It is not as hard as you may have thought. You only need to reside in Bulgaria officially
Issue 51-52, December 2010 – January 2011
by Dimana Trankova
With the support of the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe and Open Society Institute – Sofia
There was a report in The Sunday Times a few years ago that described how easy it was to purchase a child from some Gypsy quarter in Bulgaria. A healthy child was priced at ₤16,000. The story unleashed a wave of controversy in Bulgaria, including its state institutions. Bulgaria had signed the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption in 2002 but adoptions had been so difficult that some people were tempted to overstep a few rules.
Even Bulgarians who live abroad and want to adopt a child must spend years waiting, without any guarantee that their efforts and hopes will meet with success. "The reason lies in the spirit of the convention," says Fani Davidova, a lawyer and an adoptive parent. The convention states that adopted children must live in a cultural and language environment that is as close as possible to the one that is natural for them.
Because of this, the intercountry adoption procedure that a couple must go through is quite complex. There is a list at the Justice Ministry of the children who are eligible for adoption abroad. They can be put on the list if they have been up for adoption in Bulgaria for at least six months and have been rejected by three prospective adopters.
Those who live outside Bulgaria and want to adopt a Bulgarian child are listed in another Ministry of Justice register. Each application is examined by the Council on Intercountry Adoption, or SMO, a body of representatives of the ministries of justice, health, education, foreign affairs and the State Agency for Child Protection. The council assesses the applicants and determines which child meets the criteria they have presented.
Adoptive applicants who are foreign nationals must qualify as adopters in their own country. They must prove to the SMO that they are in good physical and mental health, that they have not been convicted of any crime and that their parental rights have never been terminated. If they are using the services of an adoption agency, which manages the technicalities of the adoption, they must also present the contract they have with it.
An intermediary is not a must; however, those who choose to use one should check that it is accredited with the Justice Ministry (www.justice.government.bg).
The minister of justice approves each intercountry adoption, which then goes to the Sofia City Court for final endorsement.
Since its establishment in 2003 the SMO has registered 3,565 adoptive applicants, to whom 1,488 offers for the adoption of 1,641 children have been presented. The justice minister has approved 1,040 adoptions for as many as 1,135 children. Between three to six months may pass from the moment when a court determines an applicant as fit to adopt a Bulgarian child to the presentation of their files in court, Milena Parvanova from the Justice Ministry told Vagabond. It may take a considerable amount of time from being registered as a suitable adoptive parent to actually getting a child, as selecting the correct child for each applicant can be a lengthy procedure, and the ministry was unable to give a definite timescale for the whole process.
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers