"I want to emphasize that the temporary suspension is one of several recommendations from Bufdir, and it is the Ministry of Children and Families that determines how to proceed further. Therefore, there will be no changes in the current system until the Ministry makes their decision" said Hege Nilssen, Director of Bufdir.
Following the release of a report by the Netherlands in 2021, which uncovered illicit and illegal practices related to inter-country adoptions, there has been increased global attention on potential illicit practices in inter-country adoptions. The Norwegian government established an investigative committee last year to investigate historic inter-country adoptions. The committee began its work in December 2023 and is scheduled to deliver its report in two years.
Bufdir has assessed whether inter-county adoptions should be suspended while awaiting the report from the investigative committee. Bufdir has been working on this assessment since the summer of 2023.
The risk for illicit practices is real
“Adoptions should be safe, secure, and in the best interest of the child. We have conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the risks outlined in reports, individual cases, and through Bufdir's own involvement in both older and more recent adoption cases. Our assessment indicates that the risk of illicit practice is real and at a level which makes us recommend a temporary suspension until the committee delivers its report and provides recommendations on the structure of any potential future adoption system," stated Hege Nilssen.
Bufdir's recommendation is a temporary suspension of inter-country adoptions, with a cutoff point that allows for adoptions to proceed for those families who are well-advanced in the process and have been matched with a child, subject to approval and control of documents by Bufdir. As of 6 December 2023, this applies to 23 families.
About Bufdir's Assessment and Recommendation on Temporary Suspension of Inter-Country Adoptions
- The recommendation is based on Bufdir's professional assessment of the soundness of the system for inter-country adoptions to Norway.
- The evaluation is principled, from the administrative perspective and is based on risk assessment of the current system and the dividing of responsibilities in international adoptions to Norway. It identifies weaknesses in the current Norwegian system and also describes risks related to the fact that parts of the adoption processes are performed abroad, outside the control of Norwegian authorities.
- Bufdir has not assessed whether adoptions to Norway have been conducted on an unlawful basis.
- Bufdir’s recommendation does not interfere with the committee’s work and is not related to the historic inter-country adoptions that took place several decades ago. Neither is the recommendation based on findings in specific states of origin. The recommendation is based on identified weaknesses in the system for handling inter-country adoption cases.
About the Investigative Committee for Inter-Country Adoptions
- In 2022, Bufdir recommended an external investigation of inter-country adoptions to Norway.
- The committee is set up by the Norwegian government. Its task is to investigate whether Norwegian authorities have had sufficient control in inter-country adoptions and to uncover any illegal or unethical practices related to inter-country adoptions to Norway.
- The committee will conduct the investigation of historic adoptions on a systemic level. It will not investigate individual cases but will review a random selection of individual cases which can give important insight to the system.
- The committee will also assess the need for forward-looking measures and provide recommendations for the future adoption system. The committee held its first meeting on December 18, 2023, and is scheduled to deliver its report within two years.
About Inter-County Adoptions to Norway
- In Norway, there are three adoption accredited bodies that mediate inter-country adoptions: Adopsjonsforum, Verdens Barn, and InorAdopt.
- As of 2024, Norway has active adoption co-operation with seven states of origin, which allow the adoption accredited bodies to mediate adoptions from specific countries. These permits are issued by Bufdir and are valid for two or three years.
- The seven countries we as of today have an active adoption co-operation with, are Colombia, Peru, South Africa, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and South Korea. The accreditation for South Korea, valid from 1 January 2024, is limited to completing the adoption process for applicants who have already started their adoption process from South Korea.
- In 2023, Bufdir withdrew the accreditation for our adoption accredited body to mediate adoptions from Madagascar. In December 2023, Bufdir also decided not to renew the accreditations to mediate adoptions from the Philippines, Thailand, and Taiwan.
- Bufdir has received a mandate from the Ministry of Children and Families to reevaluate all remaining accreditations by 1 May 2024.
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