Adoption Of Children In Turkey
by İlayda Balkan
ADMD Law Office Istanbul Turkey
Adoption subject is regulated between the Articles 305-320 of the Turkish Civil Code dated November 22, 2001 (TCC) and the statute titled 'Execution of Interventions Regarding Adoption' based on Council of Ministers Decision No. 2009/14729 (Adoption Statute). Moreover ‘Lahey Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation In Respect of Inter-country Adoption' dated December 5, 2001 (Convention) is also enforceable in Turkey since September 1, 2004.
According to Article 320 of TCC, the domestic (intervention) operations of adoption shall be carried on through the institutions authorized by the Council of Ministers and accordingly Article 3 of the Execution Statue states that 'General Directorate of Social Services and Protection of Children' (Social Services) possesses the legal determination powers on execution of adoption issues.
There are two ways for filing for adoption in Turkey. The individuals or the couples (spouses) who would like to adopt a child could apply to provincial offices of Social Services in person (and together in case of spouses) and in writing for determination of a suitable child or the applicants could also apply directly to the child's parents or his/her legal guardian which process will again be supervised by Social Services.
Applicant whose initial application is approved is provided the subject child for temporary care for one (1) year. The applicant and Social Services execute a "Temporary Caring Agreement" for such period where the relationship between the applicants and the child is kept under strict surveillance and reported every three (3) months.
At the end of temporary caring period of one year (supervised by Social Services), where Social Services place the child in care of the applicants, the Social Services informs the applicants in written to file a claim no later than two (2) months. Then the parties apply to the Domestic Relations Court (a specialized Court) or to the Civil Court of First Instance (if a specialized Court is not established in their province) in order to obtain a Court judgment and conclude the adoption process. According to the 316th Article of TCC, the judge reviews the research and evaluation of the Social Services submitted as a comprehensive report regarding the conditions of the applicants and the subject child before issuing a decision.
If the applicant is a foreigner (application based on Convention), primarily he/she should apply to the competent authority at his/her country of residence. Such application is again processed by Social Services.
Minimum Requirements for Adoption in Turkey:
- Applicants should care and educate the child at least for one (1) year before adoption ruling;
- Adoption shall be for the benefit of the child in review of all circumstances;
- Applicants shall be at least eighteen (18) years older than the child;
- Consent of the child shall be obtained if reviewed to have has capacity to act on his/her behalf;
- Consent of the biological parents shall be obtained in accordance with the 309th Article of TCC, however exceptions noted in Articles 311 and 312 are reserved (if the parents cannot be located or if their care for the child is not adequate);
- A single applicant shall be older than thirty (30) years old;
- Spouse applicants shall be married for at least five (5) years or both of them should be over thirty (30) years old;
- Applicants shall also possess educational degrees equivalent to primary school graduation in Turkey;
- Applicants shall be physically and mentally fit for adoption.
In addition to the above mentioned requirements, several social issues are also taken into consideration for the evaluation process by Social Services and the Court. Having enough financial resources and eligibility to provide an appropriate environment for the child could be provided as examples of such criteria.
As mentioned above, the adoption applications could also be made from abroad as well as in Turkey. Turkish citizens and the foreigners holding residence permits in Turkey at least for one (1) year could apply directly to Social Services. However, Turkish citizens living abroad should also inform the relative institute at the country of their residence regarding the application made in accordance with the Convention. On the other hand, foreigners who do not hold residence permits in Turkey for longer than one (1) year shall directly apply to the relative authority in their original country of residence for adopting a child from Turkey.
The applicants shall submit the documents that are listed at the 6th article of the Adoption Statue no later than two (2) months following their initial application. After the completion of the documents, Social Services visit the applicants at their residence within six (6) months and initiate a social research with at least five (5) meetings.
The documents required to be submitted are:
- Sample of the civil registry obtained by the Directorate of Civil Registration (a civil status certifying document);
- Criminal record of the applicants and their family members living with the applicants;
- Documents that prove ownership of financial assets, income and social security status;
- Certificate of residency (local);
- Certificate showing the educational status of the applicants;
- A health report issued by an authorized commission of doctors showing that the applicant neither have physical, mental, physiological disability nor is addicted to alcohol or drugs;
- Residence permit for the foreigners and the Turkish citizens applicants who reside abroad;
- Residence permit of the child if care at a foreign country is allowed by Social Services.
As a legal conclusion of adoption, the adopted child benefits from any and all kinds of rights including inheritance that a biological child benefits from. The adoptive parents have a right to re-name the adopted child.