was three years old, and from the very first day we knew she would be our daughter, as has happened with Camila as well. »
Now, Ofelia and Ariel enjoy the happiness that Camila spreads in the entire home. Ariel describes her as a restless, vivacious, chatty girl, who likes to sing, swim and dance. «I had to work in the maintenance brigade at the home where she lived, and from the very moment I saw her, I felt she was the missing child in our home. When Ofelia met her, she agreed with me, so we decided to be the substitute family until the legal process for adoption could be finished. And we are happy now, because the family has enlarged. »
Ofelia is happy, because Camila is a very well-educated child girl, and this shows she was well-taught in the center where she lived. «At the beginning it was very difficult to sleep at night, and she woke up very early in the morning following the routine in the home for children without filial protection where she had grown up. Little by little she became adapted to her new life, and she teaches us what she learned, she helps us in everything and she is always ready to learn. »
When you give love, you receive love, Ofelia assures. «We love our daughters very much, and we wish that other couples could know about the adoption process in Cuba, that they could receive the right orientation, so they can achieve the experience of being a parent if they have the requirements established. Everybody needs a family, and there are many ways for building it. »
Sensitivity and Legality
Adoptions constitutes a very sensitive matter and it isn’t a mass process in Cuba where it’s carried out only in function for a better development and education of the minor, creating between the adopter and the adopted child a relationship like that existing between parents and children.
According to Law 1289/75 of the Family Code, from this relationship derives the same rights and duties established in the parent-filial relations, and the legal parent-filial ties and family relationship that would exist between the adopted children and their parents or the blood family of the latter.
Talking about adoption is not frequent in Cuba, however it isn’t a fanciful process. This is assured by the methodologists in Special Teaching from the Education Ministry (Mined) María Caridad García Véliz, Rolando Gómez Macías and Derliana Pentón Hernández, who think that it’s important to spread information about what families have to do if they want to adopt.
Juventud Rebelde inquired about the knowledge on this topic and many Cubans, like Mario Díaz from Havana, said that this matter has been treated with discretion. «A lot of couples who have fertility difficulties, express their desire to adopt a minor, preferably a baby; but they don’t know where to go to do apply for adoption. »
«At present it’s rare that someone abandons or neglects a child, and this could be the reason why it’s not possible to talk about adoption very often. However, I know that those existing cases receive good attention from the State, because the childrens protection is a priority in all the spheres, » Juan García assures.
Sonia Castillo doesn’t know about the process and she hasn’t met any people who have faced it. «I’m not quite sure if it’s allowed to talk about that topic, » she said. While Hilda Gómez thinks that this legal practice «could be expanded, since there are some couples who cannot have children, and some children who don’t have parents. »
There are many cases of people who have raised children though they aren’t their biological children, and ties of affection are created without needing to establish the legal process for adoption, Mario Martínez assures, and he adds that this happens because people don’t know or because they have never faced a situation that requires the fulfillment of this legal procedure.
Ofelia, who at present is enjoying her daughters Talía and Camila, recognized during the conversation with the reporters from JR that the information regarding adoption is poor in general, however, it doesn’t makes it a taboo topic.
Katia Ferrer said she knew of the process and the way that it’s applied for, «but, I guess that families with adopted children are few because most of the time they want to have a baby, who has a certain physical similarity... And I don’t believe this search could be easier, mainly because the majority of the children in homes without filial protection are the older ones. »
According to executives of the Mined, there aren’t many cases where the necessary requirements for adoption cannot be achieved. The requirements include that minors be under 16 years old having unknown parents, or because they had been intentionally abandoned by their parents, or they have been abandoned by any cause and they don’t receive the proper care from their relatives or other person who can offer it, being the reason why they are admitted in a mixed daycare or home for minors without filial protection.
Likewise, the extinction of the custody of the parents because of their death, or because for any reason both parents had been deprived of custody, is also taken into account. In addition, it’s also analyzed for adoption the cases where the parents of the minor agree to give the child for adoption.
