The number of children being adopted in Portugal has increased marginally since last year but many families are still finding it a difficult process.
This year 587 children were adopted in Portugal, compared with 584 in 2007. Dr Luis Villas Boas, director of the Refúgio Aboim Ascenção in Faro, has been campaigning to change the way adoption services and the legal process operate in Portugal.
The Comissão de Acompanhamento da Execução da Lei da Adopção, the commission of which he was president, has passed legislation to make adoption and the relevant court procedures easier.
Dr Villas Boas told The Resident: “Many foreign residents in Portugal are not aware but after living here for one year they will have their application to adopt a child examined in the same manner as a Portuguese candidate.”
To qualify this, he gave an example of a British couple, living in Portugal, who had successfully adopted a child here.
Speaking at the first International Adoption Conference in Lisbon, Portugal’s minister for labour and social affairs, Vieira da Silva, said the realistic objective was to find a family for 25 per cent of Portugal’s adoptable children. He added that the adoption programme would be aided with training support for families who are ready to receive a child.
There are currently 2,300 approved candidates waiting to adopt a child in Portugal but with pending applications the figure is closer to 3,000.
Dr Luis Villas Boas urges the adoption services, of which there are 19 across the country, to contact ‘every candidate on the list’ to ensure that suitable homes can be found for brothers and sisters to remain together and for Portuguese children to stay, as far as possible in Portugal.