ADOPTION: To Be Child Protection, Or Not To Be Child Protection

27 April 2014

The Dutch Deputy Minister of Justice has agreed to a motion of Member of Parliament Loes Ypma to make the adoption of children from foster care ‘easier’. He requested the State Commission on Family Law to consider if incountry adoption can be made possible considering the problems in raising the child in relation to parentage (in Dutch: afstammingsrecht).

Is this the first step to a ‘forced adoption system’ like in the United Kingdom?

MP Loes Ypma is Ambassador of the Dutch Coalition for Child and Family. Another Ambassador of this Dutch Coalition is Professor Femmie Juffer. Professor in adoption at the Leiden University. Paid by: adoption agencies. Professor Juffer is, unsurprisingly, very pro-adoption, and herself adoptive mother. Before becoming the Adoption Professor, the  one and only in the world at that time, she worked for Wereldkinderen.

Adoption agencies in the Netherlands have seen their numbers dwindle, especially the once biggest agency Wereldkinderen.

That’s to say intercountry adoption, as national adoption is very rare in the Netherlands. Because: adoption is NOT considered to be a child protection measure.

Is Wereldkinderen trying to create a new market, the market of foster care children? If really the Netherlands is following into the footsteps of the UK, then this could become booming business.

So, should foster children be ‘freed’ for adoption, should the link with their family be forever broken?

This year a University Thesis was put online. While this thesis is about adoption by lesbian couples, it also explains the issue of child protection and adoption. One of the sources quoted is nobody less than emeritus professor of Law Jaap Doek, Chairman of the UN Commitee on the Right of the Child (1999-2007).

The author concludes that the idea that adoption is a measure of child protection has been abandoned in the Netherlands. Well, that was written in 2012. Now the idea has reappeared.

From a 2012 study:

With the introduction of the law on adoption in 1956, the legislature departed from two ideas, which in hindsight both were proven to be not correct.

In particular, the introduction of adoption as being a child protection measure was strongly criticized in the literature. As noted rightly by Delfos and Doek, the characteristic of child protection is that it is never permanent, whereas adoption in principle is permanent. A measure of child is also characterized by the fact that in the interest of the child, there is an intervention into the exercised authority over him. Parental authority is limited by that measure.

In contrast, adoption confirms legally the existing factual relationship between foster parents and the foster child and builds the authority of the foster parents who has custody into parental authority.

Also Red-Boer found that “to consider adoption for political reasons as a measure child protection, leads to a lame comparison.” In that context, she pointed out that child protection measures such as exemption from the authority or withdrawal of the authority do not lead to the loss of familial ties, while adoption does indeed break the existing family ties to then put new family relationships in their place.

Dutch text:

Bij de invoering van de adoptiewet in 1956 ging de wetgever van twee opvattingen uit, die achteraf bezien allebei niet juist bleken te zijn. Met name de introductie van adoptie als zijnde een kinderbeschermingsmaatregel werd in de literatuur sterk bekritiseerd. Zo merkten Delfos en Doek terecht op dat het kenmerk van een kinderbeschermingsmaatregel juist is dat deze nooit definitief is, waar adoptie in beginsel wel definitief is. Een maatregel van kinderbescherming wordt daarnaast gekenmerkt door het feit dat in het belang van het kind wordt ingegrepen in het over hem uitgeoefende gezag. Het ouderlijk gezag wordt door de maatregel immers beperkt.

Adoptie daarentegen bevestigt juridisch de bestaande feitelijke band tussen pleegouders en pleegkind en bouwt het gezag van de met de voogdij belaste pleegouders juist uit tot ouderlijke macht.  Ook Rood-de Boer was van oordeel dat het ‘om politieke redenen aanmerken van adoptie als een maatregel van kinderbescherming, een kreupele vergelijking oplevert.’ In dat kader wees zij er op dat kinderbeschermings-maatregelen zoals ontheffing van het gezag of ontzetting uit het gezag niet leiden tot het verbreken van familierechtelijke banden, terwijl adoptie de bestaande familierechtelijke banden wel degelijk verbreekt om er vervolgens nieuwe familierechtelijke betrekkingen voor in de plaats te stellen.

Uit de ontwikkeling die het rechtsinstituut adoptie na 1956 heeft doorgemaakt, en waar in deze paragraaf nog nader op zal worden ingegaan, zal dan ook blijken dat deze gedachte inmiddels verlaten is.