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  • Savina Naydenova

New changes in the Family Code regarding the adoption procedure


The Law on Amending and Supplementing to the Family Code, which was published in the State Gazette on 22.12.2023, introduced changes related to adoption, particularly about full adoption and the ability to access information about the origin of an adopted child. 

 

With the newly accepted amendments, the legislator introduced an upper limit for the age difference between adoptees and adoptive parents. As a result, the adoptive parent must be at least fifteen years, but no more than fifty years, older than the adoptee. When the adoption is made simultaneously or successively by two spouses and there the age difference is compiled for one of them, no such difference is required for the other spouse. Such age difference is not required as well in case of a spouse adopts a child of his or her spouse, in the case of an adoption by a grandparent or by one of grandparents and in the case of an adoption by a third-degree relative of a relative by consanguinity.

 

Another amendment refers to the case of a request for adoption of a grandchild by a maternal or paternal grandparent. When deciding on the issue, the court must now request an opinion from the Agency for social assistance at the permanent address of the claimants.

 

The adopted amendments stipulate that the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy shall establish, maintain and operate a National Electronic Information System for Full Adoption. This system will contain data on children eligible for full adoption, prospective adoptive parents, their preferences, and all stages of the adoption process. The data of the information system will be accessible to chairpersons, council members, and officials of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the State Agency for Child Protection, and the Agency for social assistance. These individuals will be designated by the Minister of Labour and Social Policy. By 1 January 2025, the National Electronic Information System for Full Adoption and the Electronic Platform for Application for Adoption of Children under Full Adoption will be established. Until the electronic platform is implemented and put into operation, the National Electronic Information System for children who can be adopted under full adoption and the registers of children who can be adopted under full adoption will continue to function as before. 



According to the recent changes, if a child is placed administratively under the Child Protection Act and their parents are unknown or have consented to a full adoption, the competent Agency for social assistance according to the child's current address must issue an order for the child's registration in the information system within 7 days of placement. Similarly, if a child whose parents have not given consent for full adoption is placed under the Child Protection Act in a social or integrated health-social service for residential care or a foster family, and the parent has not requested the termination of the placement or a change of the measure and placement in a family of relatives or close relatives without a justified reason, the director of the Agency for social assistance at the child's current address must issue an order to enter the child in the information system within 7 days. A child who has been placed under the Child Protection Act in a social or integrated health-social service for residential care or a foster family shall be entered in the information system on the basis of a court decision of the district court according to child's current address when the parent has requested the termination of the placement and the return of the child, however the conditions for the latter have not been met due to the non-cooperation of the parents.  In such a case, the competent Director of the Agency for social assistance according to the child's current address shall submit an application to the court within one month of the consideration of the parent's request, to which the Director shall attach a reasoned assessment of the reasons for the failure to reintegrate or to modify the measure. The application shall be dealt with under the expedited procedure.

 

Adoption without parental consent is permitted when the child has been placed in a social or integrated health-social service for residential care or a foster family and the parent has not, within the term of 6 months from the date of the placement under administrative procedure in accordance with the Child Protection Act, without reasonable cause, requested the termination of the placement and the return of the child or a change of the measure and placement in a family of relatives or relatives in accordance with the Child Protection Act. Adoption without parental consent shall also be allowed where the parent has requested the termination of the placement and the return of the child or a change of the measure and placement in a family of relatives or close relatives, but the conditions for this have not been fulfilled due to the non-cooperation of the parents and in the absence of a family of relatives or close relatives.

 

After the adopted amendments, the application for the full adoption of a child will be made through the electronic platform for the registration permit in the information system. When adoption of a child with habitual residence abroad is desired, the Agency for social assistance shall issue a certificate of suitability on the basis of a social investigation.

 

Another significant change in the Family Code related to adoption has been introduced, namely the possibility to obtain information on the origin of the adopted child. According to the new provision of Article 105 of the Family Code, the adoptive parents, the adoptee who has reached the age of eighteen, his/her descendants, the husband or the wife, respectively, may request that the district court which issued the adoption decision provide them with information on the adoptee's origin. This shall be done by the District Court with closed door hearing, after giving notice of the proceedings to the adoptee's birth parents without his presence and hearing the prosecutor's report, making a decision. Notification of the adoptee's parents of origin shall not take place in cases where they cannot be identified under the Code of Civil Procedure or are deceased. The decision of the district court may be appealed by the petitioner and protested by the public prosecutor. The state bodies and local self-government bodies which keep the information on the date, case number and court which ordered the adoption shall be obliged to provide it to the person requesting the information in order to exercise the right under par. 1, as well as information about the origin of the adopted person or concerning him personally, when the court has allowed the disclosure of the data by a court decision.

 

The new changes create the possibility to mediate the origin of adopted persons. The mediation on the origin of adopted persons is to be carried out at the request of persons who have a decision to provide them with information on the origin of the adopted person and includes counselling on making appropriate contact with the parents of origin and facilitating meetings between the adopted person and the parents of origin. Such mediation may be carried out by a non-profit-making public benefit entity authorised by the Minister of Labour and Social Policy. This permit shall be issued for a period of two years. The terms and conditions for granting and withdrawing authorisation for the activities of intermediaries of origin will be determined by a regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy.

 

If you have any questions regarding this article, please do not hesitate to contact us at office@peshkovski.bg 

 

This publication is informative in nature and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion.

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