Intercountry adoptions

Intercountry adoptions through a service provider

Finland is a State party to the Hague Adoption Convention, under which intercountry adoptions in Finland are assigned to a restricted number of adoption service providers duly licensed by the Adoption Board. As a rule, an intercountry adoption service provider must be used for intercountry adoptions whenever possible. Each service provider is licensed by the Adoption Board to collaborate with spesific foreign service providers. The Section for International Matters of the Adoption Board supervises the operations of intercountry adoption service providers.

If you wish to adopt a child from abroad, you must contact an intercountry adoption service provider. They will inform you of the requirements set by various countries of origin for adoption applicants and explain the intercountry adoption process. You may apply for an adoption permission for intercountry adoption once you have completed adoption counselling and registered as a client of a service provider.

There are three adoption service providers in Finland:
1. Interpedia
2. Save the Children Finland: intercountry adoption services 
3. City of Helsinki, Social Services and Health Care (does not accept new clients)

Between them, the service providers are licensed to collaborate with service providers in 8 countries: South Africa, China, Thailand, Colombia, India, the Philippines, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Country information may be found on the service providers’ websites.

Intercountry adoptions without a service provider

The Adoption Act specifies that intercountry adoptions shall principally be processed through a foreign adoption service provider. In exceptional cases, however, it is not necessary to go through an adoption service provider.

Permission for an intercountry adoption without a service provider may be granted only for adopting a child who:

  • is a close family member of the applicant or of the applicant’s spouse, or a previous close family member of a child already adopted by the applicant, or 
  • has come to live with the applicant for purposes other than adoption and has been established as being provided care and upbringing by the applicant. 

However, in such cases the applicant must nevertheless complete adoption counselling in Finland prior to applying for permission to adopt. The applicant must also satisfy the other criteria specified in the Adoption Act to qualify for adoption. 

In an adoption without a service provider, as in all adoptions, the Adoption Board must consider whether the proposed adoption is in the best interests of the child. In order for the Adoption Board to consider granting a permission, the applicant must present sufficient proof that the child is in need of intercountry adoption (e.g. a member of the applicant’s extended family who has been orphaned) and that the child is free for adoption as referred to in international conventions. 

Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Adoption Convention, the subsidiarity principle must be met in intercountry adoptions. What this means is that intercountry adoption can only be considered as an option after it has been sufficiently investigated whether the child in question could be adopted or placed with a foster family or otherwise cared for in the country of origin. In accordance with the subsidiarity principle, the Adoption Board will consider whether it would be possible for the proposed adoptee to be raised in his/her country of origin, either by his/her own family or with other close relatives, for instance, instead of being adopted to another country.

Because the applicant has no adoption service provider, the applicant himself/herself is responsible and liable for obtaining any and all documents required and for having them translated, legalised, etc.

Contact us

By e-mail [email protected]

By mail
PO Box 43
FI-00521 Helsinki

  • Irene Pärssinen-Hentula
    Manager, Chair of the Adoption Board
    +358 295 209 247
  • Arttu Malava
    Legal Officer, Deputy Chair of the Adoption Board
    +358 295 209 231
  • Anne Ritari
    Legal Officer, Secretary of the Adoption Board
    +358 295 209 413
  • Minna Malviniemi
    Senior Officer, Secretary of the Adoption Board
    +358 295 209 611