(photo credit: )
Israel Beiteinu MK Sofa Landver has called on the government to improve the process whereby families adopt children from abroad and to reduce the $20,000 fee.
Landver is chairwoman of the Knesset's Public Petition's Committee, which met Tuesday to discuss the plight of families hoping to adopt internationally. She told The Jerusalem Post that sometimes adoptions performed independently of state-licensed nonprofit organizations were less expensive and far more straight-forward.
According to a 1998 law, several state-licensed adoption agencies are the only bodies permitted to facilitate international adoptions. Any Israeli looking to adopt a child from another country is required to pay the state-regulated fee.
Landver said she had received numerous appeals from families waiting to adopt asking for help to simplify and shorten the process, and to find ways of subsidizing the cost.
"If parents take on themselves the responsibility to find a healthy child, then they should be able to do so without having to go through lengthy bureaucracy," said Landver, adding that there were many orphanages in the former Soviet Union with children just waiting to be adopted.
"People should be allowed to choose freely without having to pay such high fees," she said.
Former MK Pnina Rosenblum, who has two adopted children, told the Knesset panel she too had heard from families who needed help with the red tape. The government needs to use diplomatic channels to expedite the process in certain countries, and to offer financial assistance to those who need it, she said.
However, Nechama Tal, supervisor for International Child Adoption Services in the Ministry of Social Affairs, told the Post following the meeting that allowing adoption without regulation could put potential parents at high risk of paying more than the standard fee or being victims of fraud.
Prior to 1998, when there was no official Israeli procedure for adopting children from abroad, many Israeli families were forced to adopt illegally.
"The law exists to institutionalize the international adoption process," a representative for the adoption agencies told the committee.
The agencies said there was no way the standard fee could be reduced because it barely covered the cost of the adoption process. Rather, there is a chance it will have to be raised in the near future, they said.
"The state invests significant amounts in fertility treatments but does not help families who want to adopt children," Landver said. "I hope that the joint efforts of this committee and the Ministry of Social Affairs will ultimately help the agencies and families wanting to adopt."
According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, 150-200 Israeli families adopt non-Israeli children each year.