Government toughens adoption

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government plans to issue a regulation tightening the conditions and criteria for adopting a child, including a six-month probation period for prospective adoptive parents.

During the probation period, a social worker will check in on the prospective adoptive parents and the child, and a positive report from the social worker will be required to make the adoption final.

The parents' right to adopt the child can be revoked if they abandon their obligation to take care of the child, abuse the child or are sentenced to a minimum jail term of one year.

A child's siblings, relatives, prosecutors or other law enforcement officials will be given the right to request the revocation of an adoption.

Both Indonesian and foreign couples will be allowed to adopt a child if they one or fewer children of their own. Adoptive parents must be between 30 and 50 years of age, economically and socially stable and in good health.

To be eligible for adoption, children must have been abandoned by their parents or family and be in the care of an orphanage or other children-care institution.

Indonesian couples can adopt children up to the age of 12, while for foreign couples the age limit is five.

Indonesian couples will be allowed to adopt children directly from their parents or with the authorization of a district court, while foreign couples must receive the court's approval.

A foreign couple must also secure a permit from their country of origin and from the Indonesian social minister to adopt a child here.

Foreign couples or Indonesian couples who wish to adopt children through the court must submit a written letter conveying their intention to a local social affairs agency.

The government regulation will serve as the operating decree for Law. No. 23/2002 on the protection of children.

The regulation maintains the controversial article in the law banning parents from adopting children of a different religion from themselves.

Observers and children's right defenders have criticized the article, saying it fails to protect the best interest of children.

According to the draft regulation, if the religion of a child is unknown, the government will declare his or her religion the same as that of the majority of residents where the child lives.

The previous law governing the adoption of children was much less stringent than the new law.

The new law was enacted in response to the government's decision to ratify the UN Convention on Child Protection.

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