Sweden probes foreign adoptions since 1950s over possible abuses

Sweden will launch an official investigation into the adoption of thousands of foreign children since the 1950s.

The inquiry will look into possible “irregular” procedures that led to children being taken from their families abroad.

Investigators will focus on adoptions of children born in China and Chile, said Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren.

“The starting point for international adoption is the best interests and rights of the child,” she told reporters.

“Sweden must guarantee as far as possible that every adoption is carried out legally and ethically and that the best interests of the child and legal certainty are ensured in every part of the adoption process.”

Around 60,000 children have been given to adoptive parents in Sweden since World War II. Most of the children were originally from South Korea, India, Colombia, and Sri Lanka.

Swedish media have raised concerns that children have been stolen and forcibly placed for adoption without the consent or knowledge of their birth parents.

In Chile, special judge Mario Carroza — who has been investigating child abductions since 2018 — has said that at least 2,021 babies were adopted in Sweden between 1971 and 1992.

During the country’s dictatorship, poor mothers were often deceived into thinking their children were ill or stillborn, Carroza said.

Meanwhile, China has emerged as one of the world’s largest countries for adoptees, as family planning limits the number of children per couple.

Families’ desire to have a boy has fuelled large-scale trafficking of young girls, who were abandoned at birth.

Sweden’s government has appointed lawyer Anna Singer — a professor of civil and family law at Uppsala University — to lead the investigation.

“The lessons learned will provide guidance for the future development of Sweden’s international adoption activities,” the ministry said in a statement.

Singer’s final findings are due to be submitted in November 2023.

In February, the Dutch government suspended adoptions from abroad after a report said the government had not addressed allegations of abuse in the system.

Last year, Swiss authorities also apologised for failing to prevent the illegal adoption of children from Sri Lanka in the 1990s.

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