About international adoptions - Milena Parvanova - director of "Internatiomal Adoptions" in the "Ministry of Justice"

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  • Translation from Bulgarian:

    Milena Parvanova - director of "Internatiomal Adoptions" in the "Ministry of Justice"

    Many of the things that we need can wait, but the child cannot. We cannot say tomorrow to it! Its name is today! - says the first Latin American holder of the Nobel price for literature Cabriela Mistral. Today in Temida, we are going to talk about the international adoptions and the chance to provide a happy childhood, what is the price of the humane and if the theory for the prosperity and happiness of each nation depends on how the education and upbringing of the children is established.

    Not always and not for all kids, the first years are happy, dreams are not always a reality, and the trucks and Barbie dolls are not for everyone. There are three things that the adults can learn from the children: To be joyful without an occasion, to always be occupied by something ant to strive with all their power towards what they want – says Paulo Coelho. To provide happiness and joyful childhood each year in Bulgaria, petitions for becoming candidate adoptive parents are submitted by hundreds of foreigners. The Italians are clearly most reliable, because the statistic shows that nearly 300 children went to Italy for 3 years, the Americans are next in submitting petitions for children in Bulgaria, after them are the families from Germany, France and Sweden. Almost always, however, the candidates have requirements toward the children.


    Milena Parvanova – Director of “International Adoption” Directorate at the Ministry of Justice.


    -       It is definitely not very appropriate to point and choose the characteristics of a child, but ultimately the adoption is an institute and a process based on agreement. This agreement must be deeply realized and motivated with what will be acceptable and what will be useful both for the child and the family and if this realization is based on the ethnical descend, and not acceptance or rejection of an ethnical descend, and this will not lead to proper development of the bond that will occur between the child and the parent ,as a result of a court decision, then, from this point of view, it is correct to point out what is not appropriate for you, to be a parent of such a child

    -       The family discuss the characteristics of the children, comment their age, health condition, information for the parents, that was available and presented to them, family encumbrance, ethnical descend. All this can be a subject of pretence by the adoptive parents and can be objectified in the willingness or not to accept the proposal for a child. That, what is most logical to be pointed out , and in my opinion is done in the Social Reports and the National adoption, is the age of the child, because the specifics of the children in the different age groups, determine a different coping ability for the parents, so this is a question, that is permissible and always discussed even in an international aspect, and it is a question that, in an international aspect is even regulated in the adoption permission for the family, because the family may want to adopt a smaller child, but the estimation can be that for their age this is not appropriate, or that the family wants to adopt an older child, but do not realize the responsibilities that it will have to take up in such a case and then the Social Workers and the services that consult and support the adoptive parents may say that that age is not recommended for them, so in my opinion the age is the most important indication and characteristic of the child, which should be discussed by both the adoptive parents and  the specialists that work with the families. As a bad impression no, but as one extremely limiting indication would be the pointing of hair color, eye color, because this truly escapes, how can I say that, that what is normal and logical in one such procedure, because even being a biological parent, you cannot be certain of the hair and eyes of your child and how fair will its skin be.

    The adoptive parents from Bulgaria and abroad, however, are different both culturally and mentality. The difference is in the way the adoption is perceived. 



    -       International adoption is celebrated, because this is an open process, for which the family has been preparing for years, and for which all the community, not only the relatives, has been preparing. Sometimes, small towns meet the children, not only the relatives and this is, in my opinion, the correct understanding of the adoption, which is one very human, very humanitarian process, and not a way to overcome a reproductive problem, hiding from the neighbors how we actually got the wonderfulchild, of which we have the chance of being parents.


    We tried to find the differences and reasons and tried to find the answer to the question: Why?


    -       This is a matter of education and change of the public opinion as a whole, matter of showing the correct way, but in my opinion, the things are going inthe right direction, even foster care step in that direction will be the, because the Bulgarian is still learning to accept foreign children, and not to hide that he had accepted in his family a different child.

    -       Those, in my opinion, are the main aspects and they can be overcome with education and work with the adoptive parents, more intensively in the period when they are waiting to receive a proposal and realize their procedure. Usually in an international aspect, firstly the education of the adoptive presents is mandatory, but this is now a fact for Bulgaria, as well and one very important step. But except this mandatory education, usually the NGO-s work constantly with the families under different forms of conferences, trainings, some kind of events, some kind of  engagements, where they focus their attention precisely to those aspects of the adoption and prepare them much better for being parents.


    The strict maintenance and keeping of documentation is one of the most important things. Each record is with a code that reveals your ability to provide the dreamed childhood.


