The Ministry for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights received feedback regarding adoptions of children, with specific attention towards local adoptions. This public consultation was launched back in November, and a good number of local entities, adoptions agencies, couples and foster parents have shared their opinions.
Details were given at a press conference by Minister Michael Falzon and legal consultant Daniela Azzopardi Bonanno, who announced that the next phase of consultation shall be followed with children under alternative care.
Legal consultant Daniela Azzopardi Bonanno presented a summary of the feedback obtained, which mostly centres around the concept of giving more stability, permanence and direction to the children themselves.
MAIN FEEDBACK RECEIVED
• That law should specify what is meant by the “best interest of the child”, and where the law should ensure child’s view are ascertained and taken into consideration in all decisions according to article 12 UNCRC.
• Training to social workers should be given in ethics and personal relations; and to both set of parents.
• Work should be done with the mother giving child for adoption upon birth to ensure certainty in her decision and this adoption should be by a different procedure.
• Clarification on how cohabitating couples will be applying for adoption.
• Medical profile of biological parents should be made available to the adoptive parents.
• Open adoption may include contact with extended family as well.
• Open adoption to be regulated by Agreement but not to be sent to Adoption Board. Reviews and amendments not to be sent to the Adoption Board.
• Contact to be facilitated by families.
• Both possibilities of retaining (even with double barrel) or changing surnames.
• Changing surnames when adopting from abroad not taking too long, as this causes interference with daily life of child and lack of privacy.
• Surname should remain as is as it is severance of ties and a matter of transition and adapting. It is offensive to adoptive parents who open their homes and hearts for the child not to take on their surname. It could also lead to more stigma with the child having a different surname and therefore children should not be burdened with such a decision.
Minister Michael Falzon argued that this public consultation is the first step towards the facilitation of local adoptions where, at the moment, there are over 400 children following a care order and not living with their biological parents.
Minister Falzon stated that this is another important process in giving children more voice and decision making. Furthermore, he insisted that more is to be done to create a culture change in such a delicate and emotional subject.