Take care of Aftercare

7 July 2021

Gera ter Meulen, Knowledge Bureau ter Meulen, for Foster Care and Adoption

Wereldkinderen has been a member of EurAdopt for many years, a partnership between European adoption organizations. These organizations try to maintain high ethical standards, exchange information and sometimes collaborate on common problems. Such a common problem is adoption aftercare in the search for origin. However, this aftercare is becoming increasingly difficult, according to an inventory I did for EurAdopt at 24 EurAdopt adoption organizations in 11 countries.

For this inventory, we first checked what it says about aftercare:

According to the Hague Adoption Convention

The Hague Adoption Convention appears to oblige the Central Authorities to promote aftercare; the CAs may delegate aftercare to public or adoption organizations, but they remain accountable. Adoptees must be helped, among other things, to find their roots and be able to access their adoption information.

The inventory showed that adoption aftercare is not embedded in legislation and/or regulations in several countries. It also appeared that all adoption organizations helped adoptees to find information about the adoption and to find their families. The help from the adoption organizations was mainly aimed at:

• Provide information, often through a helpdesk for adoptees;

• Show files. In most organizations it was ensured that someone from the organization was present to receive the adoptees, to provide spiritual support and to explain information found;

• Help with searching in the country of origin (the adoption organizations usually have contacts);

• Help with roots travel. This ranges from providing 'tips & tricks', 'do's & don'ts' to organizing roots trips yourself:

• Counseling after roots trips (was considered very important)

• Help in contacts with biological family

• Help to biological families when they trying to make contact with their adopted children


However, adoption organizations already had a huge problem in 2017, the year of the inventory, and that will not become less after COVID and with the current Dutch moratorium: most adoption organizations finance aftercare from adoption mediations. These mediations have decreased sharply, but in the meantime the number of adoptees who can ask for help is only increasing. The most extreme was at the Adoption Center in Sweden: they took care of 142 adoptions in 2017, but over the years they had mediated for up to 25,000 adoptees! Almost all organizations had a shortage of time and resources for good aftercare. Most organizations estimate that the need for help at roots will only increase, so there are serious concerns about an untenable situation.

To improve

The organizations called for improvements in translating what is known from science into practice (like the Flashes of Knowledge do), for professionals who are 'adoptive competent' – who know what is important to help adoptees and adoptive families and who have good diagnoses and good medical checks when a child arrives. The latter is common in the Netherlands, but not in many countries.

Warnings for the future were also issued:

• Be prepared for the large numbers of adoptees who may want to trace their origins and be aware of the limitations the adoption organizations have in continuing to do so;

• Be alert to the risks and possibilities of new technologies such as social media and DNA databases when searching;

• Provide good counseling and shelter for adoptees following their searches;

• Help the adoptees and their biological relatives in their mutual relationships.

Minimum standards for aftercare

Because EurAdopt is of the opinion that the Hague Adoption Convention is not sufficiently clear in what is needed for good aftercare, EurAdopt has drawn up a Manifesto, in which EurAdopt indicates the minimum standards that adoption aftercare should meet:

• Adoption is lifelong, therefore adoption aftercare must be available throughout life, flexible, customized and easily accessible;

• Adoption aftercare needs a legal basis to guarantee availability and quality;

• (Financially guaranteed) availability of specialized care;

• Availability of adoption-competent professionals;

• Adequate services for biological families, both after distance and with roots contacts.

Combining expertise

This is of course very much in demand, but it is important. We in the Netherlands now have the minister's commitment that an expertise center for roots will be established, and the adoptees have already been promised that there would be more attention and money for adult adoptees and their need for information about and/or contact with their parents. origin. EurAdopt hopes that the recommendations of the Aftercare Manifesto will also be taken into account in these developments. Furthermore, EurAdopt recommends establishing an adoption aftercare expertise center internationally as well, as many of the needs for adoptees apply from all countries. In this way we can make use of joint knowledge and do not have to reinvent the wheel for everything ourselves.