The recent adopted modifications of the adoption law have raised enthusiasm and criticism altogether. We consider both of them pertinent.
According to the statistics published by the Labor Ministry at the time of the adopted modifications of the Adoption Law, 57.646 children are registered in the special protection system, of which only 3.809 are declared adoptable, a 6.6%. Thus, an unreasonable big percentage, i.e. 93.4%, is in placement measures. Placement is a temporary measure that in theory should end with either the return of the child to the biological family or with adoption. In practice, most of these children remain in placement measure for long periods of time, often until the system kicks them out when they reach the age limit.
What is the impact of the new law?
the Labor Ministry estimates an increase in the number of adoptable children of only 75+ children
According to the memorandum of reasons for the proposed modifications, the Labor Ministry estimates an increase in the number of adoptable children of only 75+ children, whereas 2015. Considering the above data, this estimation means that only 0.13% of the children in the special protection system become adoptable as a result of these modifications.
The impact envisioned by the Labor Ministry itself reveals the need for more substantial modifications of the Adoption Law than the ones already made to really improve the situation.
What is wrong now?
A negative aspect of the situation is the actual 20.471 institutionalized children (35.5%). National and international research has clearly proved that institutionalization perpetuates and facilitates psycho- motor impairment, social and emotional disorders. To reveal the impact of early neglect, the University of Harvard did a 12-year research in Bucharest for observing 136 abandoned children. Some of the children ended up in foster families and others in residential homes.
What are the effects of institutionalization?
Research suggests that traumatic results of abandonment are not only psychological but they also bring severe damage on the brain. This research results have proved that institutionalization has caused mental impairment in abandoned children as well as severe damage of the white substance.
What is the solution?
Unsurprisingly, one of the conclusions of the research was that the children who had the chance of finding a family who loved them and made them feel safe were able to reconnect their missing links and the brain gained back its lost functions.
GOOD THINGS BROUGHT IN BY THE MODIFICATIONS Of THE LAW OF ADOPTION
- A cutback from 1 year to 6 months of the period of time allocated to the searching process of the child’s kin who are willing to raise and care for the child. In the event that the kin are not found during this interval, the procedure of declaring the child adoptable can be started;
- The extension of the validity of the adoption certificate for future parents, from 1 to 2 years;
- Cancelling the training interval for those whose certificate expires and ask for a renewal;
- Establishing the compatibility of the child with the adopting parents by the general child protection services not by the ANPDCA (the National Agency for Child Rights Protection ) which leads to a better identification process of the best possible family for the adoptable child;
- Giving up on the 2-years deadline needed for the child to be declared adoptable. The child will have this status until the adoption is complete or they reach the age of 14 and is able to communicate their choice in regard to this possibility;
- Introducing certain deadlines in courts for the procedures of all the three phases of adoption: pronouncement of the adoptability, custody for adoption and adoption approval;
- Introduces the obligation for the employers to grant time off for those who want to adopt for the completion of necessary assessments in order to get the certificate and to have meetings with the child. The time off is not more than 40 hours/year, without affecting salary rights;
- Introduces time-off for one of the adoptive parents to help the child settle in for a year interval with a 3.4 ISR allowance. Thus, the Romanian ISR due 2016, one of the adoptive parents will receive a 1.700 lei allowance / month.
Things needed that the present law does not have
The Law still stipulates the obligation of identifying and contacting kin up to 4th in line, which implies deceased people, old enough people (great-great grandfather) or people the child is not connected to in any way (cousins of parent’s uncles or nieces). In practice, proving that the great-great grandfather is deceased is extremely difficult, and the identification of far related people takes a lot of precious time in vain and massively prevents the child from being declared adoptable. The modifications brought in by the present law do not exonerate the case manager from the obligation of proving that the great-great grandfather has deceased.
The status of the government as the unique intermediary between adopted and adopter proves to be a flawed system for most of the adoptable children. In such a system, potential adoptive parents get a list with the children, see pictures, go and see the children and choose: under two-years of age, beautiful, healthy and “non Roma”. Thus, according to the data published by the Labor Ministry at the time of the promulgation of the law, in 2015, 573 children were adopted, which left 85% of the adoptable children still not adopted, because they have health issues, are too old or are Roma and do not fit the physics desired by the adopters. Therefore, we need to give up on the ”theoretical match” system and not only allow, but also encourage those who know an adoptable child and want to offer them a family, to file for a nominal adoption request.
Currently, a child can become adoptable only when they enter the protection system. But this means a lot of time wasted on papers (files, assessments, reports, deadlines and so on). Usually in reality such a child stays in the system all of his childhood. There is a need for a legal way that the parent can use to ask for/agree on the adoption of the child without a special protection measure and also, for a reasoned request from the child’s parents that the relatives should not be looked for or consulted (for instance, there are cases in which the mother has been abused or abandoned by her relatives). The solution could be a notary statement preceded by a psychological and social consultation, followed by a time in which they cane make up their minds, during which the parents can be seen again by a psychologist. A similar solution is also possible for non-married partners when the father on the birth certificate is not in fact the biological father of the child. The bureaucratic process of the kin counseling who in reality are not the child’s kin is extremely slow and time-consuming to the disadvantage of the child. Such situations can seem exceptions for the public but they are very often met on the field.
Having banned the international adoption is a major disadvantage for children. We have severely disabled children whom families in other countries are willing to care for and offer them the special education that they need, but their misfortune of having been born in Romania after the fatidic year of 2004 when international adoptions were closed condemns these children to a lifetime institutionalization.
The members of the Romania Without Orphans Alliance (ARFO) have contributed to some of the proposed modifications and supported them in the public debate on the modification project PL-x 830/25.11.2015 with measure supporting documents.
As shown above, the new law on adoption brings pertinent but insufficient modifications for a real solving of the problem. That is why the society needs to be more active in supporting certain modifications that offer a real chance for the children to have a family life.
About Romania Without Orphans Alliance
Romania Without Orphans Alliance puts together over 30 non-governmental and religious organizations, companies, public and private figures who have devoted to serving the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of the children at risk. It offers services such as adoption, family placement, caregiving, counseling and abandonment prevention.
Among its ambassadors are Florica Cherecheș, a Depute in the Romanian Parliament as well as Loredana & Bodo (Proconsul).