How will changing the law affect adoption process?

Romania had, at the end of 2018, over 52000 children in the protection system. Each and every one of them has a different story, but all of them need to be taken care of, to be protected and to be offered the best conditions to grow and develop accordingly. This means that they need a family – no matter whether we talk about reintegrating in their biological family, the extended family or the possibility to be adopted.

Integrating/reintegrating in a family requires the permanent collaboration with the biological parents and the involvement of the authorities for solving the existing problems, so that the children can go back to their families as fast as possible.

The second option, adoption, appears when the family doesn’t want to develop any relation with the child or when the connection is not possible. In this case, the state begins procedures for initiating the process of adoption and finding a new family for the children as soon as possible. The minimum time for finishing the procedure at this moment is about two years, while the family of the child (including the extended family) is contacted for giving consent for opening the adoption. An UNICEF study, conducted with World Bank and The Romanian Government shows that the minimum time a child spends in the protection system is 7 years and a half.

Considering the situation, and having in mind how important is for a child to grow in a family, The Government decided last year to change the adoption law, so that the adoption procedure will be less complicated. In this process, the importance of following all procedural steps, so that the superior interest of the child to be on the first place, will not be neglected.

What are the changes the Government proposed?

The bill is still debated at Deputy Assembly. It has passed The Senate, and the proposed and adopted changes are welcome and aim to encourage the process of adoption. Besides various procedural changes, to shorten the waiting time for children, with the project proposed by The Government are provided:

  • financial support to encourage and support people who want to adopt children who have less chances of being adopted – for example, those who are ones older than 3 years old, with various disabilities or siblings who can’t be separated;
  • increasing the period of validity of the certificate of adoption from 2 years (in present) to 3 years, with the possibility of extension, when a second adoption is required within the 3 years of validity;
  • eliminating the need of consulting the relatives up to the fourth degree, for setting the adoption as ending for the individualized protection plan.

Amendments to Government’s bill

In addition to Government’s proposals, I submitted, alongside my colleague Roxana Mînzatu (PSD), several amendments which have been voted by The Senate and were included in the law. The most important changes we proposed were:

  • the possibility to opt for changing the adoption certificate (the initial matching criteria, including the husband/wife on the certificate, updating the information after the final evaluation report), for maximum 2 times during the validity period;
  • adding consent to adoption from the biological parents, aged over 18. They can consent to break any connection with the child and consent to adoption, in maximum 60 days from leaving the child. In this case, the adoption as ending of the individualized protection plan will be set within 45 days from the date biological parents express their written consent;
  • Allowing adoption as ending of the individualized protection plan for all children over 14. This changing provides equal chances to adoption and to a family to all children in the protection system;
  • The reversal of adoption consent only in exceptional situations. Until the court’s final decision of opening the adoption procedure, biological parents can withdraw their consent for adoption at any time. After the final decision, the reversion is possible only in exceptional situation that must be supported with proofs.

All of these provisions are included in the form adopted by The Senate and are now in debate in The General Assembly. Besides the amendments already submitted at The Senate, I also prepared, alongside my colleague Roxana Mînzatu, a series of changes and improvements for The General Assembly:

The amount of the allowance received by the people who adopt would be calculated with the same calculation method as the allowance every parent receive for a new-born. Also, the conditions for granting this allowance and for the parental leave are changing. The person who adopts will need the documents attesting the moving of the child at the person/family who adopts and a document that proves that the person stopped the professional activity in order to access the allowance and the parental leave.

In the same time, I submitted an extra amendment, whose purpose is to give an extra chance to a family for #HardToAdoptNotHardToLove children in Romanian protection system. This involves opening international adoptions for children who are hard to adopt in Romania and the provision will be applied according to The Hague Convention and only for the countries who signed the Convention. This amendment is submitted for debate at The General Assembly.

I decided to track and to join this process, and the point where we are now is as advanced as it is important for the future of children form the protection system. Also it is important to a lot of parents who are waiting to adopt a child. I will continue to fight for this project because I know that together we cam make a step forward, to the situation we all want – for every child to grow in a family.