A new study has found that the practice of sending children to live with relatives overseas is quite common among newcomers to Canada, particularly those from China and South Asia, as well as Africa and the Caribbean.
The practice, which is also known as having “satellite babies,” is common across different ethnic communities in Canada, but the details surrounding when and how long the child is away do tend to follow cultural patterns.
Chinese immigrants, for example, are more likely to send their children to live with relatives back home when the child is quite young – between six months to two years old. This is due to the financial stresses of having a baby.
Others, like some families from Africa and the Caribbean, are forced to leave their children behind in pursuit of a better life – only to send for them once they have established themselves in their new homeland.
Though actual numbers are difficult to obtain – the situation is believed to be vastly under-reported – experts and advocates in the immigrant community say that such hardships are more common than most would think, and can be quite detrimental to both the parent and the child.
“These parents often expressed guilt and remorse for the decisions they made. They also reported issues with their child after they reunited,” says Yvonne Bohr, a child psychologist with York University and lead author on this study based out of Toronto.
Though some limited support groups do exist for immigrants facing this type of stressful situation, Bohr argues that more needs to be done by mental health professionals in order to recognize the problem and remove the social stigma attached to the practice.
Source: Toronto Star