How can I adopt Syrian children

Refugee children alone in Berlin : Replacement parents wanted

They all love cuddly toys, even the older ones. The stuffed animals are a stop at night, they are lovingly given names, and when moving within the city, the animals are tucked under the arm. The young Afghans or Syrians, the African children, they then talk in German with teddy bears, bears and giraffes, because in the children's eyes the animals are, after all, real Berliners, so they only understand German.

Almost a thousand unaccompanied refugees have traveled to Berlin this year since January alone. The youngest arrivals are just six years old. Behind them lies a long escape from civil war and persecution. Many of them struggled for hundreds of kilometers on foot and at the instruction of smugglers before finally crossing the Mediterranean in unsafe rubber dinghies and finding refuge in Europe. Alone and on your own or with friends or maybe your brother.

Protect the child from recruitment

4,252 children and young people arrived in Berlin as unaccompanied refugees last year. In January 2016 there were 324 young people under the age of 18, in June 49, according to the Senate Youth Administration. At its peak, almost 30 unaccompanied minor refugees - also called UMF or UMA in official language - reached Berlin every day. The older ones among them often hope for a better life with job opportunities - rather alone in Germany than with a family with no prospects in a country like Afghanistan. The younger ones from countries like Syria are often sent forward by their parents in the hope of family reunification. And they want to prevent their boys from being recruited for the war and then rather save the child that way.

For all the children and adolescents who have to get by without their biological family in a completely different world for an indefinite period of time, politicians assume a special responsibility: After all, children and adolescents under 18 are particularly in need of protection and must not be deported. Instead, they are entitled to a place in school and should receive intensive pedagogical support.

Thousands have come

To ensure this, the youth welfare offices of the districts and the other responsible offices, which are overburdened in view of the high numbers, hardly have the means. That is why the Senate and districts are now also relying on private foster families. They cost the offices far less than a place in a supervised youth residence, for example - and they offer a special integration through the personal connection to families or single parents.

Many of the 40 or so children who have already been placed with foster parents in Berlin in Steglitz-Zehlendorf and Tempelhof-Schöneberg are now learning to swim with their families or to get to know the Berlin subway network. A surrogate mother or father helps with finding a school place and with homework. The biological parents in the distance must agree that their own child can stay with host parents or foster parents in Berlin. It's something new for everyone.

“Conceptually, we have been working on foster families for a while, but we're still at the beginning when it comes to placement,” says Sonja Kaba. She is responsible for youth welfare in the youth welfare office in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. Other districts are now inquiring about the new concepts there. Because the state youth welfare office is responsible for the UMF in the first three to six months during the clearing phase and the children are then handed over to the jurisdiction of the districts according to a distribution key, the high numbers in the youth welfare offices are only now noticeable. And there are so many children and young people in need.

Fast process, long-term help

“Here people are not at the door like at the Lageso, but we can feel the number of refugees, which has been rising for a year. Since we don't have enough staff, we have to fight hard, ”says Kaba. The other experts in the district youth welfare offices feel the same way. So far, the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg youth welfare office has used three accommodation options for unaccompanied minor refugees: full-time care for the youngest, a place in a supervised shared apartment or in a supervised single apartment. “With the foster families, we want to expand our range of services in order to be able to help every young person according to their need,” says Kaba. To do this, the authority is even removing bureaucratic hurdles. While a conventional procedure for finding a foster family can take up to two years, there is a shortened procedure for children and young people who have fled.

However, the criteria remain the same, assures Peter Heinßen, managing director of the “Families for Children” association, the Berlin-wide advice center for potential foster parents: “Interested parties must prove that they have enough living space, enough time, are healthy, and they must have an extended certificate of good conduct Submit. ”In addition, the pedagogical suitability is tested. In addition, one must be financially independent of the care and childcare allowance that foster parents receive from the youth welfare office. “A lot of those interested actually meet these requirements,” says Peter Heinßen. Interested parties must also be open to other cultures and religions; many of the foster parents themselves have often traveled the world a lot.

Small children are also looking for foster parents

There are more problems if some expectations are disappointed. “Many believe that they can adopt a poor little orphan,” says Heinßen. In fact, most of the protégés are male and 15 to 17 years old. In addition, many of them are already very independent due to their experiences on the run. On the one hand.

On the other hand, eight to twelve year old children are also among those affected, who need a lot of attention, affection, reliability, new rituals and stability. Some of the foster mothers and fathers in Berlin have already raised their own children and are now discovering that the children and young people who come to them “in spite of their different beliefs and origins mostly behave like German teenagers”. That they learn German very quickly in their families, that there are already strengthening networks of foster parents.

Some foster parents take a boy into their everyday family life as an additional child, others are childless, single parents, but experienced in dealing with children or students. Training courses talk about what kind of relationship you can expect and how it will be built. A trusting relationship can develop after a short time.

There are refugees whose parents - Afghans, for example - are aware that they cannot come to Germany themselves. And there are children who perform a psychological balancing act between the old life in their biological family and the new life in Berlin with new caregivers who convey security and security.

Foster parents or host parents, as they are sometimes called, also have to find the right balance. They come to love their new protégé, but must also be aware that it is a temporary family-like life. But those who have already accepted the new form of foster parenthood will find out that this elective affinity enriches both sides.

Districts pay different amounts of support

The agency “Families for Children” advises those interested and also arranges refugee children and foster parents for three districts. “We have already had good experiences in Steglitz-Zehlendorf in particular,” says Heinßen. He annoys that other districts are holding back on the subject of foster families. “We have twelve completely different structures in the twelve districts.” At foster parents' evenings, for example, there was a lack of understanding that the districts pay different amounts of support to foster parents for help with upbringing. And refugee foster parents from Brandenburg, who often also reduce their working hours, receive less than Berliners. The residence obligation discourages some interested parties - they are only allowed to travel abroad with their protégés, who have to stay in Germany first, in exceptional cases.

Peter Heinßen blames another aspect for the few placements that have been made so far: “After the story in Cologne, interest decreased noticeably,” he says. Hundreds of women were sexually molested in front of Cologne Central Station on New Year's Eve. Many of them agreed that North Africans were the perpetrators. That clouded the welcoming culture - but also depressed many refugees.

Refugees enjoy the obligation of a "normal everyday life"

Basically, care shouldn't be taken lightly, says Heinßen. “War, flight, trauma - many carry a package with them.” On the other hand, many of the children are capable of bonding because they grew up in intact families. Heinßen thinks foster families are a good approach: "The young people are integrated into a family system and - unlike in collective accommodation - see normal life." They are protected. The type of accommodation has no effect on potential family reunification - an important point for the biological parents. The legal rules apply regardless of the accommodation.

Sonja Kaba is convinced that "integration will succeed" and also emphasizes the advantages for potential foster parents. “If someone takes in a child, has time, is there for them, that cannot be replaced by anything and is the best chance for their development and integration.” It is “a wonderful opportunity for certain children and young people to enjoy the commitment of a family life ".

Fixed attachment figures for life

People who took on this task often remained constant caregivers for the children even in later years. In other types of inpatient accommodation, this is not the case. But although the foster parents are provided with therapists and interpreters and single parents and same-sex couples are also allowed for the procedure, only four children have been placed in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg so far. "The structures are in place," says Sonja Kaba, "now we still need interested parties."

Anyone who would like to take in a young refugee as a foster child can obtain information and advice from the "Families for Children" association by telephone on 030/2100210 or by email to:

[email protected], Internet:

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