Knesset Increases Costs of Foreign Adoptions by 75 Percent

Amendment to 1998 adoption law made in face of eroding dollar and global rise in adoption costs.

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Tuesday approved amendment to the country's adoption regulations, which would increase the cost of foreign adoptions by 75 percent.

According to the amendment, the maximum payment Israeli agencies can spend on adoptions abroad will be raised from NIS 70,000 ($20,000) to NIS 125,000 - not including airfare and hotels.

The committee also decided to switch from using the dollar to Euros when dealing with adoptions.

This is the first amendment to be made to the law since it was first passed in 1998.

The decision to increase the costs comes in the wake of the dollar's erosion, the increasing costs of the adoption process, and the growing demand for foreign adoptions across the world.

These factors also account for the currency switch from dollars to euros.

According to the new regulations, payment to adoption agencies will cover the cost of translation services and travel within the child's country of origin.

However, agencies will not pay for airfare or accommodation. In exceptional cases, there will be additional fee of 2,000 Euros, meaning that the total cost of a foreign adoption could reach NIS 140,000 or more.

Families requiring additional assistance will be eligible for a 10 or 15 percent discount, but will still find themselves spending around NIS 100,000.

The new tariff affects anyone applying for international adoption after the new regulations are publicized. Those who have already applied or who do so before the new regulations go into effect will pay the original $20,000 maximum.

In 2007, 222 children adopted from foreign countries were brought to Israel. Since the legislation was passed in 1998, a total of 2,056 international adoptees have entered the country.

There are currently eight recognized organizations dealing with international adoptions, bridging potential parents with the children's countries of origin.

Israel's adoption law determines that international adoptions must be passed through one of recognized agencies, and threatens a jail sentence of up to three years for anyone who uses other means to go through the process.

A letter to the committee by representatives of Israel's international adoption agencies said: "Israeli organizations must contend with unequal circumstances compared to other markets that use the Euro and have an abundance of wealth and peace, and with the United States."

Another challenge for families wishing to adopt is that Israel is considered on the international level to be a war-torn country.

Committee chairman MK Menachem Ben-Sasson said on Tuesday: "We infused oxygen into the organizations that are on their deathbeds. These organizations' financial strength is necessary to open the door for dozens of parents who want to adopt from abroad and face difficulty because of the organizations unstable state."