Adoption process in Greece
Adoption process in Greece and the issues arising from adopting a child in Greece is of increasing concern to more and more people in our country and serious efforts are being made to ensure that both adopters and adopted children live with dignity, safety and their rights are fully guaranteed.
Adoption in Greece is understood as the complex of legal acts by which a legal relationship is created between two persons, i.e. a parent (father or mother) and a child (son or daughter). The person who acquires the status of parent is called the adoptive parent and the person who acquires the status of child is called the adopted child. The family thus created is called a foster family. Information on where children for adoption are located is provided by the State. According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity, which is also responsible for the adoption process, it is estimated that there are approximately 2,000 children of typical development or with disabilities in state, municipal and private institutions.
The law of adoption in Greece, after its recent reform by Law 2447/1996, is contained as a single text in the Civil Code, constituting the thirteenth chapter of Family Law (CC 1542-1588). This chapter codifies the old fragmentary regulation of adoption and reforms the institution on the basis of modern social needs and newer concepts. It is noted that adoption is primarily aimed at serving the interests of the adoptee. Interest means not only financial interest but also moral, family, social or psychological interest. For this reason, before the adoption procedure is carried out, a thorough social investigation is carried out by the social welfare services and a report is submitted to the court in good time to study the suitability of the persons concerned and whether or not the adoption is in the best interests of the adoptee. Also one of the main features of the new regulation is that it establishes as a rule the adoption of minors (CC 1542), whereas the adoption of adults is only allowed when the adoptee is a child of the spouse of the adopter (CC 1547).
Let’s look at the types of adoption in Greece
-Private adoption whereby a person or a family adopts the child of another person (relative or stranger).
-State adoption whereby a person or family adopts a child from an institution; -Transnational adoption whereby a person or family adopts a child from abroad.
Adoption of minors in Greece, procedure and conditions
Adoption of minors in Greece, which after Act no. 2447/1996 is the almost exclusive form of adoption, it is carried out by court decision at the request of the prospective adoptive parent (Act No. 1549). The court with local jurisdiction is the court in whose district the adopter or adoptee has their habitual residence. The procedure to be followed is that of voluntary jurisdiction. The adoption of minors is secret. If the minor is protected by a social service or organisation, secrecy shall also apply to the natural parents. The adopted child has the right to be fully informed by the adoptive parents and by any competent authority of the details of his or her natural parents after reaching the age of majority (Act No. 1559).
For the adoption to take place, certain conditions must be met, some of which relate to the adopter and others to the adoptee. In particular, the person adopting a minor must:
-To be capable of legal transaction (CC 1543).
– He must be at least thirty years of age and not more than sixty (A.C. 1543). In the case of adoption by both spouses, it is sufficient for one of them to be of this age (CC 1545).
-There must be an age difference of at least 18 years but not more than 50 years between the adopter and the adoptee. The age restriction does not apply to that spouse who wishes to adopt a child who is being adopted or has already been adopted by his/her spouse.
-If married, the spouse is required to consent to the adoption. The declaration must be made in person before the court.
-If the adopter already has children, the court, depending on their maturity, must also hear their opinion.
The following conditions must be met by the adopter:
-the adopter must be a minor, i.e. under 18 years of age.
-The same person must not be adopted by more than one person at the same time, unless they are husband and wife. Also, a person who is already adopted by another person must not be adopted by the same person, at least for as long as the adoption lasts.
-If the adopted minor has attained the age of 12, he or she is required to consent in person before the court. An exception applies if the adopter is in a state of mental or intellectual disorder, which decisively limits the functioning of his or her will. -The parents or the legal representative of the minor must consent. This consent may not be given before 3 months after the child’s birth.
If the conditions laid down by law for the adoption to take place are not met or if the required consents were defective (misrepresentation as to the identity of the adoptive parent or the adopted child, fraud or threats) the adoption is defective and may be challenged by the exercise of legal remedies.
