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23 March, 2022 09:48

The `Young Barristers` propose that the state and the church accept Ukrainian orphans, found or abandoned children, into foster care

The "Young Barristers" are proposing to the Government of Georgia and the Parliament of Georgia that Georgia comply with its obligations under international conventions on humanitarian law and the rights of the child. Specifically, to implement political and legal measures, as well as to assume responsibility for the foster care of children who have been orphaned, found, or abandoned, including minors with various needs, as a result of hostilities on the territory of Ukraine, and minors with different needs. At the same time, the Georgian Orthodox Church, in cooperation with the state, will play a vital role in the execution of psycho-emotional work and rehabilitation programs for these children.

According to the "Young Barristers," Russian-led hostilities in Ukraine are killing civilians, including more than 100 children. In parallel with the war crimes, the announcement of the adoption of Ukrainian minors is becoming more and more active on public platforms. The issue has caught the interest of a large number of individuals, prompting many Georgians to demand accurate answers and meaningful action. The organization focuses on the recent state of public opinion, explaining that adopting a minor involves complicated procedures regulated by Georgia's Adoption and Foster Care Law.In order for a Georgian citizen to legally adopt, he or she must be informed about the laws, requirements, and expected outcomes defined by the adoption and foster care legislation.

There are two legal circumstances to consider in the case, according to Lizi Zukhbaia, a lawyer representing "Young Barristers." To begin with, the state of Ukraine chose to suspend adoption operations due to the ongoing conflict. The second factor is Ukraine's non-signatory status to the Hague Convention on Cooperation in the Protection and International Adoption of Children. In light of this reality, and in accordance with Georgian legislation, international adoption procedures, particularly the adoption of Ukrainian children, are no longer possible in Georgia.Nevertheless, it is possible to establish a foster care institution in order to facilitate state cooperation in the field of international adoption with Ukraine by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant authority, and to admit orphaned, found, or abandoned children as a result of hostilities. (Article 4 of Article 26 of the Law of Georgia on Adoption and Foster Care).In this arrangement, the state assumes responsibility for the children' welfare while private families look after them. As a result, there is a legislative framework in place that encourages individuals interested in the care of Ukrainian children under state custody to participate.

According to Lizi Zukhbaia, foster care, as a form of state care that is close to family care, aimed at caring for and raising a foster child, is carried out on the basis of an agreement between the state and the foster child. It is critical to note that the foster care agreement between the state and the private individual should be relievedfrom the state of its financial obligations and places the financial burden on the foster family. At the same time, Georgia must take responsibility for the foster care of children orphaned, found or abandoned as a result of hostilities on the territory of Ukraine about whom information is held by the competent authorities of Ukraine. Recommendations should also be made for juveniles with special needs, such as children with disabilities, health issues, and/or behavioral problems who require special attention (such groups are officially registered with the relevant body of Ukraine). It is important for the Georgian Orthodox Church to actively participate in the foster care process alongside the state. Clearly, psycho-emotional work and rehabilitation activities with such children are required, and our church's resources may be put to good use in this regard.

According to the "Young Barristers," for the purposes of adopting Ukrainian children at the Institute of Foster Care, legislative amendments may be required by transitional provisions of the Law of Georgia on Adoption and Foster Care. The participation of the Parliament of Georgia in this process is crucial. As a general rule, any decision on foster care should serve to create a stable family environment based on the best interests of the child, beyond the standards set by the state for foster care, in which the child will have better conditions and developmental opportunities than before adoption or foster care. In addition, foster families must take into account the international obligations and responsibilities that will be imposed on them under national or international law.

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