The Adoption Service has various responsibilities which include providing training to prospective adoptive parents; assessing their suitability; guiding and supporting them through the adoption process and ensuring their preparation; completing the necessary documentation and procedures for them to be approved as adoptive parents by the Adoptions Board; and giving them the necessary support services once the adoption has gone through and a child has joined the family. Adopted children can even be followed up to 2 years or more by a social worker, as may be required.
The Service & Procedures
At their first contact with the Agency, the prospective adoptive parents are briefed on the adoption legislation and procedures they have to follow in order to adopt. There are a number of criteria, established by law, which prospective adoptive parents have to satisfy in order to be eligible to adopt a child:
If the persons who would like to adopt a child is a couple, at least one of them must be 28 years of age or older. This also applies to a single person.
Between the child and any one of the adoptive parents, there must be a maximum discrepancy of 45 years. This also applies for a single person.
- Cohabiting couples cannot adopt. Only 1 person from the couple can adopt and the other person is not obliged to maintain the child and has no rights over the child.
If these criteria are met, the prospective adoptive parents are provided with and Application Form and Declaration of Consent Form to fill in and submit. Aġenzija Appoġġ will then provide a number of Preparation Sessions which the prospective adoptive parents are obliged to attend to prepare them for a possible addition to their family through adoption.
After the completion of the Preparation Course, social workers from the Aġenzija Appoġġ Adoption Service carry out home visits and organise meetings with the prospective adoptive parents in order to prepare a Home Study Report which includes a thorough assessment of the prospective adoptive parents. This report is then presented to the Adoption Board which, after evaluating the contents of the report, either approves for the adoption to proceed or does not approve the prospective adoptive parents.
Prospective adoptive parents can adopt either foreign or Maltese children. Those who show interest in adopting a foreign child, would need to follow the procedure established by the country from where they would like to adopt and submit the required documentation. The application is put on the foreign country's waiting list until a child is matched for adoption. Once a child is matched, an Adoption Medical Report, containing the child's medical history, has to be screened by the Head Pediatrician at Mater Dei Hospital for approval to be given for the child to be adopted in Malta. Judicial proceedings in both the foreign and Maltese Courts are required for the adoption to be legally valid.
Those who show interest in adopting a Maltese child are placed on a waiting list until a child who matches the prospective adoptive parents is available for adoption. Afterwards, an application is filed in the Maltese Courts where the proceedings for adoption start.
In both foreign and legal adoptions, adopted children are monitored by Aġenzija Appoġġ social workers who review their progress. In the case of foreign adopted children, this progress is reported to their country of origin. Once the adoption has gone through and a child has joined a family, the Adoption Services continues to provide the necessary support to ensure the well-being of the child.
Links to support services are also provided to those persons usually mothers, who are contemplating giving their children up for adoption and those who are contemplating adoption but have not yet taken the decision. These services are provided in the light of what is in the best interest of the child, which is not always easy to identify and which entails the use of sensitivity and a number of professional skills, particularly those of assessment.