In little more than a decade, the number of children adopted foreigners in Spain it has gone from 5,541 to 531, which means a fall of more than 90%. The crisis, the closure of the countries to adoptions external or by gay couples or the waiting time explain that decline to a large extent. But new voices are beginning to relate this decline also to the increase -difficultly measurable due to the lack of official data- of a practice that is not legal in Spain but that hundreds of families seek outside: rent bellies (also known as surrogate pregnancy), which assumes that a woman gestates and gives birth to a child whose motherhood and fatherhood later gives to other people.
"The phenomenon of surrogate pregnancy has occurred in recent years, the increase is very recent. But we observe that one grows and another drops. Being so linked to the ways of being parents, is not ruled out that there is a causal relationship. It has had a role along with other factors ", considers Federico de Montalvo, president of the Bioethics Committee of Spain. De Montalvo highlights the great international decline in adoptions – with an average of 70% – and adds that however the figures are maintained (or even increase) in countries like Italy, where the conditions for access to assisted reproduction or surrogate pregnancy "They are especially restrictive," he said. in a gallery published in this newspaper on Tuesday. The chairman of the bioethics committee demands that the government promote an investigation to know exactly the limits of that causality.
The data on adoptions are public and are collected annually. In the last bulletin of the Ministry of Health, of 2018 and with data up to 2017, the evolution and the collapse in the international adoptions appear, which in the last two years analyzed are for the first time below the national ones. There are 6,298 families waiting, according to official data. There are 2,730 families pending a national adoption and 3,568 pending an international adoption. The waiting time may exceed six years.
In the case of rent bellies there are hardly any official figures but the estimates of those who attend these practices point to a significant increase. The last official data was released after a parliamentary question by the socialist deputy Ángeles Álvarez. According to the response of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which yesterday did not provide more recent or disaggregated data to this newspaper, between 2010 and 2016, there were 979 registrations in consular offices and diplomatic missions in 12 countries. The associations raise the figure to more than a thousand cases per year among the different countries where it is allowed. In the case of Ukraine, one of the favorites because of its low costs – in the United States it exceeds 100,000 euros and in Ukraine it can be closed for 40,000 – Foreign Affairs recently admitted to this newspaper that there were about 300 cases a year.
"We defend that this is not an alternative for those who can not adopt, but it is true that we have families that come after having been on waiting lists or not having passed the suitability processes", explains Marcos Jornet, president of Son Nuestros Hijos . "We want to collect more information about families, among others, the itineraries until arriving at the surrogate pregnancy," he adds.
China and Russia are two of the countries where most adopted children came from in Spain at the beginning of this century. Both have placed quotas and restrictions that have drastically reduced the figures. China has gone from 2,753 cases in 2005 to 85 in 2017. Russia fell from 1,618 cases in 2004 to 54 in 2017, according to Health data.
The Russian government favors local adoption by providing resources and money to the families they host in their country. Since December 2014, the processes in China are limited to children with special needs, that is, those who suffer or have suffered from a disease or disability, those who form a group of siblings or those who have higher ages. Both countries were also the first to limit adoptions to homosexual couples, after Spain approved homosexual marriage in 2005.
Over four years
"All countries have greatly reduced quotas and especially for children who are in good health," explains Carmen Cano, president of Kune, which brings together four adoption associations in Madrid, Catalonia and Andalusia. According to estimates of this group and the Coordinating Federation of Adoption and Coaching Associations Cora, the processes for an international adoption can range between two and six years. More than half of the children adopted outside Spain exceed four years of age.
The costs for documentation and procedures vary from 5,000 to more than 30,000 euros, according to these groups. The waiting time and the possibility that children are "growing" pushes "families that want to have a baby to rule out international adoption and opt for surrogate pregnancy thinking that in less than a year they will be able to have it" , Cano reflects. "You have to get to these families and make them understand that adopting means staying with a child that has already been born, that exists, not going for the dreamed baby".
"The countries where there were many adoptions before now choose first to leave them with the extended family, then with people from their environment; if there is no possibility, they seek national adoption and, as a last resort, international adoption ", adds Benedicto García, from Cora. The associations expect the approval of a specific regulation derived from the Children's Law of 2015 and that is awaiting a report from the State Council. "It will allow for more transparency and for adoptions to be better regulated," Garcia points out.
The PSOE developed an internal document in November, sent to the Government, in which it offered formulas to try to stop the proliferation of the hirings of rent in Spain with punishments to the intermediary agencies or restrictions to the registers of babies in the consulates. The Spanish Government is contrary to this practice but does not have its regulation among its short-term plans. In the aforementioned document, the commission – made up of four experts and two experts – recommended facilitating the adoption of "generous and altruistic" for what it proposed to "simplify the requirements, shorten procedures and favor bilateral agreements with States." "Adoption," adds the document, "allows responding to the need to protect the interests of a child who is in a position of extreme vulnerability."