Taiwan affected by international adoptions decision

18 January 2024

Taiwan affected by international adoptions decision

Staff writer, with CNA


International adoptions from Taiwan are conducted according to the Hague Adoption Convention and no reports of illegal cases have been received, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday after Norway and Denmark on Tuesday suspended international adoption from several countries, including Taiwan, pending an investigation into alleged illegal operations.

Social and Family Affairs Administration Director Chien Hui-chuan (簡慧娟) said that 215 children were adopted in Taiwan in 2022, with 110 of them international adoptions, including 62 to the US, 15 to Sweden, 10 to the Netherlands, and one each to Norway and Denmark.

Adoption policies have been adjusted in the past few years, prioritizing keeping the child in the care of their birth family, and only finding a suitable adoption family as a last resort, Chien said, adding that local adoption is prioritized.

However, as is common in adoptions, institutes find it difficult to place older children locally, so most are adopted by families in other countries, she said.

Chien said she has heard that some European countries planned to reduce international adoptions, but Taiwan has always conformed to the Hague Adoption Convention for international adoptions.

The ministry has not received any report from other countries about alleged illegal adoptions from Taiwan, she added.

Social and Family Affairs Administration Deputy Director Chang Mei-mei (張美美) said that adoption agencies in Taiwan must have a permit and follow specific procedures, including receiving government approval to work with adoption agencies in other countries, having social workers evaluate prospective adoptive families, handing over the families’ information to the courts and obtaining a judge’s approval before an adoption can proceed.

Child Welfare League Foundation specialist Li Fang-ling (李芳玲) said local regulations stipulate that adoption procedures must be carried out between agencies and only the foundation has registered links in Norway.

Fifteen Taiwanese children have been adopted to Norway since 2015, with the most recent in 2022, Li said.

Norway’s top body for international adoptions on Tuesday recommended a halt to all adoptions from abroad for two years pending an investigation into allegedly illegal cases, while Denmark’s sole overseas adoption agency announced it was stopping such operations, citing similar concerns.

The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs said that families already assigned a child from Taiwan, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa or Thailand would be allowed to complete the adoption process, but only after an assessment by the agency.

Couples who received approval to adopt from South Korea would also be permitted to proceed when matched with a child, it said.

A majority of the children adopted in Norway are from Taiwan, Colombia, the Philippines, South Korea or Thailand, national statistics showed.

Denmark’s only overseas adoption agency on Tuesday said that it is “winding down” its facilitation of international adoptions after a government agency raised concerns over fabricated documents and procedures that obscured children’s biological origins abroad.

The privately run Danish International Adoption has mediated adoptions in Taiwan, the Czech Republic, India, the Philippines, South Africa and Thailand.

Last month, an appeals board suspended its work in South Africa because of questions about the agency’s adherence to legal standards.

The Danish agency said it was getting out of the international adoption business on the same day that Norway announced the two-year hiatus.

Additional reporting by AP