Steps to adopt a child
Posted by elaine brooks on September 18th, 2019
Administrative formalities, waiting periods: adoption can prove to be a real obstacle, whether one has decided to take in a foreign child or a ward of the state. This is why it is important to understand all the steps involved...
Where do I start ?
As attractive as it may be "in theory," adoption in practice requires a significant personal journey on the part of the couple or the person considering the adoption of an adopted child. And for good reason: this often long journey (4 years waiting on average for an international adoption, nearly 5 years for an adoption in France) can be very difficult to live with.
Hence the importance of carrying out a genuine adoption project, upstream of any administrative process. Its objectives :
projecting yourself as parents and as a family (what will our family look like ? Who are we ready to welcome ? Do we want the child to look like us ? Do we want a child adopted in France, abroad ?).
start creating an environment that is suitable for a child who already has his or her own history and thus offers a serene and safe environment.
Whatever its form, this project is all the more important as it constitutes a valuable basis for the Child Welfare Services (ASE) of the Departmental Council, within the framework of the approval procedure. In fact, the wards of the state (often older, with a disability, a health problem and siblings) rarely correspond to the image of the Epinal that some adopters may have, sometimes more tempted to take in a child in infancy, which resembles them. Having a mature adoption plan therefore also makes it possible to facilitate the reception and connection between the child and his future family, if not to speed up the adoption itself.
Obtain approval to adopt
Once the debate about the adoption of a child has begun, the first step is to apply for approval from the ASE of its department. Essential for any international adoption or adoption of a ward of the state, the award of approval is made in several stages :
the first letter of application for approval,
explanation of the adoption procedures, confirmation of the adoption plan and sending of documents,
the ESA's material and Social Survey and the psychological evaluation of adopters,
processing the application.
Within the framework of the law, and in particular the Code of social action and families, this first stage usually lasts about 9 months (the legal period between the confirmation of the application for approval and the investigation), although it may extend beyond this period in some departments due to lack of staff.
Once the approval is obtained, the procedures and the contact persons vary according to the choice of the prospective parents to adopt a child in France or abroad.
Adoption in France: wards of the state
In France, the vast majority of legally adoptable children are wards of the state, i.e. :
children whose parents are unknown (born in x, etc),
any orphan who has not been or could not be adopted by a member of his family,
children entrusted to the ESA following a parental decision or withdrawal of parental authority,
children for whom a court order has been made to abandon them.
These children under state guardianship are now about 2000, one third of whom actually find a new home each year. Until they are adopted, they are placed in foster care or foster care. Note: some children who are candidates for adoption are also placed in the care of the organizations authorized to adopt (OAA). However, they are very few in number : about ten each year.
A couple (or a single person) wishing to adopt a ward of the state, passes, after obtaining approval, through 3 major steps, which can last for several years.
Nomination and membership of the Family Council
The Family Council, which is responsible for the guardianship of the wards of the state, designates prospective adoptive parents according to their plans for adoption, their length of time on the adoption list, etc.it also decides, in particular, on the information given to prospective parents and may, in certain cases, consent to adoption. When the Family Council and The Guardian officially offer a family the reception of a ward of the state, one speaks of membership. This is by no means a final decision on adoption, but it is a key step.
After an initial interview and a reflection period to allow the adoptive parents to refuse or accept an initial meeting, the ASE services put the children applying for adoption into contact with the adoptive families. A placement contract is then signed between the child's Guardian and the family. According to the age of the children, this relationship varies :
- for a newborn, it takes place for a week in the nursery or in the foster family and is supervised by The Professionals of the ASE,
- for an older child, it can last from 1 to 3 months depending on the child. Again, psychologists and social workers support the stakeholders (children and adoptive parents) throughout the meeting.
Following this initial contact, the adopted child or children remain in the family for a period of 6 months or more, during which the ASE services make regular home visits before drawing up an assessment of the adjustment.
The public prosecutor's office shall decide whether or not to accept the child permanently in the new home. The adoption order thus terminates the proceedings.
Adopting a child internationally
The procedures necessary for the adoption of a child abroad depend on various legal factors (law of the child's country of origin, French law, adoption provisions of The Hague Convention) but also on the agency that accompanies the adopters.
More precisely, we distinguish :
adoption through the Agence Française de l'adoption (AFA), a public interest group that brings together representatives of the state, Departmental Councils and associations.
adoption through an OAA, about 40 of these organizations are now authorized in France to help adoptive families in their efforts.
individual adoption, much rarer and more complex.
Whatever the organization accompanying the adoptive parents, they also go through 3 stages which, again, can last several years.
The constitution of the dossier
Once the country of adoption has been chosen, the family applying for adoption must collect all the documents necessary for the processing of its application. It should be noted that the documents required vary from one country to another, even if the adoptive parents are always asked for at least their civil status documents, the file of the ASE and the documents justifying their economic situation.
The visit to the state of adoption
The mandatory or non-mandatory presence of adoptive parents in the child's country of Origin also varies from state to state. However, if a trip is necessary, the families must complete all the formalities related to the departure (application for a visa, prior authorization with the states, rights of representation by a lawyer if it is desired, etc.).)
As in the case of the adoption of a ward of the state, the investigation of the case is first and foremost a matter of affiliation. Once it is established, the adoption must be validated by a judicial or administrative decision of the state of adoption and then of France. Finally, in order for the adoption to be legally recognized, an application for a long-stay Adoption (VLSA) Visa must be made by the adoptive parents to the consular authorities.