Bulgaria’s National Assembly approved on December 13 the second and final reading of amendments to the Family Code affecting adoptions.
Among the main motives of the MPs who tabled the amendments was to facilitate disclosure so that those who have been adopted may learn their parentage.
Up to now, the law has allowed adoptive parents, as well as adopted children who have turned 16, to petition the district court to disclose the identity of the biological parents, but that version of the law allowed disclosure only if there were “important circumstances”.
The approved amendments delete the “important circumstances” requirement.
The amendments also provide for not only the adoptive parents and the adopted person to apply to the court for disclosure of information about the biological parents, now extending those who may apply to the adopted person’s children and spouse.
However, the age at which an adopted person may apply for this information is increased from 16 to 18, the age of majority under Bulgarian law.
The district court will rule on the application, but after hearing the biological parents behind closed doors, in the absence of the adopted child.
Such a hearing will not be held if the parents cannot be subpoenaed under the Civil Procedure Code or are deceased. The court ruling may be appealed against by the petitioner or the prosecutor’s office.
Another amendment provides for non-governmental organisations to serve as mediators on behalf of people seeking disclosure of their biological parents.
The amendments provide for the establishment of an electronic adoption information system and an electronic application form for the adoption of a child. These are to be maintained by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policey and it is envisaged that they should be operational as of January 1 2025.
The amendments say that adoption may proceed only after an expert assessment by a social worker or psychologist.
A further motivation for the amendments was the sharp decline in adoptions in Bulgaria in the past 10 years, with the MPs backing the bill saying that a key reason for this was the administrative difficulty of the adoption procedure.
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