Benefits for All
Luisa Eduviges Riesgo Tamés, also a methodologist at the Provincial Educational Authority in Havana, having more than ten years of experience in the attention for homes for minors without filial protection, admits that the adoption process brings benefits to the child, because the child is received into the bosom of a family that watches over the education and care of the child, and at the same time, the couple achieves the satisfaction of having the roles of mother and father.
She insists upon the fact that the adoption should always be carried out in a legal way to be valid and having legal effects. Its authorization will be achieved through the voluntary jurisdiction file, as is established by Law 1289/75 of the Family Code, and by the Law Decree No. 76, of 1984, and Resolution 48 of the Mined, regarding adoption, homes for minors and the substitute family.
—What are the requirements to be fulfilled by the person who wants to adopt?
—Being 25-years old, to be in full possession of the civil and political rights, having an economic situation that allows paying for the economic needs of the adopted child. In addition, the health conditions, working ties, style of life of the person who wants to adopt, are assessed. Likewise the adopters have to be at least 15 years older than the adopted child. And from these requirements a file is made up with the required information and the verifications done.
«In the cases of those who are in the homes, ties of empathy with the aspiring couple are established during the visits at week-ends, times where they can see each other under the supervision of a social worker and the staff of the centers of Social Assistance, until the moment when the Municipal People’s court approves adoption or refuses it .
«During and after the adoption process, it’s also taking into account that brothers or sisters shouldn’t be separated, and when this is not possible because the adoptive family has no conditions for two or more, it’s a condition that both children keep the link and they know they are brothers or sisters.
«Likewise, in the cases of adoption or subjection to tutelage, the relation of attention to the adopting family or tutor by the institution where the minor is coming from, will be kept to make easier the solution of any situation that could take place, for the benefit and good-development of the education of the minor. »
— Have adopting families to be substitute families first?
—No necessarily. This can be a step of the process, though not all children who have been adopted have had a substitute family before. However, we use the same terminology when a family who wants to adopt shares time with the minor before the fulfillment of the official process.
«Those who want to be a substitute family of minors who are in mixed daycares and homes for children without family protection, and who fulfill the requirements for that, can be linked to the minor and take part of the minor’s care; however, it’s not compulsory that later they choose adoption. »
—Is adoption handled with discretion?
—Psychologists who give advice on this process, recommend always to tell the truth to the minor for allowing the minor to grow up in an environment of confidence, and respect for the minor’s right to know the truth about the minor’s origin. Some couples prefer to keep the biological roots of the new member of the family a secret, so if the child is a baby, they used to exchange their home or they moved to another city to handle such sensitive information when the baby grows up, without the interference of other people in this matter.
With the aim of looking into other matters dealing with adoption, after a month of being requested this journal finally got the interview with the Attorney’s General Office (FGR), whose role is essential as the legal entity in the process of adoption watching over the children’s well-being.
The Head of the Department of Civil, Administrative, Labor and other Affairs of the Direction of Citizen Rights Protection of the FGR, Specialist Idania Silot Navarro said this institution mediates in the process of providing all the necessary information through deep inquiries which prove that being part of a new family will be favorable for the child.
“After the application for adoption is made by the couple the dossier to be handed in the Municipal Court, is opened and is transferred to the prosecutor for the subsequent emission of a report backed by deep inquiries validating the process as permissible.”
Silot Navarro stressed that in the case of mixed childcare centres and children’s homes, the prosecutors are instructed to visit these centres regularly and check the compliance with the established law, revise the social background of every child, adolescent or youngster, as well as protecting their rights, assets and interests, in compliance with Law 83, Law on Public Prosecutor’s Office.
“The adoption procedure of children living in these educational institutions is uncommon, due to the protection offered by the state. Often we do interfere in the adoption processes petitioned by some spouses eager to take as their own child his or her partner’s, and that of one of the child’s close relatives.”
The specialist stressed that the loss of custody by the parents is essential for legalizing the adoption. “the extinction or suppression of parental custody is also done on the basis of a legally supported and sustained judicial process.”
