Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where and how can I apply for adoption or foster care?
  2. Can a single woman or a single man apply for substitute family care?
  3. What role does the length of marriage play in the assessment of applicants for foster care?
  4. Can only the married couples unable to have biological children apply for adoption?
  5. Are there any age limits for applicants for foster care?
  6. Does an invalidity pension on the part of the applicant justify a refusal?
  7. How is the income assessed when deciding on registering the applicants? Is it possible to apply if either spouse is unemployed?
  8. We live in a sublease, is it a problem?
  9. What is the “waiting time” for a child?
  10. If applicants want to accept more children into foster care, is it necessary to apply again and to be re-evaluated each time?
  11. We have already undergone training courses for future parents and we have been taking care of the adopted child for two years. Should we apply for the custody of another child, will it be necessary for us to undergo all of the training again?
  12. What is the procedure if we are interested in adopting a child from abroad?
  13. My husband is a foreigner, but we live in Prague. Can we apply for the adoption of a child in the Czech Republic? What are the conditions?
  14. We have Czech citizenship, but we have been living abroad for years. How can we apply for the adoption of a child from the Czech Republic?
  15. We’ve met a child from a children’s care home during holidays, we would like to give him a home. How do we proceed?
  16. I have an adopted child. Do biological parents have any rights? Could they demand their child back?
  17. Is it possible to change the first name of the child we had adopted and is it appropriate?
  18. We raise my child from my first marriage together with my partner. Is it possible for my partner to adopt the child?
  19. Can an adult be adopted?
  20. What is the difference between foster care and guardianship?
  21. Can grandparents be granted foster care of their grandchildren?
  22. What is temporary foster care?
  23. The amendment to the Act on Social and Legal Protection of Children directs foster parents to sign a foster care agreement. What is it about?
  24. Are there any situations when foster parents are exempt from fees?
  25. We would like to help a child from a children’s home by taking him home on weekends or holidays. Is it possible? What can we do for it?

Where and how can I apply for adoption or foster care?

Applications to the register of substitute family care are submitted to the social services department of the municipal authority with extended competence in the place of the applicant’s permanent residence (in the case of spouses in the place of permanent residence of one of them), ideally the same place where the family really resides. The social worker of the Department of Social and Legal Protection of Children give you the application for the register and explain what additional documents will be required to accompany the application (e.g. medical certificate from the GP, income statement, etc.). The workers will also visit your family home for assessment and ask for a copy of your criminal record. Once you have provided the necessary documentation, it will be forwarded for expert assessment and further proceedings to the relevant regional authority or the City Hall of Prague.

Can a single woman or a single man apply for substitute family care?

According to our legislation, a single person can apply as well as the spouses or one of them. In this case, the court also decides that the record of the other parent is omitted from the register. However, these applicants must be prepared that they are very likely to wait a little longer for custody of the child than some married couples. The complete family in which the roles mother and father are both represented is still considered ideal. When assessing the single applicant, their wider family will be taken into consideration, whether they have someone beside them to whom they can turn for advice and assistance if necessary.

What role does the length of marriage play in the assessment of applicants for foster care?

The stability of marital relationships and the family environment is assessed when a couple applies to accept a child into foster care. Thus, it is not only the duration of the marriage that is taken into account but also the duration of the cohabitation of the partners before the marriage. In the application, we, therefore, recommend that the length of cohabitation be documented in some way (e.g. by a joint lease agreement, advocacy of neighbours, the municipality mayor, etc.).

What role does the duration of marriage of applicants play in the assessment of applications for foster care?

Among those interested in accepting a child into foster care, the stability of marital relationships and the family environment is assessed. Thus, it is not only the length of the marriage that is taken into account but also the cohabitation of the partners before the marriage. Therefore, we recommend documenting the length of cohabitation in some way in your application (for example, by a joint lease agreement, testimony from the neighbours, the municipality mayor, etc.).

Can only the married couples unable to have biological children apply for adoption?

No such a criterion is stipulated by law. Applicants with their own children may also apply for adoption. The office is obliged to accept the application, assess it and process it. Fostering children in the family with biological children comes with some specifics. It is always necessary to consider the needs of children who are already growing up in the family. They also need to be well prepared for the arrival of a new family member.

Is there any age limit for applicants for foster care?

No age limit is defined by law. The new Civil Code (Act No. 89/2012 Coll.) states in Section 803 that there must be a reasonable age difference between the adoptive parent and the adopted child, usually at least sixteen years; only if the guardian representing the child agrees with the adoption and if the adoption is in the child’s interests, the age difference between the adoptive parent and the adopted child may be less than 16 years. However, each specific case is always approached and assessed on an individual basis. The same applies to foster care. Anyone who wants to be a foster parent should consider t whether they will be able to support and guide the child through his or her adolescence, whether they can cope with and adapt to the child’s needs appropriate to the age.