    -       This is part of the Register of the Adoptive Parents for International adoption, where we store the records. This is the live register of the adoptive parents i.e. the transcripts of the parents entered into the register and waiting for their adoption procedure to start.


    How many human fates is that?


    -       At the moment I cannot say, because this is a very dynamic number. Every day new records are submitted for entering in the register, and every day a deletion is made in the register, but in any case around 2000 adoptive parents, at a different stage of the procedure are available in the Ministry of Justice.

    -          Over the last years there is a growth in the number of the procedures. Last year the Minister of Justice has given 288 agreements for child adoption and in one procedure there can be several children, thus the number of adopted children under these procedures is 329.


    How long does a foreign family wait to receive a Bulgarian child?


    We cannot say an average number because the period is very different – the shortest period is up to 6 months and the longest is 3 – 4 years and this period depend on the characteristics of the child for which the family is applying. The more limiting the characteristics of the child and lower the age and lack of any specifics in the health condition, the longer the period for realization of the project. The more tolerance there is for the acceptance of specifics in the health condition, the lesser the period for realization of the procedures. In fact, sadly, most of the children for international adoption have specifics in -       their health condition and they are in a very large range – from light special needs to extremely severe health conditions, in which we can even talk about the live of the children. Over the last year we managed to develop a program and order for the adoption of such children and the number of those children increases every year. For the last year from those 329 children, 108 were with specifics in their health conditions or at a higher age, because the age is also a problem that determines the waiting period and the ability of the child to find a family. The children at the age of 9, 10, 11, 12 are extremely hard to find families for.



    Is this more or less compared to other countries?


    -       As a whole the adoption of children with specific needs and at a higher age is a challenge in an international aspect, because they require much more care and resources from the families. I think that our numbers are putting us in a good position among the other countries, because it is really difficult to find families and resources for those children and in most countries, if there are such procedures, they are under a reducedorder, they are dynamic and attempts are made to find some solutions for those children to find families.


    Are there cases when children with such specific and special needs, which you talk about, have been adopted by foreign parents and afterwards you found in same way that they do not take good care of them?  


    -       Yes, but those cases are extremely rare and in fact it will not be realistic to expect that every single adoption, regardless whiter of a healthy child or one with specifics of the health condition, will always develop 100% in the best way and that no complications will occur, because as in the biological parenting problems and incapacity to cope may occur, this is the same for the international adoption. Those cases are extremely rare. Of course we receive information about them and in any case the competent authorities of the country of usual residence of the adoptive parents have taken adequate measures. They have worked to support the family, so that the crisis can be overcome or in the cases when this is difficult or impossible, the children are placed with other families and a successful solution of their case is sought. The same procedure that will be used for a biological child with a problem with its family, or if there is a risk for its life.


    In the minutes up to here we have told you about part of how Bulgarian children abandoned in their own country, found what they want abroad and how international adoption is a way to make the children happy, when their parents could not. 


    International adoptions, chance for the children who could not find happiness in Bulgaria to be happy even on the other side of the world. And if we talked about the mentality of the adoptive parents, now we will try to find whether there are schemes in which someone pays to get a child, if there is a way to by it and whether all this has a price.  


    People, from which countries, desire to adopt Bulgarian children most frequent?


    -       There is an extremely high interest from almost all Member countries of the EU, USA and Canada, due to the growth of the families having problems with their reproductive health, and in most of the well developed economics and countries there is a well develop network and policies for the children so the opportunities for national adoption are smaller and that way people are opting for international adoption of children.


    -            The legislation in Bulgaria is highlyconsistent with the International convention in this sphere, which is created and signed in 1993 so that it can guarantee the children right exactly in this aspect, to protect their rights and guarantee that maximum measures will be taken for the prevention of trafficking, selling and trading of children. Bulgaria has joined this convention in 2002 and at the present moment our legislation is in complete compliance with it, and the number of the countries applying this convention is extremely large. From 2010 up until the present moment we do not have procedures with a country, which is not a member of the convention so in any case this convention is applied bilaterally. The main thing about it is that when the Bulgarian Central Organ decides that a child can be adopted by a specific family from the respective country, this is certified in writing by the Minister of Justice, and this certified document is sent to the competent body of the other country, of course it reaches the family, but the procedure will not proceed if the competent body ofthe country of usual residence of the family does not give permission for this adoption to take place, the competent body of each receiving country, knows that one Bulgarian child will enter with that family and all measures must be taken to guarantee its rights as this will be done from a child descending from citizens of that country.



