Helsinki Commission Members Blast Romania Adoption Policies, Call for Immediate Reform

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

WASHINGTON - Members of the U.S. Helsinki Commission criticized Romania’s ban on international adoptions in a hearing held today.  Entitled, “In the Best Interests of the Children? Romania’s Ban on Inter-Country Adoption,” the hearing focused on Romania’s recent implementation of a law prohibiting inter-country adoptions which has blocked over 200 Americans from taking custody of children that they were qualified to adopt.

“The Romanian Government was told by the European Union to ban inter-country adoptions as the price for membership, and they capitulated.  That the EU should demand such a policy is appalling.  That the Romanians should accept it is equally troubling.” said Commission Chairman Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS).  “Romania has denied thousands of children a loving home and a caring family, and the EU is at fault for letting politics get in the way of helping children.”

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords.  The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.

“The law is based upon the misguided proposition that an institution, or even a foster family, is preferable to an adoptive family from outside the child’s country of birth,” said Commission Co-Chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ).  “Each year, 1,000 children are adopted domestically while 8,000 children in Romania are being sentenced to a life without knowing family or a parent’s love.  This is undeniably a human rights abuse.”

Prior to enactment of the 2004 anti-adoption law, approximately 1,700 adoption cases were pending with the Romanian Government.  Of these, 200 children have been matched with adoptive parents in the United States, and the remainder with parents in Western Europe.  Currently, despite promises from the Romanian Government, including President Basescu, none of these “pipeline cases” have been resolved.

“This new Romanian law could very well harm the safety of children.  My heart goes out to the children and families who have been caught up in this troubling new law,” said Commission Ranking Member, Rep. Ben Cardin (D-MD).

“You can be sympathetic with Romania’s need to join the European Union and still recognize that these adoption laws are deeply damaging to the lives of thousands of children,” added Senator Brownback.  “There has to be a better and more humane way to deal with this problem and I urge the EU and Romania to sit down and take seriously the fate of thousands of innocent children and loving families.”

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