Romania extends ban on international adoptions under EU pressure

Romania has agreed to extend the ban on international adoptions until 15 November following criticism from the EU that the system is still tainted by corruption. Romania has been told that it should reform its child welfare system before it can join the EU.

The Romanian government also came under pressure from the United States where thousands of families are waiting to adopt Romanian children. The US want Romania to liberalise international child adoptions. According to the French daily Le Monde, an internal memorandum written by the US Mission to the EU in Brussels directly connects the issue of child adoptions to Romania’s integration into NATO.

According to Le Monde, the Commission’s Directorate General for Enlargement responds to the US non-paper stating that “American experts are not well suited to Romania’s needs in this area”. “The United States are the only country in the world, apart from Somalia, which has not signed the UN Convention on Children’s Rights and the Hague Convention. The US has not developed the administrative capacity to apply this convention,” according to the Commission’s response.

The Romanian government is now preparing a reform of laws that will encourage domestic adoptions and place children in foster families or private child-care centres. Four draft laws, creating a new legal environment for child protection, are to be adopted.


TheRomanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastasehas recognised that Romanian children had been sold over the Internet for up to 50,000 US dollars.

In April 2002, theRomanian governmentallotted over 7.1 million euro to four national programmes for child protection. These programmes will be implemented by private organisations, authorised by the National Authority for the Protection of Child's Rights and Adoptions. The Romanian Prime Minister, Adrian Nastase, stated that corruption has been eliminated from the child protection system in Romania.

The Romanian Government committed itself to reform the child protection system on the basis of a report issued by an Independent Group for International Adoption Analysis. The Group proposed to extend the moratorium on international adoptions by another year.


In October 2001, the Romanian Government suspended all international adoption procedures for one year. The EU demanded a moratorium on international child adoptions in Romania in June 2001 after the European Parliament adopted a report, condemning the practice as a "profitable trade in child trafficking". Romania provided for two thirds of all international adoptions in the world in the 1990s.

Domestic adoptions have increased by 50 percent since the introduction of the moratorium. Whilst international adoptions cost up to 30,000 US dollars, domestic adoptions are free, which encourages corruption, according to Baroness Emma Nicholson, the European parliament's rapporteur for Romania.

In Romania there are approximately 6 million children under the age of 18, of which approximately 2 percent are registered at the Specialised Public Service for Child Protection. Nearly 100,000 children were discovered living in miserable conditions in state orphanages after the execution of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989. Whilst the number of children living in public and private placement centers decreased from 57,181 in 2000 to 49,925 in 2002, the number of children placed with foster families increased from 30,572 in 2000 to 37,942 in January 2002.


New Romanian legislation on child protection should be adopted before the end of 2002, whilst new institutions should be in place from 2003 onwards.


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