Adoption Reform in France: Experts Sound Alarm

Many experts and associations are sounding the alarm on France’s adoption reform bill due to controversial measures which threaten the child’s best interests.

The bill to reform adoption in France was recently tabled, in follow-up to the recommendations submitted on October 10, 2019 to Adrien Taquet, the Secretary of State for Child Protection. The legislation is sponsored by MP Monique Limon and her colleagues from President Macron’s party “LREM”: La République en Marche. Concerned professionals had already voiced their alarm about some proposals, such as extending adoption to unmarried couples, as well as allowing simple, vs. full, adoption, which is less secure for children.

Allegedly, the bill aims to facilitate the adoption of children who are currently assigned to children’s social services (“ASE or Aide Sociale à l’Enfance”). This service places approximately a thousand children in families or foster homes. Nevertheless, since these children are not considered to be wards of the state, under current law they cannot be adopted.

According to the National Observatory for Child Protection, (“ONPE: l’Observatoire National de la Protection de l’Enfance), the latest annual data show that 10,676 parental applications were approved for adoption in 2018, although merely 647 state wards were adopted in France the same year. According to the Foreign Affairs Minister, 615 children entered France from abroad in 2018 for international adoptions, compared to 2,000 foreign children adopted in 2011, and 4,000 children in 2006.

The Children’s Lawyers Association (“Juristes pour l’enfance “) has published a detailed warning listing the pitfalls in this bill. One drawback includes the fact that parents would no longer be able to entrust their child to an Organization Authorized for Adoption (“OAA: Organisme Autorisé pour l’Adoption”) in France.

The lawyers point out that “in the adoption reform bill, if a parent decides to confide a child to social services, he accepts that his child automatically becomes a ward of the state. It would then be incumbent upon family counselling services to elaborate a development project for the child’s life, which may or may not include adoption. However, a parent may not want to entrust his child to social services unless he is absolutely sure that his child will be adopted. Since there is no guarantee of adoption once the child is considered to be a state ward, every parent must be able to contact an “OAA” to be certain that his child will be adopted by a family. » In addition, these OAA’s accept children with disabilities for whom they find adoptive families thanks to the services the associations provide. “With this bill, currently authorized agencies like Emmanuel-SOS Adoption would simply disappear, even though social services frequently contact them to find families for severely disabled wards of the state. Among the families who have already received accreditation for adoption, Emmanuel-SOS Adoption also endorses families who have been specifically prepared to accommodate the needs of disabled children. Ever since Emmanuel-SOS Adoption was founded in 1975, it has provided a family to over 2,000 children, even though over half of the children were gravely ill or had a severe disability. »

As reported by the French newspaper “La Croix”, a group of lawyers and adoption specialists assert that the new bill violates fundamental rights. Their analysis and proposals have been published in a white paper addressed to parliamentarians calling for the legislative process to be postponed.

In addition, this bill, according to its’ authors, disconnects adoption and matrimonial status of the adoptive party to consider all applicants equally. The purpose of this is to extend adoption to cohabiting couples, and to couples having signed a PACS agreement (civil solidarity pact) in order to avoid discriminations against single persons, or same sex couples.

The Children’s Lawyers Association emphasizes that “Adoption, which is focused on the child’s best interests and ‘only’ on the child’s best interests should not be used to seek equality between adoption applicants. It must be exclusively focused on the child’s best interests.” Adoption cannot be used to oblige adults’ contentions.

At the French National Assembly the legal committee adopted the text on November 24, 2020, prior to its examination in the plenary session beginning on December 2, 2020.

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