Today we met with the International Adoption Representative at the Ministry of Justice. We met primarily with M. Parvanova who is the Department Chief of the International Adoption Committee. We also met T. Dishliiska who is chief expert of the Department of Social Services for the Department of International Adoptions (See photo, she’s the tall one!) There are also social workers, educators, and attorneys who round out the team. We met with Ms. Parvanova for about 1 1/2 hours, and were able to share information about LSS with her. A lawyer by profession, Ms. Parvanova is clearly passionate about the well-being of children and very committed to the changes that have occurred within the Ministry of Justice in recent years. She was very impressed with the spectrum of services that LSS provides to children, and appears interested in coming to visit the agency at some time to observe first hand how services are delivered.
There has been a moratorium on international adoption in Bulgaria for the past five years. During that time, the Ministry of Justice in Bulgaria has made many changes within its departments to be able to better serve the country’s children, not the least of which has been to ensure that their procedures are Hague compliant. With the lifting of the moratorium, international adoption is again an option for children who cannot be parented by their birth families, or adoptive families within Bulgaria. There have been many legal and procedural changes within the international adoption process to minimize the waiting time for children to have permanent families. For example, a child in an orphanage whose parents have had no contact over a six months period can now have parental rights terminated through a much simplified procedure. That child must then be made available to Bulgarian domestic families, and if none step forward, the child can then be released for international adoption. It is our understanding that the Committee on International Adoption meets once a month to match eligible children and waiting families. We were given a sample checklist by Ms. Parvanova for LSS adoptive parents to complete that the Committee uses in making its selections.
It was clear to us that the current staff of the International Adoption Committee in the Ministry of Justice is very progressive and very committed to ensuring permanency for all children. They were most gracious in meeting with us and even being willing to pose for a picture. We are very much looking forward to working cooperatively with the Ministry on behalf of the children in Bulgaria who can best benefit by loving adoptive families.
Sonya and Konnie
P.S. Let’s not forget the food! Cucumber soup, grilled cheese, and dessert!