Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Parents adopting their own children

Unwed mum adopts own biological daughter
Ms Tan (not her real name) started the adoption process for her 2-year-old daughter last August. They now live with Ms Tan's parents in her brother's marital home. Once the adoption goes through, she plans to buy a built-to-order flat in her & her daughter's names. ST FOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Within the month, 2-yr-old Lorraine Tan (not her real name) will be formally adopted.

She & her adoptive mum will then be treated as any mother and daughter - they will be legally recognised as a family nucleus.

The unique thing about this story: Little Lorraine is not an orphan awaiting a new home. She is a child born out of wedlock who is being adopted by her biological mother.

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No extra perks if unwed mums adopt own children

We thank Ms Lynne Tan Sok Hiang, Dr Lee Woon Kwang & the Association of Women for Action & Research for their letters (Legitimate or not, every child is important, May 15; All children deserve equal treatment, Forum Online, & May 14: Time to do away with 'illegitimacy', Forum Online, May 13, respectively).

We recognise the challenges that many unwed mothers face.

This is why, currently, all S'porean children get to enjoy the entire suite of Government benefits that support their growth & development, regardless of the marital status of their parents.

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No housing benefit even if unwed mothers adopt their own children: MSF

“Benefits such as the Baby Bonus Cash Gift and housing benefits are tied to the parent’s marital status,” the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said in a letter to the Straits Times on Thursday, 25 May.

The ministry was responding to earlier letters to the press on the subject of assistance for and the legitimacy of unwed mothers.

“The benefits will not be extended even if an unwed mother adopts her own child, as they are meant to encourage parenthood within marriage,” wrote Yee Siaw Ling, Director of the MSF’s Family Service Division.

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AWARE Singapore 8 hrs

MSF clarifies that "the Baby Bonus Cash Gift and housing benefits are tied to the parent's marital status" and "will not be extended even if an unwed mother adopts her own child, as they are meant to encourage parenthood within marriage", in a letter where the title disagreeably implies that support for housing is an "extra perk". The letter does not deal at all with the unequal treatment of these children in inheritance law and with regard to tax reliefs.

Housing is a basic need which is absolutely fundamental; it should not be used in this carrot-and-stick way at the expense of meeting needs. MSF makes a distinction in this letter between benefits that support "growth and development" of the child, and those that "encourage parenthood", but any serious assessment of children's needs must recognise the harmful and destabilising impact of not being able to access affordable housing. Bear in mind that it's not just housing subsidies that unmarried parents cannot receive: HDB rules bar them from unsubsidised purchase until they are aged 35.

The reasoning for the Baby Bonus cash gift is rather odd when you consider that divorcees and widows who adopt a child can receive this too, Is the idea simply that having previously been married makes you more deserving of support as a parent? This seems to set up a strange and arbitrary division between never-married and divorced/widowed unmarried parents.

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Reconsider classification of children as legitimate or illegitimate

The Social & Family Development Ministry stated recently that the Government provides support & benefits for the care & development of all Singaporean children, regardless of their mother’s marital status.

This is despite the disparity in entitlements for married & unwed mothers in areas such as housing, childcare and maternity leave. (“Withholding childcare benefits only penalises single parents”; Nov 11)

While the ministry distinguishes between support for children and incentives to encourage childbirth within marriages, the social and economic impact of these policies is to place some children at an advantage and others at a disadvantage.

Aware calls for more inclusive housing policies for single parents
Why I Chose To Be A Single Mother (Elle)

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Single mum: 'Doesn't my child count?'
NOT FOR EVERYONE: Unwed mothers have no access to Parenthood Tax Rebates & the Baby Bonus

Only the traditional model of a family receives full benefits for the child. What is life like for non-traditional families?

Her family never knew she was pregnant - and unmarried. They were not there when Ivana (not her real name), 36, gave birth. She broke the news to them only last week, when her son turned 3 months old.

And they were not happy.

