Date: 1994-10-24

Morning Call, The (Allentown, PA)
Author: CHRISTOPHER ELSER, The Morning Call

A Romanian adoption official said yesterday that her country is going to make it harder for foreigners to illegally adopt children from the former Eastern bloc nation.

Dr. Tatiana Radulescu, chief foreign liaison with the United States for the Romanian Committee on Adoption, said the parliament would vote to close the loopholes that allowed Romanian lawyers to set up adoptions.

Under the new regulations, only recognized adoption agencies like Welcome House of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation in Dublin would be allowed to take children from the country, she said.

"Honestly, these private adoptions are very dangerous," Radulescu said over the noise of 30 young adopted children at the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. "(The parents) might encounter a not-so-correct lawyer and they can reach the situation where (birth) parents place conditions on adoptions. In all these cases, the child will suffer."

Radulescu said the government wanted to go through adoption agencies so they can monitor the children for two years after the child leaves the country.

Radulescu pointed to the case of British residents Adrian and Bernadette Mooney, who were arrested in July while trying to leave the country with a 5-month-old Romanian girl. The Mooneys were sentenced to 28 months in prison last month and the sentence was seen as an attempt to send a strong message about the illegal adoptions in the country.

"Unfortunately, the private adoptions are larger (in number) compared to adoptions for agencies," Radulescu said through an interpreter. "This is not something to be proud of."

She said Romania requires children to be registered with the government six months before the adoptive process begins, but that lawyers found a way around the rules.

Romanian families will get priority for adopting the children.

Radulescu said the number of children available for adoption was unknown, but her agency oversees about 2,500 children in orphanages. The children are aged up to 3.

She said 80 children were adopted by American couples through 12 different adoption agencies last year.

"It seems this year the number will be bigger, but the exact figure is not known," she said.

Welcome House is one of the first four U.S. agencies recognized by the Romanian government, Welcome House director Marie Mercer said. Couples adopted 18 Romanians through Welcome House last year and 17 so far this year, she said.

Mercer said there were many opportunities for adoptions.

"We need more families," she said.

Mercer said the orphanages in the country had improved drastically since the Communist government was overthrown in the Fall of 1989. At that point, pictures of children kept in overcrowded dirty rooms were broadcast around the world.

"Since world first heard of the orphanages, there have been tremendous improvements," Mercer said. "I have been there and seen the improvements. Romanians care a lot about their children; that's why they're setting up this system."


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