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Adoption in the News

Discrimination in family life

A court in Spain has ruled that a deaf couple can adopt a baby who can hear, after they appealed against the decision by social services to only consider them for the adoption of a deaf child. In their review of the prospective parents’ suitability for adoption, social services said the parents were not “the best option” for a hearing child, as the child’s development would be affected. But in its ruling, the court established that the couple are indeed able to raise a child from a young age regardless of whether he or she is deaf or not, after considering research that shows how hearing children who also know sign language have greater-than-average visuospatial skills, and that “under no circumstances does learning sign language inhibit cognitive development”. Two Spanish organisations, CNSE and Fescan, which uphold the rights of deaf people welcomed “[the] landmark ruling, as it recognises the right of people with disabilities to form a family on an equal footing with other citizens,” and that “being a deaf mother or father does not hinder the education or happiness of a child, be they biological or adopted.”

Meanwhile an Indian judge called for both the names of step-parents and biological parents to be included in children’s passports. The suggestion was made during a case in which a woman applied to the court to have the name of her husband and step-father of her daughter from a previous marriage included on the child’s passport. Although there is no legislative provision which permits this, the court allowed the step-father’s name to be included, reasoning that it was in the best interests of the child and because the biological father did not have any presence in the child’s life. Nonetheless, the judge noted that the child’s long-term interests, such as for example their right to inherit the estate of their biological father, should not be disregarded. Saying that the only way in which the parent-child relationship can be severed is through full adoption, Justice V Ramasubramanian from the Madras High Court, said that regulations should be amended to include additional columns for more names on children’s passports.

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Social Affairs has banned all adoptions of foreign children except children of marriages between Saudi men and foreign women. Adoptions, which in countries with an Islamic legal system have to comply with the kafala system - a form of entrusted guardianship in which there is no transfer of legal parenthood - of children from Syria and Iraq have been on the rise in the country with the Saudi State providing material assistance to the adoptive families. However, a representative of the ministry justified the ban on the grounds that it is not their responsibility to “sponsor Arab children who lost their parents in conflicts, such as in Syria and Iraq. There are global humanitarian organisations that deal with these cases.”

Turkey breached the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in a case concerning the right of single adoptive parents to be registered as a child’s parent, in a unanimous ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. The applicant in the case complained over the Turkish authorities’ refusal to enter her name as parent of her adoptive child in the civil register instead of the child’s biological mother. At the time the applicant first made her request, there was a gap in the law, however, in 2009, Turkey passed legislation allowing the names of single persons adopting a child to be included. Nonetheless, it took the applicant three years from the adoption to obtain the change in records. The Court’s decision delivered last week finds that there has been a violation of the woman’s right to family life under Article 8 of the ECHR.


From CRIN Children's Rights International Network

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