Adoption - new giving out

Katarzyna Woynarowska

New regulations concerning adoption of children and the so-called substitute care start to oblige from January 2012. The authors of the law are certain that new legal solutions will shorten the time of waiting for a child. Children will not spend years in orphanages, and families, which find it hard to cope with their difficult life, will find their new ally. The critics of the novelisation of the act have different opinion. There is going to be a revolution which will not bring any benefit to anyone. Who is right - life will show, as usually.

Changes but for better?

The act about supporting the family and a system of substitute care is supposed - and this is its main idea - to simplify the adoption procedure to minimum. In the opinion of a legislator, courts and clerks have acted too indolently so far. Situations, when the court does not take away parental rights from a mother who is hardly interested in her child, in a deceptive hope that she will improve her behaviour and which means for a child another year in an orphanage, are not incidental at all. And it must be changed immediately.
Secondly, the new act is supposed to cause the reduction of the number of orphanages in Poland. Only those which are left, are going to accept only older children or those children who cause educational problems of require specialist care.
Thirdly, the act puts an emphasis on supporting the family with problems, but not - often merciless and thoughtless, although according to the letter of law - taking away its child. The new regulation appoints a family assistant who is supposed to co-participate in solving the problems of a family under his care - from financial issues, including budget planning, taking loans, through upbringing of children, help in settling matters in offices, schools to writing applications, etc. There are going to be many changes in adoption institutions. At present in Poland there are over 100 adoption institutions, of which 50 are state institutions. They have been subordinated to governors so far. This year they are going to be under the subordination of marshal offices. So, they had to be liquidated till the end of the year 2011 so that in January this year marshals could set up the new ones. In practice it will surely be in this way, that these already acting, will go formally under the guardianship of the marshal offices although it is not going to be easy here. Those which are left will have to prove their usefulness. Every state institution has to have 10 successful adoptions in its account, a private one - 20. In the case of the latter one, the lack of the activity of the institution may raise suspicion among clerks that staff cared about not the good of a child but organizing paid courses. The workers of the Ministry of Work and Social Policy note that in some districts there are even dozens of such centres whereas in the others - only a few of them. Some of them have not carried out any adoption for years; whereas, some of them which are the most active, can place even 70 children in families every year. Why are there such divergences?

Firstly - money

In Poland there are too few adoptions carried out every year. Married couples, already checked in an adoptive respect, have been waiting for children for 3-4 years. It is obvious that children mustn't be given away to anybody anywhere but this system, also of a substitute family, must take a different form - as the creators of new regulations say. And here the problem starts. The country gives too little money for care and adoption centres - as the members of the Nationwide Care and Adoption Centres write in their letter to the Prime Minister. We read in the letter: 'The amount of 5.25 million zlotys was assigned for carrying out proceedings in the matters of adoption. A conclusion results from our evaluation that the planned amount of money will not secure the realization of most tasks gives to adoption centres by the act. Counting a number of provinces, the amount of 235 thousand zlotys is approximately per one province, which is not enough even to keep one centre in the area of a province. (...) The statistic data of the Justice Ministry prove that 3356 adoptions were carried out in the year 2010 on the nationwide scale. We can state, on the basis of the binding standard of 30 children staying in a care and educational institution that 100 children get to families from one care and educational institution every year. It happens so, thanks to the reliable work of people employed in the adoption and care centres. The adoption family, taking care over an adopted child, 'takes off' the cost of upbringing a child in different forms of the institutional and substitute care from the country budget, which amounts from 2500 zlotys to 6000 zlotys every month. Assuming that the average time of a child's stay in a care and adoption institution is 6 months, it generates annual savings in the state budget of about 80 millions zlotys. We must also remember that a well-prepared child completely 'comes out' of a system of social care. Limiting the financial means for creating adoption centres, will drastically make adoption procedures slower, whereas a legislator assumes making them quicker!', as Anna Wójcik wrote on behalf of the Nationwide Coalition of Adoption and Care Centres.
A controversial issue is the cost of adoption. Candidates for parents will have to take part in a training now, which did not use to be required. It is supposed to last 45 hours - which in practice means 10-15 meetings for 3 hours each. If parents do not live in a place where it is organized, they will find it hard to get there. Moreover, those trainings are payable - one and a half of the national salary, that is, about 2 thousand zlotys, and the aforementioned costs of journeys (adoption with indication is the cost of over 30 thousand zlotys). Without a guarantee and after the end of training and a positive opinion, the candidates for substitute parents will have a real chance for a child. We know situations when a married couple at the average age and after having done required courses and having gathered lots of certificates, were sent away empty-handed because of their age. Nobody thought about informing them about their too old age to adopt children. Younger and younger married couples are applying to become adoptive parents, among whom a incurable sterility was uncovered; whereas they turn out to be too inexperienced. One of the workers in an adoption centre was dealing with very young people who resigned from adoption five minutes before the judicial statement because...they decided to get divorced; and what about parents who have gone through a process of preparation according to the previous system?; and what about parents who want to adopt another child? Should they go through the whole cycle from the beginning?

Rules one thing, life - another thing

How many there are adoptions - so many there are emotionally moving stories. However, they are not always happily ended. Every couple or a single person who want to adopt a child must go through a cycle of meetings, psychological tests, conversations with a psychologist and an educator, an interview in a place of residence, and, finally stand in front of a commission which will decide whether candidates are appropriate for parents. It is a big unknown. Some of them succeed after a few months, others after years. They are not discouraged that their adopted child may turn out to be burdened with a genetic illness or be visibly handicapped. The times, when 'such' children were adopted only by people from abroad, are the past. However, there is still an issue of friendly reasonable people who decide about a fate of an unwanted child and a fate of families which are able to give the child their love. It is impossible to arrange everything with regulations. In Poland too many children are in orphanages and nobody discuss it, while on the other hand there are married couples waiting with their open homes for children. There is a gulf of legal rules, human passiveness, lack of professionalism and ordinary indifference between them. Will the new law succeed in filling up the gulf partly at least?


"Niedziela" 02/2012

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: