Genesis of the project: International Social Service

19 January 2024

Genesis of the project:

Over the last decades a significant number of international adoptions have taken place from abroad to France. More and more people adopted in the 80s, 90s or early 2000s feel the legitimate need to research their origins and access their right to identity.

This research is a complex journey and not without risk. So being able to support them is today the great challenge to take up for the central authorities and all those involved in adoption as evidenced by recommendation number 31 of the special commission of July 2022 on the practical operation of the Hague Convention. 1993 on the protection of children and cooperation in matters of international adoption .


“The CS recalls C&R No. 29 of the 2010 CS and No. 21 of the 2015 CS, emphasizing the importance of providing adoptees and their families, including where applicable, their families of origin, with services specialist post-adoption and appropriate advice in tracing origins. States should promote the development of adoption counseling and post-adoption services”

In order to offer global, free and quality support to adoptees wishing to reconnect with their origins, SSI France launched on September 29, 2021, during a webinar, the RACINE pilot project  (Research of origins, Support, Cooperation, Identification of partners, Storytelling, Listening). 


Financially supported by the Mission for International Adoption (MAI) of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (Central Authority competent for international adoption), this pilot project has been implemented since September 2021 (Phase 1) in three countries (Ethiopia, Haiti, Sri Lanka). It was extended in September 2022 (Phase 2) to a fourth country (Madagascar). Since October 2023 (Phase 3), 2 additional countries have been added (Colombia and Romania) bringing the total to 6 countries.

The project implementation countries were chosen jointly by MAI and SSI France due to the significant number of adoptions that have been carried out there and/or the significant number of requests currently received by the French central authority:


Ethiopia (5,694 adoptions to France between 1979 and 2021)

Haiti (7,405 adoptions to France between 1979 and 2021)

Madagascar (4,201 adoptions to France between 1979 and 2021)

Sri Lanka (1,697 adoptions to France between 1979 and 2021)

Colombia  (9,646 adoptions to France between 1979 and 2021)

Romania  (3,372 adoptions to France between 1979 and 2021)


This project aims to:

Guide, accompany and support adopted people and, where applicable, their biological family and their adoptive family in their efforts.

Produce summary sheets aimed at drawing up an inventory of adoption legislation and practices  in these countries over recent years as well as current legislation regarding origin tracing, possible obstacles and opportunities

Identify in these countries, relying on the global SSI network represented in 130 countries, reliable partners who  have never served as intermediaries in adoptions, who can liaise with the central authorities, carry out research and support the adopted locally and strengthen their capacities

Providing a space for discussion, listening and collective support between peers supported by clinical support from professionals during discussion groups

Carry out a map of post-adoption support systems linked to the search for origins available in France and in the countries of origin (phase 2)

The individual support offered by SSI France as part of this project is based on the action principles and methodology of the SSI network and is adapted to the requests and needs of each individual. The SSI offers in particular:

Listening, guidance, accompaniment and support before, during and after the research

Support in obtaining the different adoption files and understanding the different documents 

Procedures for searching for biological parents (tracing)

Preparation for connection and media coverage of first contacts

Mediation between the adopted person and their families

Support in the country of origin (by the local partner - depending on the specificities of each country)

Collective support results in the organization of support groups for people adopted from Ethiopia, Haiti, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Colombia and Romania to France. To be accessible to all, these groups are organized by videoconference. They are run by professionals specializing in adoption and tracing origins. Their aim is to offer adopted people a space for discussion, support and reflection around the various questions raised by the search for personal origins through both peer support and clinical support. .


As part of phase 3 of the RACINE project, SSI France is organizing a fourth discussion group session for anyone who has been adopted in Colombia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Madagascar, Romania and Sri Lanka. These groups aim to offer adopted people a space for discussion, support and reflection around the various questions raised by the search for personal origins.

Organized by videoconference, they are co-hosted by Dr. Fanny Cohen Herlem, psychiatrist qualified in child psychiatry, psychoanalyst and consulting psychiatrist with the SSI/CIR and by Mr. Jimmy Messineo, lawyer specializing in children's rights and law international private family, coordinator of SSI France.

