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International Adoption Mission

Published on December 20, 2013
Opening speech by Mme Hélène Conway-Mouret, Minister Delegate for French Nationals Abroad (excerpts)

Paris, December 17, 2013

(…)

Child protection and the subsidiarity principle have long been paramount in France’s international adoption efforts. This prompts us to opt for a comprehensive approach, which encourages family structures to be maintained, prevents abandonment and supports parentcraft.

Few host countries pay as much attention to the conditions of adoption or indeed the circumstances surrounding it. Our network of international adoption volunteers, the only one of its kind in the world, reflects France’s resolve to protect children and for adoption policy to be conducted through a cooperation-based approach with countries of origin. (…)

The same cooperation-based approach guides the International Adoption Mission, which helps establish or consolidate, in the countries of origin, central authorities for international adoption.

Thanks to these efforts, and because of the increased number of countries adhering to the 1993 Hague Convention, forms of adoption are changing.

First of all, the number of international adoptions is falling in France. There were 1,569 in our country in 2012, compared with 2,003 in 2011 – a fall partly offset by the rising number of domestic adoptions.

The second change concerns the profile of children adopted. They tend to be getting older: one in three children arriving in France last year was over five years of age. A growing number of children are being adopted with a brother, a sister or sometimes more than one sibling. Finally, 21% of children adopted last year were suffering from illness.

These developments create specific, new needs for families. It is up to the Office of the Minister Delegate for the Family and the Foreign Ministry to address these, so that people can feel confident about starting a family.

This justifies the budget efforts agreed by the state for international adoption. They are significant and long-term. Proof of this: €3 million was allocated to the French Adoption Agency in 2013.

This budget recognizes the action of the Agency, a genuine public service thanks to which adoption applicants are guaranteed equal access [to adoption services]. This is something specific to France, and parents and professionals are very committed to it.

It is important here to highlight what complementary, exemplary work the French Adoption Agency and approved adoption organizations do. (…)

Africa will be at the heart of your discussions today. (…)

Our partnership with Africa has to embrace the forms [of adoption] prevalent elsewhere in the world. We shall play our full part in realizing this ambition:

-  by encouraging a greater number of countries to ratify the Hague convention on the protection of children and international cooperation;

-  by providing certain central authorities in Africa with support to make adoption procedures more secure;

-  by stepping up cooperation with the host countries, in order to make shared screening standards more widely applied;

-  finally, by encouraging the French Adoption Agency and approved adoption organizations to become more established on the continent. (…)./.

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