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May 23, 2022



Czech Republic: Dozens of Romani orphans being adopted abroad

Czech Republic, 24.9.2013 22:05, (ROMEA)

News server reports that Romani orphans have much greater difficulties finding adoptive families in the Czech Republic than non-Romani orphans do. Every year, dozens of Romani children from the Czech Republic are adopted by families abroad who have no problem raising them.

Romani children from the Czech Republic have been adopted by families in countries such as Denmark, Germany, Italy and Sweden. In recent years hundreds of Romani children from the Czech Republic have found adoptive families in western countries.

Romani children have a harder time being adopted in the Czech Republic because of prejudice and because the system itself is behind the times. Zdeněk Kapitán, director of the Office for the International Legal Protection of Children (Úřad mezinárodně-právní ochrany dětí - UMPOD), knows all about this.

UMPOD arranges for adoptions by families abroad, as this is internationally recognized to be the best option, or rather, less harmful than keeping orphans in the Czech Republic, where institutionalization is extraordinarily overdeveloped. Every year UMPOD facilitates the adoptions of an average of 40 children by families abroad.

While the children's ethnic origins are not officially determined, Romani children are said to comprise the vast majority of those adopted abroad. Reportedly 99.3 % of all foreign adoptions are successful, which means the children remain with their new families.

"Czech society is very prejudiced, but that is not the only reason these children fall through the system until someone from abroad adopts them," Kapitán told the daily Právo. "The Office has not yet encountered a case of a foreign applicant requesting children of a certain ethnicity, unlike applicants in this country. Based on my personal experience and the progress reports, I can say that racial prejudices are not a source of unmanageable problems for adoptive families in foreign countries."

Kapitán said finding adoptive families or foster care for a Romani child in a society where many deeply-rooted prejudices exist is an "unbelievably difficult task" and that adoptive parents in the Czech Republic deserve respect. The well-known fates of some adoptive parents in the country who have had bad experiences with their Romani wards might be influencing the decisions of other potential foster parents.

In such cases it is not so much ethnic origin that plays a role as an identity crisis that gets out of hand, referred to by those working in the field as "the call of the blood". In the West such problems are addressed, but in the Czech Republic there is no support system in place for this. 

"We know that in Germany, Italy and Sweden there are informal groups of people who get together because they have adopted children from the Czech Republic, and they maintain a kind of continuity for one another. They often call for meetings with the biological family, and that can turn out either badly or well. However, they are prepared for these problems and they know how to solve them," Kapitán said.

The director says police findings show that adoptive families in the Czech Republic just let their children's problems "digest" for five or 10 years, which means they tend to first start manifesting themselves as petty shoplifting, for example, but can become full-fledged criminal activity by the time a child is 17. "This has nothing to do with the child's ethnicity. It happens, for example, when a white family adopts an Asian child," he emphasized.    

The director has frequently reminded authorities that the adoption system in the Czech Republic needs to be changed. In the West both adoptive and foster parents are thoroughly prepared to hand all eventual problems connected with bringing new children into families and the authorities supervise the process, providing the necessary services even later on.

Kapitán says adoption in the Czech Republic is perceived as a private matter that others are not supposed to get involved in. When parents do not have the requisite backup and their child gets out of control, family catastrophes occur.

"Racial prejudice is one thing we don't know how to work with because it is politically thankless and no one will take it up. The second level is the care provided for an individual child when the adoptive families and those applying to provide foster care are not sufficiently well-prepared to handle the child-rearing problems that are unavoidable," he said.

In western countries, child welfare systems work on prevention so children do not have to leave their biological families at all. Childless families in those countries therefore have few chances of adopting local children.

This is why adoptive families in those countries pin their hopes on the East. In the EU, the post-communist countries alone offer more children up for adoption abroad than they adopt into the country. Kapitán says the Czech Republic is in the best position among all of the post-communist countries in this respect, but points out that the degree to which "a state is a receiving state, i.e., a state that adopts children, is a certain expression of the degree to which it is civilized.", translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Adopce, Aktuality, Antidiskriminace, CEE, Cizinci, Děti, Diskriminace, Evropa, Exkluze, Itálie, Předsudky, Soužití, Stereotypy, Systém, zprávy, Anticiganismus, děti a mládež, Dětské domovy, pěstounství, Romové, situace ve společnosti, společenská atmosféra, Czech republic, EU, Germany, news, Racism, Roma, Sweden


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