The European Commission called Tuesday on Romania to maintain its moratorium on international adoptions despite pressure from countries such as the United States and France to lift it.
Foreigners move to Romania hoping they will get to adopt there
The commission, the executive arm of the European Union, "reiterates its support for new Romanian legislation on the rights of children and on adoption that came into effect in January this year. "We see no reason to change this law," the commission's delegation in Bucharest said in a statement.
A moratorium on adoptions has been in effect since 2001.The law came about after pressure from the EU, which told Bucharest to end "the exportation of children" through numerous international adoptions over the past few years and to quickly institute a system for protecting minors in accordance with European norms.
Romania is slated to join the European Union in 2007 provided it satisfies all EU criteria. But the European parliament's representative to Romania, Pierre Moscovici, has called on the eastern European country to settle "as soon as possible requests for international adoptions that were filed before the moratorium in 2001, in consideration of the emotional suffering of adoptive parents."
In October, some 20 foreign couples sought to take up permanent residence in Romania so they could adopt children. The couples are already foster parents who "have been entrusted with Romanian children for several years. Over time, a deep affection has been established between the foreigners and the children," Theodora Bertzi, head of the Romanian office for adoptions, said in October.
Foreign residents may adopt
The majority of those on the list seeking adoptions, 11 couples, come from the United States. The other couples come from European countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland and Britain, as well as from Canada and South Africa.
"These couples have the possibility of adopting a Romanian child, once they obtain a Romanian residence permit," Bertzi said, but even this is no guarantee.
The new Romanian law states that adoption is "the last recourse" in protecting children who are orphans or have been abandoned, and it gives "absolute priority" to Romanian couples.
US officials have criticized the new Romanian law, claiming that children remain in orphanages because there are not enough Romanian parents who have the means or the desire to adopt a child.
With the aid from the EU, UNICEF and several international associations, Romania has reduced the number of orphans in the country to less than 40,000, as the children have been accepted by Romanian families who receive financial support from the state.