Activists not convinced about Norwegian adoption investigation


Northern Europe


Norway is going to research its foreign adoptions. Since the 1960s, around 20,000 children have been adopted from abroad. Photo AFP, Jung Yeon-Je

Norway announced an inquiry into its foreign adoptions. Anti-adoption activists are pleased but have yet to be convinced. "There must be a sufficient level of competence in the committee."

That the government turned around is the only reasonable thing, says adoption activist Priyangika Samanthie to the Norwegian Christian daily Vårt Land. "But we must ensure the level of competence of those who will be part of the review commission. We need experts in human trafficking with a strong legal background. What's more, what this has done to adoptees must be assessed – we can look at this not only legally, but also psychologically."

Samanthie runs the organisation “Romantisert innvandring” (Romanticised immigration), which works to uncover human rights violations in the adoption field. It took years before calls from Samanthie and other people critical towards foreign abortion were heard. "Adoption should be in the child's best interests, but then we are ignored until the authorities are pressured to take a position on it."

Kjersti Toppe, the Norwegian Minister for Children and Families, agrees with Samanthie that it has taken too long for an investigation to take place. "It shouldn't be like that, and we must work on this. For too many years, the prevailing thought has been that international adoption is "a happy thing". We must recognise that we must take the field more seriously."


In March 2021, a Dutch report halted all foreign adoptions in the Netherlands. An investigative report that looked more closely at adoptions from Brazil, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Colombia in 1967-1998 revealed major law violations.

In the winter of 2021, it wasn't just the Netherlands that scrutinised its own adoption policies. In February 2021, Sweden announced that they would investigate how they carried out international adoption until the 1990s. In Denmark, too, several adoption cases with suspected offences are being investigated.

Although Norwegian adoption activists have been calling for an investigation for years, the Norwegian authorities did not want an investigation until now. An investigation will review all adoptions since the 1980s and possibly the 1970s.

Since the end of the 1960s, more than 20,000 children have been adopted from abroad to Norway, writes the Christian Norwegian daily Vårt Land. In the last 10-15 years, the number of foreign adoptions has fallen significantly.

According to Toppe, a review committee can start work after the summer. The report should be ready at the end of 2024. "We must build on other countries' investigations and use that as a pointer to where in the system it is most important to enter."


According to Samanthie, foreign adoption "screams Western saviour complex". The saviour complex denotes whites' imagined duty to save the melanin kingdom (people of colour), often as a personal realisation project. "If a white family has taken in a coloured child, that family is automatically seen as good. But what if a coloured family had taken in a white child? Then one would possibly have questioned the intention. Whether the adoptive family could create western values and attitudes in the child."

Samanthie says that adoption must be seen in the light of colonialism and slavery. "If you don't look holistically at where adoption started, you only see it as a nice alternative to help poor children in poor countries."



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