In the house of Slaughterhouses to which Gisela goes as a volunteer live 27 boys and girls who were separated from their families because some of their rights were violated. Of the total, only three have the accompaniment of a person outside the institution that visits them, help them with the school's tasks or share outings with them.
That's why, when he found out about
Abrazar Program, which depends on the Council for the Rights of Girls, Boys and Adolescents of the City of Buenos Aires, Gisela did not hesitate. Since December, it is
affective reference -as it is called to those who enroll in the program- of two sisters, 5 and 9 years old, who spend the weekend with her in their Flores department.
Around 830 children without parental care in the City live in cohabiting homes. According to data from the Commission for Monitoring the Institutional Treatment of Children and Adolescents of the National Ombudsman's Office, 50 of them, between 10 and 17 years old, hope to have an affective reference: someone who visits them and makes a commitment to them. lives And there are 70, who already got it.
The objective is that they have emotional support until their situation is defined: that is, they can return to their family of origin or extended, or be given up for adoption. For many pre-teens and teenagers, the wait becomes endless, since 90% of applicants to adopt enroll for babies up to one year.
Therefore, a few days ago, the Council, together with the National Ombudsman's Office, launched a call for interested parties who meet certain requirements (see separate) to be entered in a special register to link with these children. “As a State, through public policies we have the obligation to give these children accommodation, to return the violated right, but here we are talking about what they lack is love, and the State can not give them. society gets involved: we need hours of love “, summarizes Karina Leguizamón, president of the Council.
This campaign arose from the express request of the same children, mostly adolescents, who upon learning of the existence of Abrazar asked to have an emotional reference. “This figure is a support in thousands of senses It is not the same to go through adolescence, go to school and see how you can have an autonomous life without having anyone on the outside,” says María García Morabito, coordinator of the Commission for Monitoring the Institutional Treatment of Children and Adolescents of the Ombudsman's Office.
And he expands: “The real and concrete help that can be given to an adolescent who is separated from the family is a contribution that does not require so much effort and that can really change the future of someone who needs an adult to help him to insert himself in the society”.
All children have the right to live as a family; and therefore, the passage through the homes must be transitory and not prolonged, warns Marisa Herrera, specialist in Family Law and Conicet researcher (see separate). However, the reality of many children is very different.
Milagros (17) and Agustina (19) live more than 12 years ago in a convivial home. Both have psychiatric disorders and developmental delay. For a long time they tried to re-bond with their parents and then, without success, they were adopted.
From August, Cecilia became the affective referent of the young people, who lived in a home in the neighborhood of Caballito, six blocks from her house. At first, I visited them once or twice a week and spent the afternoons together. Afterwards, they continued with walks to the plaza, to the ice cream parlor or to a fast food restaurant.
“The needs they have are attention and quality, they are not even great times.” What they do not have at home is individuality: both what they are going to eat or the movie they are going to watch is not chosen by them or is made between them. many boys, they want to feel protagonists of their decisions, “says Cecilia, who has a degree in Tourism, is married and has two children of 10 and 11 years.
At the end of last year, the transfer of Milagros and Agustina to a home in Avellaneda was decided, due to their pathology and their age. As the distance was not the same, they began to talk more by phone and although the visits were spaced, they always kept them. In February, Agustina moved to live in the other branch of the same home in La Plata and was separated from her sister.
That decision took Cecilia by surprise, but she did not give up. He continues to visit the two, they talk on the phone every Tuesday and Thursday, and he got the authorization to take Agustina to sleep at her house. “In the program there is continuous support, when they were moved to the province, the first thing they asked me was if they wanted to follow the link, and of course we continue, although with other times,” she says.
Leguizamón affirms that Argentines are a very supportive society, but being an emotional reference implies a constant commitment so that these children have affection. “Growing without affection”, he warns, “is what causes certain social resentments that lead to the displacement of limits, possibly even committing crimes.” With this program we want to change the paradigm, we are talking about children and adolescents who need to be watched. “
Johanna (33) is pregnant and lives together with her husband in Béccar, Buenos Aires. They go almost two years that are referring affective of Gael, a boy of 7 years who lives more than three in a home of the district along with his five brothers. This is his second time, first they accompanied Damien, who was given up for adoption.
“The first experience was very difficult for me, Damián was my first godchild and it cost me because we had generated a very strong bond, every weekend he came home and stayed for the night.” At first, the adoptive mother was willing to We kept seeing each other but then we did not, we missed him a lot and then it was there that we decided to start bonding with Gael, “Johanna confesses.
The Abrazar Program promotes that the emotional referent continues to maintain the link once the adoption of the children is made concrete, but that depends on the parents. The same happens with the adolescent when he graduates from an institution, since the continuity of the figure of the referent is key so that he can realize his life project.
With time, Johanna was able to resume the relationship with Damien and today they get together for birthdays or celebrations. Every time they see each other they merge in a huge hug. “They know very well the role we play, that on Monday they have to go back home and go to school, that we have to go to work,” he says.
Gisela, Cecilia and Johanna agree that it is the little things that boys and girls enjoy: watching TV on the couch eating pochoclos, cooking a sponge cake, playing soccer, going to the airport to watch the planes take off, choosing some cookies or take a shower without hurry. That is what the reference figure is about: to let them know that they are unique. Irrepeatable.
The steps and requirements to apply
1. Be of legal age
All persons over 18 years of age and who are not registered in adoption records of the country can apply for the Abrazar Program. Those interested must comply with a series of requirements and steps.
It is essential to attend a mandatory training workshop
It is essential to present the corresponding documentation (ID, residence certificate, criminal record, among others)
You must go through two interviews by the technical team of the program
In case it is a family that wishes to be an emotional reference, each of the members must meet these requirements individually
Embracing Program: (011) 4381-7818 / 4384-8717 /
The right to a family, the priority
Family life is key in childhood and should always be preserved and promoted, whether with the family of origin or extended, or if this is not possible, through adoption.
“We must shorten the institutional transition, what we are really needing are families that adopt, and in the case of children who are not adoptable, decide quickly the exit strategy of the homes,” says psychologist Fabiana Isa, coordinator of the Outreach Program of Private Children of Parental Care of the Faculty of Psychology of the UBA.
For the psychologist, “the resource of the emotional referent is complex, we must have a lot of monitoring”.
In the same vein, Marisa Herrera argues that homes are part of a long and vital stage in the lives of boys and girls, and this should not be the case. “They are forging their identity and bonds of affection, and the possibility of their returning to their family or of inserting themselves in another through adoption becomes more complex.” The times in the homes extend basically due to the lack of family strengthening policies. “he says.
In Argentina there is the National Law No. 27.364 of assisted attendance that establishes norms for the work that must be carried out by all teenagers without parental care from 13 years of age and older who require accompaniment in their graduation process.
According to this law, this work must be remunerated and the referents must be part of a work team, among other requirements. Mariana Incarnato de Doncel, a civil association that seeks to improve the transition of young people to adult life, believes that the relationships established with volunteers run the risk of violating the rights of children again.
“The key remains to respect the deadlines in which institutionalization must be resolved as an exceptional measure of care and supported by specific public policies that accompany the transition in a sustained manner, from the emotional as well as the economic,” underlines Incarnato.