Mr Dijkhoff: “Improve the international adoption system, but do not stop it”

The Minister for Migration, Mr Dijkhoff, does not want to stop international adoption, but wants to further improve the scrupulousness and quality of the procedures by taking a number of measures. The Minister for Migration wrote this to the House of Representatives in response to the report ‘The future of the chain for international adoption’ by consultancy Andersson Elffers Felix (AEF) and the advice ‘Reflections on international adoption’ by the Council for the Administration of Criminal Justice and Youth Protection (RSJ). A well-regulated adoption procedure offers opportunities for children who benefit from adoption. In addition, it is an opportunity for persons who wish to have children to fulfil their wish through a legal route.

A first measure taken by the Minister for Migration to make the system future-proof is a more active international policy by the Central Authority on International Children’s Issues (Ca).  The Ca will become more actively involved in contact (developments) with the sending countries, so that it will be easier to identify the countries and organisations with which it cooperates. In principle it will only work together with countries who are a party to the Hague Adoption Convention.

In addition, the Ca will optimise the monitoring of permit holders (in particular in the financial field) and coordinate its supervisory role more closely with the Inspectorate for Youth Care. This means that the Ca can control financial or qualitative risks with licence holders more adequately. ‘In order to increase the effectiveness of this measure, the Ca will be granted a statutory authority to issue a designation order to call licence holders to account. I will present a proposal to amend the Placement of Foreign Children for Adoption Act (Wobka)’, according to Minister for Migration, Mr Dijkhoff.

Because of the decrease in the number of adoptions it is logical to examine the number of licence holders. At present there are five licence holders. In 2005 there were about 1,200 adoptions, while there were about 200 adoptions in 2016. It is expected that the number of adoptions will remain structurally low. This decrease requires a high-quality, but smaller adoption chain. Mr Dijkhoff has therefore proposed to the House of Representatives Kamer to not extend the current permits by definition which have been issued until 2019-2020.

Last of all, the Ca will draw up a system of standards that will be applied within the chain of licence holders, the Foundation Adoption Services and the Child Care and Protection Board. The system of standards refers, amongst others, to the implementation of the subsidiarity principle. This principle implies that the possibilities will first be examined to place the child within the own family, and then a placement in the Netherlands. If there is no other option, the possibilities of foreign adoption will be examined. In this way the policy must become more unambiguous. In the course of 2017 a first step will be taken to implement the above-mentioned measures and the required legislative change.

Finally, the RSJ criticised adoptions from the US, China and EU countries in its advice. The Minister for Migration does not see any reason to end the adoption relationship between the Netherlands and the US and the EU countries. With regard to the United States there are clear collaboration agreements between the Netherlands and the US and the principles and starting-points as stated in the current legislation and regulations have been complied with. The same applies to adoption from EU countries. There is no doubt about the scrupulousness of the procedure and the implementation of the subsidiarity principle. However, adoptions from China are examined critically because of the limited possibility to supervise them. This year an official delegation will travel again to China. Adoption from certain countries may be reconsidered if there is a reason to do so in future.