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Politicians lean towards limiting Latvian child adoption to foreign countries

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adoption, children, USA, restrictions, Saeima, ombudsmanOn Tuesday, 17 December, Saeima’s Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee’s majority voiced support towards limiting adoption of Latvian children to foreign countries.

It is planned to return to this topic in January to decide if the Cabinet of Ministers should add changes to rules or laws.

During the meeting of the committee the head of the Ombudsman’s Office for Child Rights Laila Grāvere said that in practice it is possible to circumvent certain limitations for foreign child adoption. It is possible to circumvent rules by putting a child from a foster family to an orphanage for a couple days to later adopt them to a foreign country. The ombudsman invites the Saeima to decide if it supports or does not support adoption of children to foreign countries and set a clear regulation in which cases it is permissible, says Grāvere.

Welfare Ministry’s parliamentary secretary Krišs Lipšāns said Latvia cannot put obstacles for child adoption to foreign countries. At the same time, it is not the primary goal – rather the last option available to provide children the right to a family.

Lipšāns stresses that it is necessary to exercise children’s rights to live and grow up in a family environment, which is clearly outlined in the Constitution and international law binding to Latvia.

Justice Ministry’s Human Rights Department director Dagnija Palčevska said during the meeting that as before, when the regulation was first adopted, the ministry had stated that children would want to remain in orphanages to maintain the option of adoption.

Orphan Courts Association board chairperson Aurika Zīvere says she has seen both positive and negative foreign adoption examples, which is why she is not particularly positive about this system.

Meanwhile, Saeima Legal Affairs Office representative says problems have surfaced in relation to interpretations of Cabinet of Ministers requirements, that something opposite to honest practice has taken place. The legislative base in Latvia’s laws, on the other hand, is sufficient, said the parliament’s lawyer.

Read also: Minister on adoption in Latvia: people want children no older than five

Saeima deputy Māris Kučinskis said the government under his leadership had conceptually supported the approach that children should live in Latvia. He stressed that it is necessary to strengthen regulations to limit adoption by foreigners so that Latvia does not end up alongside African or Asian countries in which foreign adoption is widespread.

Kučinskis also mentioned US ambassador’s interest for this topic when he was still Latvia’s prime minister.

Vice-chairman of the committee Boriss Cilevičs stressed that children with health problems are often adopted by foreigners. He said if older children with serious mental health problems are not adopted by the time they mature, they remain at the institution for lifetime care. Saeima deputy Evita Zālīte-Grosa said foreigners do not adopt sick children. Statistical data on this and other cases is promised to be provided in the first half of January.

Zālīte-Grosa also stressed that it is important to outline that Latvia ‘needs our people’ and the question is whether everything is done to ensure Latvian residents are able to adopt children. She said that according to data reported by USA, the majority of children adopted by citizens of this country are 5 to 13 years old, and they are ‘likely adopted circumventing Cabinet of Ministers requirements’. The politician also mentioned as a problem the fact that the children left in institutions for long-term care receive less support than children in foster families.

Parliamentarian Andrejs Judins said stricter policy for adoption by foreigners may be in order because ‘Latvia is losing people’. Saeima deputy Linda Liepiņa voiced a conditionally similar position.

According to Dace Rukšāne, there is a general feeling that trading with children is going on. She voiced support to stricter laws to make it harder for foreigners to adopt children.

Saeima deputy Linda Ozola said that because the current regulation is circumvented, it may require changes.

Parliamentarian Dagmāra Beitnere-Le Galla was strict in her position. She said the state needs to take responsibility for its children, adding that child adoption by foreigners should not be supported.

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