Forcible adoption cases on the increase in Denmark

New figures reveal that vulnerable parents are now even more at risk of having their children taken away by the authorities

More children could end up being forcibly adopted without the consent of their parents as a result of a controversial rule change that came into force in October 2015.

Previously, in such cases, the authorities had to prove that parents would never be able to take care of the child in question. The new rules have lessened the burden of proof so that now it only has to be considered likely that the parents will never be fit custodians of their child, Politiken reports.

From 2009 to 2015, 13 children were forcibly adopted without parental consent, but since the rule change 17 cases have been recorded.

The new rules were changed by the then Socialdemokratiet-Radikale government with the support of Venstre, Konservative and Liberal Alliance.

A very difficult judgement call
At the time, the rule change came under fire from Enhedslisten, SF and Dansk Folkeparti – as well as from social workers, human rights organisations and legal groups. They pointed out that parents risked losing their children on somewhat flimsy grounds.

“Permanently removing children from their parents is an extremely serious matter. How do you assess that the parents will never be able to play a positive role in the child’s life,” said Enhedslisten’s political spokesperson, Pernille Skipper.

“Just because the parents are mentally handicapped or have an abuse problem doesn’t rule it out that at some stage they might be able to be there for the child in some way or other.”

Too few cases to worry about
However, supporters of the rule change remain optimistic.

“On the face of it, the new figures don’t set off any alarm bells. We’re still talking about very few cases. The law was too rigid in its previous form,” said Pernille Rosenkrantz-Thiel, the Socialdemokratiet spokesperson for social affairs.

When confronted with the criticism that not enough research had been done in the area and the concerns raised by critics, Rosenkrantz-Thiel responded that “the individual cases are so different that you can’t compare them in any meaningful way. We need to look at the individual cases in detail to decide whether things are going in the right direction.”

She also pointed out that the new rules allow for parents to apply for visitation rights with their children – even if they have been forcibly adopted. The rules are so new that this has not yet happened.

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