FEB. 3, 2018

Fathers and Mothers Wanted: Consider Adopting a Child in the Philippines

The United Nations’ Children’s Rights and Emergency Relief Organization estimates there are 1.8 million abandoned-orphaned children living in the Philippines. That is a startling figure, more than 1 percent of its estimated 100 plus million population. These children roam urban streets in clusters, live in make-shift homes, and must endure starvation daily. Some are more fortunate and placed into orphanages awaiting to be adopted or taken in by foster parents. They became orphans for different reasons: born into extreme poverty, victims of natural disasters and armed conflict. Or many are given up in the hope that their child might be able to be raised in homes by parents who can provide better opportunities. Some of these children end up living with relatives.

The Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the government agency tasked with finding homes for orphans, can’t keep pace with the number of homeless, orphan children coming in; many of whom end up on a waiting list until their legal eligibility age for adoption passes. The legal age for adoption in the Philippines is age 16 and under. Those who are fortunate, end up overseas. But that number is scant proportionate to need.

The U.S. State Department shows that only 1,350 Filipino children were adopted by American families between 2009 and 2015. That low figure is due to adoption bureaucracy in both countries, the U.S. and the Philippines, low interest for adoption, stigma and myths associated with adoption. In the Philippines, common complaints are understaffing and requirements of papers that often cannot be procured such as a birth certificate and parents’ death certificate.  Orphanages are scarce; and simple procedures can drag on for months. While the age limit to qualify for adoption is 16, because of the potentially long processing, it’s recommended that paperwork for adoption be initiated when the child is 14. Many children waiting for adoption processing have their time limit expire and are denied adoption after the age limit. The woefully slow process is in dire need of changes.

The DSWD allows three types of adoption in the Philippines: agency adoption, relative adoption, and independent adoption. Then there is intercountry adoption. They have different sets of requirements. The Philippines do not have a minimum income requirement but adopted parents must prove financial stability and must never have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. Philippine laws of adoption follow the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Child and must meet requirements set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In Hawaii, relative adoption in the Philippines is more common, and is viewed as the easiest way for adoption. History of the adoptee and family connection are known. This makes adopted parents more comfortable and passionate about adopting.

Adoption has proven to be a blessing for millions of families for both parents and children. In many situations, it is a gift of life, a gift of opportunity, a second chance for a child dealt with adverse circumstances. The misconception that adopting a child could lead to problems is quickly fading as more people realize that providing a safe, secure and loving home can turn any life transition into a successful one. A study by the Search Institute that examined adopted adolescents have found that adopted children score higher than their middle-class peers on a number of indicators, including school performance, social competence; and when compared to single parents, these children are less involved in alcohol abuse, fighting, vandalism, police trouble, and fares better on health measures. The study also found that adoptive parents are less likely to divorce.

Adopted children can be loved just as biological children. With the need for more adopted parents in the Philippines, families should seriously consider making the biggest difference in an orphaned child’s life by adoption. Every child deserves loving parents, a loving home, security and opportunity for a better life.

Kudos to the Hawaii International Child (HIC) that helps to connect and build families through adoption. The value of their work to humanity, to children in need, is admirable and worthy of our community’s support.


Opening Nearly All U.S. Coastal Waters for Drilling Oil Is a Mistake

I n 1969, Santa Barbara, California, Union oil’s inadequate safety precautions led to a massive oil spill that dumped 3 million gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean. This catastrophic disaster spawned the creation of Earth Day, and a more environmentally conscious nation.

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon disaster which became the largest marine oil spill in history, killed 11 workers and released 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, causing $17 billion in damages to natural resources.

Both of these events, and a string of other accidental oil spills have led to a ban on offshore drilling for gas and oil along the U.S. coastal waters.

Until now.

President Donald Trump continues his unraveling of environmental restrictions in his latest proposal to allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in practically all United States coastal waters. Energy companies will be able to lease coastal waters that span thousands upon thousands of acres for the first time in decades to drill for oil.

The Interior Department said it would open 25 of 26 regions of the outer continental shelf for drilling. It intends to grant 47 leases between 2019 and 2024, including 19 off the coast of Alaska and 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, and several areas in the Pacific.

Trump said the ban “deprives our country of potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth.”

Supporters of the proposal also say it could help reduce fuel costs and the U.S.’s dependency on imported oil.

Just recently as part of the 2017 Tax bill, Republicans’ included a roll back restriction that opened up the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, to oil and gas drilling.

The Interior Department also rescinded an Obama-era rule that would have added regulations for fracking.

What is happening is a complete disregard for environmental protection in favor of boosting energy that could have permanent repercussions.

Opponents to lifting the ban say

Environmentalists criticize Trump’s lift on the ban as a step backwards in protecting the environment. They cite the risks of offshore drilling: oil spills from oil tankers or pipelines transporting oil from the platform to onshore facilities, and from leaks. Offshore drilling also contaminates water, creating what they call “produced water” that is unusually high saline water and unseparated hydrocarbons brought to the surface along with oil and gas.

Over 60 environmental groups called the plan a “shameful giveaway” to oil companies.

Many coastal states also rely on tourism, fishing, and clean energy. Massive oil drilling off their shores hurt these states economically. Both Republicans and Democrats are opposed to the lifting of the ban.

The governors of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon and Washington have all opposed offshore drilling plans. Virginia’s governor-elect, Ralph S. Northam, a Democrat, said that expanding drilling would jeopardize his state’s tourism and fishing industries, as well as military installations. Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, also a Democrat, called drilling a “critical threat” to his state’s economy.

Challenges in the courts are certain to follow.

Senator Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, vowed to use the Congressional Review Act, which allows agency actions to be undone by Congress, to block Trump’s drilling plan.

Frank Knapp, president of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast, said thousands of small businesses, from restaurants to hotels to commercial fishing operations, oppose drilling off their states’ waters. “It’s not consistent with our vibrant tourism, fishing and recreation,” Knapp said. “Their concern is their livelihood, the local economies. We all saw what happened to the Gulf Coast with Deepwater Horizon.”

Even Republican Governor Rick Scott opposed the lifting of the ban off the Florida coast, which eventually led to Trump exempting the coastal waters of Florida from drilling -- a transparent, shameful political act considering how important the electoral college is to Republicans in national presidential elections. The majority of Floridians oppose the lifting of the ban. Trump recognizes he will need to carry that state in a reelection bid. Trump stated that only Florida’s coastal waters will be exempted. Never mind that California law-makers (Democrat state) is equally opposed to offshore drilling for the same reasons that Florida law-makers oppose offshore drilling.

States ought to be given equal consideration for rejecting offshore drilling. States should have the right to reject offshore drilling along their coastal waters.

This latest proposal by Trump is another radical move and follows so many other of his initiatives. First, a radical order is executed without bipartisan input or support; second, the radical proposal sends shockwaves of dissent; third, civic groups and states sue the federal government; fourth, the courts must decide; and fifth, Congress might be forced to intervene.

Most Americans do not support energy production at all cost when severe damage to the environment is a factor. In the Obama-era, clean energy has made great strides. Opening up nearly all coastal waters along the U.S. for drilling must be condemned as an economic and environmental mistake. Trump’s actions clearly show that he is more interested in pleasing oil companies. If the Trump administration wants true energy independence, it should be making clean energy investments as other major economies are doing in Asia and Europe. Protecting the U.S. environment should be placed as high in importance as national defense.

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