08 MEDICO-PSYCHO-SOCIAL AND LEGAL ADOPTABILITY OF THE CHILD Declaring a child adoptable begins with a comprehensive evaluation of the child’s social and medical situation, physical and psychological conditions, and legal status. However, the process does not stop there: once complete, this evaluation is a basis for an assessment of the child’s ability to benefit from intercountry adoption. This evaluation indicates the ability to integrate into a radically different family, and cultural and social environment; ability to create attachment ties with new parental figures; and so on. Although it cannot be disputed that all children should be able to grow up as part of a family, adoption is not always the right solution. This is the case for certain children who have been declared adoptable, despite the fact that their profile cites difficulties in terms of their ability to integrate into a family environment or exceeds the capacities of the PAPs. To avoid these pitfalls and prevent adoption failures, the process of declaring the child adoptable must be given to a multi-disciplinary team based on the resources of each country. A call must be made to government-accredited professionals and there must be exchanges of professional skills between the institutions receiving the children, and so on. In situations where the child will not benefit from an adoption, alternative protection measures must be considered.17
The adoptability of the child is not limited to legal criteria; the absence of a medico-psycho-social assessment of the child contravenes international standards and also presents major risks that the adoption will fail.
09 ADOPTABILITY OF CHILDREN WITH ‘SPECIAL NEEDS’ AND NON DISCRIMINATION In numerous countries, children with ‘special needs’ (older children, siblings, children living with a disability or illness) face discrimination linked, for example, with social stigmatisation or the fact that the staff who are responsible for the child do not foresee any family-type protection measure for him or her. These children often grow up in institutions without a long term life plan. As a result, there is reason to establish a system to systematically assess the situation and needs of each child, regardless of his or her profile, based on objective and professional criteria, with a view to seeking out the most appropriate life plan for him or her. The application of the principle of subsidiarity must guide this search, among other things. Various targeted programs have been developed to promote, where appropriate, the adoption of these children and adapt this type of procedure.18 For the PAPs, this ensures that they do not consider children with ‘special needs’ by default. If the discrepancy between the child desired and the child adopted is too big, this creates a known risk of difficulties in terms of the establishment of future filiation ties. Likewise the PAPs capacity and the ability of society as a whole to ensure the care of children with ‘special needs’ must be questioned.
The ‘special needs’ of children must not be considered as an obstacle to adoption. On the contrary, they must be considered as the manifestation of the need of the child to live in a family environment that is suited to him or her.
United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, 2009. ISS/IRC Review N°02-03/2012.
MANIFESTO FOR ETHICAL INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION