Independent adoptions from abroad increasingly common

Date: 2009-03-23

Ministry concerned of danger of baby trade

More Finns have been interested in adopting children from abroad independently, without the help of a Finnish agency or organisation.
      There are no separate statistics on independent adoptions, but the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health believes that the numbers are increasing.
      “Each week we get enquiries. However, it is not possible to say how many actually go out and implement an adoption”, says Jonna Salmela, the secretary of the ministry’s board, which deals with international adoptions.
The board grants permission for international adoptions. Adoptions are arranged by the Social Affairs Board of the City of Helsinki, as well as by Interpedia and the Finnish Save the Children organisation. Last year a total of 157 adopted children were brought to Finland through their mediation. In 2007 the number was 176. 
      According to adoption figures put out by Statistics Finland, 201 foreign children under 18 were registered as adopted in Finland in 2007, which would mean that 25 of the adoptions were arranged independently.
      Salmela finds the numbers interesting for two reasons: the waiting periods for getting an adopted child have grown longer, and there are families hoping to adopt a child who do not believe that they would be granted permission to adopt by the adoption board for reasons of age or health.
      “There are many more people who want to adopt than there are children available. Increasing numbers of children in different countries are adopted domestically. This follows the lines of the Hague Convention that regulates international adoptions.”
The law on adoption allows independent adoptions, but the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health sees some inherent risks. One problem is the possibility that trafficking in children might be involved.
      “Finland has committed to the Hague Convention, under which officials of the receiving country are required to investigate if the preconditions for adoption exist, and if the adoption is in the interests of the child. In independent adoptions, this investigation is not conducted.”
      A parent who adopts a child independently does not get monetary support, maternity benefits, or parental allowances, as the benefits are linked with an official adoption permit granted by the board.
The array of independent adoptions is extensive. If a family has lived permanently abroad and adopted a child according to local legislation, then the adoption can be seen as being valid in Finland as well.
      In other cases, an adoptive parent can, under certain circumstances, apply to the Helsinki Court of Appeals for confirmation of an adoption, after which the child can be granted Finnish citizenship or a residence permit.
      Sources at the court say that adoptions are confirmed in most cases.