In Romania, only 3,500 of the minors living in placement centers or foster care are eligible for adoption.
In Romania, only
3,500 of the minors living in placement centers or in the care of maternal
assistants, therefore in the so called child protection system, are eligible for adoption. The rest of them,
out of a total number of 58,000 children, live separated from their families,
in the same system, but they do have relatives. And yet, why do all those
children end up in out-of-home state care? One possible explanation for that is
provided by statistical data: 43% of the minors in the protection system end up
there because of poverty. For those who have relatives, the authorities draw up
personalized plans so that such children can be reintegrated in their extended
families. However, reintegration occurs is much fewer cases than intended,
while adoption - the solution for the other children - is too long a process to stand real chances of success. The
current Adoption Act, in force since
2004, is based on the principle that everything should be done so that minors
can be brought up by their relatives. Therefore, a child becomes adoptable only
after their fourth degree relatives have been found and contacted, and if they
refused to take care of that child.
Finding a child's'
relatives can be a cumbersome and lengthy process, which is only one of the
causes leading to the entire process being slowed down. There are cases when
the adoption process as such fails to be accomplished, unfortunately, and the
president of the National Authority for Child Protection Rights and Adoptions
Gabriela Coman admits to that.
Gabriela Coman: "Children coming from all sorts of communities and families can be easily
placed in the protection system. About 5,000 children get into the system every
year, a figure which in recent years has remained constant. The period of time
these children spend in the system, be it in the care of a maternal assistant,
in placement or foster care, is
unacceptably long, 6.5 years on average. If we look at statistics we see a big
difference between the number of adoptable children and those who are actually
adopted, between the number of the families with an adoptive family certificate
and the number of children who are adopted. Moreover, most families want to adopt
small children. 85 % of them are
searching for a child younger than 6, in good health, but the number of such
children in the system is much lower than the
potential adoptive families
would have liked."
The Adoption Act has been amended many
times. It has been recently revised thanks to the counseling offered by civil
society organizations and also by UNICEF's office in Romania, whose
representative in Bucharest Sandie Blanchet has hailed all the legal changes
that have occurred in the aforementioned law.
Sandie Blanchet: " We know that has been recognized by Romania, many times. The
process today is too slow. I takes on average, and this is on average, 15
months for a child to be adopted and we foresee that with the revision, this
delay will be reduced considerably. We also welcome that the revised law uses a
new measure, some kind of a parental leave that will be given to one of the
parents of the adoptive family, this leave will be for a maximum of one year,
and the parent will also receive financial allowance of a maximum of one
thousand seven hundred lei a month. Finally, I would like to highlight the fact
that we should be very careful about targets and deadlines. The objective of
putting, for example, some time frame around the process is not to make sure
that all adoptions are conducted within that
time frame. It is not the ultimate ejective. The ultimate objective is
to make sure that the child's situation improves, that the child finds a family
that is a suitable family."
amendments to the aforementioned law, the period of time during which relatives
up to the fourth degree can be searched for and the child can be
integrated into the extended family has
been shortened from one year to six months. Moreover, the two-year deadline for
a child to be considered adoptable no
longer exits. This status of adoptable child, issued by a court of law,
shall be effective up until the conclusion of the adoption procedure or until
the child turns 14. After the age of 14, the child will have their say as
regards their adoption. Also, the validity of the adoptive family license has
been extended from one to two years. In fact, the trials and tribulations the
prospective parents must go through during the adoption process are quite
dramatic. Nicoleta Cristea-Brunel, a Romanian woman residing in France who has
recently returned to Romania to adopt a child, told us about this painful
process, which, for her, was a failure.
Nicoleta Cristea - Brunel: "What is going on in Romania's child protection system is tantamount to a
silent genocide. There are roughly 60,000 children in the system who cannot
grow up in a family, for the simple reason that most of them never become eligible
for adoption. It is so frustrating, so
painful. I, for one, being somebody who wanted to adopt a child, I simply
couldn't go to all those and see the children, because I would've wanted to
take them all home with me. But that was not possible, not only because I would
have been incapable of bringing up 60,000 children, but because I was not granted
the right to adopt at least one child. However, I went at all lengths to
achieve that. I went through a process that, at some points, got virtually
Kafkaesque, only to eventually be able to get the infamous adoption license.
But that was all. The entire process by
which I tried to adopt a child in Romania only resulted in this piece of paper.
And for a year I kept it on my desk and
I would jump every time my phone rang, thinking I would be invited to see a
child. But the call never came. No child could be found for me, although in
Romania, four children on average are abandoned in maternity wards every day."
Nicoleta Cristea-Brunel had a baby girl, through IVF, and set up the "SOS
Infertilitatea" Association, which promotes the rights of families who want to
have children, whether through adoption or through assisted reproductive
technology. Quite familiar with the scope of the Romanian bureaucracy, she is
rather reserved as regards the revision of the Adoption Act.
Cristea-Brunel: "I find these amendments welcome,
particularly those concerning the maternity leave for adoptive parents. As it
usually happens, most children are over 2 years old when adopted, and parents
didn't get a day of leave, believe it or not. You would take the child from the
carer, and then you would have to let them with the baby-sitter or grandparents
so that you could go to work. The adjustment period was not taken into account.
The other changes are also welcome, but I first want to see them implemented.
Many things look fine on paper. The text of the law also stipulates that court
rulings on adoption cases are to be passed within ten days, but this never
Recently passed by
the Chamber of Deputies, the amendments to the Adoption Act are pending for
promulgation by the President of Romania and publication in the Official
Journal of Romania, in order to take effect.