Bulgaria: Brought to a new level

4 March 2008

Brought to a new level

Fri, Mar 14 2008 16:00 CET

byPetar Kostadinov


1 of 1

Communications between the Justice Ministry and the organisations accredited by it to serve as intermediaries in international adoption procedures have been brought to a new level. According to Krasimira Natan, of the Bulgarian branch of Friends of the Children, and Georgi Kremenliev, from Childhood without Borders, two people were responsible for this change: Justice Minister Miglena Tacheva and Ilonka Raichinova, Deputy Justice Minister, head of the international legal child protection and international adoptions directorate. Both officials took up their positions in 2007, after then justice minister Georgi Petkanov resigned for personal reason.

Last December, non-governmental organisations working in the sector organised a round table on the issue where they met Raichinova, who had just been appointed by Tacheva as deputy minister. Lack of transparency, bureaucracy and a complete lack of response from the Council on International Adoptions - the body in charge of all adoptions of Bulgarian children by foreign nationals, were the main reasons that adoptions by foreigners had been put on hold, the NGOs said. This was the first time that the NGOs had been able to put their concerns to the ministry, face-to-face.

Two months later the ministry published its amendments to Ordinance 3, which specifies the conditions and procedures for the adoption of a Bulgarian national by a foreigner. "It is a small step, but more importantly we are glad to see the ministry has the will to change things," Kremenliev told The Sofia Echo. "The change in the way the ministry treats us is enormous" he said. "They actually started treating us like partners not as some annoying people," Natan said.

Both agreed that since Tacheva and Raichinova had taken over the process of adoptions, transparency and efficiency had reached a new level.

"Frankly we still cannot believe it. Now we can talk to the directorate whenever we need them. Unlike before, when they were available two days a week for two hours. The Council on International Adoptions has started meeting every week and Raichinova even wants to hold it more than once a week. The information we see published on the website is more than enough for us to keep track on what is happening with children put up for adoption and the applications candidates have submitted. We are rather concerned that after the elections next year, someone new might come and bring back things the old way," she said.

"The change is substantial but there is still so much that we need to ask from the authorities," Kremenliev said. "It is the Family Code that needs to be changed because it restricts the ordinance." This change was now being discussed by the ministry with the help of the NGOs, which was another improvement in communication, he said. The NGOs have also taken action themselves. Twenty-four of them have formed a body called Association of organisations for international adoption. "That way we can present the ministry with a clearer and stronger position," Kremenliev said.