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Adoptions from Romania have been halted since June 21, 2001. The new adoption law of 2004 restricts adoptions by foreigners to only grandparents and siblings. Adoptions by non-relatives abroad are not possible. Official declarations in Europe and the U.S. urge Romania to finalize 1,100 pending cases.

Possible moratorium on Romanian adoptions -- In June 2000 there was talk of a three-month moratorium on adoptions, to change adoption rules to give preference to local families. In 1999 Romanians adopted 1,720 children, while foreigners adopted some 2,700. (70 children went to Canada.) The intent would have been to encourage local families to adopt the 91,000 abandoned children of various ages who already live in institutions. Another 24,000 children live in foster care. 237,000 babies are born annually in Romania.

EU criticizes Romania -- A June 2001 report by the European Parliament's special envoy for Romania criticized the country for poor treatment of its orphans. The European Union told Romania it must close its large orphanages and move children into smaller homes before it can apply for EU membership. The government said it plans to close 34 of over 500 state orphanages housing 48,000 children.

The European Union wants Romania to improve its treatment of orphans before it can join the EU. An EU report said that Romania is "selling" its children. The June 2001 report by Baroness Emma Nicholson, the European Parliament's special envoy for Romania, criticised the country for "persistent abandonment of children, child abuse and neglect, international adoption and child trafficking." It said EU membership depends on "Romania's capacity to bring her child welfare fully inside the U.N. Convention for the Rights of the Child."

Charities and the Romanian government attacked the EU report for overlooking the progress achieved in caring for Romania's 60,000 abandoned children -- local foster care schemes have taken thousands of children out of state-run institutions and placed them with families.

Moratorium confirmed -- The threat to its possible membership in the European Union caused Romania to suspend international adoptions starting June 21, 2001. The suspension was to run until at least October 2002.

However the U.S. State Dept. announced at its web site,, that the Romanian government has extended its moratorium on adoptions to Feb. 28, 2003. It is expected that the moratorium will stay in place pending new adoption legislation. Although Romania has pledged prompt action, the actual date of enacting and implementating the new legislation can't be predicted.

The Nov./Dec. 2002 issue of Adoptive Families magazine quoted Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase as saying that his government planned to lift the adoption ban in 2002, but only partially -- only a limited number of Romanian children could be adopted by foreigners. New Child Welfare Legislation would "match domestic legislation with the international regulations and practice in this area." The government said the pause gives it time to reform the adoption system, in response to European Union criticism of how Romania treats its orphans.

Backlog of files to be processed -- The Romanian Adoption Committee (RAC), which regulates national and international adoptions, decided on June 21, 2001 (Decision 55) that for a one-year period it would no longer accept adoption applications from foreigners. As for adoptions already in process, RAC would finalize adoption assignments issued up to Dec. 14, 2000. Matches made after that date would not proceed. (A new Romanian government took office in December 2000.)

The June 21 decision was revised in October. On Oct. 9, 2001 Romania issued Ordinance 121 suspending for one year all international adoptions of Romanian children, apparently freezing even those matches made before Dec. 14, 2000. Romania will use the pause to "match domestic legislation with the international regulations and practice in this area."

For more on the ban, see Government To Push For Maintaining Adoption Ban, Oct. 2, 2001,

Sonia Kondrat,, wrote on Sept. 17, 2001 that the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services received a report on international adoption on Sept. 10, 2001 from the Romanian government. According to the report, home studies already sent to Romania but for which no children have been matched will not proceed until new legislation is passed and a new adoption system is in place.

On Nov. 2, 2001 the International Adoption Families Assn. in Alberta said in its update on Romanian adoptions that Romania's new Child Welfare Legislation, due for October, will not be enacted until January. It would allow all adoption files received by RAC up to June 21, 2001 to be processed. The moratorium on accepting new files would run from October 2001 to October 2002. [ -- Peter and Haley Mrazik, IAFA Romania Coordination Program,, ]

Fearing that international adoption from Romania may shut down forever, a Campaign for Continuing Romanian Adoptions has been started by Laura LeVigne, mother of four from Romania. She aims to influence those deciding on the future of Romanian adoptions, through letters, scrapbooks and videotapes. [ -- Laura LeVigne, CCRA, Box 1641, Castle Rock CO 80104, ]

You can join Romanian Adoption Project -- (Oct. 25, 2002) Research on Romanian adoptees continues. Simon Fraser University in British Columbia has been tracking the development of B.C. children adopted from Romanian orphanages in the early 90s. In 1997 Dr. Elinor Ames retired and Dr. Lucy Le Mare, also from SFU, took over as head of the Romanian Adoption Project. Dr. Le Mare plans to start the next phase two years from now. She seeks to widen the research to include families from across Canada, as well as B.C. families not involved in earlier phases. If you've adopted a Romanian child and would like to take part, contact Lynda Fernyhough at the research office, 604-291-5687, Reach Dr. Le Mare at 604-291-3272,

How the Romanian orphans fared

Nearly 150 Romanian children were adopted by B.C. families in 1990 and 1991. The Romanian Adoption Project began in 1991 after Dr. Elinor Ames of Simon Fraser University went to Romania with a group of prospective parents and saw the living conditions of "orphanage" children first hand. Many had started life in severely deprived conditions. Dr. Ames wanted to find out if subsequent good rearing could overcome the effects of early deprivation.

