In Georgia, where motherhood is seen as a woman’s chief duty, a family without children has long been considered a tiny tragedy. To avoid such a situation, many childless Georgian families rely on a shortcut – directly paying or negotiating with other families for the parental rights to unwanted children.
Known as direct adoptions, these private deals accounted for nearly 80 percent of the 209 children adopted in Georgia in 2012, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Social Services, the government body responsible for child welfare.
Drawn-out procedures for official adoptions have helped encourage the practice. Currently, an estimated 2,000 Georgians are waiting to adopt a child, a number nearly twice the size of the estimated 1,300 children eligible for adoption. The ratio gets even larger when prospective parents’ wishes for a healthy infant, preferably male, are taken into account. Cumbersome procedures for terminating parental rights are also responsible for causing long waits.
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Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.