Does an invalidity pension on the part of the applicant justify an application refusal?

The mere fact that an applicant is receiving an invalidity pension does not mean that he cannot be included in the register of future substitute parents. Each specific applicant is always approached and assessed on an individual basis.  The extent of any limitations in the care and educational abilities on the part of the applicant is the decisive factor in the medical and psychological assessment. Consider your skills and options first before applying. If you believe it is well within your power to meet all the needs of the child, then apply and leave it to the experts to consider your abilities. In the case of adoption, the new Civil Code states that the health condition of adoptive parents must not significantly limit the care of the adopted child.

How is the income assessed when deciding on admitting the applicants in the foster care registry? Is it possible to apply if either spouse is unemployed?

Applicants’ documentation also includes data on financial and social status. Applicants can be listed in the register even if one of the spouses is unemployed given that the economic circumstances and abilities of the applicants imply that the family will be sufficiently materially secured after accepting the child or children. However, if the family of applicants declared personal bankruptcy, it is unlikely that they could be included in the register.

We live in a sublease, is that a problem?

The assessment of the application shall take into account in particular whether the family can create the appropriate conditions for the child’s successful development and upbringing, whether the home environment is stable and whether it will meet the child’s needs. Privately owned apartment or house is not a condition for inclusion in the substitute family care register.

What are the “waiting times” before welcoming a child to our home?

The length of waiting for a child depends on the specific situation in the region. It largely depends on the number of children listed as suitable for foster care and the number of applicants registered in the region. The length of the waiting period can be also influenced by the specific requirements from the applicants looking for the child, the degree of their tolerance for the personal and family history of children and their choice of the form of substitute family care.

If applicants want to accept more children into foster care, is it necessary to re-apply and to be re-evaluated each time?

There are several options:

If applicants express an interest in more than one child in their application for registration, they are professionally assessed in with this information and according to their interest either accept more children at once (twins, siblings) or remain listed as applicants for the future. They then update the application depending on the changes and will be selected as foster parents for another child over time.

However, if applicants show an interest in accepting another child or children only after the foster care process for the previous one was completed, they must expect to file a new application.

We have already undergone training courses for future parents and have been taking care of our adopted child for two years. Should we apply for the custody of another child, is it be necessary to undergo all of the training again?

The expert review of your case should decide whether you would need to undergo the training, either in full extent or some part. The new training can focus only on some specific matters, such as accepting a new child into the family or accepting a child of different ethnicity, etc. It will depend especially on what your family’s requirements and the overall situation will be. Sometimes the requirements vary depending on the region.

What is the procedure if we are interested in adopting a child from abroad?

If you are interested in adopting from abroad, you will have to state this fact immediately in your application for registration. You would normally submit your application to the social services department of the municipal authority with extended powers in the location of your permanent residence. Professional assessment and preparation for future parenthood will be provided by the relevant regional authority. Once your registration has been approved, the regional authority shall forward your application for mediation of the adoption of the child from abroad to the Office for International Legal Protection of Children in Brno. If you are interested in adopting a specific child that you have known abroad, you will need to refer to the institutions dealing with adoption primarily in the child’s country of origin. Each country has different rules for international adoption.

My husband is a foreigner, but we live in Prague. Can we apply for the child adoption in the Czech Republic? What are the conditions?

If you are interested in adopting a child together, the adoption can be approved if your spouse is a foreigner who qualifies for social benefits under a directly applicable EU regulation (Regulation No 492/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 On the Movement of Workers within the EU) or who has permanent residence in the Czech Republic or who, according to a special legal regulation governing the stay of foreigners in the Czech Republic, has been temporarily living in our territory continuously for at least 365 days. You will submit your application in the location of your permanent residence at the social services department of the municipality with extended competence.

We have Czech citizenship, but we have been living abroad for years. How can we apply for the adoption of a child from the Czech Republic?

If your habitual residence (i.e. the place where you have been working and keeping your household) is in another state that has ratified the “Convention for the Protection of Children and Cooperation in International Adoption”, as the Czech Republic has done, then you can apply for adoption of the Czech child. You will apply through the relevant central authority dealing with international adoption in your country of residence. The above-mentioned international treaty guarantees that the adoption will go ahead only if complies with the best interests of the child, hence the local central authority, the “Office for International Legal Protection of Children” in Brno, cooperates only with the states who are parties to this Convention.

We’ve met a child from a children’s care home during holidays and would like to give him a home. How do we proceed?

a) If you do not know any details about the child, we recommend that you inform the management of the orphanage that you have met the child and are considering substitute family care. Ask them to pass this information on to the competent authority of the social and legal protection of children. The management of the children’s care home is not competent to give you any information about the child, but the competent authority can inform you based on your offer. Everything will depend on the child’s situation; if there was a struggle to find a suitable foster family for this particular child, then the competent authority may contact you and, after reviewing your options, advise you on what to do next.

b) If you know the details of the child, you know what his her name is and where he/she lives and you are convinced that he/she would like to join your family, that you can contact the appropriate authority immediately. At the same time, you also can file a petition with the court to initiate proceedings for the custody of the child. Again, everything will depend on the child’s situation – since it is possible that, for example, there is another the foster family already appointed, or court proceedings for custody or adoption is underway or change of custody may already be in progress and the child will go back to the care of their parents.

I have an adopted child. Do biological parents have any rights? Could they demand their child back?

The adoption establishes a relationship between the adoptive parent and the adopted child and the relationship between the child and his/her biological family ceases. Biological parents lose their parental responsibilities and duties towards the child, as well as their parental rights.  The court may decide that the adoption and its circumstances should be kept a secret from the original family at the request of the adoptive parent or the adopted child. Adoption can only be cancelled for serious reasons at the request of the adoptive parent or the adopted child.  After three years from the court’s decision to entrust a child to adoption, adoption cannot be revoked anymore. This does not apply if the adoption did not comply with the law.

Is it possible to change the first name of the child we had adopted and is it appropriate?

The first name of a child can be changed only after the court has finally approved the adoption. The application is submitted at the place of residence of the adoptive parents in the Department of Home Affairs of the municipality with extended competence. If you intend to change the child’s first name, this is only appropriate for the youngest children. In this case, it is important to address the child with a new name from the beginning. We recommend that you consider choosing a name that is at least a bit similar to the child’s original name but also keeping the child’s original first name as a middle name.

Together with my partner, we raise my child from my first marriage. Is it possible for my partner to adopt this child?

Only your spouse can bring up a petition to adopt your child. Adoption would require not only your consent but also the consent of the other biological parent (if he is listed in the child’s birth certificate) or the court’s decision declaring that the consent of the other biological parent is not necessary. The court would also examine the child’s opinion concerning the degree of his / her mental development. If the adopted child reached at least 12 years of age, his or her consent would also be necessary.

Can an adult be adopted?

The Civil Code (Act No. 89/2012 Coll.), which came into force on 1 January 2014, allows this option. The basic condition for the adoption of an adult stipulated by law is that such adoption must comply with good morals.

The law distinguishes two kinds of adoption of an adult:

1. Adoption similar to the adoption of a minor

In this case, the law lists the following reasons when the adult can be adopted:

a) the natural sibling of the adopted person has been adopted by the same adoptive parent,

b) the adoptive parent took care of the adopted person as a minor,

(c) the adopter intends to adopt the child of his spouse;

2. The adoption that does not mirror the adoption of a minor

Unless this is to the detriment of the important interests of the offspring of the adoptive parent or offspring of the adopted person, an adult may be exceptionally be adopted for other reasons worthy of special consideration,

if it is beneficial for the adoptive parents and the adopted person, or in justified cases for at least one of them.

What is the difference between foster care and guardianship?

If none of the parents has full parental responsibility for the child or the child’s parents have died, the court appoints a guardian. In general, the guardian has all the duties and rights of a parent, but he has no alimony obligation. The guardian submits regular reports about the child’s wellbeing to the court and presents the accounts of handling the child’s property. However, the court must approve all matters outside of ordinary. If the guardian personally raises the child as if he/she has been in the permanent custody of the child, he/she is entitled to foster care child benefits. If for various reasons, neither the parent nor the guardian can personally take care of the child, then the court may entrust the child to foster care. Entrusting a child in foster care does not affect the duration of the parents’ maintenance obligations to the child. In such a case, they are obliged to pay it to the hands of the authority that pays foster care benefits to the foster parents. The court may also place the child in temporary foster care. The foster parent is obliged to maintain and develop contact between the child with his / her parents. In the affairs of the child, the foster parent decides only on matters of a normal nature, where the consent of the legal guardian is not necessary.

Can grandparents be granted foster care of their grandchildren?

