Adopting abroad and having the adoption recognized in Israel
Adopting a child is a sensitive and complex matter in which a couple is granted parental authority for a child who is not biologically theirs. This authority, granted by the court, carries great significance, therefore it is important to consult with an attorney immediately upon making the decision to adopt. It is often faster to adopt abroad than within Israel, but in addition to the foreign country’s laws, you must also comply with all Israeli laws applicable to adoption in Israel and the special procedure for determining the status of a child adopted abroad.
Israeli law stipulates a series of conditions a that must be met by anyone who wants to adopt a child. Only if these conditions are met will a court will consider an adoption application and determine whether to issue an adoption order, confirming the adoption and making it official.
The State of Israel only recognizes the adoption of children who are minors.
Who can adopt?
A child can be a candidate for adoption only if they have been declared as such by a court or if their biological parents have expressed their consent. After a child is declared ‘adoptable’, the adoption process is handled by Child Protection Services.
The minimum conditions for applying to adopt a child in court are that the applicants be a married couple who maintain a joint household and that the age difference between the child and the adoptive parents be between 18 and 43 years. In addition, applicants must have completed at least 12 years of schooling, present a certificate of good conduct, and prove that they have a regular and stable income that allows them to take care of the child’s needs and offer reasonable living conditions in the form of a separate room for the child. Another unexpected condition – the adoptive parent(s) and the child must be of the same religion.
How do you apply?
Couples applying to adopt a child in Israel must fill out a questionnaire written by the Labor and Welfare Ministry and attach photos of the applicants and their children (if any). In addition, applicants must attach various documents such as: photocopies of identity cards, marriage certificates, resumes and documentation of income.
Questionnaires must be submitted to an office of Child Protective Services in the applicants’ place of residence, and if the information provided is satisfactory, a social worker then contacts the applicants and begins an evaluation procedure that includes a series of meetings with the applicants, a home visit and a psychological diagnosis, in order to evaluate the applicants’ eligibility.
What is the “trial period”?
After all the above steps, the court reviews the families interested in adopting the child, with the principle of “the child’s best interest” always guiding the court’s decision. Once a decision is made, the chosen family is given a six-month period during which social workers from the Welfare Ministry evaluate the child’s reception within the family.
Only after the trial period is completed successfully is an adoption order issued, stating that the parents are obligated to take care of the needs of the adopted child. In section 16 of the Child Adoption Law, the court defines the legal relationship between the adoptive parents and the adopted child: “Adoption creates between the adopter and the adoptee the same duties and rights that exist between parents and their children, and gives the adopter the same authority over the adoptee as parents have over their children.”
What does the law say about a child adopted abroad?
If an Israeli couple adopts a child abroad, what must they do if they want the adopted child to be recognized in the Israeli Population Registry? Supposedly, this is done in a simple procedure that requires contacting the registration officer at the Population and Immigration Authority and presenting a court order and an adoption certificate issued by a court in the target country, along with other documents proving that the child lives with the adoptive parents.
An important ruling issued in the year 2000 restricted the authority of registry officials who until then could exclusively determine whether or not to recognize an adoption performed abroad. The 2000 case dealt with two women who had been in a relationship for seven years and had been residing in California. During their relationship, one of them conceived via a sperm donation and gave birth to a son. The son was adopted by the other spouse and his adoption was validated by the California court, which issued an adoption order. When the two applied to register the child as their son in Israel, the registry official refused since the parents were of the same sex.
The court rejected the refusal and ruled that the foreign adoption order must be recognized, mainly due to the fact that refusal to recognize the adoption would hurt the child’s welfare since it would release his parents from their obligations towards him. This ruling established a rule of thumb on the subject of recognizing child adoptions performed abroad – registry officials are obligated to register and recognize adoptions made in another country and their authority to refuse is limited to cases in which the documentation presented is suspected to be fake.
If you wish to apply for adoption or to obtain recognition for an adoption performed abroad, contact our offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to receive legal assistance and information.
Recognition of a child adopted abroad
To recognize a child adopted abroad as eligible for making aliyah or immigrating to Israel, one must contact a recognized association that deals with the issue with the Labor and Welfare Ministry, based on the procedure for obtaining an Israeli visa for a child adopted abroad. Adopting a child in any other way except through an official association is considered a criminal offense. Parents have the option of choosing an association that suits them and that has the authority to work with the country where they intend to adopt the child, and the association in turn checks that the parents are suited to adopt a child (based on the conditions detailed above, among other things).
Once a doctor on behalf of the association examines the child and the adoption order is deemed to be legally valid, the association then handles the paperwork both with the authorities abroad and the authorities in Israel for the purpose of entering the country. After the child arrives in Israel, the association continues to monitor and periodically check the child’s condition, submitting reports on the subject to the authorities in both Israel and the country of origin.
Contact us for help:
Adopting a child in Israel or abroad can be a legally and bureaucratically complicated task. Attorneys specializing in Israeli family and immigration law will be happy to be of service. Contact us to schedule an appointment: