02 PARTICIPATION OF THE CHILD The participation of the child is one of the fundamental principles of the CRC (article 12),5 which involves, on one hand, that the child be heard and, on the other hand, that his or her views be given due weight in accordance with the child’s age and maturity. Legally establishing the right of the child to consent to his or her adoption from a set age is an essential first step that must be reflected in the legislation of every country. If there is no set criterion as to the age at which the child should be heard, practices developed in various countries tend to use a median age of 12 years. This means that, until this age, children must be heard, but their view does not bind the judge (or authority) in charge of the adoption decision. On the other hand, the views of children aged 12 and older must be obtained and in principle respected by the judge (or authority). However, the onus is on the countries concerned to verify how this consent was obtained, that is, whether the child was informed of the consequences of his or her adoption, such as the complete severance of ties with his or her family and country of origin, whether any real alternatives were suggested to the child, and whether the child expressed his or her views in an environment conducive to speaking openly, free from all pressure.6 Moreover, the fact that the proportion of older children being adopted abroad is increasing means that this obligation must be implemented more rigorously. The same is true for situations involving accelerated procedures, which are implemented in or following emergency situations where this obligation is most often set aside (see also point 46).
As the subject of the adoption, the child has the right to give his or her view during the process and to have this view given due consideration if his or her age and maturity justify it.
CRC Committee, General Comment No. 12: The right of the child to be heard, 2009, http:// tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/ Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC%2fC%2fGC%2f12&Lang=en. 6 IIS/IRC Bulletins N°4/2010, 5/2010 and 6-7/2010. 5
MANIFESTO FOR ETHICAL INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION