Knesset Moves to Revamp Laws for Foreign Adoptions

The Knesset this week took a first step toward passage of a bill that will bring the procedures for adopting children from abroad into line with accepted international conventions.

In Israel, where the number of local children available for adoption has become increasingly smaller, many couples have been adopting children from South American countries and also from Romania.

While most of these adoptions posed only minimal legal problems, some have resulted in international legal battles and human tragedies.

The proposed legislation seeks to remedy this situation by making Israeli adoptions conform with international norms.

In a related development, the Movement for Progressive Jewry, which is affiliated with the Reform branch of Judaism, announced this week the opening of a center for the conversion of adopted children of non-Jewish origin.

The center will work with the Reform movement’s rabbinical courts both in Israel and abroad.

The issue of conversion is a problem for many parents adopting children outside Israel. Many are unwilling to become involved with Israel’s official Orthodox rabbinate, but they realize that the Jewish status of their adopted children is of fundamental importance in ensuring their social integration.

According to a Reform movement spokesman, minors converted by the Reform movement outside of Israel have been registered as Jews by Israel’s Interior Ministry. But those who are converted by the Reform movement’s Rabbinic Court in Israel are not listed as Jews in the population registry.

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