In ten years of following the Romanian orphans researchers have seen them three times. Dr. Ames and her team assessed the children twice. When Dr. Ames retired in 1997 Dr. Lucy Le Mare, also from SFU, took over and with her team saw the children a third time when they were 10 and half years old. Compared to a group of Canadian-born non-adopted children and to a second group of Romanian children adopted early in infancy from either birth homes or maternity hospitals, the children from orphanages showed significantly more difficulties and delays in development.

There were variations within the group of orphans: about a third performed at average or above average levels, another third displayed difficulties in a few areas, and a final third demonstrated significant problems in multiple areas. Their difficulties may continue well into middle childhood. Despite the challenges facing the children, almost all families in the study found the experience of adopting post-institutionalized children to be deeply rewarding. They said they would do it again if they knew then what they know now, and all the children report feeling supported by their families.

Romanian adoptions stay frozen -- The U.S. State Dept. reported on Mar. 3, 2003 that Romania had again extended its moratorium on adoptions, this time to June 1, 2003.

New adoption legislation is expected, but no date is known for restarting adoptions. Reuters said Mar. 27, 2003 that a new law would encourage Romanians to adopt orphans; it would allow foreign adoption only as a last resort if no Romanians could be found to adopt a child. Fees would be scrapped, prospective foreign parents obliged to live in Romania for 18 months and private agencies barred from the process.

New legislation on adoption has not yet won EU approval, Gabriela Coman, the head of Romania's child protection agency, told Reuters May 22.

"The laws are not yet ready. There are lots of observations including from the U.S. Congress, the EU and NGOs," Coman said.

Coman said 4,900 foreigners had submitted adoption applications despite the ban. She said that since 2001 about 500 cases had been granted waivers and allowed to go ahead.

In June 2003 the U.S. State Dept. announced at that, "The Romanian government has extended its moratorium on adoptions until new legislation governing adoption is implemented. The actual date of enactment and implementation of the new legislation cannot be predicted at this time."

This confirms a Reuters report of May 22, 2003 that Romania could not lift its ban on international adoptions in June as promised, and will continue the moratorium indefinitely, until laws can be formulated that meet requirements of the European Union.

International adoptions in Romania have been suspended since June 21, 2001. Romania has said it will use the pause to "match domestic legislation with the international regulations and practice in this area." It would reform the adoption system, to meet criticism of how it treats its orphans. The European Union wants Romania to improve its treatment of orphans before it can join the EU in 2007.

The ban on foreign adoptions was first to run until at least October 2002. This was repeatedly extended, to Feb. 28, 2003, then to June 1, 2003, and then indefinitely. The moratorium remains in effect while Romania works on new adoption legislation to meet requirements of the European Union.

New law bans foreign adoption -- The Romanian government approved draft adoption legislation on March 11, 2004. "Under the new law, a family from abroad can adopt a child only if they are second-degree relatives of the child," said Gabriela Coman, head of Romania's Child Protection and Adoption Authority. Second-degree relatives refers to grandparents and siblings. Ms. Coman said parliament would likely approve the new legislation in May 2004 and the ban would stay in place until the child protection laws could be enforced, probably in 2005.

On June 22, 2004 Romanian President Ion Iliescu signed into law the bill which effectively bans the adoption of orphans by foreigners. The new law, to take effect Jan. 1, 2005, allows only a child's grandparents living abroad to adopt. No other intercountry adoptions are allowed. About 40,000 orphans would continue their life in state institutions. About 30,000 Romanian children have been adopted since 1989.

Romania refuses to allow pending adoptions to proceed -- In a Dec. 16, 2005 posting, U.S. Info at the U.S. State Dept. summarized the stalemate over unfinished adoption cases:

Under pressure from the European Union (EU), Romania in 2001 imposed a moratorium on foreign adoptions after allegations of corrupt officials in the adoption process. At that time the U.S. and other countries asked Romania to allow completion of the adoptions of about 1,100 children, most in state-run orphanages, which were put on hold when the moratorium started.

In 2004, Romania passed a law (which went into effect Jan. 1, 2005) banning adoptions by all foreigners except relatives of the children.

In April 2005, the EU signed an accession treaty with Romania with the goal of membership in January 2007. The EU warned that Romania's accession is not guaranteed; it depends on making progress on issues of corruption, competition and the country's judicial system.

On Dec. 7, 2005 the Romanian government announced it will not permit the completion of the approximately 1,700 intercountry adoptions that were begun before the country banned such adoptions on Jan. 1. About 200 of the so-called "pipeline cases" involved children awaiting adoption by American parents.

Radio Free Europe reported Dec. 14, 2005 that Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu stands by the current adoption law and said authorities will instead promote adoptions within the country. He said the new law meets EU standards "which put the children's interest first, and not those of the possible adoptive parents."

On Dec. 15, 2005 the European Parliament called on Romania to resolve international adoption cases registered during the moratorium. These cases should be resolved "with the goal of allowing inter-country adoptions to take place, where justified and appropriate."

On July 10, 2006 the European Parliament approved a declaration asking the Romanian government to resume without delay pending international adoption cases.

On July 27, 2006 the U.S. Senate passed a resolution urging Romania to modify its ban on international adoptions to allow intercountry adoption by people other than biological grandparents. Romania has ruled out all international adoptions, leaving unaddressed the pending or "pipeline" cases of 1,100 Romanian orphans and abandoned children whom foreign families had applied to adopt before the Jan. 1, 2005 ban. 200 cases involve American families. An identical resolution was passed by the House of Representatives on April 6.

No new developments noted as of June 14, 2007.


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Country News is written by Robin Hilborn,
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Updated June 14, 2007

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