Same-sex siblings policy for foster families stirs debate in İzmir
IZMIRThe İzmir provincial directorate of the Family and Social Policies Ministry has stirred controversy amid reports that it will restrict the gender of children granted to custodial parents, daily Habertürk reported on May 4.
The directorate stated that it regards the sharing of a house by children of opposite sex to be a “risk” and therefore grants foster families with children only if the child has the same gender as other children in the home, according to the report.
“Most families with male children ask for female children from the institution as they are longing for a daughter. But for the last year the institution has been saying, ‘If you have a son, we don’t entrust you with a girl,’” Rukiye Urgancı, the head of a foster family association in İzmir, was quoted as saying.
“In the same way, the institution does not place male children with families that already have daughters.
When I asked about the reason for this, the authorities said they have taken this decision in order to not put the children at risk,” Urgancı said.
She indicated that although she understands the government’s wish to protect children, it should find an alternative solution to the issue.
“You cannot address a risk in this manner. People do not decide to be custodial parents so easily, and such added barriers will only negatively affect the number of custodial families,” Urgancı added.
Nesim Tanğlay, the İzmir family and social policies provincial director, said there is currently “no legal barrier” for custodial families from opening their homes to children of a different gender from their own children.
“But we are very meticulous. If there is a boy in a home, we would of course not give away girls. If there is a risk, we don’t approve it,” Tanğlay was quoted as saying.
“Of course we cannot totally cancel out the risks. Risk can happen even in biological families. But we prefer to err on the side of caution,” he added.
There are currently 5,140 children placed in foster homes in Turkey, according to statistics quoted in the Habertürk report. There are 382 custodial families in Istanbul, 310 in İzmir, and 250 in the capital Ankara.
The Istanbul provincial directorate of the Family and Social Policies Ministry does not follow the policy of İzmir and does not impose such restrictions on the gender of children granted to custodial parents, said Neşe Gökalap, who works at a similar association in Istanbul.
“As foster families, our job is to protect the child from every kind of danger anyway. If the government is entrusting a child to a foster family within the regulations, anything else beyond that should not questioned.
There should not generalizations based on different examples,” Gökalp said.
The Ankara Custodial Families & Adoption Foundation (KOREV), however, said it finds the İzmir provincial directorate’s measures as correct.
“I find this measure to be correct. It is the government’s responsibility to protect childrens’ rights. We cannot say, ‘Every custodial family is very good, very right.’ There may also be some ill-minded people,” said KOREV board chair Ülkü Aydeniz Keklikoğlu.