Kevin and Angie Farrugia adopted Anamika from India when she was two
In 2018, 54 children were adopted from abroad, setting a 10-year record for Malta. And that number is expected to continue growing, in part because the cost has been massively reduced through a €10,000 government grant.
But there are also changing cultural reasons behind adoption's growing popularity, according to Shirley Mifsud, co-founder of Aġenzija Tama, one of Malta's three private adoption agencies, which was set up in 2014.
Speaking on the #TimesTalk podcast she says, "the world is becoming very small. Maltese people travel more and there are more foreigners here".
Shirley says the stigma around adoption has changed.
"Before, adopting a child, or being adopted was something you hid if possible. It was a secret. But now, people see actors and celebrities adopting children and that changes their mind about it."
While many couples choose to adopt because of fertility problems, Shirley says it's no longer the only reason.
"A lot of people think others adopt because they can't have children of their own. While this does make up a large percentage, we're seeing a growing trend of people who already have biological children, choosing to adopt a child from outside their family."
Also on the podcast is Angie Farrugia, who was ready to fly to India to pick up her second adopted daughter when the airport was shut down because of COVID-19. As she waits to be able to be united with her new daughter, she says she is getting by on Skype calls and photographs from the orphanage.
Goodbye, daily briefings
Also on this episode, Times of Malta reporter Claire Caruana talks us through the challenges the media has faced while covering the pandemic, as three months of daily news briefings with Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci begin to wind down.