World Bulletin / News Desk
The number of children of Turkish origin taken from families and given to foster parents in the Netherlands has been on the rise, an issue that has become the most important problem facing the Turkish community in the country.
Experts say a short-term solution to the issue, expected to be raised in Turkish premier's visit to the Netherlands next week, lies in increasing the number of Muslim foster parents.
According to the Dutch statistics authority, the number of children taken from their families and given to foster parents increased last year by 1,500 to 8,000, while the number
of children supervised by the Bureau for Youth Care totals 31,000.
It is not possible to know how many among them are of Turkish origin since ethnic origin is not recorded. However, Ozcan Hidir, a professor at the Islamic University of Rotterdam, thinks one fifth of these children come from Muslim families.
"Muslim families are not sensitive enough to this issue," said another scholar with the Islamic University of Europe.
Professor Mehmet Sari believes the number of Muslim foster parents in the Netherlands is around 100 while Turkish children taken from their families number in the thousands.
"Muslim foster parents are simply too few in a Turkish community of 400,000," Sari said.
Fear and prejudice are the major difficulties between families and the Bureau for Youth Care, said Hasan Kucuk, a member of the Hague city council for the Islam Democrats party.
"Families need to act calmly. Not every child in supervision is taken away from their homes," said Kucuk, adding that the most prevalent reason for children to be given to foster care is economic problems.
Kucuk hopes that issues related to bureaus for youth care will abate once the bureaus are taken over by local administrations, a policy change expected by 2015 the latest.
In a stark example of family suffering due to foster care practices, 12 year-old G. lives in a youth care dormitory because of discipline problems in school and weight issues. G. can meet with his family only once a week.
"We look forward to weekends so we can see our son. Nightmare comes back once the weekend is over," said G.'s mother Nursel Ceylan. "He doesn't want to go and holds us responsible for it. He asks: 'Why are you sending me away-' I can't find anything to say."
In another case of family drama, Fatma Kardelen was reunited with her children a year after they were taken into foster care, but only as a result of a hard-fought legal battle.
"I was trying to refute every one of the arguments brought forth by [officials] by examining them in detail," said Kardelen. "I finally succeeded, but it took a great deal of patience."
In the Netherlands, parental rights are accorded by court decisions.
"It is very important that families look into themselves and problems within the family should not be overlooked," said Adem Kotan, a lawyer and a legal expert on parental rights cases.
"Incidents of domestic violence witnessed by children are regarded as direct acts of violence against them."
To avoid facing legal difficulties, Kotan advises parents to comply with decisions taken by youth care officials and act preemptively in seeking legal council.
Last Mod: 19 Mart 2013, 12:21