On 27 April 2012 a working meeting was held with the participation of the accredited organizations, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Social Assistance Agency, the State Agency for Child Protection and the Regional Directorates for Social Assistance. Two main issues were discussed: the inscription of children in the registers for adoption and the problems related to the children placed in foster families.
It was noted that in practice the inscription of children is being delayed. Some difficulties regarding the coordination between the local authorities and the Ministry of Justice are observed in the following areas:
- Faults in the administrative orders for children’s placement in institutions. A conclusion was drawn that in the order for a child’s placement in an institution, a copy of which is given to the biological parent upon its issuance, it should be indicated that six months after the child’s placement he/she will be inscribed in the register for domestic adoption.
- Faults in the administrative orders for the inscription of children in the domestic registers. All the local authorities present at the meeting assured the Ministry of Justice that they will send the orders in question with a check mark indicating that the same have entered into force. This means that the biological parents have been informed about the child’s inscription in the register for domestic adoption and the same have not appealed against this inscription.
- Discrepancy in the time terms of a child’s medical certificate as a prerequisite for the inscription in the domestic and respectively, the intercountry adoption register. The validity of a child’s medical certificate, regarding the domestic adoption register, expires in six months and its validity regarding the intercountry adoption register expires in three months only. An agreement on unifying the periods of validity was not reached on this point. It was established that the Ministry of Justice will continue their practice of contacting the local authorities, respectively, the institution where the child has been placed, and obtaining an updated medical certificate of the child before making a referral as part of the intercountry adoption procedure, in every single particular case.
- Children’s unadoptability due to high age and other reasons. Cases when the Ministry of Justice do not inscribe in the intercountry adoption register children’s dossiers, which have been sent to them by the local authorities, turned out to be frequent. In these cases it is evident from the child’s dossier that adoption is not an appropriate measure of protection due to the child’s high age, their personal disagreement to be adopted and other reasons. Under these hypotheses the Ministry of Justice, as a central authority under the Hague Convention, considers that they cannot inscribe the child in the intercountry adoption register and initiate an adoption procedure and therefore, they return the child’s dossier to the local authorities and request an expert evaluation of the child’s best interest. Legislative incompleteness was ascertained in this regard as well as a necessity for these cases to be regulated by law in the future.
- Necessity for constant monitoring of the children, subject to different forms of protection. The question of the necessity for constant control as regards all children, for whom measures of protections have been imposed, was raised. The representatives of the State Agency for Child Protection and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy agreed that it is imperative that they think about replacing the so far campaign-based control with permanent control of whether children are being inscribed in the registers, whether the right measures of protection are being applied, whether there are any violations in this process, etc.
Foster care was the subject of discussion in the second part of the working meeting. In this sense a variety of cases were discussed in detail. The following conclusions were made:
- foster care is a temporary measure of protection and not a permanent solution to the child’s problem
- the children, placed in foster families, should be inscribed in the domestic adoption register when the preconditions necessary for that are present. This provision should become part of the contracts with foster parents. The latter should be informed when/if the child is inscribed.
At the working meeting it was announced that the International Legal Protection and Intercountry Adoptions Directorate now has a director and that is the former head of the department of “International relations and accredited organizations” – Mrs. Milena Parvanova, who was also the main exponent of the position of the Ministry of Justice during this meeting. The meeting was initiated by deputy-minister of justice Velina Todorova who demonstrated her firm commitment to solve all current problems. We hope that the working meeting will lead to the desired outcomes.