By Maria Lopez Conde, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Stories of families increasing their ranks by adopting children from distant lands could soon become commonplace in Brazil. On Monday the National Council of Justice (CNJ) moved to approve a change in the country’s National Adoption Registry (CNA) that facilitates the adoption of Brazilian children by foreign would-be parents.
The resolution, which will go into effect once it is published in the country’s Official Gazette, allows foreigners interested in adopting children in Brazil to follow the same rules and process as Brazilian citizens. In the past, citizens from other countries could only become the parents of Brazilian children after they failing to get adopted by Brazilian parents registered in the country’s database system.
The new rule also allows all municipalities in the country to have access to the contact and registry information of prospect foreign parents, which should facilitate adoptions. Currently, interested adults must reach out to adoption agencies to get registered in the CNA.
“International adoption is a valuable option for family replacement. It opens a safe, lawful and interesting possibility to prevent children remain without shelter. The truth is that, today, a good part of those children reaches the age of eighteen without having lived that fundamental [family] experience,” affirmed adviser Guilherme Calmon in a statement released by the CNJ on Monday.
Brazil has 30,424 people interested in adopting 5,440 kids and adolescents up to the age of seventeen. São Paulo state has the largest number of children registered in the adoption database with 1,341, followed by Rio Grande do Sul with 702. The number of kids left without adoptive parents increases with age, as statistics show most prospect parents express interest in infants.
According to the CNA, there are only eight children under the age of one looking for a family, while there are 628 16-year-old teenagers in the database at the moment. The CNJ hopes the new measure will “increase the number of adoptions of children and youth whose profile does not fit those of Brazilian prospect parents.”
Despite media coverage of growing adoptions from China and well-documented adoptions by actresses and singers such as Angelina Jolie and Madonna, numbers show that international adoptions have dropped almost fifty percent since 2004. Statistics from the U.S. State Department show that the number of children adopted by U.S.-based parents, the top destination country for adopted children, diminished to 8,668 in 2012 after reaching an all-time high in 2004.
Experts say adoption agencies that cater to international would-be parents are facing increased regulation, bureaucracy and paperwork meant to slow down adoptions in popular “sending” countries like Russia and China, and facing delays and slowdowns in countries where there is more interest, such as Ethiopia. Demand for children from foreign countries has not dropped, but regulation has.
Brazil is hoping a simplified system will help older children find homes. The President of the Adoption Commission of the Brazilian Institute of Family Rights (IBDF), Silvana do Monte Moreira, told O Globo newspaper that the new approved rule corrects an interpretation mistake in the current law, which had already stipulated that both foreign and Brazilian parents interested in adopting children would appear in the same registry in 2009. States across Brazil, however, set up their own adoption databases after that date, which did not incorporate nationwide registry information.
“Outside of Brazil, primarily in Europe, there is a culture of adopting older orphans. These are countries that went through wars, catastrophes and for that reason have a larger number of orphans. That will really help diminish adoption lines. In Brazil, the culture of adoption is geared towards newborns, even though that has changed a bit in the last few years,” Moreira said adding that Brazil’s system’s protects the “safety and well-being of children.”