Effects of adoption
Upon adoption, the minor stepchild becomes a full member of the adoptive parent’s family as he or she takes the surname of the adoptive parent and is subject to parental care. It also breaks all ties with the natural family, with the exception of the impediments of marriage to the child’s relatives by blood and marriage. The effects of the court decision on adoption shall take effect as soon as it becomes final.
Let us now see what applies in the event of termination of the adoption.
Adoption can be dissolved in two ways, either automatically or by court order.
An adoption is automatically dissolved in the case of a marriage between an adoptive parent and an adopted child in violation of the relevant marriage bar (CC 1576 and CC 1360).
In this case of automatic termination of the adoption, the relationship arising from the adoption is terminated retroactively. However, if the marriage between the adoptive parent and the adopted child is annulled, the property rights of the child, such as the child’s right to maintenance, the child’s right to inherit by intestacy and the child’s right to a legal share in the adoptive parent’s estate, are preserved from the adoption relationship.
Resolution by court order
This category includes:
-The termination of the adoption due to some serious misconduct of the adoptive parent or the adopted child among those provided for in CC 1571.
-The termination of the adoption by common agreement between the adoptive parent and the adopted child after the child has reached the age of majority (CC 1573).
In the above cases of judicial dissolution of adoption after the relevant court decision has become final, the adoption is terminated for the future, the relationship of the adopted child with the adoptive parent and his/her relatives up to that time ceases and the child’s ties with his/her natural family are revived.
It follows from the provision of Article 1579 of the Civil Code that the adoption of an adult is only permitted when the adoptee is a relative up to the 4th degree of blood or marriage of the adopter. In the case of an adult adoption, the provisions applicable to the adoption of a minor apply by analogy, except in certain cases in which there are different rules, which we will examine immediately. Thus:
-In the case of adult adoption in Greece there is no maximum age limit, nor is there a maximum age difference with the adoptee. However, the prospective adoptive parent must be at least 40 years of age and must be at least 18 years older than the adoptee.
-In order for an adult to be adopted, he or she must consent to the adoption. If he or she is incapable of legal capacity, consent must be given by his or her legal representative. If the adoptee is married, the consent of his/her spouse is also required, given in a personal statement before the court.
-In the adoption procedure, in order for an adult to be adopted, a joint application by the adopter and the adoptee must be submitted to the court. No social inquiry or secrecy is provided for.
-As regards the effects of the adoption, the adoptive child’s link with the natural parent and his or her relatives is maintained. -Finally, the adoption of an adult is dissolved by a court decision, following an action brought by the adoptive parent or the adopted child, if there is misconduct that justifies disinheritance or constitutes grounds for ingratitude on the part of the adopted child towards the adopter. There is no provision for a consensual solution in this case.
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
The fundamental principles governing the laws of the Member States of the European Union are set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as drawn up by the European Parliament. By definition, the national laws of the Union are convergent and identical in these matters.
Everything we have therefore mentioned about the adoption procedure relates to that provided for by law. Unfortunately, today our society is suffering from the great scourge of illegal adoption with trafficking of infants and children being at the forefront. Circuits that channel children from our country to countries abroad or vice versa for thousands of euros have come to light from time to time. Many of these children are the victims of scoundrels who have found a way to get rich easily by buying and selling people. Members of the networks track down pregnant women with family, financial or psychological problems and pressure or persuade them to give up their babies after birth for a financial reward. Consequently, adoption is neither consensual nor legal,
Consequently, adoption is neither consensual, nor legal, nor beneficial to society as the underworld has found another source of funding.
Anyone who ardently wants a child for adoption and the legal channels are (rightly or wrongly) closed to him, can always undertake the spiritual, mental, financial assistance of a child in an institution or a very poor family, without necessarily “acquiring” the child. The help and relief that he will have offered will in any case be great and will not have been limited simply to the satisfaction of his own psychological request, under the alibi of the good of a child who is “suffering anyway”.
Adoption in Greece is a very serious matter and the State is right to set so many terms and conditions for it. It is also an act of great sensitivity, kindness and requires maturity and self-awareness. It is not enough for someone to be a good person, to want a child very much and to have the resources to care for him or her. One must look beyond oneself, look at society, be a good citizen.
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