Forum: Adoption - Kids flourish best with both a father and a mother present

I applaud the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) for its letter, "Steps taken to address pain points of single parents, adoptions" (Aug 2).

As a society, we need to support single parents while encouraging parenthood within marriage. This is because children have the best chance to flourish in life when raised by both a father and a mother.

Depriving children of a father or a mother can affect their identity formation and overall development. Fathers and mothers offer distinct and complementary benefits to children. They are not completely interchangeable.

Connection with both parents, exposure to healthy gender differences and absorbing lived experiences are key to the development of a child's social and emotional well-being.

According to sociological evidence, children fare best on virtually every examined indicator when raised by their married biological parents. Studies that control for factors such as poverty and even genetics suggest that children raised in intact homes do best on educational achievement, emotional health, familial and sexual development, and rates of delinquency and incarceration.

MSF's new Adoption of Children Act shows social responsibility for the welfare of children by offering adopted children, who have been separated from their biological parents, a form of connection and stability. Such a policy is aligned with our national values that celebrate the family as the basic building block of our society.

This is not to suggest that single parents are incapable of offering an environment that is stable and secure for a child.

My experience in the fostering scene in Singapore informs me that single, divorced or widowed people can be just as capable of providing safe and nurturing environments. However, from the child's perspective, a parent is still missing.

Placing a child's welfare at the heart of adoption should therefore mean advocating for children to be adopted by families that can provide the child with a father and a mother figure.

This prioritises the needs and rights of children to be placed in an environment where there is maximal potential to flourish.

Norman Ng

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