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Adopting a child in France

Adopting a baby

If you decide that you want to adopt children while you’re living in France, there are several different possibilities, from French state adoption agencies to US-based companies specialising in international adoption. It’s difficult, but if you’re really determined, and you’re prepared to be patient, you will succeed.

Married couples who are both over 28 or have been married for more than 2 year are eligible to be considered as adoptive parents. Following a recent change in the law, single people, can now adopt, if they are over 28. But single parents can only adopt foreign children, if it is legal in the child’s country of origin).

The first step in the adoption process is to contact your local DDASES (Diréction Départmentale de l’Action Sociale, de l’Enfance et de la Santé). You must submit an application, including social, medical and psychological reports and it is the DDASES which will assess your suitability. It takes about nine months to get the result, but as only 3% of the applications are turned down it’s unlikely that you will be , and if you, you can always appeal. Once your suitability has been confirmed, the right to adopt is valid for five years, which it can easily take to adopt a child. To adopt a French child, you can either request a pupille de l’Etat or contact one of the private agencies like Famille adoptive française or Les Nids de Paris. Once your application has been accepted and the DDASES have placed a child with you, there is an initial trial period called the placement en vue d’adoption. This is standard procedure to ensure that the child and parents are well suited and that they have successfully adapted to their new life. You can also adopt directly following article 347 of the Civil Code. In this case, consent is given by either of the natural parents, and is most common in the case of intra-familial adoption, where the child must be at least 2 years old.

Adopting abroad
It’s easier to adopt a foreign child than a French child. Between 1979 and 1998, 47, 750 foreign children were adopted in France. About 35 countries are open to international adoption, with the former Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa offering the most possibilities. Each country has its own laws though. For example, in both Algeria and Morocco (along with most Islam countries) adoption is illegal. In Thailand, single people and unmarried couples are not judged suitable to be adoptive parents. In Polynesia, a French territory which in theory should follow French law, there is no official organising body, and adoption is carried out mainly by word-of-mouth. In general, foreign children can only be adopted through an accredited centre, and it is a long and not always successful process.

The other option is to establish links directly with an orphanage in a foreign country and find a lawyer who specialises in international adoption to support your request. With foreign adoption there are often many nuances and variations. This should not discourage you, but be sure to seek advice from the relevant organisation to ensure that it runs as smoothly as possible for the child. The French government has the final say as to whether an adoption is legal, so it is vital to have a French lawyer who specialises in international adoption.

Everyone always assumes that adoption is an outrageously expensive process, but in fact how much you pay depends very much on which route you take. Strictly speaking, if you want to adopt a French child and you go through the Aide sociale service, it shouldn’t cost you a penny. Adopting a foreign child should be free too, but don’t forget all the travel, hotel bills, translation, medical and nationalisation costs which cannot be avoided. If you do it through a private agency, expect to pay significantly more, as they will claim their expenses and will obviously be offering their services with a profit margin built in. And one last word of warningÉdon’t think that the more you pay, the better the service. There are horror stories of adoptive parents who have forked out up to 200 000F and found themselves mixed up in a child trafficking racket! Dave and Paula Harmer, an American couple desperate for a child, paid 75 000F and never even saw their child—except on a photo. While private agencies vary enormously, adopting a foreign child through the state bodies should cost you between 30 000F and 60 000F. Never pay in cash!

Psychologists and psychiatrists seem to agree almost unanimously that you should tell your child that he is adopted. If you start the process of explaining to your child that he is adopted when he is sufficiently young, he will generally find it easy to accept and is unlikely to ask many questions about it. It is advisable for you as adoptive parents to be aware of cultural, social and medical issues of your child’s country of birth so that you can provide the best support in the future. The legislation concerning international adoption has become much more stringent in recent years. Chris and Hilary, a British couple, were travelling in India in the early seventies. "We were visiting a maternity hospital in Calcutta. There were woman lying in the hallways giving birth, babies screaming constantly, flies everywhere. One woman held out a week-old child and begged us to take her, saying she couldn’t look after her. We took her home and brought her up as our daughter." With increasing concern for children’s rights, this could certainly never happen today.

Further information.
Williams International Adoptions : US company specialising in international adoption: 001 901 3736003

Allô Social : Helpline run by the Mairie de Paris covering all matters of social benefits: 01 40 27 98 00

Mission pour l’Adoption Internationale : 244 bd Saint-Germain, 75007 Paris. 01 43 17 94 65

La Famille Adoptive Française 90, rue de Paris, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt. 01 48 25 61 86

Enfance et Familles d’Adoption 3, rue Gérando, 75009 Paris. 01 45 26 90 73

Un Enfant , Une Famille Deals mainly with adoption of children with special needs.
110, rue de Fleury, 92140 Clamart. 01 46 42 12 18

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