International adoption to Finland costs up to FIM 100,000
State aid could boost popularity
Parents of children adopted from foreign countries believe that financial aid from the state could increase the popularity of international adoption in Finland. The high costs, up to FIM 100,000 in some cases, puts the possibility of adopting a child from another country out of the reach of many potential adoptive parents.
- This year the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health proposed that EUR 540,000 (over FIM 3 million) be earmarked in the national budget to help couples adopt a child from abroad. The proposal was rejected by the Ministry of Finance.
Most couples seek a child to adopt because of biological infertility. For this reason, adoption is seen by some as an option equivalent to fertility treatments, which are subsidised as part of public health care.
On the other hand, there has been opposition to the notion of granting would-be parents a subjective right to adoption. Under the treaty on international adoption signed in The Hague in 1993, the promotion of the interests of the child is the basic guideline of international adoption.
However, Seija Poikonen, chairwoman of the association for parents of adopted children does not feel that financial support for adoptive parents is in conflict with the interests of the children.
“Money should not be an impediment to getting a child. By supporting the family we also support the child”, Poikonen points out.
Many people working at short-term jobs, and those who are temporarily unemployed usually cannot afford to pay all of the expenses incurred by the international adoption process, even though they might otherwise be very suitable as parents.
While state support would not cover all of the costs linked with the bureaucracy, or the travel involved in bringing a child home, it would save many adoptive parents the need to take out a bank loan, which is still the most common way to finance an international adoption.
Compared with other Nordic Countries, Finland has relatively few children adopted from abroad. However, the number is growing.
Last year 198 children were adopted from abroad to Finland. Finland now has a total of about 2,000 children adopted from a foreign country. Sweden has about 40,000.
In Sweden all parents adopting a child from another country are entitled to a state subsidy of about FIM 30,000.
An international adoption can cost from FIM 30,000 to FIM 100,000, depending on the country of birth and local procedures. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health proposed that the size of a possible Finnish subsidy would vary according to which country was involved.
Under the proposal the adoptive parents of a child from China or Colombia would get about FIM 27,000 while the subsidy for a child from Estonia or Russia would have been just over FIM 11,000.
All prospective adoptive parents undergo an assessment, in which their socio-economic status, health, motives for adoption, and ability to raise a child are checked. After the assessment, a board for international adoptions decides on the suitability of the applicants.
“The economic situation is one factor among many. Money might be a factor for parents with below average incomes, but whose conditions are otherwise good, and those living on income supports are definitely rejected”, says Tiina Saukkonen, head of international adoptions at Save the Children Finland.
“A subsidy would send the message that adoption is an acceptable way to have children, on a par with others”.
More and more single women have applied to adopt a child. Last year there were 27 applicants. On the other hand, no single men have made any such applications, although the law would allow them to do so.
“People in the country of origin of the child might not take a positive view of an adoption by a single man”, Saukkonen says. The conservative attitudes in the countries of origin are one reason why unmarried couples are kept out of the international adoption process. Sometimes getting married is not enough: some of the countries want a couple to have been married for several years before they will allow a child to be adopted by them.
The popularity of international adoption has increased as the supply Finnish babies available for adoption has declined.
Last year Finns adopted children from China, Russia, Columbia, Thailand, Ethiopia, Romania, Estonia, India, and Poland. Large numbers of female babies have been available for adoption from China.
Two organisations, Save the Children Finland and Interpedia, help arrange foreign adoptions. The Helsinki City Department of Social Services also helps in the dealings with authorities from abroad.
The high demand in Western countries for babies has led to corruption and a kind of of black market in babies. However, Finnish adoption services insist that the processes involved in the adoption of all of the children coming to Finland are under close scrutiny involving reputable agencies.
In June, the Romanian Government banned international adoptions for a year after the European Union criticised the EU applicant country for the flourishing adoption business.