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Adoption

The international community takes a number of measures and precautions to ensure that the adoption process is conducted in a transparent and adequate manner in the best interests of the child. In Malta, adoption has evolved from an unregulated private matter, to adoption of children from a number of countries and more recently to regulation, good practice and record keeping. The Social Care Standards Authority regulates both local and intercountry adoptions. The Authority works with a number of Ministries and entities with the aim of better regulating this field.

The Central Authority regulates Adoption through the following:



Adoption Agencies and Accreditation​
 
The Central Authority by law has been given the duty to accredit Adoption Agencies locally. Accreditation defines the agencies that are working on intercountry and local adoptions and aids in preventing private adoptions. Such agencies provide the services and as such have direct contact with the Prospective Adoptive Parents. 

Discussions were also held with the VAT Commissioner to recognise the Accredited Adoption Agencies VAT exempt entities according to Article 11, Sub item 4 of Chapter 406, 5th schedule Part Two - Exemptions without credit.  This was endorsed by the VAT Commissioner following the presentation of the Statutes of the agencies and it resulted in less fees to be paid by Prospective Adoptive Parents.  

The Hague Convention stipulates that the Agencies should not work for profit.


Adoption Board​

The Adoption Board is independent from the Central Authority, and as per the Adoption Administration Act, it regulates its own procedures. The Board is composed of a Chairperson and a minimum of another four professionals representing different disciplines. 

More information about the Adoption Board can be found in the Adoption Administration Act.  


Local Adoption 

Many misconceptions still exist with regards to children locally.  The aim of any adoption is not to give a child to a family, but to give a family to a child.

Children can be placed for adoption either with the parent’s consent or through dispensation of consent as per Civil Code Title III of Adoptions.   Additionally, when a Care Order is issued, it does not necessarily mean that the child/children involved will automatically be given up for Adoption.  The recommendation is done through the child's social worker after consulting with the Agency lawyers, who in turn examine whether the provisions mentioned in the Civil Code to place a child for an adoption placement are met.  It is understandable that removal of parental rights is to be used with caution in the best interests of the child. Moreover, this is done when there are preconditions for a parent to get back his or her child, such as rehabilitation programme.


Intercountry Adoption, Hague Principles, Government Initiatives and Sending Countries​

Intercountry adoptions are regulated by the Hague Convention, and whenever the Social Care Standards Authority or the private agencies look into the possibility of making contact with a new sending country, ideally these should be Hague signatory countries.  Agreements or procedures with such countries ensure transparency and counterpart Central Authorities with which to communicate.​
                    • ​​​​General Principles of the Convention include ensuring adoptions take place in the best interests of the child and with respect for his/her fundamental rights.
                  • Also through the Subsidiarity Principle ‘an adoption within the scope of the Convention shall take place only if the competent authorities of the State of origin have determined, after possibilities for placement of the child within the State of origin have been given due consideration, that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interest. 
                  • Establishing safeguards to prevent abduction, sale and trafficking of children for adoption. 
                  • Also by preventing improper financial gain and corruption the Convention specifically states that no one shall derive improper financial or other gain from an activity related to intercountry adoption.
                  • Establishing co-operation between states, and hence the creation of a Central Authorities.
                  • Ensuring authorisation of competent authorities.
                  • The Convention also speaks of expeditious procedures; however, it does not set and specify time limits for the actions.  The term 'act expeditiously' is understood to mean 'to act as quickly as a proper consideration of the issues will allow'.

The Receiving State will need to exercise restraint and not create pressures on States of Origin to have or maintain a ‘supply’ of children and on the other hand the States of Origin need to consider resisting inappropriate pressures of the Receiving State.

Throughout the years the Maltese governments have taken up several initiatives to incentivise the Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs). These include; free injections to PAPs when travelling to sending countries; the waiving off of Apostille related-fees for adoption- related documents; and adoption leave for adoptive parents (this also applies to local adoptions).

The government has also introduced the grant of 10,000 Euros for Prospective Adoptive Parents.  

Further information on this grant please click here.


Private Contacts

Some Prospective Adoptive Parents opt to travel with adoption documents to sending countries without passing through the Central Authority or one of the accredited agencies.

There are several risks associated with such practices including the possibility of child trafficking especially when the sending country is not a Hague signatory.  Moreover, the Central Authority cannot endorse such practices as the Hague Convention does not look favourably upon such contacts and arrangements.  Such practices also risk Malta's reputation as a Receiving Country.

The Central Authority recommends that these Prospective Adoptive Parents inform the Central Authority of their private contact before making any travelling arrangements and give the required time for the Central Authority to check whether such contact has been accredited by his/her country to carry out intercountry adoptions.

Private Adoptions

The Adoption Administration Act stipulates that ‘any person or organisation that makes arrangements for the adoption of a child without the authorisation of the Central Authority shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment’.  

The Social Care Standards Authority has established internal procedures to be followed whenever such cases are reported by the Health Authorities, the agencies, the general public, or any other source.  The Authority also works closely with Aġenzija Appoġġ, the Police Force, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Adoption Board, whenever such cases are reported.


Search of origins

The Convention recommends that information about the child’s origin and birth families should be kept and tracing should be made possible and done in a professional manner.

The Central Authority receives requests by adoptees and/or adoptive parent/s (on behalf of adoptee/s who might be under 18) to learn about their birth family


Tracing of Birth Families
 
The Central Authority also receives requests by:

  1. ​Adoptees and/or adoptive parent/s (on behalf of the adoptee/s who might be under 18) to learn about their birth family; and
  2. the birth parents who wish to make contact with adoptees (who might be minors or above the age of 18). 


When the adoptees contact us (point no. 1 above) to seek information about their birth family they can either be:
  • Living in Malta since their adoptive parents would be Maltese who would have adopted from abroad, and
  • Living abroad since their adoptive parents would be foreigners who would have adopted from Malta. 

The Central Authority meets/communicates with the adoptees or their adoptive parents in case of minors and requests a signed declaration to proceed with the search. During this meeting, an explanation is given about the procedure the Central Authority will follow, and the documents which need to be provided.  Legal provisions are non-existent in view of birth families trying to trace the child they would have given up for adoption years before.
The Convention recommends that information about the child's origin and birth families should be kept and tracing should be made possible and done in a professional manner.


Statistics

Statistics relevant to adoptions are compiled yearly by the National Statistics Office upon data provided by the Public Registry.


Accredited adoption agencies

Agency name: Adoption Opportunities
Address: 167, 2nd Floor, Atocia Street, Hamrun
E-mail: info@adoptionopportunities.org.mt
Website: www.adoptionopportunities.org.mt
Telephone number: +356 2125 1479 / +356 9942 2447

Agency name: Aġenzija Tama
Address: SUB007, Industrial Estate, San Gwann​ 
Email: info@agenzijatama.com
Website: www.agenzijatama.com
Telephone number: +356 7920 9733 / +356 9905 2334​

Agency name: Foundation for Social Welfare Services – Alternative Care Directorate (Children and Young People) – Adoption Services (previously known as Appoġġ)
Address: 36, St Luke’s Road, Gwardamanġa PTA 1318
Email: alternativecare@gov.mt
Website: www.fsws.gov.mt
Telephone number: +356 2295 9000