Expatica news

Adoption law tightened to end ‘free’ procedures

24 August 2005

BRUSSELS — Regulations around the adoption of a child will be tightened under new legislation that will come into force from 1 September.

Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx said with other regional ministers on Wednesday that every candidate adoptive parent will in future need to undergo a preparatory course.

Currently there are about 1,000 adoptions every year in Belgium, about half of which are known as ‘free’ or ‘wild’ adoptions, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported.

This means that willing parents individually seek out a child and establish all contacts without registering with a recognised adoption bureau. These parents operate without any supervision.

“It has appeared that free adoption holds risks, both for the adopted child — whose interest is taken little into account — and for the candidate adoptive parent,” Onkelinx said.

The minister also said adoptive parents are “confronted with practices on the edge of legality or even plain mafia practices, such as corruption or blackmail during the handing over of the child if the excessive costs are not paid”.

In future, all candidate parents will need to register with an authorised adoption agencies. To co-ordinate the new procedure, a federal central authority will be established and similar regional authorities will be set up.

Previously, preparatory courses and suitability assessments of adoptive parents were limited to those who opted for a guided adoption procedure. Adoption agencies made all contacts and looked for a child. About 200 couples choose for this option every year.

In future, the new legislation also states that children above the aged of 12 will need to approve of their adoption. The minimum age up until now was 15. The new law also states that biological parents must be informed if possible about the adoption.

But a prerequisite will also be scrapped: candidate adoptive parents no longer have to be married. At least three years of co-habitation with a partner of the opposite sex will be sufficient.

For people who already have an adoption procedure pending, the government will draw up a transitional arrangement.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news