Chapter 9: Adoption in a European perspective
Europe is a continent with diverse traditions concerning adoption. The prevalence of adoption varies greatly throughout: while in each of England, France and Italy there are around 3,000 to 4,000 adoptions per year, in each of Austria, Albania, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Georgia and Iceland there are less than 100. Further, while some countries have a strong tradition of domestic adoption, others focus predominantly on inter-country placements, either as sending (for example, Russia and Ukraine) or receiving (for example, Netherlands, Sweden and Norway) states. This diversity may go some way to explaining why the European Convention on the Adoption of Children of 1967, and its revised 2008 version, have been so ill received, obtaining only 16 and seven ratifications or accessions respectively. On the other hand, adoption has been an area in which the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has generated a considerable body of jurisprudence, and in relation to the procedural aspects of adoption has established important safeguards to protect the rights of children, birth parents and prospective adopters involved in the practice. However, with regard to the substantive law, there remains considerable variation among European states, and the Court has been cautious in its approach, leaving a wide margin of appreciation to domestic authorities. This chapter will consider the jurisprudence of the Court in three principal areas of adoption practice. First, it will discuss how consent to adoption is regulated, and the procedures put in place to protect both the birth parents, and the adopted child.
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