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Dutch lawmakers move to legalize adoption of foreign children by gay couples

Dutch lawmakers move to legalize adoption of foreign children by gay couples

A coalition of Dutch lawmakers--representing a parliamentary majority--presented a bill Wednesday that would legalize the adoption of foreign children by gay couples and create greater equality for gay and lesbian families. The adoption of Dutch children by gay couples has been possible since same-sex marriage was legalized in the Netherlands in September 2000, but not cross-border adoption. If the bill is passed, it will remove hurdles for children adopted by gays in general and resolve serious inheritance and legal parenthood issues, said Philip Tijsma of the Democrats 66 Party, which first suggested the law. Justice minister Piet Hein Donner said the government is prepared to change the law but that it is a "dead issue" for the time being because there's no country willing to give children up for cross-border adoptions by Dutch gays. Dutch gays adopting from abroad have until now evaded foreign rules against adoption by gays by signing only one parent's name on adoption forms and then completing the adoption once children are in the Netherlands. One gay couple who attended the bill's presentation Wednesday was Jos and Jarko de Witte van Leeuwen. They have been together for 16 years and were among the first to wed after same-sex marriage was legalized in the Netherlands. They said they are about to adopt a child from the United States but will have to do so with only one of them registered as a parent, since the new law has not been passed. "We are a family, and we want to adopt as a family," said Jarko, 34. "We want to do this openly as gay parents." The backers of the new bill have accused the conservative government of dragging its feet in taking measures to remove discriminatory adoption practices that have caused serious legal problems for adopted children. It was put forward Wednesday by a coalition of three parties in parliament--the leading opposition Labor Party, the free-market liberal VVD, and Democrats 66--which hold a slim majority of the 150-seat house. "Gay adoption has been legal in the Netherlands for years, but most adopted children come from abroad," Tijsma told the Associated Press. "The problem is that Dutch law prohibits adoption by both parents." He said 15 Dutch gay couples have already adopted children from the United States and that Washington has not objected. Approximately 20,000 children are being raised by gay couples in the Netherlands, he said. "It will give homosexual and heterosexual couples the same rights, and that is in the best interest of the child," he said. South Africa and some Brazilian provinces are expected to soon allow Dutch gay couples to adopt their children, Tijsma said. The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage outright, followed last year by Belgium. Canada is currently reviewing similar legislation. (AP)

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