Yes, the law allows it. If relative or close relatives of the child have taken the child into their care, the court will give them priority over another person, under the provisions of Section 962 (2), unless this is contrary to the interests of the child. A social worker at your place of residence can assist you in writing for foster care of the child you have been taking care of. The social worker will also inform you about the foster parents’ duties and responsibilities, which also apply to grandparents. The court according to the child’s permanent residence is competent to grant the custody of the child. Foster care is a form of substitute family care which, according to Act No. 359/1999 Coll., On social and legal protection of children, as amended, is partially covered by the state by foster care benefits. In such a case, parents are obliged to pay the alimony to the authority which provides the benefits. The latter will also enforce any failure to fulfill this obligation. Grandparents are entitled to foster care benefits if their grandchild was entrusted to their foster care by a court. They receive the allowance to cover the needs of the child automatically, but the foster parent’s reward is provided only in cases worthy of special consideration, in particular concerning the social and property situation of the family and the child’s health. To decide on granting a foster parent’s reward, the regional branch of the Job Office is obliged to request the testimony from the competent authority of the municipality with extended competence.

What is temporary foster care?

The court may, on a proposal from the body of the social and legal protection of children, entrust the child into foster care for a temporary period to persons registered as such in the regional office for the period:

(a) for which the parent is unable to raise the child for serious reasons;

(b) legally required to await parent’s consent to the adoption or withdrawal of such consent;

c) until the court’s decision that the parents’ consent is not necessary becomes final.

Temporary foster care lasts a maximum of one year; this limit might not apply in the case of gradual introduction on other siblings into the foster family. A foster parent providing temporary foster care is seen as a working professional providing specific service to vulnerable children. Due to the difficult nature of this service, applicants for this form of substitute family care are also subject to more demanding criteria than the regular foster parents. More information (in Czech only) available here.

The amendment to the Act on Social and Legal Protection of Children directs all foster parents to sign a foster care agreement. What is it?

The amendment to Act No. 359/1999 Coll., On Social and Legal Protection of Children, regulates the rights and obligations of foster parents in § 47. One of the responsibilities is to monitor the implementation of the foster care agreement and to cooperate with a worker responsible for monitoring the development of the child. The agreement on the performance of foster care is a public administration contract; the process of its conclusion is governed not only by the Act on Social and Legal Protection of Children but also by the Code of Administrative Procedure. The primary obligation to draft up the content of the agreement and to sign it with the foster parents lies with the authority of the social and legal protection of children of the municipality with extended competence which corresponds with the permanent residence of foster parents. The interests and individual needs of the child and the needs of the foster parents in charge of the child shall be taken into account. The agreement must always comply with the court’s decision and the individual child protection plan. The authority (or an authorized organization) that has signed a foster care agreement with foster parents may claim a state foster care allowance. This state contribution is intended to cover the costs incurred in providing assistance to foster parents and child in custody and in supervising of the foster care.

What can be paid to foster parents under the agreement (in Czech) – http://www.mpsv.cz/files/clanky/16344/NI_17-2013.pdf

Sample agreement (in Czech) here: http://www.mpsv.cz/files/clanky/14684/priklad_vykon_PP.pdf

When are foster parents exempt from fees?

Yes, there are certain situations where the law takes into account the position of children in foster care and frees the foster parents of fees, charges or reimbursements. Here are some examples:

Health care regulation fees:

According to Act No. 48/1997 Coll., On Public Health Insurance, Section 16a, regulatory fees in health care do not apply if the insured person is entrusted to foster care by a court decision (this exemption does not apply to the children cared for by the guardian);

Payments for pre-school education in kindergarten managed by the state, regional government, municipality or union of municipalities:

According to Act No. 43/2006 Coll., On Preschool Education, § 6, foster parents may be exempt from preschool fees if they prove to the nursery school principal that they care for the child personally and receive foster care benefits for this service;

Payment for accommodation in the boarding house managed by the state, regional government, municipality or union of municipalities:

According to Act No. 108/2005 Coll., On School Educational and Accommodation Facilities and School Purpose Facilities, Section 9, a pupil who is entitled to the allowance to cover the needs of a child in foster care under a special legal regulation and receives this allowance or part thereof, is exempt from the accommodation fees. This fact must be proved to the boarding house director. The dormitory is usually set up at boarding type of primary school for children with a handicap. However, a boarding house criteria do not apply to a youth dormitory home where young people are accommodated while studying at a secondary school or in a practical training school.

We would like to help some child from a children’s home by taking it home on weekends or holidays. Is there such a possibility? What can we do for it?

Such a form of assistance to children in institutional care is regulated by Section 30 of Act No. 359/1999 Coll., On Social and Legal Protection of Children, as amended. First, you need to verify that your family has all the prerequisites required for providing such assistance. To be able to do that, you must contact the social care department of the municipality with extended competence in your place of residence, and inform them that you want your family to be assessed to provide such assistance. Once you have a referral, you can ask the authority to identify a child in need of such assistance.

Prepared by: Team of the Substitute Family Care Centre, March 2014