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Adoption: the new composition of family councils worries



It all started in 2018, on the airwaves of France Bleu. That day, the head of the adoption department of the Seine-Maritime department created an uproar. She explains that, in her department, homosexual couples cannot claim to adopt healthy children, for lack of correspondence. “to the required criteria”. And that they must necessarily accommodate children with disabilities, siblings or already adults.

→ ANALYSIS. Adoption reform, the pitfalls of modernization at all costs

In the turmoil, the government undertook to clean up the functioning of the family councils, responsible for finding parents for each child. Since 2019, the eight members who compose it sign an ethical charter by which they undertake not to practice any discrimination. Article 14 of the law, which returns this Monday, January 17 before the National Assembly, goes further. A specialist in the fight against discrimination will now have to sit in place of one of the two child protection experts.

“Find a family for a child”

During the debates in the Social Affairs Committee on 12 January, the rapporteur Monique Limon explained that she was particularly attached to this measure intended to “to take into account the different ways that we have today of forming a family”. Attesting, in hollow, that this appointment was not so much intended to guarantee the interest of the child as that of the families applying for adoption. This position shocks many specialists who see it as a change of philosophy. “Our job has always been to find a family for a child, not to ensure that every family gets a child. He must go on.” says a member of a family council in eastern France.

The system adopted does not convince the representatives of same-sex parents either. Thus, Nicolas Faget, of the Association of Gay and Lesbian Parents (APGL), regrets that this specialist embodies a sort of “discrimination police”, confined to a control function. “We would have preferred that an additional seat be created to represent the diversity of families, whether they are single, homosexual, but also disabled or of color for example. This representative could have explained to the other members what these families can bring in particular to the child. »

Two opinions are better than one

The activist, like many members of family councils, also considers it damaging to lose one of the two child protection experts. Two opinions are better than one when it comes to accompanying pupils who have remained in foster care or foster families. The family council then exercises parental authority for them.

“In my department in the east of France, we can count on a pediatrician who enlightens us on the needs of premature children, those born after pregnancy denial or with disabilities; but also on a magistrate who is helping us, for example, at the moment, in the case of a young girl who is unable to obtain French nationality and risks expulsion”, illustrates a member. Same echo in a family council in the west of France: “Our two qualified personalities are a retired principal and the former pediatrician of the PMI. They are complementary. »

Other solutions could have been considered to better represent the diversity of families, underlines for her part Anne Royal, president of Childhood and adoptive families. “First of all, we could add a specialist in discrimination without removing one of the qualified personalities in the field of child protection. Then, since the idea was to modernize adoption, we could also have encouraged younger people to invest in family councils, by compensating more for their days of presence. Today, only retirees are sufficiently available to invest in it without prohibitive loss of salary. »

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Pupils who are not always adoptable

The wards of the state are the children who have lost all ties with their parents, either because they are orphans or because their parents have been stripped of their parental authority.

3,038 children had ward status in 2018 and were entrusted to the Childhood Social Assistance. Of this total, only a minority (31.3%) were adoptable.

family councils decide whether or not they are adoptable, in collaboration with Child Welfare. They are made up of eight members: two representatives of the departmental council, two members of family associations including an association of adoptive families; a representative of the pupils, a representative of the maternal assistants and two qualified personalities.

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