Fanny Videnova: Adoption Abroad Proved Lifesaving for Many Bulgarian Children

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | January 21, 2003, Tuesday // 00:00

Fanny Videnova heads the Bulgarian Citizenship and Adoption Department within the Justice Ministry. She sheds light on the adoptions of Bulgarian nationals by foreign families exclusively for novinite.com.

Fanny Videnova met Milena Dinkova

Q: How many Bulgarian children have been adopted abroad over 2002?

A: Over 2002, foreign nationals filed 1,123 requests to adopt Bulgarian children. This makes 832 requests more than in 2001. The number of the adoptions increased after the introduction of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption that was empowered in the country last year. 1,000 of these requests have been already approved. The most adopters come from the U.S. (which has not signed the convention), Spain, Italy and France. Some Bulgarian children have also been adopted in Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Austria and Cyprus.

Q: Does the convention make adoption of Bulgarian children easier?

A: On one hand, it makes it easier by cutting some of the unnecessary formalities. On the other hand, it increases control as it envisages some sort of investigation into candidate adopters' capability to take care of a child. Since January 14, 2003, Bulgaria has introduced critical amendments to its adoption regime. This aims at bringing Bulgaria's legislation in line with the rules of the European Union as the country is expected to join in 2007. The amendments now make it possible for children who are not orphans but have been neglected or abused by their parents to get adopted into better families. The law categorically constitutes the advanatage of Bulgarian nationals who filed for adoption over foreigners. Only children who cannot be adopted at home are subject to intercountry adoption. The amended legislation also sets schemes under which non-profit organizations can be credited to mediate adoptions.

Q: Why do people have to look for children outside their own country? And why so many of these people come to Bulgaria?

A: The reason is that there are not many children in the world that could be adopted. You know, there are also many Bulgarians that have filed for adoption and wait for the authorities to name a child. But the truth is that foreigners are not prejudiced against children from ethnic minorities and children with disabilities as much as Bulgarians are. I have to say there is already a huge progress and Bulgarians, especially those with better education, come to surmount these warps. But still foreigners are more tolerant and, generally speaking, they can afford to pay more for treatment in case the child is disabled. Older children are also a problem in Bulgaria. They get usually adopted in the U.S where families with one, two and more children take an older child from abroad. So, this is how Bulgarian children get adopted outside the country when there are so many indigenous families who want a child. The small numbers of available children, already made some Bulgarian couples adopt children from Russia and Ukraine.

Q: What is the most important thing foreign candidates should know before they start a procedure to adopt a child from Bulgaria?

A: The first thing that foreigners should do is to contact their national body - usually a state agency - that handles intercountry adoptions. The specialists there will give them information about the countries that can provide children for adoption. The candidates will also be told a lot about the country's history and culture. Then, this body or the court is to issue a document that proves the capability of the candidates to be good parents. It also specifies if they can take care of a disabled child if they want to. This is when the authorized body contacts the relevant institutions in the donor country - in the case of Bulgaria, this is the Justice Ministry. We send the candidates' documents to orphanages across the country and then choose the right child for the to-be-adopters.

While the documents are being processed, the candidates come at least once to Bulgaria. After the adoption procedure is complete, they usually want to preserve the child's connection to the native country and often come back to Bulgaria. Some of them start to learn the language and communicate to other families who have gone their way, usually within specially set up clubs or through the Internet.

Such clubs help us a lot to get the feedback after a child is adopted abroad. Once adopted children leave Bulgaria with their new parents, we follow closely up to two years afterwards how they are treated by the families and how they adapt to the new environment. We get four main reports that describe the children's new lives to make sure everything is fine.

Q: How much time and money takes for a foreign family to adopt a child from Bulgaria?

A: You know, in such cases we cannot speak of a price - we speak only of costs. The taxes of Bulgaria's Justice Ministry are minimal but they make for a very small part of the expenses. I have seen different Internet sites that report adoptions in the U.S. vary from USD 10,000 to 40,000. I think this is too much but the U.S. is not a side to the Hague convention and U.S. legislation in regard of adoptions is different from the European. In my opinion, the appropriate cost of an intercountry adoption is between USD 5,000 and 10,000. As to the time, it usually takes two years - one to get done the formalities in the country of the candidates and the other to complete the procedure in Bulgaria.

Q: Do you think it is good for Bulgarian children to be adopted abroad?

A: I don't think it is good as a matter of principle. But I accept it in cases when these children cannot find a home in Bulgaria. It is better for the child to have a family abroad instead of living parentless at home. For some children the adoption abroad is a huge chance. Many ill children were brought back to life as their new parents paid expensive surgery that cured them. They were practically saved by the adoption abroad.

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