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Proposed Flemish ‘adoption pause’ is off the table

Photo by Gabe Pierce on Unsplash

The Flemish government yesterday decided not to proceed with a proposal to suspend all adoptions from foreign countries, presented by welfare minister Wouter Beke.

Beke (CD&V) had suggested a general pause of two years on any new adoptions. That would allow the system to be fundamentally reformed. But fellow ministers thought otherwise.

Instead, welfare services will now look at individual countries one by one, and decide if there are risks attached, and only then press on pause. There will be no general suspension.

Candidate adopters who were already under way with their procedure would be allowed to go ahead.

The idea of a general suspension comes directly from the report of an expert panel on adoption, set up in 2019 following a series of disturbing reports regarding adoptions from other countries.

But the proposal was criticised by colleagues, mainly from N-VA. One was Lorin Parys, a member of the Flemish parliament who is also an adoptive parent, who on his website described the proposal as “a rash idea that leaves the most vulnerable children in the lurch”.

An estimated 8 million children worldwide live without family care. Simply pausing adoptions is the easiest solution,” he wrote.

The most difficult is to ethically and correctly bridge the gap between children with no other options and the hundreds of would-be adoptive parents here.”

The government has agreed, however, that the criteria for adoption need to be tightened up. So the Flemish Centre for Adoption (VCA) has been given the job of drawing up a set of criteria so that new tests can be applied to find out which adoption channels are reliable, and which would need to be suspended.

That would result in two groups of candidates: Adoptive parents for whom the procedure continues in the chosen country of the child’s origin; and adoptive parents for whom cooperation with the country of origin is no longer possible.

This group will be given the opportunity to reorient itself towards the countries of origin with which Flanders still wants to collaborate.