It seems like the pandemic for 2020 wasn’t enough, they had to change – in Hungary – the laws regulating adoption too. Part 5 of the series (read previous parts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) summarizes these changes that took place in both June and November. The series is about a couple living in Hungary, so it presents the adoption system of Hungary. Written by Noémi Szabó.
I personally don’t know when did they introduce so many novelties to the subject (since I only started to delve into the subject more deeply in 2020), but according to most sources it seems like it was a long time ago. To me it is a bit questionable why it had to be in the middle of a pandemic for someone to bring this up. On top of that, it does not necessarily steer the regulation and thus the operation in a positive direction.
At the beginning of July, we listened to a roundtable discussion on this subject, moderated by Zsuzsa Mártonffy and attended by three experts:
- Mária Herczog, sociologist, president of the Family, Child, Youth Association,
- Nedda Kántor, psychologist, member of the board of the Mózeskosár (Moses Basket) Association,
- Léna Szilvási, Program Director of SOS Children’s Villages, an adoptive parent herself.
Based on what was said in the discussion and the credible sources available on the Internet, I will briefly summarize the amendments (such as to the Child Protection Act and the Civil Code) that are in force since 1 September 2020 and concern the support of adoptions.
1.Optional but free course
Some of you probably know that there is an official course approved by the RCPS (Regional Child Protection Services) in Hungary, which helps prospective adoptive parents to make adoption as successful as possible. It shows the expected difficulties, prepares the parents for the “package” that the child will bring with him/her in connection with the traumas he/she has experienced so far. It sensitizes future parents to sick, Romani and older children. It describes the concept and role of attachment in family life (I will write about this in detail in a later part). It demonstrates sibling adoption, follow-up, and highlights the best possible relationship with the biological family. All this in 40 hours.
The course has been behind a paywall so far, so the RCPS was constantly subsidized to organize it year after year. It was also mandatory, as its usefulness is not questioned by anyone. But starting from September it won’t be compulsory anymore, so the knowledge that can be acquired there will not reach all applicants, and prospective parents can obtain the certificate of aptitude for adoption without it. The reasoning behind is that this can speed up the process of obtaining the certificate (and thus the child). It is now also free of charge, which is an advantage for the applicants, but a disadvantage for the RCPS, as they now have lost the income they use to organize the courses. But there won’t be fewer courses – for now. Experts say it will have a detrimental effect on adoptions if people do not attend the training, and it is also certain that the RCPS will give preference to applicants who have completed it.
2.Age difference – up to 50 years
Until now, there could have been a maximum of 45 years of age difference between the adoptive and adopted person. According to experts, the main reason for this was that older parents may be less flexible.
Now this age difference – in the case of a non-newborn child – has been extended to 50 years. This can be an advantage in some cases: it gives older children a chance too, and an older foster parent can adopt their foster child. But the wording “permissible for the benefit of the child” can cover a lot of things; the conditions are not clearly laid down. Otherwise, it is likely that the RCPS, as long as they have a choice, will favor younger applicants.
3.Children can be adopted sooner
Prior to the amendments, the RCPS had to wait 6 months to declare a child adoptable if his or her parents did not seek him or her during that time, giving the biological family the opportunity to keep in touch and not be torn away from them forever. On the other hand, it may have been a disadvantage for a child when it was known in advance that they could not / did not want to keep in touch with him – as he had to wait 6 months before he could be declared adoptable.
That has changed to 3 months now. However, according to experts (contrary to the decision-makers’ reasoning), this will not lead to shorter waiting times, because it would be useless to declare someone theoretically adoptable after 3 months if the system does not have the capacity to do so. There are not enough people working at the RCPS to make these many new (adoptability) decisions in time.
4.Stricter rules for singles
Before September, it was an unspoken rule to give preference to married couples. We already knew that, and prepared accordingly.
But now there is a written rule as well, according to which a child is offered first to married couples from the county, and then to married couples from different counties, and singles’ turn only comes if none of the above accept the little one. If, perhaps, the single applicant does not adopt the child, he or she, since his or her third adoption attempt was also unsuccessful, will most likely go abroad – a new country, a new language, a new culture. I ask the question: why would it be better for him/her out there with two parents than at home with one parent?
5.Extra holiday to become friends with the child
Expectant parents finally get an extra10 days off for the period when they can get to know the child!
6.It is forbidden to make false statements
I think this should go without saying for all people, but it still seems to have been highlighted separately. If someone lies about their circumstances during the aptitude test, they cannot get a positive decision (at least I hope so, but it is not so specifically worded), and the document they have already obtained will also be reviewed.
It has also finally been described that the joint adoption of siblings benefits children in most cases, so the process must work on this principle – which has been similar in theory so far as well. This is also facilitated by the fact that if one sibling has already been adopted by someone, that person enjoys the advantage in adopting the other siblings.
After that, there were other changes once again November because the Fundamental Law was changed for the ninth time. In this, the most disturbing sentence for many was, “A mother is a woman, a father is a man.” We couldn’t really expect anything else from the current government.
Although this does not directly affect domestic adoptions, it does not in any way point in the right direction. You may remember that in Part 3 of the series, I wrote that one of the most surprising things to me was when I learned that even gay or lesbian couples can adopt children. Well, that’s become increasingly unlikely, since it’s only half a step from the sentence above to much more specifically prevent them from doing so. And again, I ask the question: why would a child be better off abroad with two parents than at home with one parent? In a foreign country, he/she has to learn a foreign language and culture, but at home he/she retains his/her mother tongue and maybe gets two same-sex parents. I don’t think there’s any problem with loving, caring same-sex parents – but that’s another topic that doesn’t fit here now.
In the next part, we start preparing to begin the aptitude process.
Source of featured image: pexels.com
Translation by Ágnes Sturcz