4 thematic groups are planned. You can register for one or all of these discussion groups (subject to availability of places) by responding directly to this form .


Here are the dates for the next discussion group session :


1. Tuesday February 13, 2024 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.: “My research, my story”;

2. Tuesday March 12, 2024 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.: “If I only knew! If I had known " ;

3. Thursday April 4, 2024 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.: “Between hopes, false hopes and despair”;

4. Tuesday May 14, 2024 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.: “From research to meeting”.

I'm registering

Project report as of December 5, 2023:

On Friday September 24, 2022, an assessment of phase 1 was presented publicly during a second webinar organized by SSI France at which 86 professionals from the adoption services of the departments, OAAs and associations of adopted people were present.

Individual support:

69 adopted people supported individually including:

27 adopted in Haiti

19 adopted in Sri Lanka

14 adopted in Ethiopia

6 adopted in Madagascar

3 adopted in Romania

All have benefited from many hours of support and accompaniment by a lawyer and/or psychologist.

7 adopted people whose families were found and connections made thanks to the direct intervention of the SSI:

4 people adopted from Haiti (out of 4 referred to our partner)

2 people adopted from Madagascar

1 person adopted from Sri Lanka

2 adopted people were able to reunite with their families thanks to associations of adopted people to which SSI France directed them:

1 person adopted from Ethiopia

1 person adopted from Sri Lanka.

Collective support:

30 adoptees participated in the discussion groups including:

11 people adopted from Haiti

11 people adopted from Sri Lanka

5 people adopted from Ethiopia

3 people adopted from Madagascar

Testimonial from a participant:


“I had the opportunity to participate in 3 discussion groups organized by SSI France as part of the RACINE project. Several themes were addressed: “If I knew and if I had known”, “Between hopes, false hopes and despair”, “From research to meeting” and soon “The question of parenthood among adopted people”. These different support groups allowed me to have a space for free exchange to express my feelings or tell my story too, and above all, to meet other adopted people who have a story similar to my story. And above all it allowed me to put into words what I could be experiencing, my fears, my doubts, lots of things, because I am the mother of a 13-month-old little boy now and it's true that being an adopted person made me doubt my ability to be a mother and these support groups allowed me to realize that my story was not necessarily going to be repetitive and that, precisely, I had this strength in me. And I saw that many adopted people also have this strength within them, to be able to change things, to be able to be mothers and to be able to do many things. So these support groups have brought me a lot of things. »

Other project objectives:

4 analysis sheets of legislation and practices were produced (Haiti, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka)

1 formal partnership signed with an association that supports adoptees in Haiti

1 reinforced partnership within the framework of the project was established with the SSI member in Sri Lanka and Romania

2 informal partnerships exist with adoptee associations: one for adoptees from Ethiopia and the other for adoptees from Sri Lanka

1 Partnership with Voix d’Adoptés to produce a map of existing services for tracing origins

1 memorandum of understanding with an association of adoptees which supports adoptees who are victims of illicit adoptions

4 articles published in specialized journals (Monthly Bulletin of the SSI/CIR and Revue Accueil d’Enfance et Familles d’Adoption)

2 webinars dedicated to the search for origins

1 Resource Center on adoption and tracing of origins published on the Droit d’Enfance website

​Mirlène was adopted from Haiti by a French couple at the age of 7.

She remembers being picked up by a man at her home and taken to the orphanage and then being adopted a year later.


She contacts SSI France to help her find her biological family. SSI France helps him to recover all the elements that can help to understand his story and provides him with listening and support. Mirlène also participates in discussion groups organized by SSI France, also offering her peer support.

At the same time, SSI France mandates its partner in Haiti who manages to find the biological mother who searched for her daughter for years. She explains that she wanted to entrust her daughter to the orphanage so that she could be taken care of and educated and that she did not understand the signed documents. SSI France prepares Mirlène for a video conference with her mother. The Haitian partner prepares the mother. Video conference meetings in the presence of the partner who serves as interpreter are organized.


Mirlene is reunited with her biological mother.