A five-year-old Eritrean girl is caught in the middle of a heartbreaking legal battle between the Maltese woman she has lived with all her life and her biological parents, who are migrants about to relocate to Switzerland.
Today, a judge will seal the girl’s fate, deciding whether she will leave tomorrow, as planned, with her parents and three siblings, or, as her “ad hoc” guardian is requesting, go on with her life in Malta until a smoother transition can take place.
Tragically, experts warn, this is not a one-off case.
Meanwhile, human rights campaigner Neil Falzon (Aditus) says this situation would never have arisen if regulations on fostering and adoption were enforced.
“I don’t know why there is this idea that you can go to the open centre as if it’s a supermarket and choose a child because you want to help,” he said. Maltese people and migrants were entering into these “ad hoc” arrangements out of goodwill but by doing so out of a legal framework neither was acting in the child’s interests, he said.
If this happened within a controlled system, everyone involved would have been given counselling and training to make sure the fosterers and parents were prepared for these eventualities.
“Had this been done within a legal framework, the whole discussion would not have arisen,” he said, warning there were “many” similar cases where laws were being “sidelined”.
*Names have been changed to protect the girl’s identity.
Read the full story on The Times here.