1. Adoption counselling
  2. Selecting a service provider
  3. Applying for an adoption permit
  4. Country selection
  5. Sending an application
  6. Waiting period
  7. Information about an identified child
  8. Adoption travel
  9. Confirming adoption
  10. Follow-up phase after coming to Finland
  11. Post adoption service

Getting started in the adoption process

(1) Adoption counselling

The process always starts with adoption counselling, a statutory and cost-free procedure for clients. You can receive adoption counselling from your local municipal social services department or a Save the Children regional office. Counselling looks at an applicant’s capacity and preparedness for adoptive parenting. A social worker then makes an adoption home study (report on the adoption counselling), which contains information on such things as applicants’

  • family background
  • health status
  • socioeconomic situation
  • parenting ability
  • motives for adopting
  • capability for receiving an adopted child from abroad

 (2) Selecting a service provider

You will select an adoption service provider in the final phase of adoption counselling. The home study will be sent to the adoption service provider, through which you apply for an adoption permit.

The international adoption service

  • Provides information on children who are available for adoption, the adoption process and related costs.
  • Provides guidance in applying for an intercountry adoption permit and selecting a country.
  • Sends your adoption application to the adoption authorities in a selected country.
  • Ensures that the adoption proceeds according to the best interests of the child.
  • Conveys information to the family about the identified child.
  • Provides instructions for adoption travel.
  • Assists with the registration and confirmation of the adoption.
  • Delivers the follow-up report on the adopted child to the country or origin.
  • Assists with visits to the country of birth and provides post-adoption reviews.

Becoming a client

Before being registered as clients, applicants meet to consider a suitable country concerning the adoption. You are registered as a client of Save the Children’s international adoption service by signing and returning the client and payment commitments.

(3) Applying for an adoption permit

Applications for an intercountry adoption permit always go through the adoption service provider. The Finnish Adoption Board, which operates under the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health, is responsible for granting intercountry adoption permits.  The Adoption Board’s licensing division processes adoption permit applications. An adoption permit is valid for two years and if necessary can be applied for every two years.

(4) Country selection and (5) sending an application

Your final choice of adoption country is made after you have been granted an intercountry adoption permit. It is worth familiarising yourself with contacts in advance by taking part in adoption service information events.

  • Applicants will receive guidance on documents and procedures from the adoption service.
  • Adoption applicants must collect the necessary documents themselves.
  • Application documents are checked, translated, legalised and sent to the selected country by the adoption service.
  • The adoption service monitors the course of the adoption process and informs applicants about it.

 (6) Waiting period

The waiting period between sending the adoption application to the selected country and receiving information about an identifies child varies depending on the content of the application, the preferences of the applicants concerning the child wished for  and the situation in the country chosen.

The waiting period is a time of preparation for adoptive parenting, and it is worthwhile using it to

  • Get information and participate in various events
  • Participate in adoption orientation courses
  • Find out about the work of adoption organisations
  • Network with other adoptive families and applicants
  • Learn about the language and culture of the selected country

(7) Information about an identified child

Information about an identified may be done by the adoption authority of the child’s country of birth or by the service provider.

  • This information contains details of the child’s background, health and development.
  • A Finnish paediatrician consults on the information, which is given to the adoptive family.
  • The information on an identified child can be either accepted or rejected before adoption travel, but the final decision on adoption is always made after getting to know the child.

(8) Adoption travel and (9) confirming adoption

Your arrangements should be such that you can travel to the selected country according to the schedule proposed by its adoption authorities. The adoption service will provide you with instructions and advice for adoption travel. The duration of the visit will vary from country to country from a couple of weeks to a few months.

  • Applicants receiving information about an identified children should bear in mind the child’s right to privacy. This in particular concerns details concerning their country of birth and background, biological parents, as well as photographs from which a child can be identified.

Legislation in the child’s country of birth determines when and where the adoption can be confirmed. It may be carried out at a local court before the journey to Finland or later at a district court in Finland.

(10) Follow-up phase after coming to Finland

The social worker who provided the adoption counselling will meet with the child and the adoptive family following the adoption and offer the necessary support and advice. The adoption authorities in the child’s country of origin monitor the child’s adjustment to his or her new family and circumstances. This follow-up period varies in length depending on the requirements of the child’s country of origin. Reports on follow-up visits to the family are sent to the country of origin.

(11) Post-adoption service

The adoption counsellor and adoption service provider assist adopted children and adoptive families in subsequent years through the post-adoption service. This service enables the different parties in the adoption to obtain information about themselves, as well as help in managing it.