EurAdopt – ethical rules
The authorised European Adoption Organisations (hereafter called the organisations), as members of EurAdopt, have agreed to supplement existing rules and legislation in respective countries with the common ethical rules as stated in:
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
UN Declaration on Social and Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, with Special Reference to Foster Placement and Adoption, Nationally and Internationally
The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of lntercountry Adoption
Guidelines of the International Council of Social Welfare (ICSW).
The EurAdopt Ethical Rules follow the chronological order of the ICSW.
When referring to rules which the organisations are obliged to follow, the word 'must' is used; in other cases "should' or 'ought' are used.
The Ethical Rules are divided into four parts:
1 The Biological Parents
2 The Child
3 The Adoptive Parents
4 The Adoption Organisations and their co-operation with other bodies.
THE BIOLOGICAL PARENTS
Parents who relinquish their child for adoption must be given all the necessary information concerning the implications of their decision and also reasonable time to reflect upon their decision. lf possible, alternative proposals should be suggested to them. Parents must always have the opportunitv to change their minds up to the time a decision has been reached by a Court or corresponding authority in the child's country of origin.
Expenses incurred, if any, by the organisation or its contact abroad in relation to the care of the child must not be used as a reason for preventing the parents from having the opportunity to change their minds.
No consent to an adoption may be given before the birth of the child.
There must be no promise of direct financial support of the biological parents which could influence their decision to give up their child for adopcion. If, at a later stage, the adoptive parents wish to help the biological family financially, this shou!d not be done by direct contact but through a suitable organisation.
Except in the case of family adoption, there must be no direct contact between the biological family or their child on the one hand and the future adoptive family on the other before the required consents to the adoption have been given and have become definitive, insofar as the law of the sending country allows it.
Should contact between the biological family and the adoptive family prove desirable at a later stage, this should be established through relevant authorities or organisations. They should use their experience and knowledge to safeguard the right to confidentiality of both the biological and adoptive families while at the same time taking into account the child's right to information about his or her background.
Before deciding whether a child should be placed abroad for adoption. the organisation must be satisfied that no other satisfactory solution for the child could be found in his or her country of origin and that intercountry adoption is in the best interests of the child.
Before the child's representative decides to place the child for adoption, a case study must be prepared by a person qualified in social work, giving details of the child's background, the reason for him or her being given up for adoption, his or her characteristics and special needs. It is not for the organisation to carry out such a case studv but the organisation must work towards it.
lf a person employed by an organisation has direct contact with the family of a child who might be in need of adoption, that person must not take an active part in the placement of the child and the responsible authority must be informed.
Children placed for adoption through the organisation must be medically examined. The organisation must see to it that the children receive good quality care during the waiting time.
Children past the age of infancy must be prepared for the change awaiting them. If the law of the receiving country permits the adoption of children over 10- 12 years of age, these children must give their consent to the adoption.
The organisation must see to it that the child's welfare is safeguarded during the journey to the receiving country.
The organisation should encourage the future adoptive parents, if possible, to travel to the child's country of origin and take him or her home, particularly in cases where the child is past the stage of infancy.
An escort ought not to travel with more than 2 children. The organisation should avoid making arrangements for escorting large groups of children at the same time. A change of escorts should also be avoided.
Biological siblings should be placed with the same adoptive family. Where this is not possible, the organisation has a responsibility to ensure that the future adoptive parents are encouraged to develop a positive attitude towards contact between the siblings.
The child has a right to his or her ethnical and cultural identity. The organisation is responsible for making available to the parents information about the particular ethnical and cultural identity of the child.
It is the right of every adopted child to have access to information concerning his or her background. The organisation is responsible for procuring available information about the child's background and for providing the child's adoptive parents with access to the information. This information should be presented to the child according to his or her age and level of understanding except when this is contrary to the child's best interests.
The organisation should also keep copies of all written information about the child for an unlimited period of time.
THE ADOPTIVE PARENTS
Prospective adoptive parents must be subject to an investigation concerning their suitability to adopt. According to the different national laws, this will be the task of the national competent authorities or the authorised adoption organisation themselves. In any case, a detailed psycho-medico-social report must be prepared.
The organisation has a responsibility towards the child to be adopted as well as towards the child's representative in his or her country of origin concerning the prospective adoptive parents and their suitability to care for an adopted child.
The organisation must see to it that the prospective adoptive parents receive adequate preparation for the adoption. This preparation should be organised either by the adoption organisation themselves or by other competent organisations.
The organisation must inform future adoptive parents of the progress of their adoption case as well as the reason for their application being refused, if this is the case.
The organisation must inform parents of the cost of the adoption and retain evidence of expenses incurred.
The organisation should encourage adoptive parents to keep continuous contact with the organisation while their case is being processed as well as after the arrival of the child, and ensure that the family has the benefit of post-adoption care and counseling.
The organisation must see to it that future adoptive parents complete the adoption as soon as possible, apply for new citizenship for the child and submit reports in accordance with the requirements of the child's representative in his or her country of origin.
Pending the completion of the adoption process, the child should be financially protected (will, insurance, etc.) Adoptive parents who do not fulfil their obligations cannot count on assistance in the case of a new adoption application.
ADOPTION ORGANISATIONS AND CO-OPERATION WITH OTHER BODIES
The organisation must always work to achieve the best interests of the child. The organisation should refuse its co-operation as soon as there is any doubt on this point.
The organisation must work primarily towards providing abandoned children with new families in their home countries and secondly, in other countries. Prevention of abandonment and support for children who cannot be placed with a new family should be included in the programme of the organisation.
The contact with whom the organisation co-operates in the child's country of origin must be an authority, organisation or institution which is authorised to mediate in the field of intercountry adoption according to the laws of that country.
The organisation must procure thorough information of the activities of this contact and establish that these activities, beyond any reasonable doubt, follow the ICSW Guidelines for intercountry adoption.
The organisation must inform the relevant authorities in the child's country of origin of the principles and practices upon which the organisation intends to work.
The organisation is responsible for the working methods of its representatives and co-workers. Representatives and co-workers who might influence the number of children placed for adoption should not be paid on a per case basis. The salary paid to representatives and co-workers by the organisation should be reasonable, taking into consideration the cost of living of the country as well as the scope and terms of the work undertaken.
Fees charged to the organisation by professionals should be commensurate with the work carried out.
Representatives and co-workers responsible for the adoption procedures should have professional or other appropriate training.
Organisations must provide information to the competent authorities of both the sending and receiving countries concerning trafficking in children, improper financial gain and any other abuses. They must promote adoption through licensed or authorised organisations.
The organisations should try to develop practical co-operation amongst themselves concerning the placement for adoption of children with special needs so as to increase their chances of being placed with suitable adoptive families. They should also promote co-operation regarding research, counseling groups, adoptive parents groups, social services etc., and spread the information.
The adoption work should be carried out in such a way that competition for children or contacts should be avoided.
Organisations having or intending to have the same contact in a country should consult and exchange information.
An organisation which terminates co-operation with a contact in a country of origin because it appears that the contact is operating in violation of the ICSW Guidelines or contrary to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child or is ethically doubtful in other ways, must inform other organisations accordingly.
An organisation wishing to express criticism concerning the work of another organisation must convey the matter directly to the organisation concerned and, if necessary, bring the matter to the attention of the EurAdopt Executive Committee.
In cases of serious or repeated breaches, the exclusion from EurAdopt of the organisation concerned should be considered when the matter is referred for discussion at the next plenary session of EurAdopt.
Lage Vuursche, the Netherlands, March 1993