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The Politics of Child Protection in Romania

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights
Author: Andrew Bainham1
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  • 1 University of Cambridge
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Abstract

This paper challenges criticism of Romania's new child protection and adoption legislation, passed in 2004 and implemented in January 2005. It responds to the argument that Romania's indefinite moratorium on inter-country adoption (except in cases of family adoption) embodied in the new legislation, is a breach of international obligations. It is argued that pressure on Romania to lift the moratorium is based on a misunderstanding of the problems Romania has faced and of the substantive content of the new laws. Institutionalisation of young children is prohibited and, for older children, clear priorities are created for re-integration in the natural family or, failing that, foster care or family-type accommodation before accommodation in an institution can be considered. It is further argued that there has been an unhealthy preoccupation in the West with the single issue of inter-country adoption to the neglect of these other positive reforms to the Romanian child protection system and the programme of de-institutionalisation. The view is taken that criticism of Romanian reforms relies on a distorted notion of what constitutes 'abandonment' and the status of 'orphan'. The author concludes that Romania should robustly resist political pressure to lift the moratorium, largely originating from the pro-adoption lobby in the United States and, most recently, apparently endorsed by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

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