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You are here: Home Life in Lifestyle The new baby boom
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23/02/2004The new baby boom

The new baby boom Spain has one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations in Europe. But perhaps the most surprising arrivals are the adopted babies who are bringing about a new 'baby boom'. We look at why this is happening in a country famous for family life.

Bringing children to Spain is not proving as hard as it once was

In the past seven years, Spain has become the country with the highest number of adopted foreign children, after the United States and Canada.
 
The reasons are principally socio-economic: a higher standard of living means more Spaniards are increasingly reluctant to give their own children up for adoption.
 
This means other Spaniards who want to find children to adopt have to look further afield.
 
Coupled with this is the rising number of women working in Spain and developing their careers.
 
In an economy where stable employment is more difficult to find, with temporary contracts more and more the norm, combining a career with rearing a baby is harder.  So fewer people want to have children.
 
But for those that do, bringing children to Spain from other countries is not proving as hard as it once was.
 
Official figures said as many as 3,625 foreign children were adopted by Spaniards in 2002 – compared with 942 registered five years before in 1997.
 
China is the favourite choice for couples looking to create a family – 40 percent of foreign babies  (1,427 children) came from there in 2002.
 
In the same year, Russia was the second favourite (809), then the Ukraine (358) then Colombia  ( 271).
 
Away from these stark statistics, the realities can be difficult for many couples.
 
Marina Gomez de Cardinanos, 42, a bank worker and her partner, Jose Manuel Yanez, 40, a journalist, from Madrid, went to an orphanage in Sevastopol in the Ukraine.
 
"I only remember that one of the three girls that we saw in photographs didn't have arms. It was disconcerting and the collage of emotions after a year of researching is indescribable," said Yanez.
 
"When they had finished telling us the health problems of the third girl, I said 'that's enough'."
 
One of these girls was 21-month-old Svetlana Belova, who was found in a bar, her date of birth and parents unknown. She was suffering from problems with parasites.
 
Today, she is three-year-old Laura Yanez Gomez de Cardiananos and is living in Madrid with her parents.

Changing society
 
The reasons for this change in Spanish society are complex, according to Rosa Maria Beltran, mother of two adopted children and director of the Catalan Adoption Institute.
 
"The adoption of Spanish children has declined. The quality of life in Spain has improved and each time there are fewer people who feel obliged to leave their children in the hands of institutes; even though now there has been a small rise in the number of children abandoned by immigrants," said Beltran.
 

Spaniards are reluctant to give children up for adoption

"At the same time, the adoption process in Spain is complicated and involves many licences."
 
But aside from that, there is no longer a taboo around the idea.
 
Paco Rua, spokesman of the Association for the Defence of Adoption, said: "It has changed from being a shameful act to a humanitarian act."
 
Spain subscribed to the 1993 Treaty of The Hague which was designed to stop human  trafficking, by  regulating how international adoptions should happen.
 
Beyond this, in Spain, along with many other countries, couples are having children much later.
 
Another factor is that in a less stable labour market, particularly for women, fewer Spaniards feel they have the financial muscle to support children.  
 
There are also an increasing number of one-parent families or divorcees who want children. For them adoption is a good option.
 
"Because of all these factors, Spain today has a boom in adoptions which will last three or four years more then it will stabilise, as it has done in other countries," said Beltran.
 
The practicalities for many families are daunting. The cost varies between EUR 14,000 and 20,000, depending on the number of journeys  the parents have to make to the country where the child was born and fees for translations, paperwork, health checks and the like.
 
It will mean journeys of thousands of kilometres for the prospective parents, who are forced to deal with 'contacts' they have no way of knowing are trustworthy and paying large sums of money often without any firm guarantee of getting the child they hope will become their own.
 
February 2004




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