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Schaerbeek couple must give up adopted child after 18 months
A couple from Schaerbeek must relinquish their 18-month-old adopted child to the birth mother, following a decision by a Brussels court. “Legally, this is the correct decision,” said the director of the Adoption House, “but in humanitarian terms, it’s quite dramatic.”
The child was born in the spring of 2016 and arrived in the home of the Schaerbeek couple five days later. The birth mother signed a document confirming she was giving the baby up for adoption and preferred no contact with the adoptive parents.
Last February, the mother announced that she wanted the baby back, and a legal process ensued. The couple was ordered by a judge to give the child up last June and appealed the decision. The appeals court has now upheld the original decision.
In Belgium, a birth mother can change her mind any time before the adoption process is complete. And there is no minimum time period for that. When the mother requested the baby back, the adoption process had not been officially approved via a court verdict.
The adoptive parents are gay men, but it is not clear if that had anything to do with the birth mother’s decision. The parties involved are now making a slow transition, with the child staying with the mother one day a week to get used to the new situation.
Experts agree that removing a child from its home environment after so long a period is traumatic. “In 25 years of supporting adoptive parents, we’ve never seen a case like this,” said Adoption House director Iris Vandenborre. “But it’s important that we not see adoptions within Belgium through the eyes of this one case. Normally with domestic adoptions, the birth parents and the adoptive parents have close contact. This is, in any case, a very sad story.”
Vandenborre also said that she would like to see a change to adoption regulations to give adoptive parents more rights.