Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Family Code (part 2)

I want to continue to review the DRC Family Code Law (especially as it relates to adoption and family care).  My comments are in italics.

Article 649:

When the paternal line of descent of a child born outside of marriage could not be determined, the court, at the request of the child, his mother or the public prosecutor, designate a legal father from among the members of the mother's family, or for the lack of these, a person proposed by the child's mother.  In this case, the legal father exercises all resulting paternal prerogatives vis-a-vis the child and assumes the resulting duties.  The legal relationship does not create other effects.

This is interesting to me given that all the mothers of the children in the orphanage we support have died.  If the mother was unmarried, then the legal father is designated from the mother's family.  When consenting for adoptions or making legal decisions for a child, the mother's family would have that role or legal right.  

Article 654:

Adoption may only be requested after five years of marriage, unless the child in question is his/her spouse's child.

Article 656:

Existence of children in the home of the adopters is not an obstacle to adoption.  However, adoption is only permitted for those who, on the day of the adoption have fewer than three live children, unless waived by the President of the Republic.  No one can adopt more than three children, unless they are the child of his/her spouse.

Honestly, I never quite understood these two articles.  I always thought, what does number of years have to do with ability to parent an adopted child?  I did feel like the laws of DRC needed to be abided by, given they are a sovereign country, but I didn't understand it.  Until I read this post.  Take a minute to read it.  It's really really good.  And I think most of what is written there can be similarly described in DRC.  When you read the DRC Code (which is actually the Zairian code given it was in the 80s), it is clear it was written for congolese adopting congolese children.  There were few adoptions at the time internationally.  So, if you read it from a Congolese perspective, it makes a lot more sense, and who would make a stable adoptive family it makes even more sense.  If you have a large family in DRC and then you adopt more children, most likely the biological children will get the preference for schooling and care, and it is more likely that the adopted children may have a serving role in the home.  Five years of marriage signifies commitment and stability in a culture that has so much instability, where couples are married young, and longevity of a marriage usually also comes with some economic stability.  

Article 658

No one may adopt who has made or caused, promised or was made to promise a payment or any other advantage in kind to a person to give consent to the adoption, in order to obtain this consent.

I could write and write on this one little sentence and what it could mean.  This is a very loaded string of words in my mind.  Made, caused, promised, make to promise--a payment or any other advantage in kind to a person to give consent to the adoption, in order to obtain this consent.  So, you cannot give the consenting parent anything to obtain consent.  You can't promise anything to get that consent.  And the person obtaining the consent from the birth parent cannot promise or cause an advantage to get that consent.  So, if you aren't a part of the consenting process, how do you know?  How do you know that nothing was promised or given?  And, what if there is only one person involved with consenting birth parent?  How do you know what goes on behind closed doors?  What does promise a payment or advantage mean exactly?  Does it mean a relationship (and where does the "tie" come in to play, see my previous post)?  What does that mean for the birth parent?  For the adoptive parent?  What does is mean in the cultural context of DRC?  What does it mean when one family is extremely poor and the other is rich in comparison?  What if the person obtaining consent from the birth parents also is paid money as a part of the adoption process?  What does this one little sentence mean?  

More Family Code to come and there are some interesting articles about the court process and family care and obligation.  

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