Adoptionsforum: What does the EU think about international adoption?

22 May 2012

What does the EU think about international adoption?

Text: Adoption Forum // Date: 22-05-2012

In recent years, doubts have been raised about whether the European Union respects international adoption as a solution for children who cannot grow up in a permanent family in their own country.

First Published 30.01.2008

The doubts arose when Romania and Bulgaria wanted to become members of the EU. Those who negotiated for the Union made it clear that progress in child welfare was necessary if the two countries were to be accepted. The requirement was in some contexts made so that the countries had to be able to "take care of their own children". This was interpreted as - at least by some - that international adoption had to be discontinued.

The EU also contributed more than € 50 million in child welfare support in the two countries - in the hope that the problems could be resolved through increased funding. That was at least what an envoy expressed at the special commission meeting on the adoption convention in The Hague in September 2005. Her speech was so startling that an envoy from the Adoption Forum, representing EurAdopt at the meeting, seized the word and emphasized that international adoption is far from "the last" resort "according to the adoption convention, but rather a good solution for a child who cannot have a permanent family in their own country - a preferred solution compared to both a long-term stay in an orphanage and a limited foster home placement. He received wide support among those present for this, and the Secretary General of the Hague Conference even came away and thanked for the post. An important point in this regard is that if the EU had actually stopped international adoption between the member states, this would have been in direct contradiction to a convention to which 24 of the 25 countries that had joined the Union at this time.

Even after the Special Commission meeting, doubts about the EU's view of international adoption continued, and some statements by high-ranking people in the Union gave cause for concern. Both EurAdopt and the Nordic Adoption Council made several attempts to clarify the reality, without much success, and eventually they concluded that the EU did not speak with one tongue in this matter. Romania and Bulgaria were also included as members of the EU from 1 January 2007, so this case no longer has any particular connection to the EU's enlargement process.

However, now something positive has happened in this field in the EU. On 19 December 2007, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee) of the European Parliament stated, inter alia, the following (freely translated from English):

A document on adoption should be developed in the EU, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other relevant international standards, with a view to improving the quality of information services and processing of applications related to international adoption, as well as post-adoption services, with reference to the fact that all international conventions on children's rights emphasize orphans and abandoned children's rights to a family and to protection.

Member States are encouraged to take action in order to guarantee the children's right to a family. Effective methods must be developed to prevent children from leaving, and there must be other solutions for orphans and abandoned children other than institutional stays. When seeking solutions for the individual child, emphasis should be placed on the best interests of the child, as this term is defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Committee is of the opinion that adoption can take place both within the child's home country or through international adoption, while placement of children in an institution should only be used as a temporary solution. "

These are positive signals that indicate - at least in this committee - that the priorities laid down in the Hague Convention on International Adoption Cooperation are understood.