The Supreme People’s Court has a special protective function in the adoption process, since the children’s future life is at stake, considering children of people other than those who brought them to life, said Chair of the Civil and Administrative Section of the Supreme People’s Court (TSP), and Judge Yanet Alfaro Guillén.
In the last ten years 452 applications have been presented at the Municipal People’s Courts, mostly from couples wishing to adopt children, who are not in the children’s homes.
“Unfortunately, there is no promotion and publication on the steps for the adoption of children living in state centres. Few cases have been reported in the last decade, as the number of children and adolescents keeping their orphan condition is low”, said Díaz Tenreiro, adding that through the years guardianship, has been used most of all, which is a type of protection until the child comes of age, when necessary.
Alfaro Guillén added that the adoption process is quite easy, since it is proceeded on voluntary jurisdiction, in other words, its completion is scheduled for two months on the average after been presented to the Court. “It is not complex and is easy to understand by the interested parties.”
During the inquiry by the Court summons the legal persons, the lay judges, the official institutions and the social and mass organizations which are required to know who the petitioners are, and as long as the biological parents exist they are taken into account in the process.
“In addition a prosecutor must give a report of the case, where the child’s benefits and the advantages the adoption would bring are reflected, according to the set requirements in the Family Code.
“If the child is seven years of age or older, the court shall explore their will in this respect. Nonetheless, the 216 Instruction of the Supreme People’s Court Government Council establishes that, if necessary, the court will summon the child who is able to have say, even when he or she is under the established age.
“The work of a multidisciplinary team made up by non-lawyer professionals of medical, psychological, pedagogical and sociological sciences is decisive for the solution of some of the most complex lawsuits taking place in this field, since it provides elements and viewpoints which complement the decision to be adopted by the Court”, he said.
The specialists add that once the verifications are done a judicial resolution is pronounced allowing or disallowing the adoption expressing the conditions under which it will be constituted. “In this, the court will determine, according to the request made, if the adoptee will keep their original family name or will take that of the adopters. The said resolution shall be put in writing in the Civil Registry of the adoptee’s birth certificate to all legal effects.”
The specialists added that the opposition to the adoption might arise, although this is not as common as the reversibility of the process, when the adoptee loses family ties with the adopters and do not gain back those he or she had with the biological family.
Amid the law updating process taking place in the country, the interviewees from all bodies and institutions agree ion the fact that adoption is one of the most complete judicial institution existing in the Family Code, so it does not need significant changes.
As Ofelia and Ariel said, the physiological act of having a child is wonderful, but when adopting they are aware that parenting is more than carrying a child in the womb. For them, to give all the love they can and receive a hug, a kiss in return, or hear the words mum and dad in the voices of Talía and Camila is the biggest happiness of the world.
Those residing abroad have the right to adopt children in our country, as well as Cuban couples can apply for the adoption of a child in another country, a process which is closely monitored by the Ministry of Justice, an institution which to this date has not responded to the interview requested by Juventud Rebelde about this topic last January.
By talking with Head of the Department of Civil, Administrative, Labor and other Affairs of the Direction of Citizen Rights Protection of the FGR, Specialist Idania Silot Navarro we could know that this practice is rare in Cuba, even when it is supported by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The effects of the change of environment on the child, who have to adapt to another language and habits, but especially if any kind of unscrupulous adoption, associated with organ trafficking or child prostitution is suspected, since abroad we have no mechanism to defend that child, she added.
When reviewing the Agreement dealing with Child Protection and Cooperation regarding International Adoption, dated on May 29th ,1993, subscribed by our country, we could see that the legal lines are well defined for considering international adoption as an alternative through which the child will be permanently adopted by a family unable to procreate.
The document establishes the guarantees for the process to take place considering the child’s interests and the respect to his or her fundamental rights and promotes the establishment of a cooperation system between two States to prevent abduction, sale or trafficking of children.
Translated by ESTI