    It is silently claimed that to get a child you will have to pay, not to one person and not a small amount of money. Usually the price is measured in thousands of euro, but there are no proves of that and the adoptive parents are silent.  Some may say that those are donations for the home, but the question whether to get a child you should for instance by buying three air conditioners still remainsrhetorical. Or the good will of the adoptive parents becomes something that is forced to donate or directly pay to have what he cannot naturally gain.  


    -       This system probably worked before the ratification of the convention and changing of the legislation of Bulgaria, because than the order and legislative regulations allowed the adoptive parents to visit the homes directly and chose the children that they would like to adopt. This allowed the corruption schemes and the different treatment of the children, because then not all children received the opportunity to be adopted, whereas this change in the legislative regulations after the ratification of the convention, which implements the obligation of entering the children and adoptive parents in a register and which displays the competence to determine which adoptive parent is most appropriate for the specific child. The Intradepartmental bodies in respect of National adoption – Councils and in respect of the International adoption – Council for International Adoption, which consist of experts from different institutions and which can get involved in such connections very difficulty. In my opinion this system presents a good guarantee for crossing all such attempts and schemes.



    The orphanages are a tragic and horrific sight. “Were” will say those who do not want to admit that orphans do not live in the best conditions. No matter how much the country wants, there is no way for those institutions to look in a way that we all want. A number of campaigns in this regard did something, bud sadly not enough. The time, abilities and always money not desire may be the reason for all that.


    Over the last years there is a lot of talk about those homes, the nation becomes more implicatedwith this topic, and those homes are more open for visit, donation, for pictures if you wish. They are not anymore the homes covered in the villages, for which the country does not want to talk about. Moreover the vision for deinstitutionalization envisions a large reform in the homes and the way of fosterage and caring for the children. The reform in the homes is -       envisage not only as improvement of the material base but also as decreasing of the children capacity and increasing of the number of the personnel taking care of them so that they can be taken care of more properly. Regarding the foreign candidates for adoptive parents, no, a bad home, if there is still one, will not push them away, but it will provoke their desire to organize and make a campaign and anything in their power to help those children, because a child that is abandoned, malnourished, endangered in any way, will always provoke that desire for help, of course in the best possibleway with donations, with improvement of the material base.


    It is not a secret however, that even in the international adoptions there are models that does not work. There are cases when smilingly well adapted in their new environment children are coming back to Bulgaria. The stress, way of life and drastic change in the environment and many other circumstances, may become a reason for that. This process is perceived as normal, but only at its current scale. Those are individual cases.


    -       We cannot hope and consider that in all procedures we will have a 100% successful adaptation and wonderful parenting, and the reasons can be both in the family and in the child, because sometimes the children cannot adapt or something that violates this bond between the parents and the child, occur. In all those cases, what the Ministry of Justice is trying to achieve is to have information for the development of those children, and in any case upon entering of the child in that country, having been adopted under the convention, which means that this adoption is legally acknowledged by the country, it benefits from all protections for children from that country depending of the child protection system. Sometimes the children that do not develop well in their adoptive families are placed with foster families and it is also possible to be adopted again. There is a case in which the child was returned to Bulgaria, because this was his wish. It just did not want to adapt in the USA rather than in the adoptive family, because he was older and idolized the memories and the way of life in the home. But this is an individual case, usually by rule and under the law the children stay in the country where they have been adopted and there their case is developed according to the Care system.


    The state institutions report that in Bulgaria more children are adopted and their removal from the specialized institutions continues. The foster care is developing successfully too.  In 2009 in Bulgaria 112 children were placed in foster homes. Last year they were 391. The adopted children three years ago were 746, and two years later the number is 1000. The number of children placed in institutions decrease from 2400 two years ago to under 2000 last year. The cases of reintegration with the biological families however remain little. The number of children placed in foster homes in contact with their biological parents is also small. Rarely adoptive parents agree to take care of children with disabilities.  An examination states that if they are not regular contacts with children in the early months, in which the state is taking care of them, it is less likely that they will reunite with their parents. To cope with this, parents state not only money, but the need of education. The worst thing is that children placed in the institutionalized system are transfered from home to home without consideration how that can affect their contacts with their families. There is a lack of trust towards the biological parents and enhanced trust toward everybody else, who can replace them, even if those are adoptive parents or foster families. This leads to the absurd of a child being placed with close friends and relatives and not the biological parents. The statistics show an overall decrease of the number of children placed in homes. At the end of last year, the capacity of 31 homes in the country was nearly 3800 children. The boys are with 200 more than the girls. Over 30% of them are babies, as are the children over 3 years. Only 2% of 35000 abandoned children are orphans. The truth is one!  Those children do not need cloths and chocolate but encouragement and guidance in life.                          

    Author: Temida