New measures to better prepare parents for cross-border adoptions

Summary

A new set of measures is being introduced in Flanders to better prepare prospective parents in intercountry adoptions and to support the newly formed family afterwards

One agency from 2023

A number of measures are being introduced to improve the integration of foreign-born children into adoptive families in Flanders. The measures follow a period in which the number of international adoptions dropped significantly.

The reasons for the decrease in the number of intercountry adoptions are varied, according to Flemish family and welfare minister Jo Vandeurzen. Many countries are looking at more options inside their borders for orphaned children. And, while adoptive parents are usually hoping for babies, there are fewer babies available to adopt than previously.

The majority of children who do need adopting tend to be older or in need of specific kinds of care. “The change in the profiles of the children that are entering the adoption system require a special expertise and approach to the services, both in the preparation and supervision of the prospective parents and in the aftercare,” said Vandeurzen.

From now on, adoption agencies in Flanders will be required to follow up with the families until the child is 18. Currently, they are only required to support families for one year after the adoption is finalised. A plan will be formulated that describes the follow-up care required, such as occasional house visits.

Symposium & info sessions

Agencies will also have to adapt to the changing profiles of the children in the already-required preparation phase. The Steunpunt Adoptie expertise centre will co-ordinate this effort.

These measures will facilitate the big change in adoption policy: In 2023, only one agency will be recognised for cross-border adoptions. This, says the family ministry, will “bundle the financial resources, experience and expertise in Flanders, which is crucial for continuing to offer quality services in the changing context of the profile of the children”.

An international symposium on cross-border adoption is being held later this month in Brussels. The first day is in English and reflects on the future of cross-border adoption, while the second day is in Dutch and looks at the challenges faced by children who have been adopted and moved country. Anyone can register for either day, which are very democratically priced.

Steunpunt Adoptie also holds free information sessions for prospective parents. The next session with places still free is on 26 May in Ghent. As they are for locals, these sessions are only in Dutch.

Photo: Ridofranz/Getty Images