by Eleni Stavrou
Intercountry adoption is the adoption of a child habitually resident in one state by parents habitually resident in another state, as defined in Article 2 of the 1993 Hague Convention, which ensures cross-border recognition of adoptions. However, in practice, additional procedures are required for its recognition in certain States, including EU Member States.
Due to the complex and lengthy procedures faced by couples wishing to adopt within the EU, they approach third countries under the mistaken impression that it will be easier.
In the EU, all Member States have national provisions governing the recognition of adoption decisions, but the legal procedures vary considerably between them. Under current legislation, there is no legal protection or guarantee that domestic adoptions carried out in one EU Member State will be recognized in another Member State. It is possible that a family moving to another Member State after adopting a child may face significant problems, re-procedures and formidable bureaucratic hurdles.
A European Assessment was carried out in 2016 which analyzed the possible policy options and the potential added value of taking legislative action at the EU level. The evaluation argues that EU legislation would reduce costs and allow for better protection of the interests of the child and the fundamental rights of the adoptive parents.
Due to the complex and lengthy procedures faced by couples wishing to adopt within the EU, they approach third countries under the mistaken impression that it will be easier. In this way, they often end up being victims of child trafficking rings. Therefore, better cooperation between EU Member States and third countries is needed to ensure due diligence to avoid such horrendous phenomena.
Although family law is an area of national competence, the EU can adopt measures on aspects of family law with cross-border implications.
For this reason, I have taken the initiative, starting with my question to the European Commission, on the need to establish a framework to facilitate transnational adoptions, so that families who can and want to offer warmth and love to children in orphanages and welfare systems in other countries in Europe can do so without unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles that too often prevent adoptions, at an enormous psychological cost to the prospective parents and the children. At the same time, in addition to the proposal, we must take action at the European level to provide proper information and mobilize governments and all the competent bodies so that adoptions between Member States of the European Union can take place transparently and within a reasonable time frame for the benefit of children and prospective parents.
The institution of the family remains the main pillar of our society and it is my main priority to help protect it. In this mission, I will persistently cooperate with state institutions, organizations and, of course, with my fellow citizens directly concerned. It is worth it and I will do it.
*Eleni Stavrou is a DISY MEP