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AWARE to launch petition to call for changes to housing policies for single parents and their children
To mark Mother’s Day (14 May) and International Day of Families (15 May), AWARE will launch on 15 May a petition bringing together single parents, their children and supporters in calling for changes to housing policies

The Singapore’s leading women’s rights and gender equality advocacy group is launching its petition accompanied by a powerful video (“Single Parents Talk Housing”) with six single mothers speaking candidly about the challenges they have faced in obtaining housing.

“Complicated rules that favour married couples leave single-parent families with long waits, frequent house moves, overcrowding, strained family relationships, financial drain, and stress,” said Jolene Tan, Head of Advocacy and Research at AWARE.

“Encouraging them to apply for case-by-case waivers or go to MPs is burdensome and leaves many with unmet needs - it is better for the rules to be clearer and more inclusive from the start, and for HDB to more proactively provide guidance and support.”

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Single parents need more inclusive policies on public housing

Public housing policies create serious difficulties for single parents and should be amended to be more inclusive, according to a report released by AWARE today.

The study (with accompanying Annexes) involved in-depth interviews with 55 single mothers and found 95% of interviewees who sought public housing faced problems, from unrealistic income ceilings and long debarment periods to a lack of transparency and clarity in policies. Their families experienced stress, uncertainty and financial pressure, with many reporting overcrowding and tension in relatives’ homes, and frustration with poorly explained and uncertain processes – such as the need for multiple applications or appeals to MPs.

The respondents were mothers who were unmarried, divorced, widowed or with spouses in prison. Many faced financial disadvantage, particularly divorced women who contributed years of unpaid care-giving during their marriages, putting into question the common misconception that single parents are well-resourced due to post-divorce sales of matrimonial flats.

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Single, unwed mother adopts biological child to get equal benefits as legitimate children
Under the current Baby Bonus Cash Gift criteria, unwed parents cannot claim cash benefits for their child

In order to benefit from government assistance in Singapore, some single mothers are taking the drastic measure of adopting their own child.

In a Straits Times report on 11 May, Ms Tan (not her real name), a single parent, started her adoption process last August after she noticed a Facebook page belonging to a support group for single parents. She said to Straits Times (ST), "I saw a post talking about adoption. One woman left a comment saying that she did it for less than $1,000. So I sent her a message and asked her how she did it."

What adopting your own child essentially means is that it would 'normalise' a family nucleus and allow the child to have all the rights that a child born to a married couple would have. This would include housing, housing subsidies, the Baby Bonus cash gift, tax relief for the parent and inheritance priority.

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Unwed mum adopts own biological daughter

Currently, the differences between legitimate and illegitimate children are benefits such as housing, housing subsidies, the Baby Bonus cash gift, tax relief for the parent and inheritance priority.

Under the Intestate Succession Act, an illegitimate child ranks behind the spouse and legitimate children when it comes to inheritance.

In Parliament last year, the MSF said: "Parents who want to leave something for their illegitimate child should make a will."

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I’m an unmarried mother, and my child is a Singapore citizen.

Am I eligible for extended Government-Paid Maternity Leave?

Maternity leave benefits will be extended to eligible unwed mothers whose Singaporean child is born or has an estimated delivery date (EDD) on or after 1 January 2017.

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Can I adopt my own baby in order to entitle to baby bonus?

Hi, I'm a single mom with a pair of twin boys, they are now 2.3 y.o.

I saw on a website stating that I can adopt my own baby so that they can be entitle to baby bonus plus I can claim for tax rebate, I check with some lawyers but they are not aware of such, does any mom here have done that too?

Another question is, my sons are starting to talk, soon they will ask me where is their dad, I do not want them to know who their dad is, any mom here able to share some advice?

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What Are the Child Custody Laws For Unmarried Parents in Singapore?
“The law on custody, care, control and access is the same for for both married and unmarried couples.” --Rajan Chettiar

Q: My partner and I are not married but want to separate. Will the Court recognise our relationship?

Singapore law does not recognise the rights of unmarried couples. The only rights unmarried couples have are in relation to children born out of the relationships. The law on custody, care and control and access is the same for married and unmarried couples. Unmarried female partners cannot claim for maintenance for themselves from their male partner but they can claim maintenance for their children from the father.

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